Everyone starts somewhere, Just don't give up when one dies!! It happens!!

Everyone starts somewhere, Just don't give up when one dies!! It happens!!

Hey there sprouts, how's your week been? 

Here in sunny North Yorkshire it's actually been a pleasure to throw open the doors, get some Vitamin D and hang some laundry outside for once. 

This is my second blog and I didn't think it would be right for me to write about anything else other than my top tips for beginners, after all it's what I get asked the most and i've a lot of experience and rather healthy houseplants to prove I know my stuff.

This doesn't mean I haven't made mistakes or lost the odd houseplant or ten along the way. It just means I adapted the care I gave them, the way I grouped them and also what I bought home. Basically no orchids for my home!! (yet my non green fingered sister can keep these blooming and thriving till the cows come home- There you go Bev, you got a mention!!)

So even thought this isn't the holy grail of house plant keeping, and maybe a few of these tips don't work for you, it's just what I put a lot of my success down too.

Now my first bit of wisdom and the most important thing I always tell beginners (I will write this in capitals for emphasis)

We have all been there, in the garden centre or supermarket or even online (even more since lock down) and thought “Oh, I love this plant, it MUST be mine.” before knowing what it’s needs are.

Now this doesn’t happen to me often now because I’ve read A LOT and know what suits my “free” spaces.

So basically what I’m saying is choose where you’d like plants and buy for the space.

For example I’ve got a wet room full of humidity loving plants but this wouldn’t be suitable for say cacti or succulents who like to dry out.

I’ve got full sun windows for things like the aforementioned and my jade plants.
Then dark spots in my house are filled with zz plants, philodendron and some pothos all of which will tolerate lower light.

Also think about size and what they will grow to once you’ve become successful at keeping them alive, it has made me so sad over the years to see people having to give away monstera that have gotten so huge because they expected them to stay the size they were when purchased.

I am always very willing to suggest plants for locations if needed. 

Next tip: watering! Lots of people always say to me “I can never keep plants alive and I water them often.” I think sometimes that’s half the issue. Very few plants like to stay in moist soil let alone stand in water so I again have always tried to find out the watering needs of all the plants I own and if I can I bunch the plants that are similar together I do , it just to make life easier.

I have a window sill full of very thirsty plants that need watering often and it’s one of the first places I see when I get up so if any are sagging I notice it early and can remedy it before the damage is done.

Likewise I keep my “like to dry out” plants together or in places up high so I’m not tempted to over water.

I would also suggest a water soil probe. You can buy these on amazon and they test the soil right down to the root. So much better than any finger and you keep your nails soil free!

If you’re someone who forgets to water there are also lots of plants that require very little, Zamioculcas the zz plant or Sansevieria the snake plant are very easy keepers who tolerate high levels of neglect. So there’s no excuse.

There are a few plants I have that like to be sprayed/misted regular too and for this I always use room temp water.

In fact my third tip is to always use lukewarm Rain water when watering. This helps to limit root shock and there are less chemicals than in tap water too, these build up in the soil and can show in the leaves over time. Also where possible water from the bottom as this helps promote root growth and plant health, but allow them to soak long enough when doing this.

Which leads me to my next tip: PLANT POTS.
Don’t get me wrong, there are soooooo many beautiful decorative plants pots out there but what all seasoned house plant pros notice is that very few have drainage holes! To a plant the drainage hole is heaven!!! If there isn’t one and you pot you plant straight into one you can’t let them “butt chug” (soak from the root up) and if you water from the top it doesn’t drain out and they can sit in water for weeks and root rot sets in before you have time to notice it.
Therefor I always buy decorative pots with holes OR leave the plants in the plastic nursery pot and pop that into a decorative one with a small layer of gravel in the bottom so no roots ever sit in water.

Which then leads nicely into my last tip:
Once you’ve got your new plant pals home don’t start repotting and watering them right away (unless it's been severely neglected and needs that drink stat!)
Like anyone who goes abroad from the U.K, they need time to acclimatise to their new surroundings.
Repotting too soon can cause growth issues and shock.
Some plants even like to become root bound and prefer been left in smaller pots this stops the roots been overwhelmed and the plant then uses more energy growing above the soil rather than below. Perhaps leave them a week or two before slightly sizing up the pot or replacing soil if needed, believe me they will thank you.

Other things to consider are soil types, for example you can buy cacti and succulent soil now that is great, as it keeps water away from the plant just long enough and drys quickly.

And last but not least pests!!!

Once you go down the plant road you will get them at some point. I’d suggest always checking new plants at the store for anything moving in the soil and under leaves and then arm yourself as soon as you can with a natural plant pesticide, yellow sticky traps and fast internet speed (to google!) helping to keep the buggers at bay. Even if you don’t use them for a while you will need it at some point.
(How to use all these things against bugs is another story perhaps more on that subject next time)

So that concludes my tips for today dear plant pals, amateur or pro I shall bid you goodbye, good luck, happy researching and with this little motto!
“I didn’t choose the houseplant life- The houseplant life chose me!”

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