Plants have always been a décor fixture, but in recent years they’ve exploded in popularity thanks to #plantlife movements on Instagram and Pinterest. Whether you’re a plant newbie or an aficionado, this guide is for you! We’ve got everything you need to know to both care for and propagate your plants.
We’ll begin with propagating (i.e. creating new plants from your current plants!). There are a number of different ways you can propagate plants, and the method you choose depends on the type of plant you’re working with.
Some plants will form small shoots, or offsets, at the base of the plant near the roots. To retrieve these shoots, use a small knife to carefully remove them, making sure to get as much of their delicate roots as possible.
Once you’ve retrieved the baby plant, repot them with potting compost and you’re good to go. Just make sure you don’t overwater them at this point because too much water will damage their delicate root system.
Types of plants: Aloe, mother-in-law’s tongue, zebra plant, Chinese money tree
Other plants will shoot off baby plants at the end of branches and runners, making it really easy to propagate. Once the offshoots have grown to a decent size, they’re ready to be replanted. Simply remove the plantlet and pot it, ensuring that there is good drainage. This one couldn’t be easier!
Types of plants: spider plants
Most indoor plants are suitable for stem cutting propagation. All you need to do is cut a healthy stem on an angle using a sharp knife.
Remove any leaves along the lower part of the stem and then place the stem in potting mix or filtered water. Once the root system begins to grow, you can repot it.
If you’re propagating succulents, leave the stems out for 1-3 days to slightly seal the raw edges and prevent rot from setting in.
Types of plants: devil’s ivy, swiss cheese plant, begonias
You can actually start a whole new plant from just one leaf! Simply twist a leaf from its stem, making sure nothing is left behind, and then lay the leaf out to dry for 1-3 days. This will allow the leaf to scab slightly so it doesn’t absorb too much water.
Then dip the stem in rooting hormone, knocking off excess if you’re using powder, and insert up to two-thirds into the soil with the leaf pointing up.
Types of plants: mother-in-law’s tongue, Christmas cactus, Zanzibar gem, jade plant
Another simple way to propagate is division, i.e. splitting your current plants in half. To do this, remove your plant from the pot and knock off the excess soil. Using your hands or a knife if necessary, pull the plant in half and repot both sides. Make sure they stay evenly moistened over the next few weeks as the roots heal.
Types of plants: Boston ferns, peace lilies
As you can see, propagation is a really easy way to add more beautiful plants to your home! You can propagate from your own plants or from friends’ plants and share the plant love.
But, now that you have your plants (both new and old) how do you care for them? If your new to plant life, it may seem overwhelming, but we’ve got you covered for everything you need to know.
Choose your plants wisely
Some plants are high maintenance, others are not. Some plants are toxic to pets, others are just fine. When you’re selecting your plants, make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. Are you away a lot? Don’t have access to a lot of natural light? Have allergies? These are all things to think about when choosing the right plants for you. Do a little online research or ask someone at your local nursery or plant shop to point you in the right direction.
Find the right home for your plants
Some plants, like cacti and succulents, need lots of direct sunlight but many do better with indirect light. Determine the best spot and positioning in your home for your plants by doing a little research on their specific needs.
Most people assume that all plants want direct sunlight, but this isn’t the case. Think about how plants live in nature: some are out in direct light, but most receive at least partial shading from larger plants and trees. If you notice your plants’ leaves are yellowing or drooping, they may be suffering from too much sun exposure.
Once you get your plants home, it’s best to give them about a week to acclimate to their new environment. After they’ve settled in a bit, you can transfer them to their new pots. The plastic pots they are sold in are only meant to be temporary, so you’ll want to repot them in either clay or sturdier plastic pots.
The type of pot you use is more or less up to your personal preference, but keep in mind that clay pots provide better insulation against temperature changes, whereas plastic pots allow the soil to retain moisture better. Unless your plant is very high maintenance, you should be fine with either. Just make sure there are holes at the bottom of the pot to facilitate drainage.
To repot, begin by watering your plant well a day or two before so it will be easily removed from its original pot. Add a fresh layer of soil to your new pot, slide your plant our of its original pot and pop it into the new one. Fill in the extra space with more soil, and water well.
Water your plants (but not too much)
Most people over water their plants, but they actually need a lot less moisture than you might think. The amount of watering needed will depend greatly from plant to plant, so to see if yours need water, stick your finger an inch or two into the soil. If it’s dry, then go ahead and give it some water. Most plants prefer to dry out in between watering, so avoid watering if the soil still feels moist.
The way you water your plant is important to consider as well. If you just dump a bunch of water into the pot, it will be harder for the soil to absorb it, and it’ll likely go right through the pot. Instead, water slowly, allowing it to slowly seep into the soil.
As with finding the right amount of light for your plants, think about the way they would receive water in nature- generally every few days or longer when it rains. And never in one quick gush of water, but rather slowly as with rainfall.
The time of year and environment in your home plays a role too. If you have the heat running, for example, there’s a good chance you’ll need to water your plants more frequently.
Prune your plants
Most plants are fairly low maintenance when it comes to pruning- simply pick off the dead leaves and you’re good to go! You can also get a pair of pruning shears if you’d like to do more extensive pruning.
This isn’t just for aesthetic reasons- it’s actually important for the plant’s health that you remove dead foliage. The dead pieces can rot, which affects the health of the rest of the plant and can also attract bugs. Just do a quick check once a week or so for dead leaves and limbs and you’ll be good to go.
We hope this guide helped you to feel ready to get planting! Indoor plants are a fun and natural way to not only add to the décor and vibe of your home but to also purify the air and provide a host of health benefits. Happy planting!