I've got a set of methods. They're constantly changing, nothing is nailed down or written in stone. When I look at where I started, I'm happy to see things have come a long way. My hope is that method posts like these offer you encouragement in the processes you've started or are interested in. Take them, adapt them, and celebrate the progress as it happens along the way!
In my second apartment I desperately wanted to cultivate some kind of garden. I bought a series of house plants, all of which have since perished, and did my very best to love them to flourish. When Cale and I got married and moved in together, the house we were renting was much grander than an apartment. I struggled to fill the space and make it cozy at the same time. One day I realized our house was dead. It had no life, well a cactus and a succulent but nothing with soft leaves or feminine curves. So we went out and bought Franklin (I name my plants and mostly with names that begin with F - Franklin, Francis, Fiddle...) Franklin is a Mass Cane, we paid about $12.00 for him, he was small.
Shortly after Franklin came into our lives, we moved to Michigan, another small space apartment, my favorite. I had a longing to be a plant mom and adopt more plants. So my house warming gift was a Fiddle Leaf Fig fondly called Fiddle (horror story below). Suddenly two trees morphed into a small green house. We've had our ups and downs and I've learned a ton, mostly about how to save them and a little about how not to kill them. Believe me those are different things!
Here's What We've Got
- Spider plants
- Philodendron ( a few varieties )
- Dragon tree
- Mass Cane
- Fiddle Leaf Fig
- Zamioculcas zamiifolia (AKA ZZ plant)
- Monstera (that I propagated from a friend's plant!)
- Pilea - Aquamarine
We also have a couple cactus and a jade plant but for the sake of this post I am talking about the plants above. Succulents and cactus are different as far as care goes.
How to Save House Plants
My Pilea, who I've deemed my only female plant, has been BY FAR my most picky, fussy plant. Her tag said she liked low light and little waterings, After almost completely losing her I've discovered she likes plenty of light and water. I discovered this because I just kept trying. I watered more, then less, I moved closer and closer to the window and finally she stopped dying. She isn't the best looking lady in the bunch but to be honest all of our plants have some little rough spots.
What I've learned as far as "saving plants" is that they tell you what they need. Most of our plants were gifted after a long period of neglect so I've spent lots of time watching their leaves, looking for signs of yellow, or bugs.
Here are a few standbys I use for saving lives of our plants:
- Even if a house plant tag says "LOW LIGHT" house plants like bright, indirect light.
- All of our plants like water when the top inch of soil is dry.
- All of our plants like food as directed on the bottle.
- All of our plants like having their leaves dusted.
- All of our plants like a little mist of water in-between waterings.
When you have gnats (they look like fruit flies but aren't)
Do yourself a favor, skip everything the internet says about getting rid of gnats in your plant's soil. I've tried a million ways and here's what worked, SAND! We vacuumed off the top two inches of dirt and replaced it with sand (you can see one in the picture above). The sand drys quickly and the gnats don't like doing the work to get to the soil.
When you have aphids (little white bugs on the leaves)
A grandmother's recipe tested and loved. Mix 1 cup oil (I used canola) and 1 tablespoon of dish soap (I used biodegradable) in a container with a lid. When you are ready to use, put 2 tsp. of mixture to 1 cup water and add to spray bottle. Spray the leaves and the dirt a little bit. Once bugs die, wipe leaves off. This can be used for indoor or outdoor plants!
HOW NOT TO KILL YOUR HOUSEPLANTS
-Do not, under any circumstance, leave your house plant in the car when it's hot and sunny outside. It will get sun burnt and could almost die. My beautiful Fiddle Fig can tell you all about it. When I got him, he was full, lush and happy, by the time we made it home, it was half the size, droopy, and his leaves were brown and falling off. We had to cut off the top half of the plant to bring him back to life. I have NEVER felt more horrible than when I almost killed my Fiddle. I regularly thank him when he grows new leaves.
-Do not, under any circumstance, expect your plant to live in a dark space, especially if it's cold.
HOUSE PLANT BONUS
-Did you know that green houseplants bring a restorative nature into homes? The color green is soothing for the eye to look at and studies have shown that green can be healing. Plants provide oxygen and remove carbon monoxide from the air so they let us breathe well.
-Once a farmer told me there are studies that show plants thrive when listening to classical music in comparison to hard rock.
-That same farmer suggested singing and talking to plants. I can't say this is the reason but I had a long talk with my fussy pilea when she was on her death bed and now she's doing great!
-Trim brown and terribly damaged, yellow leaves. This way the plant can focus it's energy on growing the healthy parts of itself.
Any other plant loving ladies or gents out there? If you have plant advice, questions, or ideas drop them in the comments below!