The Right Light

One of the easiest things to overlook as a plant parent is making sure your plants are getting the right amount of light. There is a such thing as too much and there is definitely a such thing as not enough. Lighting is very important for a plant because that is how it provides energy for itself(photosynthesis) but that does not mean it needs bright light all the time. Pictures are not the only thing that need the right light.

There are plants that love to basque in the sun and there are those that prefer there was none. Knowing the type of light(brightness) prefers can come in handy because it can help you with decorating as well. For example, you may have a bathroom you’d like to spruce up with a plant but you are concerned there just is not enough light to keep it happy. Find a plant that does not need much light or actually prefers the dark. You may have an area that gets sun for the entire day the sun is out–find plants that like to be in areas that are bright.

Keep in mind that it is possible for light to burn a plant, no matter how far from the source the source the plant is situated. You will know your plant is sunburned by looking at the leaves as they will be thinner, possibly browning, and starting to develop holes(assuming the plant is not one that has holes in the leaves naturally). If you notice this, move the plant further away from the source. It is also possible that your plant is not getting enough light and this can be noticed by the plant growing slower than normal or growth stopping long before the growing season ends. Some plants that do not get enough light will even have leaves that turn a dark shade of green.

Feeding Your Plants

Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and potassium are the main minerals of fertilizer

Plants have four basic needs: light, water, and air. All of these elements can vary by plant but the complete lack of any one of them can be detrimental to a plant. But wait, that’s only three? AH! Yes, nutrients! Plants need nutrients to grow strong and reach their full potential.
Feeding plants properly can be quite tricky. There are ideal times of the growing season that it should be applied.

Most plants will benefit when nutrients are applied during the growing season. The growing season is different from plant to plant. There are many, many fertilizers on the market and it can be hard to determine which one is best but there is one good rule of thumb to follow: research what your plant needs.

Most plant food packages will have a set of numbers on the label indicating the strength of the fertilizer. The first number is nitrogen(N), the second number is phosphorus(P) and the third number is potassium(K). For example, a label reading 20-20-20 means the total mixture is 20% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus, and 20% potassium. This number is based on the total weight of the entire mixture as fertilizer often has other trace elements and ingredients involved. A 20-lb bag of fertilizer may read 20-15-25 which means the mixture is:

4 pounds of nitrogen

3 pounds of phosphorus

5 pounds of potassium

It is very important that you feed your plants the types of fertilizer they are meant to have. Not all fertilizers are created equally and you can actually severely harm your plants by feeding them the wrong types of fertilizer or too much fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can burn a plant.

Research your plant and fertilizer before applying and always follow the instructions on the label.

Is your plant thirsty?

Plant that needs water

Caring for plants can be fun. You can be rewarded with beautiful growth, flowers, fruit, and fragrance. As with any other living thing, plants have needs and sometimes it is easy to forget the most important: water

Forgetting to water your plants is one of the most common problems plant parents encounter. Life gets busy. The weather changes. You go on vacation. All of these things can result in a thirsty plant and they can happen fast. What’s worse? You don’t realize your plant is thirsty until it shows signs. Some plants are more forgiving than others. Some are dramatic when they need water (Peace Lily, others just give up and die quickly before you can do anything.

Even the most experienced plant parents can forget to water and anyone telling you they never forget is telling your a lie! So, what can you do to make sure you keep your plants quenched? Here are a few tips:

  • It starts with the soil. Use soil that is designed for your particular plant. Most big box stores and even small nurseries carry soil that is specially formulated for different types of plants. You’d be surprise how the soil can make such a difference in your plant’s health.
  • We all want to be creative with our plant placement but keep in mind that drafty areas or areas near air vents will dry out a plant much faster than other areas. You don’t have to keep your plants away from those areas but you should be mindful of how those areas affect your plant.
  • Look at your plants. Do they look thirsty? Are a bunch of the leaves looking a little dry? It may be time to water.

Is your plant drowning?

Overwatered plant

Caring for plants can be fun. You can be rewarded with beautiful growth, flowers, fruit, and fragrance. As with any other living thing, plants have needs but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!

Over-watering is one of the most common problems plant parents encounter. It can be difficult to know when your plant needs water just by looking it at it. Some people water on a schedule, some people water when the plant begins to droop, some people water every day! Depending on the plant, any or all of these approaches can be wrong!

Over-watering a plant can result in root rot. Just like you and I, a plant roots need to breathe. If the roots are in soil that does not drain or does not drain well, the roots will soon not be able to breathe. When this happens, the roots begin to rot and soon after, the plant will show signs.

The bad news about over-watering is that it is very easy to do, can kill a plant quickly, and can be very frustrating however, there is good news! It is easy to correct over-watering if it is detected early but it is better to prevent than to cure so here are a few tips when it comes to watering your plants:

  • Know your plant. All plants are not made equal. Some plants like lots of water, others do not. It is good to know what your particular plant requires when it comes to moisture.
  • The soil holds secrets. A lot of people think just because the soil looks dry that the plant needs water but always remember: the roots are deeper and it is much more moist around the roots. If the top is dry, the roots may not be. A moisture meter can help determine if the plant does indeed need water. It also helps to get soil that matches the plant. There are many soils on the market that are designed to hold enough water for the plant the thrive but not hold on to the excess.
  • Drainage! Drainage! Drainage! Plants, especially those kept indoors, should be in containers that have adequate drainage holes. Good drainage will allows the excess water to drain out of the container preventing your plants from sitting in water too long. Do I mention drainage?

Water is very important for a plant. Do not be afraid to water your plants just be mindful that there is a such thing as “too much, too often.”