Is an artificial plant the only one that survives under your thumb? Have you killed a cactus, watched a dying plant or let a succulent dry up? (Yes, some have mastered the nearly impossible art of letting a succulent die on their watch). If you’ve watched others grow, nurture and tend to luscious gardens seemingly without lifting a (green) thumb but lack your own gardening talent, you’re not alone.
There is an art to becoming a plant mom. And it’s not as hard as it may seem. The good news? It’s much less work than parenting real children or becoming a pet owner, plus having indoor plants will add a colorful vibrancy to your home and your Instagram feed. With each new bloom, you’ll feel a swell of pride in your heart. But first things first, you’ve got to figure out the basics. Here’s how you can go from plant killer to plant mom in 8 easy steps!
Plant Care Basics: 3 Things to Remember
In order to become the best plant mom you can be, there are a couple of general basics you need to master. Here are three things to remember before you flood your home with Instagram-ready greenery:
Take stock of your environment
It’s tempting to want every beautiful plant you see, but you need to make sure that the varieties you buy will be best for your space. If you have pets, children or travel a lot, buy your plants accordingly. (The ASPCA has a handy list of toxic -- and nontoxic -- plants for pet lovers!) Some will need a lot of care and some types you’ll be able to plant and (almost) forget about them. You’ll also need to figure out the amount of sunlight that hits your home and then choose plants that either need a lot or a little bit of sunlight, depending on what your home gets. Same goes with the size of plant you purchase. Do you have space for a big tropical potted plant or more apt to have a succulent garden? Take stock of your environment before you make the big purchase.
Provide the right immediate care
Once you choose your plants and have given them time to acclimate, you’ll want to move them to an appropriate pot and add potting soil. Repotting plants gives them time to sustain the size they are, and then provides room to get even bigger. Water your plants thoroughly before repotting and then after that, resist the urge to overwater. Overwatering is the biggest obstacle to becoming a good plant mom and can lead to root rot. A general rule of thumb is to test the soil before you water again and wait for it to be somewhat dry (but not bone dry) in between waterings. When you do water it, don’t go overboard. Add a little water slowly so it has time to really soak into the soil, drink enough water and move through the drainage holes. Your houseplant typically doesn’t need as much water as you might think it does (especially with good drainage) and the right balance can produce healthy roots.
The same goes for sunlight. Direct sunlight works best for cactuses, succulents and flowering plants while tropical varieties can stand low light. Tropical plants are usually protected by some kind of foliage, and therefore, direct sunlight or too much sun can sometimes burn the leaves of common indoor tropical varieties. Test out different areas within your home to see what kind of sunlight might work best. How a plant looks can be an indicator of how it's growing or not growing. Look for drooping, wilting, pale or yellow leaves as an indication that your plant needs more sunlight. New growth can be an indication you're getting the right amount of water and enough light.
Prune your plants to keep them growing
You’ll need to regularly prune your plants to make sure they maintain their shape, remain at a certain size and to remove dead foliage. In most cases, you can just pull off dead leaves. If you don’t keep on top of pruning, pests can fester or develop in rotting plant material which could harm your plant’s long-term health. At the beginning of the growing season check for yellow, dried out or visibly damaged leaves and remove them. This will help keep as much of the healthy stems and leaves intact as possible. Remember, you’re dealing with a living thing! Treat it as a living, breathing being and chances are you’ll be more attentive and more successful as a plant mom.
From Plant Killer to Plant Mom in 8 Easy Steps
Becoming a successful plant mom IS possible! These 8 easy steps can help you pivot from plant killer to plant mom in no time at all.
1. Start small
The very basics of becoming a stellar plant mom is to well, keep things alive. Set yourself up for early success by starting small with low maintenance plants like cactuses and succulents. If you forget about them for a little while they’re likely to be a bit more forgiving as you figure out how the whole “plant mom” thing works. With over 60 unique succulents, The Succulent Source is really rooting for you to grow a happy little garden of easy-to-care-for plants. Choose between cacti or succulents to get 5 handpicked 2.5” plants, all labeled with name and care details. Committed to bringing zero repeats, this is a month-to-month subscription that’s all about diversity, sending you a bunch of varieties for you to learn all about cacti, from bunny ear cacti to crassula and agave.
2. Focus on the basics
If you analyze what a particular plant needs for basics such as water, light and temperatures and you realize you can’t provide that, it’s probably not your plant. A plant is only as good as the environment it lives in. Meeting your plant’s basic needs are key to that plant living or dying. Grow a fun collection of succulents, houseplants and seasonal plants month after month with The Plant Club, or start with a packet of seeds with a subscription like Easy Come Easy Grow, which delivers in-season seeds to help take the guesswork out of planning your planting schedule.
3. Set yourself daily reminders
How many times have you forgotten to water your plants? It happens to even the best plant moms. But having a daily reminder to water or move your plants to sunnier spots can be a great way to keep them thriving. If having everything you need in one box, including instructions, is more your speed, consider a monthly subscription to My Garden Box. They deliver the plant, soil, gravel, pot and instructions you need to nurture new life and brighten up any spot in your home.
4. Avoid plant care extremes
With plant care, it’s not all or nothing. The key to becoming a successful plant mom is balance. If your plant requires a lot of sun, it doesn’t just need sun. It also needs water, pruning, air, etc. Avoid extremes with any type of plant and you’ll be on your way to plant mom status ASAP.
5. Do some research
They mean well, but sometimes the tags that come with plants can be overwhelming and confusing. How much is “a little” water? If you’ve never done any of this before, it can be tricky to figure out the right care for one or more types of plants. Don’t waste your time with trial and error. Ask for help or do some research (or even a combo of both!) to figure out the best way to care for your new green friend. If you relish the idea of 24/7 support for your new budding hobby, try the House Plant Box, which is an inexpensive subscription that’s perfect for all plant lovers. Each month’s box packs a curated mix of healthy houseplants, air plants and succulents, along with plant care instructions, 24/7 customer service support and extras like pots or fertilizer.
6. Try new things
Do you feel like you’ve mastered keeping a cactus or succulent alive? Time to try a new plant type! Don’t be afraid of branching out and expanding your plant horizons. Maybe it means trying a new type of plant or gardening outside. When you’re ready to take on the gardening world, Bloomin’ Bin delivers all the items and tips you need to cultivate an experienced green thumb. It’s for experienced and new gardeners alike and includes either flower seeds, fruit and vegetable seeds or both.
7. When you feel like giving up
No two plant moms are alike so if you have a heart for cacti and succulents only, have at it! It doesn’t make you less of a plant mom to stick to plant types you love, especially if you’re good at it. As the saying goes, “bloom where you are planted,” and recognize your own limitations. Outdoor gardening isn’t for everyone, find your niche and focus on flourishing there. If you feel like giving up on your plant mom dreams, Succulent Studios can help. Each month you’ll get 2 unique succulents, including favorites like star cacti and zebra plants, along with specific care instructions for both. With Succulent Studios, even gardening newbs can feel confident that they’ve got the skills to keep a collection growing and thriving.
8. Have fun!
The most important thing in becoming the best plant mom is to simply have fun with it. If you aren’t having fun with your plants or gardening, it may not be the right role for you. It’s ok to get messy. It’s ok to explore and get out of your comfort zone. But what’s not ok? Feeling like plant care is a chore! Figure out what you do or don’t like and stick with that. If you find that none of it feels fun, that’s ok too. Opt for a DIY window box kit instead like the one provided with Succulent Lovers, a monthly box that delivers everything you need to build a succulent garden or terrarium. If you’re brand new to the world of plants and gardening, the DIY window kit features three different varieties of plants. And with four unique subscription options, this monthly delivery is all about affordability and variety.