Buying a plant is one thing, but knowing how to keep it alive is quite another.
They can brighten up your home and even help boost your mental health, so in return the least we can do is learn how to keep our plants nice and happy.
That’s why we’ve put together some tips from plant experts on how you can fix common plant problems and keep your little green friends alive and thriving.
First, get the right plant for you
It’s all well and good choosing the prettiest plant you can find, but if it doesn’t suit your home or lifestyle, it won’t last long.
The plant experts at Nature by Letterbox said: ‘We all want the most exotic looking plants in our homes, but sometimes you have to admit to yourself that caring for a plant daily isn’t possible with your lifestyle.
‘We’re not suggesting you take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror, but be realistic with what type of person you are, and not what type of plant person you think you’re going to be.
‘If you’re a person who rarely finds themselves at home on a regular basis, maybe caring for a plant that requires watering ever few days isn’t the best option for you.
‘So before purchasing a plant, ask yourself some questions to see what best suits you. Are you always around your partner’s home? Do you work 40 hours a week and rarely make it back before nightfall? Are you always out on the town? Do you have a knack for winning weekend holidays away?
‘Every houseplant is different, and have different care regimens, so answering these questions before buying can save you a lot of heartbreak, time and money.’
Green mouldy soil
James Folger, founder of plant shop The Stem, says green soil is a sign of mould or fungus, which is in turn a sign that you’re overwatering.
He added: ‘Lower leaves can also turn yellow, look wilted, roots will rot, there will be no new growth, younger leaves will turn brown – overwatering can cause big trouble.
‘Our top advice for working out how often to water your plants is to follow the finger-dip test. Simply put your index finger into the soil up until your second knuckle. Remove your finger, and if your finger is dry and no soil is sticking to it, then you should water your plant. If soil sticks to your finger this shows that the soil is already moist enough.
‘Another top tip to keep away pests is to use cinnamon powder on the topsoil, which acts as a natural anti-fungal.’
Limp stems and leaves could be your plant trying to tell you it’s not getting enough light.
James said: ‘Move your plant closer to a window for your plant to get more light, but also consider wiping the leaves to get rid of dust. Even the lightest of layers can prevent light from being absorbed.
‘Every few weeks, gently wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to allow more of the energy from the light to get into the plant.’
James said if the humidity in your home is too low, then you might get plants with crispy and brown leaves.
He added: ‘Most plants will not have enough humidity in the average home, so we recommend a mister and misting regularly.
‘If plants are getting too much light they may get burnt, and this may be coupled with very dry soil, brown and crispy leaves and brown patches.
‘Most plants can not cope with direct afternoon sunshine, particularly in the hotter summer months.
‘There are five good ways to increase humidity for your plants:
White crusty leaves
Not to be confused with the above, white crusty leaves could be a sign of hard water damage.
James said: ‘If possible it is best to give your plants rainwater, filtered water or distilled or demineralised water.
‘Water from our taps contains chemicals such as pesticides, chlorine and fluoride – which can be harmful to plants.
‘Additionally, hard water can damage roots and can also cause a white crust that you can see on leaves, soil and pots.’
Top heavy plants
If your plant looks like it’s about to topple over, James said it’s probably time to re-pot it.
‘The tell-tale signs that your plant has grown as much as it can in its current pot and needs to be rehoused are the following: roots are growing out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the plastic nursery pot, roots are pushing your plant up out of its pot, your plant is growing slower than normal your plant is top-heavy,’ he said
‘Find a new pot to re-home your plant – it should be a few fingers width wider than the existing pot; make sure it has drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, which are essential in order to water your plant correctly. You’ll need a small amount of repotting mix.’
Strangely shaped leaves
If leaves are growing in funny, James said it could be a sign that you’ve got a pest problem.
To help swerve this issue, he said dead and dying foliage should be pruned on the regular.
He added: ‘Dropping foliage is ripe for infections and pesky insects, so it’s best to get rid of it before the pests find out.’
Going on holiday
It’s an easy thing to forget, but make sure your plants’ needs are taken care of whenever you leave town.
James said: ‘Generally most plants will be okay if left for a week or 10 days especially if they are looked after properly before you leave. Make sure you give them a thorough watering and keep them away from places with fluctuating temperatures and away from draughts.
‘If you are going away for longer we recommend asking a friend or neighbour to help with some plant sitting.
‘You can also make your own slow release watering device by making a whole in a bottle lid with a pin and leave this upside down in the plant pot. It also helps if you do go for a plant that is virtually unkillable.’
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