I love plants. I get it from my mom. She has the greenest thumb I know. I definitely don’t have her skills, but there are some things I’ve learned that have transitioned me from a habitual plant killer. They’re some pretty simple rules that anyone can follow.
1. Pick your location first: Shopping for plants really does start at home. Have an idea of where you plan to place the plant, then pay attention for a day or so. How much natural light is the spot actually getting? And when? Is it near a window? Which way does it face? Don’t worry if the spot doesn’t get what you consider a lot of light. There are plants for every type and amount of light. The trick is picking the right plant for the right spot.
2. Read your labels: It’s so easy to get overwhelmed in the nursery looking at all the pretty plants. Especially when things are in full bloom. Before you buy something purely based on looks, read the label. All companies pretty much use the same language on the labels–low, medium or high light for example. Here are some labels from plants I have saved…
Everything you need to know is right on the label. Look at the one in the middle. I like these kinds of plants. Low light and high light. That covers just about every kind of light there is I’m guessing. The label on the right describes him as ‘resilient’. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for resiliency in my plants. Forget high maintenance, go for tried and true resilient. There’s a life lesson in here somewhere. The one on the left specifically says it’ll do well in low light. Don’t go putting this in a bright sunny window with full afternoon soon. This guy can’t take it. But that funny location in your family room on top of a dresser that hardly gets any sun? Here’s your man.
3. Cute pots can kill a plant: Correction–cute pots without any drainage can kill a plant. Take a look at the pot that came with your plant. It’s not cute, but it does have a source of drainage. Nine times of out of ten I keep the plant in the pot it came in until it outgrows it. I simply place the whole plant (ugly pot and all) right into a decorative planter. I always do this when the decorative pot I have doesn’t have drainage holes, or I can’t add some. You can get some sheet moss or rocks to pretty things up if you’d like. Submerging a pot into another like this is especially helpful for the next rule. Once you get comfortable, you can start expanding into specialty pots (oh joy!). Here’s an orchid pot.
4. Water infrequently but deeply: I’ve killed many a plant out of kindness, a.k.a too much water. If the plants could talk, they would’ve said things like “Lay off! I know you love me and want to see me grow and thrive, but you’re suffocating me!” Yikes. I may have to rethink my approach to parenting because I see some similarities here. I water my plants deeply once a week. I’ll pull them right out of the decorative planter, bring them right into the sink and run water til it runs out the drainage holes. A lot. Then I’ll keep them in the sink to drain before replacing them. This can vary at different times of year. As a general rule, I’ll lift the pot and see if it feels light. If it does, it needs water. If it still feels a little heavy, I’ll wait a day or two.
Do you have any other revelations that you’ve discovered to keep plants alive??