by Ken Lain, The Mountain Gardener, Watters Garden Center
Gardening is learned by making mistakes. I want to ensure you make mistakes in the right direction, never going backward.
Let’ start with the obvious if you have gardened for more than a season. If something is alive in your home, it will need water. Houseplants most likely need a deep soak every 10 to 14 days. Succulents, cacti and plants in dark rooms need water less often, probably every two to three weeks.
Puppies and cats should not eat your houseplants; it’s not good for them. Over and over again, I see these same mistakes. Eliminate even one, and you become a better Plant Parent and gardener.
Helicopter Plant Parents are bad
Whether you’ve opened your home to tropical plants, desert cacti or temperate succulents, the worst thing you can do is constantly mess with them. Set your plants up for success by avoiding these two blunders.
1. Obsessively watering every day:
It’s easy to fall into the “What if it needs a drink?” trap. Most common houseplants won’t need a drink until the top of the soil begins to dry. If you’re dealing with arid plants, they won’t need a drink until the soil dries out completely.
Obsessively watering plants leads to root rot, making plants less able to pull in water and nutrients and far more likely to die. Generally speaking, your plant will tell you when it’s thirsty. Do your research, and you’ll be fine.
2. Obsessively cutting off leaves that look less than perfect:
Surprise, plants are just like people! The plant you’ve brought into your home is a living thing, and all living things have imperfections. It grows and changes over time, just like people do. Sometimes leaves get crispy on the edges. Sometimes leaves turn yellow and fall off.
If you’re caring for your plant correctly, these events correspond to a normal life cycle. If you start cutting off every leaf that looks different than when you bought it, you will have a big problem.
Healthy plants can only handle one-third of their living growth being cut off at a time. Remove any more than that, and you have a stressed house plant trying to replace all that’s been cut away.
Prune only obviously dead leaves or snip a piece or two to propagate your plant.