by Mary Anne Porto
Plant parenting can be…how shall we put this…pretty dang difficult, and sometimes feel impossible. Trust us, we’ve had our fair share of Flora Funerals™️ at GNI HQ (RIP many a fig leaf tree), but we’ve learned a thing or two along the way. You don’t need an emerald green thumb to keep a few basic houseplants feeling and looking their best. If you’re working with plants that are as indoorsy as you are, we recommend using some of the same self-care tactics you use on yourself to take care of your precious plant children. Below are our top tips for taking care of houseplants.
1. Start with a solid foundation — repot your new plant babies!
Please – and I can’t emphasize this enough – PLEASE repot your plants once you bring them home. Just like you need a cozy place to plant your roots and start getting into a routine, so does your plant. If you’re bringing it home in a loose, straight-from-the-store plastic pot situation, you probably need to repot that into a larger pot with fresh soil so your plant has room to ~thrive~. Your plant will have room to grow, and you’ll have a reason to refresh your living space with a brand new decor piece.
Tip: Make sure to get a planter with a hole at the bottom (a “draining pot”) so water can easily flow through the soil, without drowning your plant.
2. Know your boundaries and choose plants that are compatible with your lifestyle.
Sure, all of us would love to grow beautiful, trendy fig leaf or monstera plants. But tbh, some plants take a lot more maintenance and work (and usually, unfortunately, it’s the trendiest ones). Keep some ground rules in mind when you’re picking your plants and consider the limits of your home and lifestyle. If you’re a busy person, you may need to accept the fact that right now, you can be a plant parent to a cutie succulent, and nothing more. That’s perfectly okay.
If you’re frequently traveling and won’t be able to have someone water your plants while you’re gone, you might also want to stick to lower-effort plants. There’s no shame in that game. We all have our limits, as do the spaces we live in.
If your living space gets less natural light during the day, you’ll have to keep an eye on labels and talk to your local plant expert at the nursery or plant shop. Keeping sun exposure and humidity levels in mind will help the long-term success of your haul.
🌱Low-maintenance indoor plant recs from the GNI team: 🌱
- “Zizi and snake plants are both great low maintenance, low light, resilient plants. Rubber plants allegedly are super easy… I am currently reviving all of mine from the deathly darks of my old apt. A pothos is really basic but they grow lots of vines pretty fast. I also love my matchstick cactus.” - Alex S.
- “Spider plants are easy! And pothos — the super vine-y like one.” - Eunice B.
- “My favorite plant that is thriving at the moment is a alocasia polly. String of pearls are lovely too!” - Olivia R.
- “I have two pothos that are doing VERY well (the one on my desk is just dry kay…) And I have two big snake plants that are thriving!” - Katrina K.
- “We have a Monstera plant that’s surprisingly been thriving without much fuss for the past 2 years but I’ve heard that it’s finicky. I love that it’s a large plant that looks pretty in a corner. We just give it a good dose of water once a week, and it sits near a window so it gets plenty of sunshine.” - Alisha R.
Tip: In addition to succulents, snake plants are great plants for beginners or busybodies. They look preeeeetty cute, too.
3. Embrace change – adapt your routine by the season.
Indoor plants follow the seasons, too! Take cues from your little ones. Even though they’re indoors, the changing light exposure and length of days will still affect your indoor plants. For example, the transition from winter to spring means that your plants will need more water, since they’ll naturally have more growth with longer days. Be aware of these seasonal changes; knowing them can help you accommodate their needs sooner rather than later.
Tip: Some plants are less reactive to seasonal changes, like bonsai trees!
4. Outdoor time can do a world of good for indoor houseplants, but be sure to make the right adjustments.
Some indoor plants can be taken outside during the summer, but their care routine might change a bit. Being outside might mean a plant needs more water than when it was inside, and as a plant owner, you’ll need to be wary of outdoor pests.
Your newly outdoor plants need time to adjust, too. Starting at the end of spring, you can accustom your plants to the stronger light levels by first putting them outside under shade and bringing them indoors during the nighttime for a week. And when the cold rolls around again, be sure to bring them back indoors.
Tip: In non-tropical climates, tropical indoor plants, like monsteras and birds of paradise, should always stay inside.
5. Watch out for overwatering.
While being over-hydrated is probably a good thing for you, it can be bad news for your plants. Watering your plants isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation; there are actually a lot of factors that can affect how much water your plant needs, including the size of the planter it’s in, how humid your space is, and how much light your plant is getting. Keeping these factors in mind, stick to a regular watering schedule to ensure you’re not overwatering.
Thanks to GNI reader Deedi for recommending this nifty app called Happy Plant that helps you stick to your plant-watering schedule.
Tip: Think of where your plant grows in the wild (is it humid there? rainy?), which can inform how much water it needs in your home.
Lede image by Alisha Ramos.