Expert Advice

The Most Common Mistakes in the Care of Indoor Plants

Many plants turn into trends on social networks and the sales of the most instagrammable ones take off. Are we aware of the care needs of indoor plants that we have at home or do we let ourselves be dragged by their aesthetics without giving importance to their needs?

Social networks have become an important showcase for indoor plants. On seeing them on Instagram or Pinterest, they often become prey to impulse purchases. Let’s find out together how to avoid some of the most common mistakes in caring for indoor plants, in order to enjoy them for as long as possible.

What to do when the plant arrives home

First, we recommend looking for information on the plant, starting with its scientific name and marking it for future reference. Secondly, we will have to make some decisions that are of vital importance at this time, as the plant must acclimatize to what will be its final home.

Observe the plant

Before reaching us, the plants passed through at least two other coats: they were in fact in the nursery structures and in that of the florist, the final seller. In both cases, they were grown in the light, irrigation, and temperature conditions ideal for their growth.

For this reason, it is advisable to observe the plant when it arrives home. His appearance in excellent health will serve as a reference for the future. Touch its leaves to appreciate its consistency (some varieties may be more fleshy than others), separate them a little to count how many plants there are in the pot (sometimes it is not a single one, they are different), and touch the ground to check its humidity level. Some photos may be useful to refresh your memory in the weeks following his arrival.

Another thing I like to observe at that moment is the appearance of the roots and the soil. Usually, it is not difficult to extract it from the pot to see the color of the roots, check if they already occupy most of the root ball and, subsequently, check what the soil with which it got home is. This information can allow us to immediately make a series of decisions, such as the one we are talking about below.

Assess the need for repotting

No, it is not mandatory to transplant an indoor plant as soon as it arrives home. It is usually advisable not to touch it for at least a couple of weeks, in order to allow the acclimatization period to pass.

Although it may not seem, every change represents an effort for the plant, which must adapt to a new situation. And the transfer from the nursery to the home is already stressful enough on his own, without adding what the repotting entails.

Choose the location of the plant

This may be the most important decision to make right now. Most plants need a bright location, preferably avoiding direct sunlight on their leaves.

Many come from tropical forests and in their natural habitats, they receive the light that filters through the leaves of the trees. In the home, they will adapt perfectly to any room well lit by natural light and, depending on the plant, more or less close to the window.

It is preferable to avoid places with drafts, place them too close to sources of heating or air conditioning.

Irrigation, fertilization, and care of indoor plants

Each plant has specific needs for hydration and humidity to feel comfortable. For this reason, it is important to inquire about the needs of each variety and understand the factors that can alter the periodicity of irrigation.

Here are some points to consider:

The material of the pot affects the preservation of moisture

The terracotta pots absorb part of the water, while the plastic ones, being not porous, keep it longer.

When the time for repotting comes, I usually choose terracotta pots for plants with thicker leaves (like succulents) while in plastic for those plants that need a higher degree of humidity. Inside the house, moreover, the vases do not heat up as it happens for that outside that is hit by the sun’s rays, therefore I use vases or pot holders of materials and colors in combination with the decoration, or that enhance the appearance of the plant leaves.

The environmental humidity of each plant

Some plants grow in places with high environmental humidity. In our homes, we can recreate these conditions in two ways: by vaporizing water on the leaves or placing the plants on a saucer with gravel or clay balls, which we will fill with water without going to touch the base of the pot.

The environmental humidity of our home is an important factor. Nobody better than ourselves can know if we live in a place with a dry or humid climate, avoiding having to spray water to our plants.

It is also important to know if these are plants with “wet feet or dry feet”. And let me explain because this detail also influences the choice of the most appropriate irrigation method. There are plants that prefer that their roots (“feet”) have more or less moist soil. Others, however, will grow better if we let the soil dry completely before watering again.

Again, observation will help us understand and detect these small differences so that we can only give water to our plants when they actually need them. It is indeed a mistake to think that you can water them all on the same day of the week.

The fertilizer for the care of indoor plants

With some exceptions, a specific fertilizer for green plants is required for most indoor plants. The formulation of this type of fertilizer is different in that it includes a high level of nitrogen (which promotes growth) and iron (which intensifies the green color of the leaves).

The ideal fertilization rate is generally once a month, growing (in the spring and summer) every fifteen days. It is possible to use a fertilizer for green plants in liquid format, to be mixed with the irrigation water, or solid, in sticks to be inserted in the soil so that they dissolve gradually.

The day you plan to fertilize, start by watering the plants a bit and wait for the water to enter the soil. Next, finish watering with water mixed with fertilizer. Some roots are delicate, it is better to hydrate them first only with water.

  • To conclude, one last tip that I think will be useful in the care of indoor plants: each of your plants is like a person, different from all the others. Each of them has specific needs, in terms of light, water, and fertilizer, in order to grow happily.

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