Today on the blog I wanted to take a look at the basics of caring for your houseplants. Too often we hear people say “I have a black thumb” or “I killed that aloe plant within a week.” If you follow these basic practices you will have a house full of beautiful lush plants that make you happier and healthier.
The first piece of advice I have is to know your plants – different plants require different amounts of water and light, so knowing what you are caring for is really important. A succulent or ZZ plant can go weeks without water, depending on their size, while some ferns might need to be watered every few days.
The most common issue that I run into when helping my customers is a super simple problem to fix. It’s the idea of someone getting a new plant and wanting to love it to death! I am talking about over watering your potted baby. When we over water our houseplants we are suffocating the root mass. Saturated soil holds less oxygen and will lead to root rot, and your plant will start to wilt and suffer. A general rule of thumb is wait till the top half-inch of soil is dry but under that top half inch is still evenly moist. This simple trick will allow your plants to thrive.
My next piece of advice to having a lush healthy plant is to take the time and prune away any sick or dying growth. I love to use our Shear Perfection strait blade trimming shears. This makes the job quick and easy, and allows you to shape your plant and keep it healthy. By removing sick or dying foliage, you are protecting the plant from pest infestation, and allowing the plant to focus its energy into producing healthy growth that is capable of warding off pests or infections.
Plants, just like us, need nourishment to grow. A lot of people tend to think the more they feed their plants the faster and stronger they will grow. Again, this is the problem of loving the plant to death. I like to use liquid nutrients on all my pants as they’re available to plants instantly. The trick with using liquid nutrients is not giving it to the plants all the time. I like to use a simple schedule of watering with plain water three times and then mixing up my “nutrient solution” on the fourth time I water the plants. Then I will repeat this process throughout the plant’s long and bountiful life. Depending on the size of the pot the plant is in, this would be the equivalent of feeding the plant about once or twice a month.
Here at Fifth Season Gardening Co. we have some awesome one-part fertilizers for you to choose from. My personal favorite is Canna Terra, which comes in both a vegetative and blooming formula to give your plant what it needs when it needs it most. I would use the vegetative one-part in the early stage of the plant’s life or when it is not blooming, and then I would switch to the blooming one-part as it starts to put on fruits and flowers. If you want a fully organic option take a look at General Organics Bio Thrive Grow or General Organics Bio Thrive Bloom.
Another great organic option for houseplants is fish-based fertilizers, which contains all kids of micronutrients plants need to thrive. We carry Brown’s and Neptune’s Harvest lines, and both are organic and work wonderfully well. Be aware that fish-based fertilizers may have a temporary smell after you apply them, but your plants wont mind!
If you have orchids or African violets, you should look for fertilizers formulated for those specific plants’ needs. We recommend Jack’s Liquid Orchid foods in grow and bloom formulas to all of our orchid customers. For your African violets we recommend Espoma organic African violet plant food.
We all love the feel of adding houseplants to our homes and offices for the fresh air they generate and how they soften our spaces. If you follow these simple practices you will be bursting with pride when you say “I have a green thumb!”