5 Tips to Make Your Home Garden Grow
For when bringing the outside in has become more important than ever.
This content was developed in partnership with Conscious City Guide.
How would you describe the perfect housemate? Would they be tidy, low maintenance? Would they have a small ecological footprint, or provide your home with oxygen through photosynthesis? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, then your ideal roommate might be as close as your local plant nursery.
In these pandemic times, many of us are now well acquainted with spending most of our days and nights within the same four walls. In an effort to breathe life into our living spaces, some folks have chosen to bring the wilderness inside. Before you get a quarantine puppy, consider adopting a pet that is leafy and green. Here are some tips and tricks to inspire and encourage you on your journey to becoming a plant person.
1. There is no “one way” to take care of a plant
When it comes to houseplants, there is no one-size-fits all care regimen. Some plants are very thirsty, while others like to be dry. Some love to bask in the sun, while others prefer to shelter in the shade. To help you better care for your household verdure, the general rule of thumb is that you can care for your plants by sticking to their type:
Flowering house plants
Flowering house plants are the outgoing sibling of the indoor greenery family, adding color and fragrance to our humble abodes. Flowering plants exude beauty and confidence but, like many great beauties, have a reputation for being temperamental. According to The Spruce, “many flowering house plants must be kept humid; this can be accomplished by regular misting or by placing each plant on a bed of gravel and pouring water over the gravel.” Another helpful tip is to make sure our blooming buddies get plenty of sunlight to grow to their full potential.
Large scale, foliage-type plants have become living works of art in many homes — just look to the #plantsofInstagram hashtag for proof. Shades of green and yellow adorn walls, windowsills and floors, emanating nature into minimal spaces. In an interview with The Observer about this type of plants, landscape artist and urban edenist Lily Kwong says, “I think they have so much character and personality. So many of them look like Dr. Seuss’s characters.” Her favorites of this breed? Palms, cycads, monstera, rhododendrons and “really juicy big-leaf tropical plants” (Ed’s note: sign us up). These delicate beauties originate primarily from tropical environments and generally require a fair amount of medium to bright sunlight. Pay careful attention to their leaves — that’s how they communicate. Just like us, foliage-type plants especially can get sunburnt and may require respite from direct sunlight.
Succulents and cacti
The unofficial house pets for wanderers, these desert-dwellers need very little care, as they retain water to survive sweltering dry climates (the definition for the word succulent is “full of juice” — go figure). As low maintenance as these pets are, most succulents and cacti require spaces where there is a lot of sunlight.
2. Identify suitable spaces to store your greens
If you’ve tuned into botanical expert Christopher Griffin AKA Plantkween’s IGTV lately, you would have seen his expansive room full of leafy wonders. They affectionately call this space “The Plant Nook”, home to an estimated 100 “green girls.” Griffin suggests doing an environmental assessment before bringing in your houseplants, and considering the following:
- What is the average humidity level of your space?
- What directions are your windows facing?
- How much sunlight does the space receive?
- What is the average room temperature?
3. Determine which accessories you’ll will need
Behind every great hobby, there exists a great set of accessories. Here is a list of the basics you will need to maintain your burgeoning home jungle:
Just like every enviable top shelf would have you believe, plant surfaces like to be clean and dewy. While a standard spray bottle will do the trick, the force of the spray can be heavy for delicate leaves and petals. A plant mister provides our “green girls” with an airy sun shower akin to the kind she would naturally receive in the wild.
Have you ever cut your hair with dull kitchen scissors? If the answer is yes, then chances are you’ll understand the need for dedicated gardening shears. Whether for propagating cacti, cutting out a sunburn or trimming for cuteness, a good pair of sheers allow us to do so with razor-sharp precision.
Although more of an intermediate level tip, feeding our plants with plant food can be just the boost, they need to thrive. Because our indoor plants live in small pots and not in expansive outdoor spaces, they do not receive the same nutrients as they would in the wild.
Plant food is to our home jungle as supplements are to our human bodies.
4. When it doubt, Google will help you out
If/when your botanical goals are not aligning with your botanical realities, please do not be shy to seek help. In 2020 we are blessed with innumerable online resources that can put us on the path to lush green gardens. Consider submitting your question into a home gardening forum. You will stand to gain from the expertise and advice of veterans.
YouTube has proven to be a strong community center for the green thumbs of the world. Want to know what plant is right for your space, or when to repot? There’s a video for that 3 best beginner plants to try out is a good place to start.
5. Patience is a virtue
Plants are living things; they change form regularly. Sometimes they are lush and full, and other times delicate and demure. Patience is vital when we set out to be plant parents. Like actual children, plants will not always do what we ask of them, and that’s okay. When we see imperfections and bruises, we must stick with our green friends. Tending to our home jungle can be meditative as it often requires us to slow down, listen, and pay attention. Through this practice, we take the opportunity to ground ourselves and connect with Mother earth.
Photograph courtesy of Daria Shevtsova.
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