Eight Houseplant Dont’s, And One Do

So you just bought a new plant—or you’ve got one at home that isn’t doing what you think it ought to be doing.

These are some things you should not do:

  1. Don’t repot a stressed plant. That’s just adding to the stress. The exception would be a broken pot or a plant that has major root loss due to over-watering.
  2. Don’t repot a plant in a container without a drainage hole. With over-watering being the number one cause of houseplant problems, you’re inviting trouble. You can use that pretty ceramic pot as a decorative cover, if you want.
  3. Don’t water without checking the soil with your finger to see if it’s dry on top. While some plants like to go dryer than others, even moisture loving ferns need to at least surface dry.
  4. Don’t feed a sick or stressed plant. When a plant is dropping leaves, drooping, or otherwise doing something “strange” it’s almost always cultural—not lack of fertilizer. Fertilizer is for a healthy actively growing plant during the growing season (March to November).
  5. If you have a problem with a plant, figure out what the problem is before you treat. Otherwise you’re wasting your time and money. Treating a plant with an insecticide when you have a fungal problem, for example, is not going to fix the problem.
  6. Don’t buy a plant for a coffee table, desk, or shelf without noting how much light the area gets. High-light plants can quickly become a nightmare in low light and low-light plants in direct mid-day sun might actually sunburn. And be sure to check out the growth habit of the plant to find out if it’s going to outgrow its spot. Do you want a seven foot tall schefflera on your desk?
  7. Don’t forget to check your plants after watering to be sure they’re not standing in water. While you do want to give your plants a thorough watering, they should not still be sitting in water in the saucer more than ten minutes later. I water all my plants, then go back and check. If any plant still has water in the saucer, I either pour it out or “slurp” it out with an old turkey baster.
  8. If you’re buying a plant you’ve never had before—or one that’s died on you before—never leave a garden center without asking us for a few tips first. That’s what we’re here for.

And one Do:

  1. This is the most important thing—enjoy your new plant!

And, of course, you can always visit us here at the Great Big Greenhouse and have any questions answered by our expert plant loving associates.

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