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Plant care guide

Styling your home with plants will aesthetically enhance your living spaces, help to clean the toxins out of the air and generally boost your mood by bringing a little of the outdoors in.

Choosing plants that most appeal to you and in which pot, is the exciting part: but remembering that they are a living species that will need care and consideration often gets over looked once you get them home.

We have been selling plants for over a decade now and the most common worry people have is not how will it look but how can I keep it alive?! The most common question we get asked is, ‘do you need to water them, and do they need natural light? YES & YES, absolutely!

Before you begin caring for your plant, it would be helpful for you to take into consideration the following fact. There is no such thing as a house plant. All plants belong outside in their natural habitat. For example, tropical, southern or European climates to desert, woodland or rain forest environments. Not indoors, particularly Britain where the light levels are generally low and central heating high for most of the year! Once you acknowledge this, basic plant-care becomes more about common sense.

Ask yourself ‘where would this plant NATURALLY derive from and how can I try to replicate this’? Of course, you don’t need to literally turn your living room into a desert environment to care for your cactus! But you can go a long way to mimicking the conditions it likes. Luckily popular ‘house’ plants such as cactus and succulents, cheese plants and rubber plants do thrive from hotter climates which left outside in Britain would perish in the frost. With a little TLC can thrive very well as house plants.

Quick fire answers to general plant care questions.

When it comes to watering, we believe that most house plants benefit from a good watering, ideally from the roots upwards. This is achieved by lifting the plant out of its decorative pot and siting the plant in its plastic pot, in a sink, dish, bucket, whatever appropriate vessel you have that can hold a couple of inches of water. Leave the plant drinking for several hours or until the pot feels heavy of water. Repeat as necessary, remembering to let the plant dry out (vital) but ideally not to the point it is bone dry for any length of time.

Exception to the rule are succulents & cactuswhich famously make them the perfect low maintenance starter plant. Nature has designed them in such a way they can tolerate long periods of drought. Think how they would receive rainfall naturally? Heavy down pour of rain with dry periods for weeks, sometimes months at a time. They love a brightly lit room and can tolerate direct sunlight, although be careful if placing them on a windowsill in a south facing window. The sun is magnified through glass which would scorch them, this applies to all plants. Water them regularly in the summer months, remembering to allow them to dry out completely between watering.

Almost all plants have a dormant period over the winter months where they require much less water and little or no feed. This is where ‘thriving on neglect’ really comes into force, so be restrained!

Dark green glossy leafed plants such as the swiss cheese plant(monstera) and rubber plant(ficus) benefit from having their leaves cleaned from time to time. Plants create their own food through photosynthesis which requires access to light. If the leaves are covered in dust it will struggle to do this effectively. Good old-fashioned water and a soft cloth is all that’s required to gently do the job. Like the Chinese money plant(pilea peperomioides) they aren’t fans of direct sunlight so a bright room away from the window suits them well.

Keep ferns, such as Boston fern (nephrolepis exaltata) well-watered but do not keep them soggy as this will lead to root rot, allowing them to dry out slightly before watering will help to avoid this. They can tolerate a light room but being a forest floor plant, ferns fair best out of direct sunlight and would enjoy the humidity it requires. Although the asparagus fern(asparagus setaceus) isn’t technically a fern and lives in the subtropics, it too will thrive with plenty of misting. Although hold back with watering, this plant needs to dry out in between watering.

String of hearts (ceropegia woodii) are the sweetest things, their delicate trail of heart shaped leaves add interest to any aspiring shelfie! Part of the succulent family they are very easy. They like a good drink, but you must allow them to dry out before their next water. They love a sunny position but remember to not scorch them when it is particularly hot in the summer months.

The prayer plant(calathea) has the most interesting markings on its leaves and comes in many different varieties and colours from aubergine to lime green. Like the Boston fern keep the soil moist but not saturated. This plant is tropical so likes humidity and is suited to a warm room with partial shade.

Other than positioning and watering according to their needs; re-potting with fresh soil every couple of years (depending on how quickly they grow) will be required if your plants are to thrive. This is best done in the growing season between March and September along with regular intervals of feed such as baby bio or get advice on specific feeds. Always follow the instructions carefully and don’t over feed, killing them with kindness is a common mistake. You are almost better completely neglecting them than over watering and feeding, be warned!

Good news alert, plants thrive better when grouped together. They create a humid micro climate that replicates a more natural environment for them. Perfect solution if you are struggling with them in a dry room or just a good excuse to own more plants!

 

Problem shooting

Sometimes it just comes down to personal trial and error. What thrives in one property won’t necessarily thrive in another. This can explain why two different people can get different results when seemingly looking after their plants in the same way. This is due to many factors such as how many people and animals live in the household, how you use your central heating and how well ventilated your home is. Whether you are North, South, East or West facing etc, all goes to creating your own unique ‘ecosystem’.

Important, if you have bought one of our planted arrangements finished with decorative stones, you will find that you will not be able to follow the root upwards method of watering your plants. The interior pot does not have drainage holes and of course you can’t take the plant out of the pot unless you are prepared to disturb the decorative finish. So, it is absolutely vital that you do not over water your plant as the excess water will have nowhere to go and over time will build up in the bottom of your pot. This will lead to root rot and you will prematurely lose your plant. We recommend you use a water mister aiming the nozzle down towards the roots, turning the plant round as you go so all sides get watered – 15 to 20 squirts of water should be adequate to hydrate the plant without over watering. This is not ideal but as cactus and succulents can deal very well with mistreatment, we are prepared to turn a blind eye for those who favour aesthetics over practicalities!

And let’s face it, there are those that don’t mind admitting, ‘I haven’t got the time or inclination to care seriously for my plants, I just want them to make my home look good!’ I always replay the same. ‘Look, generally it isn’t instant death if you neglect your plants for the first few months’. Particularly the varieties we favour such as cactus, succulents and most green glossy leaved plants such as monstera, ficus, ferns etc. however don’t be disappointed if you lose them quicker than expected. In order for them to thrive you will need to do more than just occasional watering or be prepared to replace them more frequently.

For those that get the bug and decide they want to live their life surrounded by plants – yeah! You will need to make a conscious effort to gain as much information as you can on caring for your plants, past the basics, if you want to experience longevity. The internet is saturated with information on this subject and lots of beautiful books written, so no excuses!