In 2015, I moved to Scotland and became a total plant lady. It happened slowly, picking up a plant here or there. I made it a habit of saying, 'Oh I found this cute ceramic pot and he needs a friend' and maybe I was subconsciously trying to emulate the beautiful homes with plants on Pinterest. I will never know how it truly happened, but I woke up one day I over 45 plants and I declared that I had a problem! Maybe not a problem, a hobby? See what I did there?
Something about the lack of light, sunny days, and trees caused me to purchase an indoor plant every time I was at Ikea or local home stores. In the early days, I was 100% my old plant killing self. I liked the idea and look of plants but I never really took care of them. Every couple months one would die from lack of light, water, and love and I would just replace him.
My mom came to visit me for the first time when I moved over and her visit caused a ripple in my plant care habits. My mom is a total garden plant guru. Some of my earliest memories are of her outside in her garden beds and her skills are out of this world. Her house and garden is like a magical landscaper came in and created a whimsical garden palace. I wish I was exaggerating. So she gave me some of her initial tips on basic plant care and I've adapted them for my plants and lifestyle. When I was 23 and she gave me my first plant I was 100% not ready so first up...
1. You Are Entering Into A FriendshipFlashback. I was 23, working in sales with a crazy schedule, traveling 50% of the time, I barely fed myself, my diet was pizza and nice red wine, and my mom gave me my first plant. It was a total shit show. I remember wanting to take care of the plant, but like in my head not in actual real life. Naturally, I put it on the radiator (lol!) near a window and forgot about it. Every 2 months or so I maybe watered it. The thing sat dead for months in the window and I had failed. The first rule of plant ownership is that you and your plant friends have entered a relationship of sorts and you have to be ready for it. You need the plants to make you happy, help your mental health, look pretty...you get it. In return, they need a little TLC! You, my friend, need to enter this friendship with the right expectations! It is the first step of going from plant killer to plant magician!
2. Pick the right plant for you
Baby steps right? If you are a total beginner do not choose a crazy difficult plant. I have purchased a plant I wasn't ready for before. They were tricky with how much water they wanted and what light and I wasn't ready to be patient. I am a firm believer that succulents and cactuses should be your first go to plants. They are the staple beginner plants and the best part is they are GORGEOUS! A firm example is a cactus Adam owned before I moved in. Adam and his old housemate had purchased the saddest looking fuzzy cactus and left him on the kitchen window sill and then never watered him...for like five years. He was a tough little guy. I came in, saved him, and re-potted him and he is now 3 x the size he was in his happy new home. If a cactus can survive Adams home before I moved in, they SURVIVE anything! Start small with a couple of basic succulents. You can snag some at Ikea or a local nursery.
3. Don't over water
Why is watering important? Water provides structural support, cools your plant down, and moves minerals to all the right places in your plants! Ok cool, but how are you gonna accomplish watering the right amount? I think this whole watering thing took me the longest to get. Plants need to be watered but completely drowning out some types of plants can be really unhealthy. Essentially every plant is different and there are 4 basic rules I discovered:
- Succulents love a little bit of water but do NOT need to be overwatered. They should be watered every 2-3 weeks.
- Cactuses can be given lots of water once every 1-2 months and then left alone.
- Ferns and ivy want more attention and love when it comes to watering. You should water them every 1-2 weeks based on their pot size.
- Bigger pots need a lot more water and smaller pots need less.
Every two weeks I do a deep clean of my home and I've simply added the plant watering on as a chore. I go around at the end of the day with my watering can and 'check in' on all the plants. I touch the soil, I see if anything has changed? I water them based on the simple rules above. That's it!
4. Let there be light!
After watering, light can also be a downfall for any plant killer. I am a big fan of choosing plants that match your homes light levels. Again, there are some tips and tricks when it comes to choosing a plant and matching your plant to a new home in your house.
- Low light plants: ferns and plants like monsteras are all plants that like light but they don't need a crazy amount of direct sunlight.
- Bright light plants: succulents and cactuses LOVE bright and direct sunlight.
With this in mind, you can choose a spot that would be a good fit for whatever plant you are getting. Do some research before purchase and if you are at a nursery, just ask!
I keep a lot of my cactuses and succulents in windowsills or shelves where they are gonna get a lot of bright natural light. I keep some of my bigger ferns in a room that gets lots of light but not so direct. My number one rule is don't hide a plant in a hall or dark room. It doesn't sound nice right? This to me was the hardest rule to follow as I wanted trendy plants for decor reasons in my home. I've solved this problem in a couple of areas by purchasing fake plants for my interior hall. Save the real plants for areas in your home where they can be happy.
5. Spring is my re-potting season.
I got inspired to write this post as I am in the midst of re-potting season in my home. This is something new for me as a lot of my plants are thriving as I have stuck to my two-week watering/check-in schedule.
Every spring I check in on the health of my plants. A couple questions I ask are the following:
- How long has the plant been in this pot?
- Is it outgrowing its pot?
- Does it need to be split up into two pots?
- Does it need a bigger pot?
- Is it happy in this style of pot?
Even if you are keeping the plant in its current pot I recommend re-potting and freshening up the soil every spring. This makes sure the plant has plenty of new, enriched soil for the year to come.
I LOVE seeing my plants grow so I am always allowing them to grow into new pots. I simply take them out, prepare a new pot, and rehome them. I then check in over the next couple weeks and water them regularly to make sure they are adapting to their new home. This is a great way to get some bigger house plants in your home.
Adam and I bought a tiny fern plant at B&Q and now her is HUGE and is the biggest plant in our home and a central part of our decor. It just goes to show you how much plants love the TLC and new pot homes you give them!
As I said, I am the middle of re-potting season myself and have loved going on this journey with my plants. If you had asked me five years ago if I would actually enjoy owning plants I would have thought you were nuts but it has become a really fun wonderful way for me to style and take care of my home! I would love to hear if these tips work for you guys! You are a total plant magician now!