If you had not noticed, my home and my life, are filled with plants. Plants make you happy. They lift your mood immediately when you see them. They give you joy and a sense of achievement when you grow them. They enable you to stay present and mindful as you tend to them. As they grow, you watch new leaves unfurl and it reminds you of the joy and the miracle of life. As well as of all of these things, they provide you with fresh air and literally are the air you breathe. Greening our homes is such an important part of a happy healthy home. When I share images and videos like this one below, taken the other day when I was feeling a bit off and then looked out the kitchen window to see the light falling across my Jungle – people respond so strongly and passionately – either sharing their own gardens, or wishing that they had one. But sometimes people say they have no idea where to start. I am not a plant expert in any way. I don’t know the proper names of all of my plants. Sometimes I lose one, but mostly they seem to thrive. I don’t think it is all that complicated, or does not need to be, so here are some of my tips on how to care for potted plants.
My Simple Approach to Care for Potted Plants
- No plants are made to live inside a house! They need the right light, air temperature and water levels. I also think they need other plants. 🙂
- If you are going to have them live inside (which I highly recommend you do!), make sure to choose a room with the most light – as most plants will need this.
- Find out a little bit about whether they like darker conditions (some do) or prefer to be right by a window – (and if so how to handle it when we hit summer, because right by a window may be too much for even a light lover in terms of heat).
- Consider your artificial heating and cooling. For example, I don’t have that many plants in my lounge because it is a darker room, it has the gas heater going all winter and in summer it is air-conditioned. In the dining room where our main air conditioner is, I tend to move plants out when we start using it full on in summer.
- Over or under watering equates to death for many plants. I am not perfect at this but a little research helps. In general most plants don’t like wet feet except for a few who like to sit in water. This means considering taking them to one spot to give them a bath so they can drain, or like me, having containers they sit in (which also means finding cool and interesting pots are op shops etc) and when you have watered the plants and they have drained, tip out any excess.
- Some plants require very little water, like the Mother in Laws Tongue – Charlene from Fleurieu Gifts has some great tips here on caring for indoor plants and succulents. This is a great starter plant.
- I use a spray bottle as well when I water, and like to mist the leaves of many of my indoor plants – they seem to like it!
- Fertiliser – I tend to give them all some seasol solution a few times a year. There are lots of options for this though – consider their growing times and when this may help. It is also great to use when transplanting to bigger pots. Remember that these plants are usually in the ground and now they have a little home to live in, that requires caring for as much as the plant living in it.
- Different plants do require different treatment sometimes – for example my first Orchids I have kept are going so well – they are given a bath once a week in the sink, and let to drain. They are not fans of lots of water. When they finish flowering I will cut them back and place them in the shade of our deck until it is time to bring them in again. They require a couple of weeks just before winter in May here in Adelaide, out in the cooler night air, to set their new flowers, before heading back in to be by a window.
- Use watering cycles and look forward to watering days – I tend to water a couple of times a week in warmer weather, daily sometimes with the ones on the deck if we are having an Adelaide heat wave. In cooler months it can be once a fortnight. I have some plants, like the succulents, the String of Pearls and the Fiddle Leaf Fig, which I give water when they are dry. I use my finger to test the soil wetness. I have others like my ferns, that I water every time. I also water the hanging plants every time, as they tend to dry out more.
- In terms of the ones out on the deck, it is pretty much the same routine as those inside, but they get more light. There are some plants that I would never bring inside like the ferns. I just think they need to be out in the air.
- Move them around – I also give my indoor plants a little holiday on the deck from time to time, and bring others inside. If a plant looks stressed at all, it heads back outside.
- If you want to get more deeply into it, you can look for plants particular for the aspect of your deck or outdoor garden area, consider special fertilisers for different plants etc However I don’t really do this and my general rules seem to work!
- Finally, talk to them and appreciate them! Every time I get a new plant I welcome it to our home. Each time they grow a new leaf I encourage and thank them – hippie much? Yes! But I really feel a bond with my plants and although it probably has no impact on them, it really does have on me.
Plants at garden centres are not cheap. However they do not need to be expensive – does that sounds strange? What I mean is that many of the geraniums and succulents in our garden and deck have been picked roadside and simply placed into a pot. They grow really well this way – be sure to give them a bit more water while they establish themselves. You can also strike cuttings in water. But I tend to just bring them home and stick them in a pot. I also get many plants from op shops, garage sales and friends. You can get into creating more plants from your own once they get established. On my list is to try striking my String of Pearls. You can also find them on places like gumtree and ebay. I do also invest in plants from the garden store on occasion but go for smaller plants, like my String of Pearls which was small when I got her, but in about 18 months has flourished!
If you are still not convinced, my recommendation is to start small. Get something simple like a Mother in Laws Tongue, or an indoor Palm or Monstera. Try to care for it really well and once the plant spark takes, you will never look back.
I would love to see and hear about your plant stories, so please leave comments and share pics, here and on social media! Plant people united!