Being a first time plant owner can be scary, but don't worry - we have been through it and live to tell the tale! So here are our 5 top tips to help make your plant ownership easier!
1. Step away from the watering can
I would say about 90% of houseplant deaths are caused by overwatering. I know you feel like you aren't giving them enough water but you probably are. In simple terms, overwatering a plant prevents oxygen getting to the roots and causes root rot. This can sometimes have similar symptoms to underwatering because once the roots have rotted - they can no long take up water. So if in doubt - make sure you to check the soil, you can do this a few ways:
- Poke your finger into the soil - lots of plants only need partially dry soil before watering so you may only need to feel a couple of inches down - if the soil is totally dry - time to water!
- Lift up the pot regularly - if you do this often enough, you'll start to get a feel for how your plants feel when they are watered and when they need watered! The pot weight changes a lot when the soil is completely dry so its a great way to check. This is my go to way to gauge how dry soil is.
- Remove the plant from the pot - I don't tend to do this often, but if you are concerned you might have overwatered - you can remove your plant from the pot to check if the soil at the bottom is super soggy and check for signs of root rot. Rotten roots will be brown and squishy rather than white and firm.
This is something to be wary of when it comes to cacti and lots of people make this mistake. Little and often isn't always a good approach especially for plants like cacti. I prefer to give them a really thorough watering but very rarely. Pouring a little bit of water in every few days is not a good way to look after cacti and succulents and will probably result in a rotten plant.
2. Don't repot into a pot that is too big
I definitely made this mistake early on in my plant parenting journey and ended up with a very sad peace lily which taught me my lesson! When you repot a plant, make sure you only go up an inch or two in pot size. Plants love to be cosy and tight in their pots and most plants enjoy being slightly root bound. If you give a plant too much space, it will end up sitting in wet soil for too long because the roots can't possibly absorb all that water. This will eventually lead to root rot which we have already established is the kiss of death for a plant.
3. Plants need drainage!
Another easy mistake to make - you see a decorative pot you love and you think 'wow it would look so much better if I planted my plant directly into this!' - please don't. This again can cause root rot because the excess water has no where to drain away when you water it. Don't get me wrong - it is totally possible to keep a plant alive without drainage and I do have one or two in this situation myself but on the whole it's not a great idea especially if you are new to plants and haven't got the hang of watering yet.
4. Be vigilant for pests
I haven't had to fight too many pests over the years but it is always better to be safe than sorry! When you bring a new plant home, try to quarantine it away from your other plants for a week or two and keep an eye out for any pests - check the underside of leaves and look out for little bugs or webbing. At Holly Grows, we check all plants for pests before they enter the plant room but even the most thorough checker could miss something so it's always good practice to quarantine your plants just in case.
5. Don't stress
Lastly, just don't stress! I know it can seem a bit overwhelming learning the ropes of this whole plant parenting thing but as long as your plants are getting some light and you aren't overwatering them - they will likely be ok. Don't stress about little brown marks and blemishes on the leaves - plants aren't flawless just like humans - that's nature. And if you lose a few plants as you go - that's totally ok and you can try again with something easier.
We are always here to answer any plant questions you might have and advise on the best plants for you so please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can check out our easy care range here to get you started.