10.18.16

Looking for a new roommate of the plant persuasion? We’re talking about how to pick ’em, plant ’em and keep ’em alive with the pros at New York’s The Sill (meet and win the cute new service here).

Spend a little time picking the right plants (even if they’re succulents!) and you’ll have better luck maintaining that “jungalow” look that will last…

Be mindful of your schedule: Be sure to consider your daily schedule, travel frequency and general forgetfulness while you decide on a plant. If your absentmindedness is what stands in the way of plant ownership, pick a plant that thrives from neglect. If you have bright light, try a succulent or cactus, and if you have low light, try a snake plant or ZZ plant. Truly, the only way to kill those four is over-care!

Do not overwater: Beware of overwatering; it’s the easiest way to kill a plant. You may be tempted to water your plant on a schedule, but the best thing to do is to water it only when needed. Always check the soil first before giving it a drink. A telltale sign your plant is past due for a watering: wilting leaves or soil pulling away from the sides of the planter. If the soil is darker in color and sticks to your finger, your plant should be fine for the time being. Always use tepid water to water your plant. Let the potting soil soak up the water for about 15-30 minutes, then empty any remaining water from the saucer.

Increase humidity when necessary: For plants that prefer more humid conditions such as ferns, ivies or tropical plants, mist them using a small spray bottle in between waterings. During the dry months of winter, grouping your plants together helps to create a humid microclimate. A humidifier can help, too.

Keep your plant’s environment stable: Plants, just like us, are most comfortable between 65 and 75 degrees. Extreme fluctuation in a plant’s environment can seriously stress them out. Do your best to avoid placing your plant near temperature hazards like vents, radiators and exterior doors, which might create hot or cold spots and drafts.

Forgo fertilizer: If you’re a novice, stay away from fertilizer. It’s another easy way to kill your plant. Plants get minerals from the air, water and their potting mix – and are nourished and energized by sunlight. It is entirely possible to have a healthy plant without additives! If you do choose to fertilize your plant, only do so during the growing season and follow the general rule of thumb: Less is more.

Purchase a healthy plant from a reputable source: Do your best to buy a quality plant from someone with at least some expertise. In most cases, you’ll want to stay away from department stores and supermarkets, and instead stick to your local nurseries, garden centers, and specialty stores or florists. Definitely give your plant a once-over before purchasing – watch out for yellowed leaves, powdery mildew, leaf spots, brown leaf tips, weak or wobbly stems and other obvious signs of poor plant health.

Pick your plant based on your light: Determine the amount of sunlight in your space and choose your plant accordingly. Start by figuring out which direction your windows face. If there’s something outside the window (a large tree or building, for example) that could obstruct sunlight, make sure to take that into consideration.

South-facing windows provide bright light for the majority of the day. Choose almost any plant, and situate them a few feet or more from the windows, depending on whether they prefer direct or indirect light.

East and west-facing windows both provide medium light for the majority of the day. Keep your plants well within a few feet of the window, or choose a plant that tolerates moderate to low light.

North-facing windows provide the lowest level of light. Choose plants that can tolerate low-light conditions and keep them as close to their light source as possible.

Remember that while nearly all plants prefer bright light – be careful to protect them from intense direct sun. If the summer sun is intense enough to burn your skin, it’s certainly too much for your plant’s leaves. To protect your plants from burning, draw a sheer curtain or move them even a foot away from the window.

Show a little extra TLC in the beginning: Show your new plant a little extra attention in the beginning. When you bring a new plant home for the first time, establish a routine of checking in with it every three to four days. A little extra attention can go a long way. Slight environmental can cause fluctuations in the frequency of your care, so best not to just assume “every Monday is watering day.” Besides, it’s nice to check in and say “hello” to your plant every few days!

Do not be afraid to repot:A common misconception, repotting does not necessarily mean putting your plant in a new planter, but rather, changing its soil or potting mix. This is because plants receive some of their nutrients from their soil. Great news if you love your planter. But if you’re looking to splurge on a new one, try to choose one no more than two to four inches larger than the current planter, depending on plant-size – i.e., you do not want your plant swimming in soil. It is best to repot in early spring, before the growth season starts.

Create drainage for your plant: If your plant’s planter does not have a drainage hole at the bottom to allow excess water to escape from the soil, it is important to create makeshift drainage. You can do this by lining the bottom of your planter with rocks and sand. We recommend using lava rocks because they are porous. This added precaution could help prevent you from overwatering your plants in the long run.


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  1. These are great tips! I tend to have a big problem with water estimations – either way too much or way too little. There were definitely a lot of tips on this list that I hadn’t heard of – like the humidity one and repotting and staying away from fertilizer as a novice. I have tried several times without much success to have plants but maybe after this post I will try to give it another go! Thanks for the tips!

    Rae | Love from Berlin

  2. Yes! Just the article that I needed. Who knew it would be so hard to be a plant momma?!



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