If you scroll social media, house plants are as common in home decor as rugs and throw blankets. Many of us grew our collection of plant babies over the past year because we were spending so much more time at home. Caring for my indoor plants is a hobby I’ve come to love and something I find tons of gratification in. I proudly call myself a plant mom!
If you know the joy of spotting a new leaf sprouting, you know what I’m talking about.
House plants add so much to our homes and lives. Not only beauty but also air purification, reminders of self-care, and in some cases, reduced stress levels. Gardening can be a learning process, and indoor plants can leave you stumped or feeling intimidated.
Have no fear, plant mom here to share some tips for happier house plants!
Watering day is a whole thing
My watering day is Friday. Sometimes Saturday morning. I truly enjoy puttering around my house with a watering can in hand tending to my plants and caring for them. I rotate them, remove dead leaves, monitor their soil, and most importantly, give them a good watering. In Arizona, our air is very dry which means watering is serious business. When I was researching Fiddle Leaf Figs (FLF) I read so much about overwatering and was very cautious about how much water I used, around a cup a week. My tree was dropping leaves weekly and I was stumped. Turns out – I was UNDERWATERING. If the top inch of your plant’s soil is bone dry – you need to water more. I started watering my bigger FLF with 2-3 refills of my watering can and boom – totally different plant.
Some of my plants, like my Peacy Lilly (below) love a good shower. I place her in the tub on watering day and give her a good soak. The humidity combined with the deep watering makes for a happier house plant.
Not all pots are created equal
Drain holes > no drain holes. Trendy and beautiful pots don’t often have drain holes. Watering well means that drainage will occur and if your pot doesn’t have a way for the excess water to escape you can essentially drown your plant by the roots. But there’s a simple solution – grow pots. Grow pots (the plastic pots the plant comes home from the store in) can be left on and set inside a pretty pot for display. Remove the plant for watering and replace it when drained.
I place mine in the kitchen sink to water, easy peasy. Like all house plants, they eventually will outgrow their plastic pots – keep a stash of larger grow pots for them to move into.
You need plant food
We all know the basics, plants need sunlight and water. But, potted indoor plants aren’t getting the same goodies as their outdoor cousins. Rainwater is liquid gold and organic matter outdoors isn’t always available indoors (hi worms!) so you need to give your babies a boost of nutrients. I’ve used all kinds of plant food – pellets, sticks, powder, and more recently liquid food. I put a few drops in every refill of my watering can and use it every time I water.
Find your light
My current home has the least amount of natural light of any home I’ve lived in, and I have more plants than ever before. There are some plants that can live happily in low light (Snake Plants) and some that are very dramatic (ahem, FLF!) and need ALL the bright and sunny rays. Play around with your light sources and see what plants are happier in which areas. Some want indirect morning light, some want bright afternoons and many can live in low light areas.
This Snake Plant is super happy in a bedroom that has a South-facing window and a nearby humidifier I run a few times a week. I’ve also had good success with grow lights – super helpful in the winter when there is less daylight.
Many plants take the winter off
It’s super normal for plants to go dormant in the winter, especially in a climate like Flagstaff. It’s colder, the days are shorter and plants use their energy to maintain rather than expand. In the past few weeks, as the days have gotten longer I’ve seen more new leaf action than I did all winter! If you aren’t seeing new left activity this time of year it might be helpful to adjust your watering or feeding. It takes significant energy for a plant to put out a new leaf, and if it has to ration limited water or nutrients it will focus on caring for itself rather than expending resources to grow.
Support your plants
Some plants are climbers – Monstera and Pathos love to climb. FLF’s need support as they mature into larger trees. A moss pole or stake can provide structure and support to your growing plants. As the plants grow the supports will need to be adjusted, and Pathos can get leggy and need to be re-routed as they mature.
Plant people are good people
If you have a question or want to know where to get started with indoor plants, just ask the plant people! We LOVE talking about plants and we’ll happily share our knowledge. We have several awesome plant resources here in Flagstaff where you can purchase plants, food, pots and ask questions.
A few of my favorite places to find plant people:
If you don’t know where to start, get a Snake Plant. Build your confidence with the knowledge I’ve shared here and once you’ve kept it alive for a period of time, add in a Pathos, then a Rubber Plant, and then….well, and then you’ll be a totally awesome plant mom and you’ll be caring for a whole collection of plants.