Are You Making These Common Beginner Mistakes With Your Plants?
The Do's and Don'ts of Plant Care
We've all been there. We buy a new plant that we're excited to watch grow and start a long happy life with. A couple months later, that same plant is flatlining quick with no hope of revival! The good news? Even long term plant parents have been there at some point. It's apart of the plant process. Growing indoor plants might sound like a simple task in theory, but each plant is unique which means each plant requires varying levels of light, water, humidity, and so much more. From overwatering, to underwatering, to just not giving your plant enough light, we've got you covered! By the end of this, you'll be a pro who's ready to tackle any new plant that life throws your way.
Common Mistake #1 - Overwatering
There are two types of people in this world: the ones that underwater their houseplants and the ones that overwater their houseplants. Our goal is to teach you how to be neither. There is a common misconception that all plants require frequent watering. This is not true! When it comes to houseplants, overwatering is one of the most common killers. The worst part is that you might not even realize you were killing your plant until it's already dead! A main reason overwatering happens is because a lot of beginner plant parents assume water is the solution when they see something strange going on with their plant. Or they are unsure of how frequently they should actually be watering their plant. This unknown usually results in watering the plant too frequently or too much in an attempt to make sure it is has enough water. When we water too frequently, the water supersaturates the soil which results in a lack of oxygen to the roots. As the roots sit in the waterlogged soil, fungus will begin to grow and eat at the decaying plant maerial (aka - the roots). If it isn't caught quickly, it will spread to the rest of the plant like a disease. This is called "root rot".
As a general rule of (green) thumb, you should avoid overwatering when the top layer of soil is still moist. You can test the lower levels of the soil by sticking your finger in to check the moisture level before you decide to water it again. As we mentioned, overwatering leads to root rot which is deadly for your plant and no one wants to go to a plant funeral, so remain vigilant. Make sure to remember that overwatering doesn't mean giving your plant a large quanity of water at one time -- overwatering is usually caused by the frequency of your waterings. As long as the soil in your plant is dry, you can throughly water that baby for atleast a minute or two. When you're sure the soil is dry, don't be afraid of giving it a heavy and consistent pour. It will thank you.
Common Mistake #2 - Underwatering
If it isn't one extreme, it's the next. That's why this section goes out to all my people afraid of overwatering their plants. We see you, we love you, but we need you to start giving your plant more than half a cup of water. Your plant is thirsty. Okay...so now that we've addressed the elephant in the room, let's talk about what happens when you underwater your plants and how to tell if your plant isn't getting enough moisture. While most plants can handle a little bit of drought, it can quickly become a problem for others. Without enough water, your plant will miss out on key components needed for photosynthesis, which will therefore stunt its growth. If the cells in the plant are lacking water, the leaves will also begin to wilt. If the soil is left dry for a long period of time, it can even become hydrophobic – meaning it will literally begin to repel water. This is often really difficult to reverse or even impossible. Lack of water will turn your once vibrant and green foliage brown, yellow, and crispy.
In an attempt to not overwater their plants, a lot of beginner plant parents actually end up doing the exact opposite. This can be just as fatal. What may seem like a lot of water to us isn't too much for your plant! Let her live, she's thirsty. When beginner plant parents water their plants, they commonly assume their plant has enough water by looking at the top layer only, but the soil is dense and needs to absorb a lot of water to fully hydrate it. Unless your plant is in a 2-4" pot, you will need more than just two cups of water! One of the best ways to determine if you are watering enough is by slowly pouring water into the soil until you see liquid draining from the holes in the bottom of the pot. By doing so, you'll find yourself having to water less without drying out the plant!
Common Mistake #3 - Misting
This one has been heavily debated, but don't worry, we've got the correct answer for you. Does misting your plant actually do anything for it? The answer is NO. Misting your plant is just a myth that is said to benefit it by increasing the humidity of it. This common belief has resulted in people deciding to mist their plants every few days or whenever they remember, but it isn't really helping the plant. Now although misting doesn't harm your plant, it doesn't benefit it at all either. Realistically, most people living in apartments have air that is super dry. Misting the plant will create some TEMPORARY humidity, but that will evaportate before you can even finish the sentence "I am misting my plant!". Therefore, misting is considered a common beginner "mistake" because it 's something a lot of people do that just doesn't need to be done. It won't increase humdiity or benefit your plant in any way.
We get it, it's cute to do, but isn't doing anything for your plant. You can take this one out of your plant routine and focus more on the important things like lighting and watering!
Common Mistake #4 - Mistaking Low Light With No Light
Another common mistake made by beginner plant parents is equating 'Low Light' with 'No Light'. These are two very different things that can make or break your plant. One of the most popular questions asked by plant parents is "Can this plant survive in low-light?" Technically, yes! There are many plants that are low light tolerant, but most plants will grow best in brighter light. Now let's get one things clear: low light doesn't mean a room with no windows or an empty table in the corner that never sees the light of day. Low light plants still need a room with windows and light, but they don't have to be close to the window, nor will they mind their sunlight being obstructed by other objects in the home. A good rule of thumb when measuring low light is an area where you could read a book without needing to turn a light on! While some plants can survive a few months in no light conditions, some more resilient than others, they will certanitely have a much shorter life span compared to a plant that is getting low light.
Common Mistake #5 - Too Much Sunlight
One of the most finicky parts about plants is finding out the light that they need. It's no surprise that another common mistake people make with their houseplants is giving them too much sunlight! You'll know you've given your plant too much sunlight when the foliage becomes stunted and new growth becomes leggy. Eventually, you will see the leaves begin to burn and lose their color. Since too much sun dries out the plant, you may also notice crispy browned leaves. The most common situation is people putting their plants outside or directly in front of a window with bright sunlight. Cactus plants and snake plants are almost always happy in direct light, while peace lilies and Fiddle leaf trees like a less direct form of sunshine. Plants that require bright, indirect light can handle sitting next to a sunny window, out of the direct beam of light. A medium to low indirect sunlight request means the plant can be in the same room as a sunny window, or in front of the window so long as there's a translucent curtain blocking some of the light. Shade-tolerant plants like sunlight, but they prefer to peek at the light from a hallway or a not-so-bright kitchen.
We're here to grow with you!
Still now 100% sure what to do with your plant? Don't worry. No matter what experience level Plant Parent you consider yourself, we can all use a little help sometimes! Whether you're looking for a new plant to add to your collection and just not sure what you want or you have questions about your current plants, we've got you covered. Book a call with one of our Plant Experts today!