If you love colorful flowers, lush greenery, and fresh home-grown produce but struggle with success as a gardener, fear not! The right type of attention will help your plants thrive and create the flora-filled landscape you’ve always wanted.
Get started with these nine tips for proper plant care, designed to turn your black thumb green and provide a solid foundation for the novice home gardener.
Embrace Diversity with Your Plants
Every plant is different, so avoid applying a standard routine to every species in your garden. Review the sunlight and water requirements for each species so you know exactly what the plant needs to stay healthy.
By the same token, understand the signs of a plant problem so you can fix it early and prevent long-term damage. While drying, discoloration, and wilting are fairly universal danger signs, some species show strife in other ways. Do your research, then jump in and remedy the situation sooner rather than later.
Protecting Your Plants from Insects
Outdoor gardens are susceptible to six-legged predators. Fortunately, natural defenses can limit many common plant-destroying bugs. When planning your garden, add insect-repelling plants such as alliums to keep tiny critters away.
You can also introduce ladybugs, which fight off aphids that spread diseases to plants. Inspect leaves frequently for pest damage and seek the appropriate remedy.
Maintain Proper Water Levels for Your Garden
You already know that a plant will die when it doesn’t have enough water, but too much water can also cause issues.
Overly wet soil prevents plants from breathing and can limit growth at the roots. Follow the watering instructions for each species carefully. Consider using a soil conditioner designed to ensure plants get the oxygen they need even in rainy conditions.
For potted plants, choose containers that have appropriate drainage. The smaller the pot, the more quickly the soil will dry out. When plants are repotted, always add water to the new pot. If plants seem to dry out quickly in your home, consider adding a humidifier if you have dry air.
Knowing when to water makes a big difference. For most plants, you should water until the soil is saturated. Use warm or lukewarm water unless a plant specifically requires cold water. Avoid watering again until the soil dries.
Depending on the plant, this could happen in a few hours or a few days.
Be aware of the signs of both overwatering and underwatering your plants. Too much water can result in brown, rotten leaves, loss of new leaf growth, standing water, brown roots, and/or moldy soil.
Lack of sufficient water is usually characterized by curled yellow or brown leaves, the early loss of leaves, and/or limited new growth.
The Importance of Temperature and Humidity for Your Plants
The Importance of Temperature and Humidity for Your Plants
Speaking of humidity, some plants need more than others. For the best results, group plants that need similar humidity levels together and add a humidifier or dehumidifier as needed.
Strive for a stable humidity level of about 80% unless a certain species require more or less. No humidifier? Simulate the effect by misting the leaves of your plants with a spray bottle each day.
A stable indoor temperature is also beneficial for flora. A range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is appropriate for most species.
How to Manage the Right Amount of Sunlight for Your Plants
Position houseplants carefully so they get the right amount of sun for optimal growth. Most species that thrive indoors require indirect but bright sunlight. The brightest light shines through windows that face to the south, while the northern-facing windows get limited light.
Moderate light is available through windows that face west and east. When planning an outdoor garden, spend a day monitoring the sunlight level at your chosen site and select plant species appropriately.
As with moisture, your plants will tell you if they are getting too much or not enough sun. Excessive light may result in scorched or brown leaves, fading colors, and afternoon wilting.
If your plant is stuck in the shade, you may notice spindly growth that strives for sun, irregular leaf color variations, limited blooms for flowering plants, limited growth, and/or small new leaves that fall off prematurely.
If you live in a home with limited light, you can still maintain a thriving indoor garden with artificial lighting. Install a fixture with two 40-watt fluorescent tubes, one that emits warm white light and one that emits cool white light.
Flowering plants should be placed six to 12 inches below the light, while plants without flowers should be at least 12 inches below the light fixture. Find out how many hours of light your species needs each day and turn off the light fixture periodically based on those recommendations. Keep in mind that plants grown under artificial lights need more water than plants that receive natural light.
Providing Proper Plant Nutrition
Sun and water are important, but plants also need other vitamins and nutrients to survive and thrive. Soil conditioner, plant food, and compost can all boost the nutrition quotient of your soil, so experiment with these methods to see which your plants seem to like best.
If a plant isn’t getting enough nutrition, you may notice limited flowering, weak stems, and pale or prematurely dying leaves. Plants can also get too much fertilizer, which may cause a white crust to form on the soil and wilting or misshapen leaves with burnt or brown spots.
Optimal Plant Pruning
Removing dead leaves and flagging blooms is essential for healthy plant growth. For best results, use sharp scissors or pruning shears to make a clean cut when leaves or stems are dead, yellowing, or decayed.
This step prevents disease and fungus from spreading to parts of the plant that are thriving.
When Should I Consider Repotting my Plants?
When plants begin to outgrow their containers, it’s time for a repotting session. Spring is the best time for this project since rapid root growth allows plants to adapt to their new surroundings more quickly. Choose a pot that is bigger than the current container but not overly large, since that can lead to water flow problems that compromise healthy growth.
Carefully move the plant to its new home while being particularly gentle with the roots. Roots that grow in a spiral should be unwound very carefully before repotting. Firmly but gently add new soil, ensuring that you have enough room to add water and fertilizer at the top of the container.
How Does Your Lifestyle Affect Your Plants?
When you get a pet, you need to decide whether you have time to care for a new puppy that needs lots of attention or if a solitary hermit crab is more your speed. The same is true when you’re a plant parent. If you have a busy work schedule and frequently travel, choose plants that can thrive even without day to daycare.
Succulents and snake plants are good low-maintenance options that do well as long as they get the right amount of light. If you have lots of time to spend pampering your plants, you may want to opt for a higher-maintenance species such as an air plant or orchid.
Boost the vitality of your indoor and outdoor plants quickly with Harvest Gold Organics Premium Soil Conditioner. Just one use provides all the seasonal nutrients your plants need along with improved soil structure and health.