When we first went into lockdown, I did all the things to keep me busy and my mind sane. I completed a puzzle, found out that I’m actually quite good at drawing, read some books, obsessed over my Sunday New York Times, cooked some insanely delicious meals, baked an incredible Swedish Almond Cake, and binge-watched a few great shows. PS. Add Succession on HBO to that list.
Of the things I did to keep me busy/happy, nothing has brought me as much joy as caring for my plants.
In the words of one of my plant gurus, Hilton Carter, I learned how to “make them thrive, not just survive.”
I have picked up so many houseplant tips and tricks the past few months that I feel like it’d be extra selfish of me not to share. Because of course, sharing is caring.
And plants need the kind of care that will keep them happy, vibrant, and not dead.
Whether it’s reading about plants or taking incredible online courses from folks like my plant guru, Hilton Carter – learning how to care for my green beauties have made my world happier.
Here are some of the best plant mom and dad tips I have for ya!
Talk to them. Sing to them. Flirt with them!
I’m tellin ya, it works! Plants love the attention and love being adored. I do not know the science behind talking to our beautiful green friends, but I know that anything that is shown some love will be on the right path.
PS. They’ll communicate with you too! A plant will tell you if it’s thirsty or if it’s had too much to drink. The same goes for too much sun – you’ll know if it’s feeling a little crispy. Listen to them.
Clean and dust their leaves.
I like to think of my plants’ leaves as their hairdo. You wouldn’t leave your hair a big ole, dirty mess so that means you can’t leave your plants “hair” that way either.
About once a month, dust your plants.
Take a moist paper towel and gently wipe their leaves. They’ll have better exposure to the sun as well – yay!
Bright, white, and indirect light.
When it comes to what kind of light your plants need in their lives think: BRIGHT, WHITE, & INDIRECT.
There is no need for your plant to sit under the beaming sun unless of course, it’s a cactus. This of the room with the brightest, whitest light and you may have just found the perfect spot for your plant fam.
The tip below put it’s another way…
See the sky but not the sun.
Here is another great tip from Hilton Carter!
When it comes to placement for your plant, it’s ideal that they can see the big, beautiful sky, aka indirect light, but it’s not necessary for them to see the sun.
Water should be lukewarm.
Water that is too hot or too cold can shock your plant baby just the same as it would shock you.
Give your plant sips of lukewarm water to keep it healthy and happy.
With that being said, each plant will need watering at different times. Some once a week, some once a month…know your plants and what they need.
Have a plan for your plant.
I am so guilty of taking a plant home with no plan for it. There are worse things in the world, but you never know if you’re taking home a plant that may not, in fact, work in your home. Sad vibes.
Re-think your strategy when looking for another plant. What room will it go in? What kind of light does that room have? Also, keep in mind which plants do best with pets.
Once you have all of this information, then get a plant that will thrive in that space.
Know the name of your plant and the family it’s in.
Being armed with this intell will allow you to offer the best care possible for your plant.
Get a book or an app to help you identify what is what. Or find a friend that knows everything about plants, those are some of the best types of friends to have!
Be extra gentle with the root system.
When re-potting, you want to be extra careful with the roots of your plant.
I have learned the hard way that one needs to be extra careful when it comes to getting a plant out of one pot and into another. Their roots are their lifeline, be gentle.
A drainage hole is KEY in preventing root rot.
This is a super important tip. You definitely want to make sure your pot has a proper draining system so to prevent the roots from rotting because once they rot, the plant is in trouble.
Many pots come with a hole at the bottom, but not all. Now, say you LOVE a pot that doesn’t have a hole – well, you can use the pot as its outer home and place the pot with the hole (perhaps it’s plastic) and the plant inside of it.
Another option is to create a hole with a drill.
Clear glass is best for when propagating.
This way you can easily see the condition and color of the water.
Usually, water needs to be changed once a week or so and a clear vessel will allow you to check the quality of the water easily.
Name your plant.
This tip goes up there with talking with your plants. Naming them makes it so much more fun to chat with them on a daily basis. Plus, they’re your babies.
Sometimes I stand by them with my coffee and converse with them first thing in the morning after I water my garden.
Some of my plants’ names are – Spike (Aloe), Rose (Superba), and Troy (Rubber Plant).
Propagate then gift!
Plants make such special gifts because with the proper care, they keep on giving.
To make a plant as a gift even more meaningful, propagate a plant you have and then pot it in a super unique vessel (with a draining hole) created specifically for the recipient. It’s like a piece of your home, in theirs. What a beautiful way to stay connected from far away.
I plan to propagate a plant from my mom and gift it to some of her loved ones so they can keep it forever and think of June.
We all have a green thumb!
You don’t have to come from a long line of plant caretakers to know what to do with your plants. It does, however, take time, care, and attention so be sure you have those accessible when deciding to create a plant family.
Speaking of plants, I’d actually give the same advice I’d give to someone who wants to try cannabis for the first time – go low and slow. Start with one plant and take it from there.
No need to jump the gun and buy five plants you’re not sure what the hell to do with.