If you’re afraid you may have a brown (or black) thumb, don’t fret! Keeping your houseplants alive doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few tips on how to care for your plant babies.
- Choose your plant wisely
Not all plants were created equally. There are some that require a lot of maintenance and others are relatively low-maintenance. If you’re new to houseplants, chose a heartier, easy to care for plant like ZZ plants, snake plants (or sansevierias), or pothos.
- Let in the light
While all plants need light, the amount they require will vary depending on the plant. A general rule of thumb is that blooming, fruiting or plants with variegated leaves will need lots of light. In contrast, plants with solid or dark green leaves and succulents will need less. Check with your specific plant to determine the amount and type of light your plant needs to thrive. If your plant needs low light but gets direct instead, it’ll most likely turn brown.
- Be water-smart
Water and light are the one-two punch of plant care. And just like with light, the amount of water your plant needs will vary. If your plant blooms, fruits, or has a lot of leaves (like a fern), you’ll need to water it more often than others. Knowing when to water your plant is simple: just check the soil! If the top one-inch of the soil is dry, it’s time to water. If it’s moist, you’re still good to go. Just be aware: overwatering is just as dangerous as underwatering your plant.
- Have proper drainage
Your plant needs the proper drainage so the roots aren’t constantly submerged in water. A pot with drainage holes makes this job easier, but you can also create a drainage layer by adding ½ to 1 inch of pebbles, stones or pumice on the bottom of the pot before adding soil. This will allow excess water to move out of the soil, and away from the roots, faster than soil alone.
- Create good grooming habits
Just like you get your haircut on a semi-regular basis, your plant needs regular grooming (or pruning) to help it live its best life. Take time to wipe leaves to keep them dust free, remove dead leaves and branches to encourage new growth.
- Rotate for even growth
Plants are attracted to light, and will crane itself towards a light source (that’s why your cut tulips always look a little weird after a few days). Help your plant grow straight by rotating them a quarter turn at each watering so each part of the plant gets an equal shot of sun.
With just these few tips, you’ll be able to keep your plants healthy and happy in your new home for years to come.