How to keep your house plants alive (and thriving!)

We all know so much more about house plants these day; we really do try and reap the benefits in that they: improve our mood, reduce our stress levels, increase productivity/attention span and even pain tolerance and that’s just the psychological benefits these wonderful little plants do. Let’s not forget the physical benefits: purifying our air, reducing blood pressure and even lowering fatigue and headaches some studies are now showing. But more importantly they make our instagram feed look pretty 😉

But how do we keep them alive and help them thrive inside our homes?

Some house plants are more easy to look after (idiot proof you may say) however I still managed to kill them back in the day. How did many of my plants die I hear you ask – death by drowning! Seriously though, I now know that house plants don’t need that much water, especially ones in your bathrooms as the steam helps them a lot. But also when you do water (weekly not daily) always use rain water – keep it all as natural as you can. Tap water is ‘ok’ but it can be harmful; often it is too alkaline (hard), high in calcium or contains chlorine/fluoride. Some areas are better than others and also some plants are more tolerable. My advice though, get a water butt, or just keep a nice little bucket you don’t mind keeping out when it’s raining. Sometimes I just sit my plants in a bucket of rain water (only needs to have 2/3″ of water in the bucket not full at all) for 30 mins or so every other week, that way it has one big drink rather than lots of little ones – some plants need that period of dry soil for those few days (or weeks in some cases) so they will die if you constantly wet them.

Mouldy Soil & Lifeless Leaves

Now I know you hardcore plant lovers will gasp at this, but I have seen so many people do it. Those in a nervous disposition look away now *DO NOT TIP YOUR LEFTOVER TEA OR COFFEE INTO THE SOIL!* It is 100% not going to do it any favours, the milk/sugar will attract those horrible little sciarid flies (gnats) and it will turn your soil mouldy which can kill the plant. Other reasons you may have mould are if you are over watering or equally if you have poor or even no drainage. Keep the top of the soil free from old leaves, as the white mould you see is actually a saprophytic fungus which lives off organic matter that’s decaying in your overly wet soil.

Want shiny leaves? Well simple – you have just got to keep those leaves clean – the cleaner the leaves the more sunlight it can soak up too, keeping it healthier. Use warm (not hot or cold) water and a damp cloth, never use chemicals, milk or polish (yup I’ve seen this many times too) to make your leaves ‘shine’. Support your leaf from underneath and wipe each leaf down in the sink, leave the drip dry as wet leaves shouldn’t be in direct sunlight, once dry you can then pop it back.

Google is your friend

Cheating really but Google is life these days, my advice is just Google your plants needs. Does it like sun/shade/no draughts/lots of water/dry spells etc etc. It’s easy really just a bit of an effort at the start – I used to write it down on little cards now I just put it in my phone. Which plants need what, as it’s so easy to forget! Most plants these days do come with a care card, keep this with it or just shove it in a drawer never to be seen again – hence why I now store them on my phone.

Plant Sitters

If you are going on holiday make sure you don’t forget about your little green friends, if someone doesn’t mind coming in to water that’s great, but if you don’t want to bother someone you can buy glass watering globes for a few pounds, also brilliant if you do happen to keep forgetting to water them for weeks on end – I found mine on ebay (shocker). Plants need sunlight too – as my secondary school science teachers taught me, so don’t shut all your blinds for weeks on end or you may come home to a plant morgue. You can move them all into one room if easier and have just one lot of curtains open, but try not to move them all the time as they do take a lot longer to adjust to new surroundings. They can be very sensitive little souls sometimes.

Pruning

Leggy women are all the rage, however leggy plants not so much, it is important to know how and when to trim your plants (Thanks Google!) but if you want a nice full plant not a leggy twig you will need to give it a little trim now and again, as once the bottom foliage has fallen off it is very hard to get it to come back. Not all plants will need trimming but most do – so again check that care card/wikipedia.

If you follow this advice you should have no trouble with your house plants, but if you want to chat plant my email is wide open for chatter.

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