Beginners Guide for Indoor Plants

Updated: May 6, 2021

Houseplants can be intimidating with all the different species and each species demanding specific needs.

Indoor planting can be broken down into 6 main keys. These key points are exactly that: the keys to start growing your dream urban jungle.


Main keys:

  • Lighting

  • Watering

  • Soil & Fertilizing

  • Environment

  • Pruning, Propagating & Repotting

  • Pests


Don’t forget your keys cause you’ll need them on this planty adventure. So let jump right into it.


1. Lighting

Finding the perfect spot to keep your plant baby comfortable and happy can be tricky.

There are two types of lighting, Bright/Direct: natural unobscured light i.e. sunlight or indirect, Filtered light: as in a window protected by a sheer curtain or blinds or also can be referred to as LED lights.


With so many types of plants out there naturally, they all need different lighting:

  • High Light: +5hrs of Bright light.

  • Medium Light: Bright/Indirect light for a few hours a day.

  • Low light: Indirect light a few hours a day, Avoid bright direct light.

Make sure you do your proper research and find out what type of light is best for your plant baby. Most plants will come with a plant ID card and basic care tips.


Pro tip: Make sure you rotate your plant once a week to get even growth on all sides


2. Watering

Everyone has killed a plant by overwatering trust me… and if they tell you otherwise they lying! Always check the soil of your plant before watering. You never want to water if the soil is already damp.

Go ahead and stick your finger in there and check it out, if your not a fan of dirt under your fingernails, use a bbq skewer or chopstick, if it comes back clean go ahead and water.



Pro tip: If your soil is sopping, place the plant on top of paper towel. The paper towel will pull the extra moisture from the soil: just remember to change it every so often. 




3 different watering methods:

  1. Over the soil: Pretty straightforward; pouring watering on top of the soil until the soil becomes damp and runs through the drainage holes.

  2. Bottom Watering: Place the plant on a plate/bowl of water, the roots will drink it all up, add more water until the soil is visible damp or if the plant stopped drinking. This can be a great option for the overwaters out there. Just don’t let the plant sit in water for too long to avoid root rot.

  3. Water bath: Take the whole plant and dunk it in a bucket of water submerging it up to the stem. Once all the air bubbles have stopped bubbling then she’s good to go.


Pro tip: If your one to give a little bit to much love to your plant babies, invest in a good moisture meter. 

Some plants can be more dramatic than others and the type of water you feed your plant can be life or death… Distilled or rainwater will always be best for your plants, spring water if your extra bougie.

The tap water in your city may have lots of harmful chemicals and can cause damage to your plant's growth. If tap water is your only option try setting some out the night before to let chemicals evaporate.

I live in Canada where of course it snows, I’ve been using melted snow water which my plant has been loving it.


Pro tip: A consistent watering schedule is so important. Download a watering app to help keep up, but never forget to check the soil first.

3. Soil

We all want our plants to look their best. What’s in their soil will determine that.

You can always find premixed potting soil anywhere you buy plants. You’ll find brands like Pro mix, Miracle-gro etc. You can also look into your local nurseries and find out if any local potting mix makers are in your area. Generally smaller soil companies will have a better soil quality compared to your big box brand.

In my personal experience, I prefer the local soil maker compare to the big box store. I've had a pretty bad Fungus Gnat infestation due to the soil I bought from a big box store. I've should have known when a Fungus Gnat flew off the bag when I picked it up.


So if you can't find the perfect soil, what to do? Make your own duhhhh..

Some ingredients that can be found in potting mix;

  • Sphagnum moss

  • Perlite

  • Coir fibre

  • Vermiculite

  • Coco Chunks

  • Sand

  • Fertilizer

  • Fine wood chips

  • Compost

Just to name some but many other ingredients can be added to make the perfect custom potting mix.


Pro tip: Before bring a plant home to meet the gang, always thoroughly check the soil. Check for over/underwatering, pest, and proper drainage holes in the pot. 


Fertilizing

You got two different options for fertilizer: organic or chemical. Both are a fine option so it's up to you what you think is best for your babies.

But just like when we overeat we feeling we're gonna die and explode, so do they. So careful and don’t overfeed.


Pro tip: In the winter month plants don’t need as much watering and may go into dormancy, some will say to stop fertilizing at this time. But personally I don’t stop and have seen lots of growth with all my babies this winter season totally forgetting about winter an dormancy.


4. Environment

If you're someone who likes it cooler in your household you may want to put that into consideration before bringing a new plant home. Tropical plants generally like it on the warmer side.

Usually, I don’t dip lower than 20°C but you can get away with 18°C. Perfect for me and my plants is 23°C.

Temperature goes hand in hand with humidity. I keep my tropical high humidity plant room around 40-60%. More rare tropical plants will need a high percentage.

Ways on how to keep the humidity up:

  • Pebble tray

  • Misting

  • Humidifier

  • Humidity Chamber/Greenhouse


5. Pruning, Propagating and Repotting

Pruning

I don’t know about you but pruning is always the last thing I want to do. We all want a big beautiful full plant. Truthfully we’re never going to get that perfect Pinterest look without giving it a little haircut, pruning will promote bushier fuller growth.


Pro tip: Always clean the shears with alcohol to kill and bacteria, germs, or diseases.

Propagating

On the upside to propagating, the adorable cute little plant babies.

3 ways to propagate:

  1. Division: Separating a grown plant into two.

  2. Leaf rooting: Growing roots straight from the leaf.

  3. Leaf & stem cutting: Rooting from the stem or node.

There are many ways to root your new little plant baby. To read more tips and tricks for propagation click here.


Repotting

Eventually, your 4” will outgrow its pot and will need a bigger pot. Get your gardening gloves because this is gonna get messy. Don’t do this at home... no seriously take it outside, unless you're ready to clean a mess. Dirt will go everywhere.


What you will need:

  • A pot one size bigger than the one on it has outgrown, whether is a nursery pot or a decorative pot; just make sure it has drainage holes.

  • Potting mix.

  • The plant… duh.

What to do:

  • Pull the plant carefully out of the pot.

  • Loosen the soil around roots, try not to damage the roots.

  • Fill new bigger pot with potting mix little less than halfway. Place the plant inside and add more potting mix until the pot is filled, and the plant is supported.


6. Pests

Last but most certainly not least, Pest! Just thinking about pests makes my skin crawl but this is one key you do not want to forget. Catching pests in the early stages and be the difference between saving it or planning the next plant funeral.


Common houseplant pest to keep an eye for:

  • Aphid

  • Mealybugs

  • Spider mites

  • Thrips

  • Scale bug

  • Fungus gnat

Normally you will find these nasty little pests underneath the leaf or on the stem, sucking the life out of our precious plant babies. Very hard to see but you will definitely start to notice when something is wrong when your leaves will start to fade in colour, turn yellow/brown: new growth will come out distorted. If you think you have spotted pests on any of your plants. Isolate right away, stay calm and click here for the total guide to houseplant pest and control.


That’s it! Follow these keys, be consistent and enjoy your fast-growing beautiful urban jungle.

Have something to add? please feel free to let me know in the comments. Meet you there.

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