Are you wanting to finally start an indoor plant collection this year? Have the TikToks and your horticulturist friend finally convinced you to become a plant parent?

We are very excited for you.

To make sure you have the best experience as a new plant parent, here are 7 tips to keep in mind:

1 Don’t let your plants sit in water

watering plants for beginner plant parent

This is a common mistake for new, and experienced, plant parents. In school, we were always taught that plants need water and sunlight, so it’s hard to imagine that having too much of either can actually harm your plants. However, watering too much can lead to fungus gnats and even root rot. Fungus gnats like to nest in the top layer of soil, so bottom watering can be a better option than top watering. This is also a great option if you’re unsure of how much to water because they’ll only take as much as they need. Click here for a how-to on bottom watering.

However, a good rule of thumb is to poke a toothpick or skewer into your plant’s soil, and if the skewer comes up clean, you can water it again.

This leads us to the next point:

2 Choose the correct pots

best pots for your plants

I know, nursery pots are not the best looking but they have the benefit of drainage holes. Not only does this give your plants drainage, but it’s also a good way to check for growth, i.e. if their roots are poking out of the drainage holes it may be a sign to repot. That said, many people jump into repotting quite quickly. Your new plant went from being surrounded by its siblings to an unfamiliar environment; they don’t know about the love their new plant parent will show them yet. In other words, repotting immediately can shock your plants too much. So, give them a few weeks in their original pots, and then you can repot but make sure to research the conditions your plant likes (i.e. moisture-loving, or prefers dry soil), as different materials can have different impacts. The most crucial part is to make sure the new pot has drainage holes.

3 Fertilizing

how to fertilize for beginners

Lots of fertilizers are nicknamed “plant food”. As a beginner plant parent, I read “food” and was immediately tempted to be the Jamie Oliver for my plants. Don’t forget, plants make food through photosynthesis. If your plant has been sitting in the same soil for years - this is especially true for larger plants - then fertilizers may be useful. However, make sure to dilute the fertilizer with water, and just fertilize once a month or so. Over-fertilizing will burn the edges of your plants, so it is better to under-fertilize.

4 Too much sun

direct sunlight on plants

The sun is another major category that biology class has taught us. Sunlight = photosynthesis, and thus food. So, as plant parents, we think giving our plants the brightest, warmest spot is the best. This may be true for plants like succulents that love direct sunlight, but most plants actually prefer indirect sunlight. So, a south-facing window may not be their favourite.

What about “low light” plants?

There definitely are plants that tolerate low light. These include Snake Plants, Zz plants, Heart-Leaf Philodendron, etc. However, “tolerate” does not mean “thrive”. At the end of the day, plants photosynthesize, and the sun is its source. This may not mean that your plant will die, but their leaves may be smaller, and variegated plants will become greener.

5 Not cleaning your leaves

dusty plant leaves that need wiping  

Leaves are like solar panels. If solar panels are dusty, they won’t absorb a lot of energy and may not work. So, make sure to dust your leaves off. We like to use Neem Oil or White Oil to do this, because they give your leaves a shiny coat, and they can also act as a pesticide.

Another way is to bring your plants into the shower, and reenact a tropical rainstorm for them. This way, you’re watering them too.

6 Bringing your plants home

plants in plant store

Make sure to inspect your plant at the store. If there are little bugs crawling around, avoid them. It is also important to quarantine any new plants. You never know what might be in the soil, and you don’t want it infesting your other plants. If you notice pests afterward, be sure to read up on some prevention methods.

7 Learn about your plants

person researching plants

Finally, and probably the most important step for a plant parent, assess your environment and understand which plants will fit. For example, some plants are toxic to our beloved pets, and some plants prefer more sunlight. Another assignment before bringing a plant home is to understand what type of plant it is. A plant with thinner leaves may prefer more water than a plant with thicker leaves. This simple step will help you help your plants thrive!

Happy plant parenting!

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