Top tips for keeping your plants alive
So your plant is rooted and seems to be doing alright (nice job!), here’s how to keep it alive for longer than a week!
Listen to your plant.
Might sound a bit tree-huggy but hear us out. Plants ‘communicate’ through their leaves. The leaves will let you know what the plant needs so keep an eye out and listen up. Here’s what to look out for.
Not growing? Don’t panic. Your plant probably needs more of the two golden ingredients; water or sunlight. Test giving your plants some more water first. And if that isn’t working, try find a light space in your home to relocate your green friend.
Starting to turn yellow? Your plant might need less water or more nutrients. First, try watering your plants a little less often. If they’re still mellow yellow try giving your leafy friend a boost with some plant food – see below for some plant food favourites you can find in your kitchen.
Brown and crunchy? You’ve got a thirsty one on your hands. Water your plant enough so that the soil is damp but try and avoid overwatering which is surprisingly easy to do. This is when it’s worth keeping a beady eye on your plant and experimenting with the amount of water. Don’t hesitate to have a feel of the soil to see how damp it is and how much water it’ll need.
Developing yellow spots? Pesky pests can get to indoor plants even when they’re in your home. Annoying, right? If you spy any webs, bumps or spots on your plants, it’s possible that your houseplant is putting up with some unwelcome visitors. Quickly move your plant away from any others to prevent them spreading to the rest of your plant gang. Wipe the leaves to get rid of the bugs, they won’t harm you, and get a chemical-free insecticidal spray to stop them coming back. Click here for more advice on dealing with pests from our friends at Patch.
Give your plants room to grow (but not too much room)
Roots are the lifeline of a plant. They absorb air, water and nutrients from the soil and transport it to the leaves. If the plant is growing great and then looks sickly, that could be a sign that your roots need room to grow. This would be a good time to re-pot the plant into a bigger container or move it outdoors.
Whilst roots love room to grow be careful not to put them into a container that’s too big, this is called ‘overpotting’. Yes, it’s a real thing! This can lead to water sitting in the soil rather than being absorbed and can cause the roots to rot. If in doubt check your seed pack which should have all the info you need about what size pot is best for your seeds.
Get your watering right
Plants depend on water to survive but too much water can be as bad as too little. The key to watering is to pay attention to your plant and it will tell you what it needs. Some plants do best with watering into the bottom tray, while other plants will do best by pouring water directly on the top of the soil. Experiment to see what works best for your plant and pay attention to the soil to see how quickly it soaks up the water. Does it dry within a few days? Thumbs up for watering well.
Click here for more clever watering tips.
Don’t skimp on drainage
Proper drainage is the lifesaver for indoor plants, especially those in the hands of eager waterers.
Some plants can survive without drainage, but a good (green) rule of thumb is to add some sort of drainage hole to your pot or container.
If you’ve planted in a tea pot, mug or similar without holes then give your plant a bit of water at a time and pay attention to how long it takes the soil to dry. If it dries within a few days then you’re on the right water track.
Give your plants a nutrition boost
Like people, plants need a boost sometimes. You can feed your plants with organic matter such as egg shells and coffee grounds, or with a packaged liquid or dry fertilizer. If coffee isn’t your thing and you don’t have grounds at home, try asking in your local coffee shop, they’ve got loads of the stuff and might be happy to give you some. If you want your plant to last try an organic fertiliser that’s made to improve your soil over time. Once again, your plant label is your friend. Check your label to find the best fertilizer for your plant and how often you should use the fertilizer. Become a fertilizer fanatic with this guide to fertilizing from the RHS labels.
Give your plants some breathing space
We’re not the only ones who enjoy a breath of fresh air – air circulation is good for your plants too. The easiest way to tell if your plant is breathing fine is by keeping an eye on how fast the soil dries up. If the soil is taking longer to dry than it should, try placing your plant by an open window or bringing it outdoors for a couple of hours in the summer, just like taking your plant on holiday!
Give your plants enough light
How much light your plant will need varies from plant to plant. Most plants fall into one of these categories:
Direct light: Sun-guzzling plants that require hours of direct light each day in order to grow strong.
Indirect light: A plant prefers indirect light because they are sensitive to lots of direct light.
Low light: And then there are some plants who do well with only a few hours of indirect light a day.
We know that getting direct light to your plant can be tricky when growing indoors. If this is the case, try choosing plants that can thrive with partial or indirect sunlight.
As with the watering, keep an eye on your plant and read the signals it’s sending you. Seeing yellow leaves or burn spots? Your plant is feeling the heat, maybe try a spot not as close to the window.
Growing indoors? Keep you plants in the right room
Different houseplants require different amounts of light and humidity so do some research to find one that’s right for your space. This guide to small indoor houseplants is a good place to start.
Another way to go about finding the right plant is to think about each room of your home. For example, orchids, aloe vera and ferns enjoy warm, humid spaces, making them perfect for bathrooms. On the other hand, the slightly larger peace lilies can do well without much sunlight making them a good choice for kitchens or living rooms.