Hi Or So She Says readers! I’m Becky from Bite of Delight, and I’m so thrilled to be a new contributor here! I’m a Utah girl married to my best friend, and together we have four little buddies. I love to cook and I spend most of my time in the kitchen. We don’t eat elaborate meals every night, but we do eat together as a family every night. I love reading and Sunday afternoon naps and a clean house. Things that I miss since having 4 kids, but they’re all slowly coming back into my life!
Normally you’ll find me in my kitchen elbow-deep in bread dough or chocolate, but for my first post here, I want to talk to you about houseplant care because…it’s Houseplant Appreciation Day! When I found out about this fun day, I talked to the nice folks at Western Gardens and they agreed to help me out with a giveaway just for you! (Keep reading!)
Houseplant Care Basics
With a little TLC, your houseplants can stay beautiful and healthy all year long. There are just a few basic things to keep in mind.
Water: Most people water their plants on a schedule (or when they remember!). Your plants have different water needs throughout the year, however, based on temperature and sunlight exposure. So just putting yourself on a watering schedule and sticking to it all year isn’t the best way to care for your plants. Your houseplants will usually need more water in the summer and less water in the winter. So how do you figure out how much water to give them? A moisture meter is an inexpensive but valuable tool for watering plants. Moisture meters are numbered from 1-10 (1-3 is dry, 4-7 is moist, 8-10 is wet). You want the soil wet (8-10) when you water it, then water again when it’s in the moist range (4-5). Never let your soil dry out, and don’t keep it wet all the time! Roots will die from too little water, but they will also start to decay if they are too wet. If you don’t have a moisture meter and you need to figure out your plant’s watering needs, use your finger! Scratch down into the soil at least 2 inches to feel for moisture. It’s time to water again if the soil is just barely moist.
Light: Most people don’t have as much light as they think they do in their homes, so consider plants that have colorful and large foliage instead of a flower that blooms. Blooming plants require more sunlight, and it can be a long time (like 6-12 months) between blooming cycles. Plants will drop leaves in the Winter when there is less light, in order to conserve energy. It doesn’t mean your plant is dying! It’s just trying to shed unnecessary foliage in order to better utilize the light it’s receiving. Different areas of your home will receive different amounts of light (depending on which direction the windows face), so check your particular plants to see what their lighting needs are.
Fertilizer: Try to avoid chemical fertilizers in houseplants. They release their nutrients quickly and don’t stay in the soil as long as an organic fertilizer. They also leave a salt residue, and when that salt residue builds up it can change the pH of your soil (not good!). Organic fertilizers are slow-releasing (good!), and they don’t leave a salt residue, so your soil will stay healthier longer.
Cleaning: A popular Pinterest method for cleaning houseplants is to put them in the shower. While this is fine, you do have to be careful not to let dirt go down your drain, as it can quickly clog your pipes. A safer method would be to use a spray bottle of water and a clean cloth to gently wipe each leaf. There is also a product called Leaf Shine that will repel dust and keep your plant cleaner longer. Do NOT use household cleaners on your plants. The leaves are porous and will absorb the chemicals, which can harm or kill your plant. Harsh cleaners can also strip the protective layer of oils on the leaves.
For our Utah readers, to make your National Houseplant Day a little happier, we are excited to give away a $25 gift certificate to Western Gardens! (This is for local Utah readers because it must be redeemed in-store). Just follow the SUPER easy instructions for 3 quick entries!