by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
There are no silly questions when it comes to gardening. We are on this journey together; some have more experience than the Rookies just starting out. That’s why two decades of garden articles, radio programs, and podcasts exist. Gardening is learned by making mistakes. I want to ensure you make mistakes in the right direction, never going backward.
Let’s start with the obvious if you have gardened for more than a season. If something is alive in your home, it will need water. Houseplants most likely need a deep soak every 10-14 days. Succulents, cacti, and plants in dark rooms need water less often, probably every 2-3 weeks. Puppies and cats should not eat your houseplants; it’s not good for them. Over and over again, I see these same mistakes. Eliminate even one, and you become a better Plant Parent and gardener.
Helicopter Plant Parents are Bad
You’ve heard the term “helicopter parent,” a style where parents pay incredibly close attention to their child and their experiences, often getting overly involved. We’re not talking about human children here but about your plant babies; the idea is the same.
Whether you’ve opened your home to tropical plants, desert cacti, or temperate succulents, the worst thing you can do is constantly mess with them. You are likely to set your plants up for success by recreating their environment in their home habitat. Set our plant up for success by avoiding these two blunders.
Obsessively Water Every Day
It’s easy to fall into the “what if it needs a drink?” trap. Most common houseplants won’t need a drink until the top of the soil begins to dry; if you’re dealing with arid plants, they won’t need a drink until the soil dries out completely. That’s at least three days after the initial watering and likely more.
Obsessively watering your plants leads to root rot, making plants less able to pull in water and nutrients and far more likely to die. Relax, breathe, and appreciate your plant from across the room without a watering can in hand. Generally speaking, your plant will tell you when it’s thirsty. Do your research, and you’ll be fine.
Obsessively Cutting off Leaves that Look Less than Perfect
Surprise, plants are just like people! The plant you’ve brought into your home is a living thing, and all living things have imperfections. It grows and changes over time, just like people do. Sometimes leaves get crispy on the edges. Sometimes leaves turn yellow and fall off.
If you’re caring for your plant correctly, these events correspond to a normal life cycle. If you start cutting off every leaf that looks different than when you bought it, you will have a big problem. Healthy plants can only handle one-third of their living growth being cut off at a time. Remove any more than that, and you have a stressed houseplant trying to replace all that’s been cut away.
Put the pruning shears down and try to understand your new baby plant. Prune only obviously dead leaves or snip a piece or two to propagate your plant. After all, once you have one healthy and prosperous plant, it is hard to resist growing more.
Check out the latest arrivals of rare and exotic houseplants at Top10Houseplants.com.
Until next week, I’ll be helping Plant Parents grow better houseplants here at Watters Garden Center.Ken Lain can be found Throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his websites at WattersGardenCenter.com or Top10Houseplants.com.