Today I am going to be talking about the most common mistakes that are made when caring for houseplants and how to avoid them. It can take a lot of work to ensure that all of your plants get the proper care, but it is worth it when you see how beautifully they grow.
“The cactus thrives in the desert while the fern thrives in the wetland. The fool will try to plant them in the same flowerbox. The florist will sigh and add a wall divider and proper soil to both sides. The grandparent will move the flowerbox halfway out of the sun. The child will turn it around properly so that the fern is in the shade, and not the cactus. The moral of the story?
Kids are smart.”Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
Improper watering is one of the most common mistakes made when dealing with houseplants. This is because all plants require different watering schedules. Some prefer their soil to dry out completely before being watered again, and some prefer to have constant damp soil. Although I can’t supply you with a full list of how to water your plants, I can give you some basic tips!
Tip #1: It is better the underwater rather than overwater
Tip #2: Water the soil, not the leaves
Tip #3: DO NOT let water sit on top of the soil because the plant will drown
Tip #4: Water the soil evenly, otherwise the roots will grow to one side
Pots and Soil
Another mistake that is commonly made is putting your plants in the wrong types of pots. The biggest mistake is using pots that don’t have drainage holes. Drainage holes are very important because they allow excess water the drain out, which will prevent root rot. Along with this, it is important for your pots to have the proper amount of soil. Over time, soil will be lost in two places while watering: the bottom where the it escapes from the drainage hole and the top from splashing out.
Proper sunlight levels are very important to houseplants. Just as it is with watering, temperature, and humidity, different types of plants require different sunlight levels. For example, there are plants, such as succulents, that thrive in full sun conditions. However, there are also plants, such as snake plants, that prefer shade conditions.
Temperature and Humidity
Just like us, plants don’t do well when conditions are too hot or too cold. When plants get too hot, they will suffer from heat exhaustion and will lose all of their water supply. Along with temperature, there are some plants that thrive in humidity. For example, I have a Norfolk Island Pine in my apartment and I spray the needles and air around it everyday to increase the humidity level.
A common mistake that not many people think about is not cleaning your plants’ leaves. Dirt, grime, and dust builds up on leaves and can impede the plant’s ability to perform photosynthesis. This is because of the stomata, similar to pores, that are on the surface of leaves. They open and close to move water and gases (essential to photosynthesis) in and out of the leaves. Cleaning your plants’ leaves will give them a healthier life and they’ll look better!
Ignoring houseplant pests, such as mealybug (present in the picture below), can be a disastrous mistake. These pests can quickly get out of hand if they aren’t treated. A good tip is to check each of your plants when watering. If you aren’t bringing in new plants you shouldn’t have to worry about pests. However, it is important to quarantine (I know…) any new plants before putting them in with your current plants. During this time, you should monitor the plant for any signs of pests and treat them if they are present.