10 Most Common Mistakes That New Plant Parents Make
In today's blog, we address the 10 most common mistakes new plant parents make. We also offer solutions and tips to help you give your house plant a long and healthy life!
1. Not researching the kinds of plants best suited for your space
This is the first and most common mistake new plant parents make. It is so crucial when starting that you choose the kinds of house plants that will naturally do well in your home environment. Opting for a plant that would be high maintenance in your space is the quickest way to heartbreak. Don’t deter yourself from enjoying plants – start simple and introduce new plants slowly. Once you mature as a plant parent and are confident you understand a plants’ needs by looking at them, then you can introduce some intermediate plant species into your home!
Check out our Windowsill Plant Guide for more information here!
2. Over-caring for your plant
We understand the thrill of getting new house plants - they are beautiful and bring joy to your everyday life and you want to do your very best to give your plant baby everything it needs to thrive. But it is super important not to overdo it, as too much attention can cause unnecessary stress to your plant. It’s also good to note that not every plant is going to enjoy your home environment or your care routine. It may take a few species of plants as a trial-and-error before your find a species that thrives in your care. And remember: everything is temporary, including your plants!
3. Improper watering
Both over and under watering can be detrimental to your plants’ health and can cause irreversible damage. Understanding when and how much water to give your house plant is important. The general rule of thumb is that if you stick your finger into the top couple inches of soil and the soil feels completely dry, it’s time to give your plant a drink. If the soil feels damp or your finger has some soil stuck to it, give the plant a few more days before checking again.
4. Not aerating soil
This is important, especially in the fall/winter months. Aerating the soil will help allow air into the soil to help the soil dry out after watering. This will ensure that the soil won’t stay damp for too long, which can cause moisture issues and even root rot. One of the best tools you can find at home for aerating your soil is a chopstick or wooden skewer stick. After watering your plant, gently stick your preferred aeration tool into the soil and lightly wiggle to loosen the soil to allow air in.
5. Improper use of pots
Improper use of pots in the quickest way to root rot. Make sure your house plant is potted into a planter or pot that has a drainage hole. This will ensure that your plant's roots will not sit in sopping wet soil. If the desired decorative pot does not have drainage holes, we highly recommend that you keep your plants in a plastic nursery pot and use the decorative planter as a cachepot. This way, you can remove the plant in its’ plastic nursery pot out of the decorative cachepot to water and drain before placing it back into the decorative chase pot!
6. Not giving your plant the right amount of sunlight
Another common mistake that can be prevented if a bit of research is done before choosing which plant your want to bring home. There is a large variety of plants available in the market that will thrive in a variety of lighting conditions. Make sure you choose the ones that will enjoy the light you have in your home!
7. Too much change in the environment
Try not to move your plant’s around too much. Constantly trying to acclimate to a new environment is very stressful for a plant!
When and how much you fertilize your plant is super important. Over-fertilizing can cause a lot of stress on your plants which will weaken and stunt their growth. A weak plant will become more susceptible to diseases and pests. Ultimately, over-fertilization can kill your plant. The most common sign of a plant in distress due to being over-fertilized is the sudden yellowing of leaves with burnt brown edges.
There are many fertilizers and plant foods available on the market. A little research will help you find one that is right for your type of plant. Note, that many plants that are purchased come with soil that already has slow-release fertilizers in them. These are round green or yellow-white balls that can be found scattered throughout the soil mix. If you find these in your soil, then you will not need to give your plant any additional fertilizers.
If you decide to fertilize your plants, do so about once a month during spring and summer, and halt fertilization in the fall and winter to give your plants rest during their winter dormancy.
9. Re-potting improperly
There are a few things to note when it comes to re-potting your house plant. Try not to re-pot your plant too often, as each re-pot causes stress. It is always best to re-pot a plant in the springtime just before its peak growing season as it will have a better chance at bouncing back after a re-pot.
If you’re re-potting because your plant has now outgrown its current vessel, only got up a maximum of 2 inches in pot size. You don’t want the pot to be so big that there is much more soil than there are plant roots. When there is significantly more soil than roots, after waterings the plant will not be able to absorb moisture fast enough, and soil that sits damp for too long will cause several issues, including fungal issues, root rot, and pest attraction (some pests are attracted to damp soil as they like to lay their eggs there).
10. Not knowing how to winterize your plants
Lastly, not knowing how to readjust your house plant care routine in the winter can lead to the demise of your plants. Since most houseplants are tropical, they love warmth and humidity, and the sudden drop in temperature and lack of sunlight may shock them. If you grow your plants outdoors in the spring and summer months, start bringing them inside once the temperature starts to dip to around 10 degrees Celsius.
If your plant is growing by a window, ensure that the window does not let in any serious drafts. Extreme cold temperatures can cause stress and can even give your plants frost damage.
If the air in your home becomes dry in the winter due to heating, ensure that your plants are far from any radiators or heat vents. If you notice that your plant's leaves are starting to go brown or get crispy around the edges, then you need to find a way to increase the relative humidity in your space to help give your plants the moisture they need to get through the winter months. Misting, buying a humidifier, or creating a pebble humidity tray and 3 great ways to help give your plants a humidity boost.
With shortened days and fewer hours of daily sunlight, you may want to look into grow light options if you are growing plants that require a minimum of 6-9 hours of sunlight a day – such as succulents. Less sunlight and heat also mean that your plants’ soil will take longer to dry out than in the warmer months. You will need to reassess your watering schedule (refer back to #3) and modify it accordingly.
We hope this post helps give you the confidence and basic knowledge to help you on your journey on plant parenthood. Remember to have fun and that mistakes are bound to happen, especially in the beginning. Everyone was a beginner once. Happy planting!