Are you having plant problems? Are you a new plant parent? Have you fallen in love with plants and started a collection?
Yet, your plants are struggling and you aren’t sure why. Plants should make you happy and if instead, they are inducing anxiety, that isn’t good for you or the plant.
So, let’s talk about a few plant problems you may be having so that we can find the right solution to fix them.
Plant Problems #1- Which way does my home face
First, picking the right plant for the area you have starts your plant journey on the right road. Do a bit of research before purchasing a plant to find out its light and other needs to grow well.
Now, I completely understand impulse buying, believe me. That’s okay if you have windows facing the four exposures so could find a place for your plant. But if you only have a north window, I wouldn’t fall in love with cacti and other succulents. (So you need to know which way your windows face.)
Many write about “bathroom” plants but if your bathroom has a window that is opaque or covered with blinds, it isn’t the best place for a plant. A bit of research goes a long way. Need more help? Find my four houseplant books here. Below are a ‘Tiger’ Boston fern and a cactus. These will not do well in the same setting.
Plant Problems #2 Which Pot Should I Pick?
This may seem an easy thing to do, and it can be if you know how to choose one.
First, it has to be the right size. Even if you love the pot, if it is too big for the plant, don’t buy it. Or buy a plant that will fit the pot if you are set on using that particular pot. Don’t buy a plant in a 4″ container and an 8″ pot to plant it in.
In a too-large pot, the extra potting medium may hold too much moisture for the plant to use. If the root ball stays too wet it may cause root rot. That isn’t to say it may not work for a root-bound plant that needs a lot more root room.
But, as a rule, only go up one size at a time when choosing a new pot. I up-pot my plant when they are actively growing, such as in the spring or summer. I have also talked about down-potting a plant as some plants are sold in pots that are too large for the amount of roots the plant has.
Don’t Choose These Pots
The only ones I will steer you away from (even though I keep buying them) are bulbous pots, like the ones below. They are larger in the middle of the pot than in the top opening.
When trying to repot the plant, it is hard to get the plant out as the roots have filled the bulbous part. When repotting, the plant has to be pulled out of the smaller opening at the top. Use them if you like them, but know you may have to cut the root ball to get the plant out of the pot
Plant Problems #3 Do I need a drainage hole?
I say YES!! You can grow plants without a drainage hole and many people do. Yet, as a NEWER plant parent, having a drainage hole in a pot is important.
If you don’t have a drainage hole, how do you know you’ve watered enough so the plant is completely moistened? Or, how do you know you haven’t given the plant too much water?
A drainage hole solves that plant problem and adding drainage material isn’t necessary. I use a diamond-tipped drill bit to make a drainage hole in almost any container.
Plant Problems #4 To Water or Not?
Watering seems to be the most perplexing area of plant care. I know people hate the word overwatering, but it is a thing. I say you aren’t “overwatering” as much as you are watering “too often.”
Almost all plants need to dry out a bit before watering again and some want to be almost completely dry. Plants do NOT want to completely dry out for any length of time, even cacti and other succulents. They can withstand it though, as their plant parts have water-holding capabilities.
The thinner the leaf of a plant, the more often it will need water as it dries out quickly. A maidenhair fern is a good example of a plant with many small, thin leaves and it NEVER wants to dry out. Thicker leaves and stems hold more water and so may be able to tolerate drying out for a time.
No watering schedule- Check for water needs
One should never water on a schedule. (Unless you take care of plants in a commercial setting and have to water them on the scheduled day.)
I say CHECK your plants on a schedule, not necessarily watering them at that time. Watering on a schedule doesn’t take into account cloudy days, sunny days, or colder days with the heater running. Or hot days with the air conditioner sucking all the humidity out of the house.
Use your finger to check the potting medium moisture level. With larger plants, use a stick or dowel to check the moisture level at the bottom of the pot. Most often the top of a large pot is at a different moisture level than the bottom. By inserting a stick and leaving it there for a few minutes, you can see what is happening at the bottom. If the stick is wet, don’t water it.
Always water until it runs out of the drainage hole, emptying the saucer of excess water. You can bottom water a plant, standing the plant in a bowl of water and leaving it there until the top of the soil is moist. This will let you know it has soaked up enough water.
Use a turkey baster to remove any excess water from the saucer of a large, hard-to-move plant. A plant should not be standing in water for any length of time.
Plant Problems #5 Which Potting Medium?
It is easy to run to any store and buy potting medium. But, is it the best choice for your plant’s health?
Root health is so important to your plant. First, never use plain garden soil. It doesn’t work for potted plants. I know because my brother gave me a plant that he had planted in plain garden soil and the soil was like cement.
There are plenty of potting mixes to choose from. I add some vermiculite and perlite to those mixes to make them better draining. It also gives the plants more air space around the roots as they need air.
Plant Problems #6. Do I Need to Clean My Plants?
Yes! When I talk about cleanliness, I’m not only talking about the plant but also the windows and screens in your home. What does that mean?
Clean and dust your plants because the dirt is blocking the light from getting to the leaves of the plant. Photosynthesizing is the only way plants feed themselves.
Yet, if your windows and screens are not clean, the light is also blocked. The three dirty things together will cut down on the light collected by the plant. Clean all three, and your plant will thank you!
I hope this helps with a few of the plant problems you could run into as a new plant parent. Choose the right plant, the right spot, the best pot, potting mix, and water when it needs it. Your plant will be healthy and make you happy.
Have a great week, plant friends!
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