You’ve heard me lament about my love for house plants and potted plants (especially on instagram <<do you follow me there?) And I’ve had a lot of readers asking me to write this blog post about my green thumb for awhile now, and I finally am going to lay it all out there for you.
I’m Proof that there is a cure for the dreaded BLACK THUMB!
There is hope! For you! And you! And YOU!
I’m no plant expert, so feel free to chime in with your own tips in the comments. But these things have worked for me, and I’ve kept dozens of houseplants alive for over a year now! I’m obsessed with plants… they are my hobby!
1) Set a reminder on your phone
This seems silly, but I would say that the MOST COMMON reason a houseplant goes to be with the plant gods is because it was either over-watered, or forgotten about and under-watered. If there’s a reminder on your phone, and you do it on the same day every week, you don’t have to try and remember how long it’s been since Mrs. Kalanchoe has had a drink. Generally speaking most plants do great when being watered once a week. Give em a good soaking, but make sure there are drainage holes in your put so your plant’s roots aren’t sitting in standing water. You’ll learn that plants in the cacti/succulent family can go longer than 1 week between waterings.
Fun fact… my favorite plant is this Kalanchoe (basically a giant/gorgeous succulent), and I named her Mrs. Kalanchoe and told the girls to NEVER TOUCH HER! They took it very seriously, and legit think that if they touch that plant, it will DIE. Bahahaha!
2) Get to know your plants
I know we just talked about how you should set a reminder so you don’t ever have to think about your WATERING your plants… but you should notice them! Notice if their leaves are looking a little droopy (maybe that particular plant needs to be watered twice a week instead of once?). Notice if all the leaves are growing in the direction of the light (maybe that plant needs to be rotated so the other side gets some light?) Notice if your plant is sprouting a new leaf! Notice if there’s a new bud! Notice if there’s a new little shoot growing out of the dirt! The more you pay attention and get to know your plant, the better you will be able to meet it’s needs!
You might be thinking ‘my plant will surely die while I’m trying to figure out ‘what it needs’.
Just experiment! Your plants don’t die overnight! If one is looking a little droopy and sad, try moving it to a brighter room! Or try giving it an extra drink of water! Try different things to see what makes your plants leaves stay perky and happy! If you’re paying attention to your plants and getting to know them, it’s easy. Soon, you might start giving them names and singing to them. HAHA!
Those two steps (setting a reminder on your phone, and ‘getting to know’ your plants) are my two biggest tips. And the things that TRULY helped me turn my black thumb to green. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this other important plant-keeping knowledge.
Plants need light… some more than others. Light from a window is one-sided and plants respond by turning their flowers and leaves toward the light. Turn your plants occasionally to prevent them from growing lopsided. I give my plants a little turn every Monday when I’m watering them.
4) Soil Drainage
When you are potting your plants, make sure that there is a drainage hole in the bottom of your pot. If there’s not, we have a tutorial for that here). It’s also helpful to have some stones at the bottom of your pot, below the soil. This helps the water drain better, and keeps the roots from sitting and rotting in soaking soil.
I took this pic in the gorgeous greenhouse at the Botanical Center in Des Moines, IA
The best way to know if your plant needs to be watered is by feeling the soil. If it’s dry and crumbly, your plant is thirsty! I used to hate touching the soil when I was a new plant mama, so droopy leaves was what I looked for. And that works too! When you water, make sure that all the soil (not just the top layer) is thoroughly soaked. If the soil is even slightly damp to the touch, DON’T WATER! Even if it’s been a week! Little buddy still has plenty of moisture to drink up for now!
THERE YOU HAVE IT! Are you feeling empowered to keep a plant or two alive? We will talk about repotting, grooming, and propogating on another day.
Tutorial for this Wooden Bowl Wall Planter HERE!
Your homework is to go out and buy THREE HOUSPLANTS. Get 3 different varieties… that way you’ll get a good feel for how plants are different and need different things. Start out by watering them once a week, but ‘check in’ with them everyday and say hello! Give them a good inspection and see if anything has changed. I truly believe this is the key to learning to keep plants alive. And KEEP ME UPDATED!
Do you have any questions or tips to add?
Be sure to check out all the other plant(er) related projects I’ve done to help get your green-thumb-juices a’flowing!!