Photo by Leonardo Iheme on Unsplash
Nature is gearing up to give us a beautiful, vibrant summer. As outdoor trees and plants flourish, take this time to give your indoor plants a little love, to ensure they get the most out of the sunshine.
We’ve taken two springtime plant care projects from best-selling houseplant book, How to Raise a Plant (and Make it Love You Back), which should ensure that any new or old plants in your house are thriving well into the rest of 2020. In need of more houseplant how-tos’s? Scroll down to check out the book, or follow the authors on Instagram at @houseplantclub
Plant Care Project 1: New digs for your plants
As plants age, their root systems either outgrow their current container or need a soil refresh to stay well fed. Repotting and potting up (moving plants to a larger pot) ensure the long-term health of your houseplants. The best time to follow these steps is right before plants enter their active growth spurt in spring.
Selecting a vessel
This is the first step in the repotting process. Some plants (such as succulents and cacti) like to dry out and will do fine in clay pots, which are porous and help with water absorption and evaporation. Other plants, which need to retain more moisture, will do better in plastic.
Moving a plant you’ve had for a while into a larger pot is often called ‘potting up’. In general, plants will exhibit clear signs of needing to be potted up, including:
- Exposed roots on top of the pot or poking out of the drainage hole
- Coiled roots filling a pot
- A plant in the same pot for a year or more
- Stunted growth on an otherwise healthy plant
Keep in mind, it may be the case that your plant does not need a bigger pot, but it would still benefit from fresh soil to restore nutrients. Gently remove the top inch or two of soil, mix with new soil, and replace, watering thoroughly.
Plant Care Project 2: Nurture Your Jungle!
To stay happy and healthy, your houseplants will most likely need some plant food from time to time. It’s important to know that standard houseplant potting mixes have enough nutrients to keep your plants fed for about six months after being repotted.
After that, the plant will need to be fed to keep it looking great and growing well.
Choosing your fertilizer
There are several types of fertilizer available commercially, including granules, drops, and foam. Whichever type you choose, make sure to follow the package instructions carefully. Over-fertilizing can scorch plants and cause leaf loss.
Fertilizer shouldn’t be applied to unhealthy, immature, or dormant plants. In general, the larger and faster-growing a plant, the more nutrients it will need. Plants should be fed in spring and summer during active growth periods.
Plants you should think about tending to this spring:
Repot every year in the spring to give its large root system fresh soil and nutrients.
Standard houseplant fertilizer can be used, according to package directions, during the active growing season of spring and summer.
Use fertilizer as directed in the spring and summer. Fertilizer will help Ficus lyrata grow strong and will promote larger leaf growth.
Standard houseplant fertilizer should be diluted slightly with water, to prevent scorching, and used about once a month during spring and summer. Specially formulated succulent fertilizers are available commercially as well.
Like succulents, cacti require winter rest periods when you can virtually ignore them. Water only once or twice a month, just enough that they won’t shrivel; there is no need for overly thorough watering during this time. Increase water in spring as the weather warms. During the active growing period, cacti can be watered similarly to other indoor plants. Once the top inch or so of soil has dried out, water thoroughly until the excess comes out of the drainage hole.