a beginner's guide to houseplants 🌿

If you've ever been responsible for the demise of a house plant in the “damn, those are hard to kill” category, this one's for you. This is a safe space.

Houseplants are beneficial for many reasons: they improve air quality, mental well-being, cognitive function, and decrease stress and anxiety. However, it's likely not the denial of these benefits holding you back, but rather the pressure of keeping something alive. Caring for houseplants can be intimidating to begin with, but starting with the foundation of a few basics tips can get you well on your way to turning your house into a jungle.

Start with 'beginner' plants. AKA plants that are hard to kill and need little attention, such as ZZ plants, succulents, pothos, spider plants, or snake plants. These require low light and are pretty resilient to, * ahem, * forgetfulness.

Purchase your plants wisely. Home improvement or grocery stores may be cheaper, but nurseries or specialty plant stores will put more care into making sure they sell healthy, pest-free plants. Most plants come in different sizes — while the larger one may be more visually appealing, opting for the baby one will be easier on the wallet should it end up, well, passing away.

Consider the light in your space. Most plants like a few hours of morning sun, followed by bright indirect light, but some do well in low light or full on direct rays. Consider the amount of light in your home and do a quick Google to make sure the plant you want aligns with this. Quick tip: north-facing windows have the least light, south-facing have the most, west-facing have afternoon/evening sun, and east-facing have the morning rays.

Understand watering preferences. While you would think that the most common cause of houseplant death is neglect, it's actually overwatering! The soil needs a chance to dry out, and if it's constantly wet it can lead to root rot. Plants usually like for their first inch and a half to be dry to the touch before they're watered again. Make sure they're in a pot with good drainage, and try to avoid watering the leaves. Some plants, like succulents, like to be practically shrivelled up before they're watered again, as this mimics natural conditions in the desert.

Give them room to grow. Congratulations, your plant has outgrown its pot! If your plant looks cramped in its pot and the root systems are circling the pot, gently repot it with fresh soil in a pot one size bigger. Too big and the soil will stay wet for too long.

Plants need haircuts too! Use a sharp blade or pruning shears to trim overgrowth and dead or discoloured foliage or flowers. This will prevent disease and encourage more healthy growth, as the plant doesn't have to spread its energy between so many leaves or blooms.

Pet owners beware. If you have a cat or dog that famously eats everything in sight, do your research before bringing home a new plant. Some plants that can be toxic to pets include snake plants, monsteras, English ivy, and spider plants.

With a little commitment to understanding them, plants can be a great way to liven up your living space and bring you some custodial fulfillment. You can raise a less shiddy houseplant, I believe in you!

Remember to be less shiddy to others, our planet, and yourself.

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