Houseplants 101: How to get a green thumb
If you're like most people, you probably have a black thumb. You can't seem to keep any plants alive for more than a week or two. But don't worry, you're not alone! A black thumb is also not something that you'll have forever, because, with some easy tips, you can become a green thumb.
In this plant care guide, I'll teach you all the basics about taking care of plants. We'll look at which plants are great for beginners and will allow you to make mistakes without dying right away. Aside from the plants, we'll look at how (often) you should water your plants, how you choose a spot to put your plant, why and how often to fertilize your plant, and how you deal with pests. At the end of this guide, you'll know all the basics of taking care of houseplants and you'll soon realize you've become a green thumb!
These are the topics we're going to look at:
Let's get started with learning how to take care of houseplants, followed by some great beginner-friendly plants to practice your newly acquired skills!
Choose the right plants for your environment
When choosing plants for your home or garden, it's important to consider the sunlight and temperature requirements of each of them. If you live in a region with long, hot summers, for example, you'll need to select plants that can tolerate high temperatures and direct sunlight. On the other hand, if you live in a cooler climate, you'll need to choose plants that can survive colder winters and may require more water.
You should also consider your own care style when selecting plants. Are you someone who forgets about watering your plants? Perhaps a succulent or cactus is a great plant for you to start with. Do you love to water your plant a little more often? Perhaps African Violets or Peace Lilies are great plants for you to start with. By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that you choose the right plants for your environment.
To determine a great plant for you to start with, let's answer these questions:
- Do you forget to water your plant? Choose a drought-tolerant plant
- Do you want to water your plant more often? Choose a moisture-loving plant
- Do you have large windows and a lot of natural sunlight in your house? Choose a plant that likes direct sunlight or bright indirect sunlight
- Do you have a darker house? Choose a plant that prefers low-light spots
While you're answering these questions, keep track of the type of plant that would do best with your plant care style and your home. For example: "I need a drought-tolerant plant because I forget to water them all the time and the plant should prefer direct sunlight because my house has lots of natural sunlight". The type of plant will be important when we look at the best houseplant for you to start with, so write it down for now and let's learn more about taking care of plants.
Give your plants the right amount of water
Watering and sunlight are two of the most important things to consider when it comes to keeping your plants healthy. Watering too much or too little can both have detrimental effects on your plants, as can letting them sit in direct sunlight for extended periods. By giving your plants the right amount of watering and sunlight, you can help them to thrive and stay healthy for longer.
If you'd like a trick to make watering your plant a lot easier: Always use a pot with one or more drainage holes. These drainage holes make it much easier for you to give your plant the right amount of water, without too much risk of giving them too much.
Houseplants, in particular, are delicate creatures that require a bit of extra care and attention. Watering them once a week should be the most you'll have to water your plant, but be sure to check the soil before watering to make sure that it is not already moist.
How do you water your plants?
When you're watering your plants, especially when you're getting to know your plant for the first time, it's a great idea to bring it to a sink. Here's why! When you're watering your plant, in a pot with a drainage hole, you can water it until the moisture starts to drip out of the bottom of the pot. Once the water starts to drip out of the bottom of the pot, the soil has absorbed all the moisture it can hold and is trying to get rid of any excess water. The soil is helping you to prevent overwatering your plant by getting rid of all the excess soil out of the drainage hole.
I recommend watering your plant in the sink the first few times, rather than keeping it on the saucer under your pot, because this is when you learn how much water the soil can absorb. After a few weeks of doing this, you'll have a pretty good understanding of how much water your plant needs and you can keep it on the saucer.
No plant likes to grow in wet soil, so proper drainage is essential for keeping your plant happy.
Give your plants the right amount of sunlight
Sunlight is the second most important thing to keep your plant happy and healthy. Different plants like different levels of sunlight exposure, because they grow in different environments in nature. Some plants, like cacti, grow in the full sun in warm and dry areas. While other plants, like a Monstera or Alocasia, grow under the shade of large trees, where they're only getting medium to bright indirect sunlight. Knowing where your plant grows and what type of sunlight it prefers is essential for helping it grow and keeping it looking its best.
Luckily, most houseplants have very similar light needs, so if you haven't found anything about what type of light your plant prefers, you can give it bright indirect sunlight and it'll be happy.
Placing your houseplants near a window, not right next to it, is often ideal, as they will get plenty of indirect light without being exposed to harsh direct sunlight. Rotating your plants every so often will also help them to grow evenly.
How do you know your plant is getting too much sunlight?
If your plant is wilting, it's a good sign that it's getting too much sunlight. Another giveaway is if the leaves on your plant are turning brown or crispy. Overwatering and overwatering plants can both lead to leaf burn, which will make the leaves look unhealthy and distorted. If you're not sure whether your plant is getting too much light or too much water, take a look at the leaves â if they're wilting, crispy or brown, then it's time to adjust one of those factors.
How do you know your plant is getting too little sunlight?
If your plant is not growing, it may be getting too little sunlight. Another sign that your plant is not getting enough light is if the leaves are turning pale green or yellow. Without enough sunlight, plants will not grow and may start to lose their color.
Fertilize your plants at the right time
Fertilizing your plants at the right time is critical to their growth. Plants need fertilizer to get the nutrients they need to grow. However, too much fertilizer can be just as harmful as not enough. The key is to find the right balance. For most houseplants, that means fertilizer once a month during the growing season. However, there are some exceptions. For example, cacti and succulents need fertilizer only once or twice a year, while ferns and African violets benefit from fertilizer every two weeks. By fertilizing your plants at the right time, you can ensure that they get the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong.
There are no definitive answers as to how often you should fertilize your plant, but you can make a good guess.
If you have a slow-growing plant, meaning it barely grows larger in a year, you should only fertilize it twice per year: once at the beginning of spring and once at the beginning of the summer. These plants don't need a lot of nutrients, because they don't use a lot to grow bigger. Some examples of these types of plants are succulents, cacti, dracaena, and sansevieria.
If you have a medium-growing plant, meaning it will grow quite a bit per year, but they're not growing very many new leaves/stems per year, you'll need to fertilize your plant once per month in the spring and summer. Some types of plants like this are Monstera, Golden Pothos, Philodendron, and Syngonium.
And lastly, if you've got fast-growing plants, meaning they grow many new leaves and stems quickly, but those stems and leaves also die quite quickly, you'll need to fertilize your plant every 14 days. These plants have explosive growth during the spring and summer and might seem a little chaotic and "busy". Some types of plants like this are Spider plants, Ferns, Herbs, and Peace Lilies.
Repot your plants when they start to get too big for their pot
Repotting your plants is an important part of being a plant owner. When a plant starts to outgrow its pot, it's called being "rootbound". This means the roots have started to take up all the space in the pot and they're not able to get the air and water they need.
Repotting helps to ensure that your plants can continue growing healthy and strong. It also allows you to refresh the potting mix, which can help to prevent disease and pests. Not sure when it's time to repot? A general rule of thumb is to do it every one to two years for small plants, and every two to three years for large plants. So if you've been noticing that your beloved houseplant has been looking a little sad lately, and you've been doing everything right, it might be time to give it some extra growing space.
It's very important to pick a pot that's only one size larger than the previous pot. The biggest reason to pick a pot that's only slightly larger is that a pot that's too large for your plant will hold a lot more soil, which in turn will hold onto too much water for your plant to absorb. This moist soil that never dries out is a magnet for pests and will cause root rot on your plant quite quickly. That's also why you should wait a year longer to repot larger plants because those pots are much larger than the previous pot and hold onto a lot more moisture as well.
Prune your plants to keep them healthy and looking good
Any gardener knows that pruning is an essential part of plant care. Not only does it help to keep plants looking their best, but it also helps to promote growth and control pests. However, many people don't realize that pruning houseplants are just as important as pruning outdoor plants. Houseplants often become leggy and wild-looking when they're not pruned, and they're also more likely to attract pests.
Pruning houseplants is a simple matter of removing any dead or damaged leaves, stems, or flowers. This will not only improve the plant's appearance but will also encourage new growth. In addition, regular pruning will help to keep pests under control. So don't forget to give your houseplants a good pruning now and then!
When you're ready to prune your plant, make sure to disinfect any tools you use to care for your plants. This will help you avoid spreading diseases from one plant to another.
Clean your plant's leaves regularly to prevent pests from growing
Any houseplant owner knows that keeping your plants healthy can be a bit of a challenge. In addition to making sure they get the right amount of sunlight and water, you also need to be on the lookout for pests. One way to help keep your plants healthy is to clean their leaves regularly.
The best and easiest way to protect your plant against pests is to prevent pests from getting to your plants. A great way to do this is to regularly clean your plant's leaves with neem oil, soap, and a warm water mixture. If you do this once per month, you're taking your time to inspect your plants for pests and you either prevent them from getting to your plant or you're actively getting them off your plant.
It's important to not clean the leaves too often, as this could also remove the good bacteria from your plant. The bacteria that are there to keep your plant healthy.
What are some good plants to start with as a beginner?
We've looked at a few of the basics of taking care of plants and helping you become a green thumb. But reading about it is one thing, you'll need to practice your skills to get better at recognizing when your plants need water, perhaps they've had too much water and they need to dry out.
To help you practice your skills, I've picked 4 great plants for beginning plant owners, as they have clear needs and show you when they're not happy and you need to change something. These plants also don't really suffer from any pests, so they won't overwhelm you with a lot going on at once.
If you remember from the beginning of the post, I've asked you 4 questions to determine what type of plant fits you and your living space best. Let's now match your plant care style and living space to the perfect plant to start with!
A Sansevieria is perfect for you and your space if you forget to water your plants all the time or if you don't want to spend too much time taking care of your plants. The Sansevieria grows well in all light levels, from low light spots to direct sunlight, so it's a very versatile plant.
- Sunlight: Anything, from low light to direct sunlight
- Water: Ideally, once every 14 days
- Fertilizer: Once per month in the spring and summer
Succulent / Cactus
A Succulent or Cactus is perfect for you and your space if you forget to water your plants all the time or if you don't want to spend too much time taking care of your plants. Succulents and cacti grow well in direct sunlight, on a windowsill where they get sunlight for a few hours per day in the afternoon.
- Sunlight: Direct sunlight
- Water: Ideally, once every 14 days
- Fertilizer: Once at the beginning of spring and once at the beginning of summer
A Peace Lily is a flowering houseplant that loves moisture and is perfect for you and your space if you like to water your plants a little every few days. The Peace Lily grows well in low light spots up to medium to bright indirect light spots. If you want it to grow its beautiful flowers, you'll need to put it in a spot that has at least medium indirect sunlight, because it'll need the energy from the sunlight to grow.
- Sunlight: Low light to bright indirect sunlight
- Water: Ideally, once per week
- Fertilizer: Once every 14 days in the spring and summer
African Violets is a beautiful flower that thrives in sunlight and loves moisture! It's perfect for you and your space if you like to water your plants a little more often. The African Violets grow best in bright indirect to direct sunlight and likes to be fertilized frequently.
- Sunlight: Bright indirect to direct sunlight
- Water: Ideally, once every 4 days
- Fertilizer: Once every 14 days in the spring and summer
You should now have a few great beginner-friendly plants to start your plant journey with. These plants are quite forgiving and allow you to make mistakes without killing them right away. These plants should help you to recognize if they need water or if they've had too much. As soon as you can help these plants thrive, you're ready to take on more difficult plants and see what they want and need in your house!
By following these simple tips, you will be on your way to becoming a successful plant parent in no time! Be sure to share this guide with your friends and family so that they can become green thumbs too.
Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.
Tags: beginner-friendlyPosted on: Nov 26, 2022