If you’re a beginner, don’t even think of buying your first plant until you’ve read this.
Aaaaah, houseplants. I know I’m biased, but come on, aren’t they just the best?
They bring us joy, colour, nature and wellness. They calm the mind and appeal to our innate sense of nurture. They are an integral part of interior design. Plus, now they’re ubiquitous, from Instagram to lifestyle blogs. Chances are, even your local supermarket has a really decent selection these days. There’s never been a better time embrace the #plantgang movement!
With so much inspiration and temptation around, you’ve probably toyed with the idea of becoming a ‘plant parent’ too, and add
a little a lot of greenery into your home or office. If you are a total beginner but eager to start, like, RIGHT NOW, here are 3 very quick tips for you.
1. Indoor plants are outdoor plants somewhere else
If there is only one thing you do, make it this one: assess your home’s growing conditions.
Because what a lot of people forget, or don’t even think about in the first place is that most houseplants come from the wild. Therefore, to grow beautiful and healthy houseplants, we must try as much as possible to replicate their natural growing environment.
Some plants come from hot, sunny and arid deserts, others come from the undergrowth of lush tropical rainforests. You don’t have to be an experienced horticulturalist to understand straight away that these are completely different growing conditions.
So before you head out the door to the nearest plant store, have a look around your home, or at the spot where you want to place your plant, and ask yourself: ‘Self, what is this room like? Does it get direct sunlight and for how long? Is there a draft because of an air conditioner? Is this a room with high humidity levels?’ (and if you have a bathroom with a window, I’m jealous!).
You can then make sure you buy the right plant for the right place.
2. Observe, feel
Yes, yes: there is irony in giving the advice below in a blog post about black and white rules, but bear with me.
One of the most important thing you can do in your journey to becoming an outstanding plant parent is to slow down and observe your plants.
For example: sticking to a regimented watering schedule is great in order not to forget to do it (‘every Saturday morning after my first coffee’). But instead of doing that (or as well as, to start with anyway) stick your finger in the soil. Does it feel bone dry or waterlogged? Adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
Or, did you notice that since you moved your succulent closer to the window, it’s put out more new leaves than ever? Oh hang on, is that a flower bud you can actually see on it? Then you may have found the best place for it.
So please, take time to get a feel for your plants. Because not only will you get a good dose of zen (and confidence) from being more of a nurturer, your plants will also most certainly be all the better for it.
3. Ask for advice
If in doubt, ask someone who has more experience than you. Plant people are always keen to help and share their love and enthusiasm.
Sales assistants and plant store owners should be able to help you if are not sure what plant to buy. Big box stores don’t always have very knowledgeable staff though, so I would recommend sticking to garden centres and local independent stores. Even florists are now stocking more and more houseplants and will be more than happy to answer your questions.
There are also many online forums and social media groups where you can ask for advice to your heart’s content. If you join a local group (here’s mine in Vancouver, BC) you may even make new friends and meet up for plant swaps.
Let’s not forget one of my favourites things: going to my local library (or browsing their excellent online catalogue) to borrow books. Sure, it’s kind of old fashioned, but it’s a great way (and need I say, free?) to learn more and also get a ton of inspiration.
Professional help will of course not always be free depending on the service you need. But it can prove to be a very good investment if it keeps you from killing your latest $200 fiddle leaf fig!
So that’s it for my starting tips: assessing, observing, asking for advice. Foolproof and easy, and now you’re all set to go buy your first plants with confidence. Just one word of warning: it can be very addictive. But in the best of ways!
And if you still have questions, feel free to ask in the comments below or contact me directly for a chat. Also check back here soon, as in my upcoming series ‘so you want to be a plant parent?’ I’ll get into much more detail about all aspects of plant care,