Plant Care

Congratulations! You are a plant parent to a new plant. Plants have just moved from one environment to another and they need time to settle in.

Don’t panic too much if your plants sheds a few leaves, it should bounce back if you care for it properly.

Try not to move it for the first 2-3 weeks to give it the best chance of recovery.

Make a note of the name of your plant too. There are loads of resources on the internet you can research if you come across any issues with your plant so you can care for it properly.

The perfect world of plants we’re bombarded with makes us panic when we see a brown leaf. Plants have imperfections, just like us. And leaves DO need to die to make way for new growth. If the bottom leaves are the ones browning, try and relax – it’s probably doing just that!

However we will let you into a secret…plants do die. No plant will live forever, so even experienced gardeners and plant enthusiasts have to deal with unhappy or dying plants. When you are starting your plant journey you will lose some…so we would advise starting with inexpensive, easy to care for plants – not a tricky maiden hair fern!

Any plant parent will lose a plant every now and then, so don’t beat yourself up about it. It takes practice to learn what a plant likes and doesn’t like. You might find some plants easier to take care of in your home than others or discover there are ones that fit your busy lifestyle and thrive on a bit of neglect. It’s all down to the individual. I find Calatheas really hard to care for but they usually last longest in my bathroom where it’s moist and warm. Whenever I buy an Alocasia x amazonica it dies within 6 months – it’s my Achilles heel of the plant world! Just remember – for every immaculate plant you see on Instagram I can guarantee there will be a few casualties they will not be posting! We’re telling you this because we often hear from people that “I’m not a plant person”, or “I kill every plant I own”. There’s a plant out there for you – and it’s a skill to learn that won’t happen overnight. It’s one of the reasons plants are so addictive, there’s also so much to learn, skills to perfect and knowledge to swap with other plant peeps.

The number one questions we get asked is ‘How much should we water it?’

Unfortunately there is no definitive answer to this. Room temperature, pot type and size, plant roots and growing phase are all factors that will change a plants water needs. If we said X plants needs X amount of water X times per week, we’d be lying to you. The truth is you need to learn how much water and care each plant needs on an individual basis. The good news is that one over or under watering shouldn’t kill a plant so you’ve got some time to find the right regime for you, and your plant. Some people prefer to water little and often, others to do a big watering. Much of this depends on time but also how the plant is potted. If your plant pot has no drainage holes, little and often is definitely the right way to go – the majority of plants hate sitting in overly wet soil and roots will start to rot. The type of pot sleeve your plant is in can also determine watering times. A fiberglass pot will retain any moisture left in the bottom but a terracotta pot will see that moisture leak out of the pot wall, hence you’ll find yourself watering a plant more if its in a terracotta pot.

Instead of blindly watering a plant a certain amount, begin to ‘talk’ with your plant. How dry is the soil? Some plants like the soil to completely dry out before another watering, others need to be watered when the top couple of centimetres are dry, others still like consistently moist soil. Each plant profile on our site states what soil moisture levels you should look out for before watering. There are other indications a plant might also need more or less water. Are the leaves drooping or withering a little? More water. Or have they taken on a yellowish tinge or leaves gaining a mushy texture? Hold back on watering.

As well as watering there are also considerations like misting which can really help a plant thrive. There are lots of plants that come from humid climates so misting leaves, or standing the plant on a tray of pebbles with water can help leaves look their best.

However, it things have gone wrong here are some ways to rectify the situation…

Forgotten to water a plant and it’s drooping badly or the soil has dried so much it’s shrunk away from the side of the pot? It’s likely that even if you try to water now it will just run straight through. Try sitting your plant in a bowl of water for 30 minutes or so to absorb moisture slowly and evenly. It should perk up in a day or two. Still looking sad? Prune back any leaves or branches that look like they won’t survive. With less plant to revive it’s got a better chance of bouncing back!

Overwatered and worried the plant is rotting? Remove the plant from its decorative sleeve and let the excess water drain out. If it’s really wet still, you can remove the plant from the plastic grown pot and wrap the soil ball in newspaper to draw the moisture out – or repot in totally new soil and try again.

The next big question. Where should I put my plant? And what does bright light, direct light or low light actually mean? The good news is there is a usually a plant suitable for most spots in the house. Every plant we sell makes a great houseplant in at least one of the three light levels. We find that most of us (even ourselves) overestimate how much light we have in our homes or offices. What is ‘good’ light for a human doesn’t necessarily translate as good light for a plant. If you can I would suggest investing in one of the many cheap apps available for your smartphone that will give you an indication of light levels in your home. These range in cost from $1-5. It may surprise you just how dark much of your home is and why those sun loving succulents aren’t thriving as you expected!

Direct light – on a windowsill or within half a metre of a window that gets sun for 12 hours a day. Only a few succulents and cacti can cope with this type of heat as the glass acts as in intensifier.

Bright light – near a window that gets direct sun for some part of the day – either directly to the side of a window of within about 1.5 metres of the window.

Low light – near a window with no direct sunlight, more than 1.5 metres from a bright light window or more.

No light – NO plant can survive in darkness or very, very shady areas for long. Only a handful of plants will be happy in shady areas of the home. But you can still enjoy plants here – they just have to be temporary visitors. Rotate a few low light plants in such spots every few weeks. For this reason it’s best to make sure these plants are small to medium sized so moving them isn’t too much of a hassle.

Worried about light levels in your home? Make sure you wipe leaves free from dust regularly as this helps them maximize the amount of light they get. If plants are smaller turn them frequently so all sides of the plant get access to good light. It can take a while to find a plant’s happy spot.

Most plants will benefit from fertilizing during their growing period. It’s not easy to find specific houseplant ‘food’ in Kenya, but most good hardware stores stock agricultural fertilizers you can use.

Don’t fret – there are also ways to feed your plants using things you cook, eat or have in your home!
Cooking water. Boiling eggs? Pasta? Rice? Veggies. Save that water and let it cool. You now have fertilizer. If the water is very starchy dilute first.
Make banana tea with your banana peel. Place peels in a jar with water above the banana skin line. For 1-2 weeks out of direct sunlight.
Dry banana skins until black and crispy (in the sun or oven) then grind or blend until a fine powder and store in a dry jar. You sprinkle on the topsoil or poke holes in soil to pour a small amount in.
Have an aquarium? Fish water is great for plants!
Ashes from your fireplace or fire pit are also great for sprinkling on the soil of your houseplants. Just be sure no plastics were in there!

If you love plants and you love pets you’ll have to decide how best to coexist with the two. Many plants are poisonous to pets. I’ve had dogs that never touch the houseplants and are fine to have something toxic within their reach, but I’ve also got a small dog who likes munching leaves in the evening so my toxic plants were moved to higher places in the home. The solution can sometimes be that simple or it might have to be more drastic.

You can filter our plants to check it they are toxic to your pets. Chlorophytum is always a safe bet.

There comes a time in the life of most plants when you have to repot it into something bigger. Don’t be tempted to save time and plant into something massive so you don’t have to repot for a few years – most plants don’t like to be ‘swimming’ in soil. Only go up by one pot size as a rule, this translates to roughly 1-2 inches more in diameter and depth. Do check what your plant likes however, Sansevieria love to be crowded so it’s a great lazy plant parent option, other plants really need to be repotted once a year to thrive.

There are two easy ways to tell if a plant needs to be repotted. The first is if a plant has stopped thriving as it once did. If growth has tailed off and the plant seems lackluster repotting could be the solution. Secondly, check those roots! Do they show through the bottom of the container or pop out over the top? Or, when you water do you notice the water run out of the pot very quickly? It could well be that the whole pot is now just roots! These plants should slip out of their grow pots very easily. Some people recommend teasing the outer roots free, others caution against it – I’d play with both to see what works for you and your plants! For me it often depends either on how much time I have or if the roots are especially fibrous or fine.

Of course, there are some plants you don’t want to grow any bigger! If this is the case cut the roots back to suit the size of the pot and cut back the foliage too so it’s not working too hard at a time of stress.

Remove dead and badly damaged leaves. These will rot on the plant and may attract disease. Cut off any blooms once over as these can rot the centre of the plant.

Invest in a small to medium size watering can and, depending on the plant (s) you have bought, as mister too. Some scissors to hand area always useful for trimming and pruning.

If you know you’re the type of person to forget to water place your plants where it will be impossible to forget about it! Perhaps near the kitchen sink, by the bed or on a windowsill by the bath so you can splash them every morning!

To keep most plants looking their best you will have to prune at some times. Nipping of new growth stimulates new growth lower down the plant, so can be great to get in the habit of doing if you want your creeper or tree to have a bushier appearance.

After a year of watering you may notice the soil level of your plant has decreased. Soil loss as you water and decomposition of the substrate will happen so topdressing is recommended to bring the soil level back and add nutrients that have been lost.

Keep like plants with like. For a start, this will make watering and care much easier. It also helps to create a microclimate in an area of your house – if the tropical plants are all grouped together and misted, water will drip from one plant leaf to the next and retain more moisture in the air!

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