10 Tips From Ahmed Hassan That He Thinks You’ll Really Wanna Know
What we typically grow as indoor plant species are actually tropical plants. These are plants accustomed to growing in hot, humid areas; similar to the hot, and sometimes humid, areas of your home. We humans tend to appreciate temps ranging from about 65 to 70 degrees, maybe a lil warmer if we want to snuggle. Many of the plants that you’ll find at your local nursery or garden center grow outside in places like Hawaii and South America. Heck, I’m from California and I often travel back east and find many of our western “houseplants” growing as annual foliage because the outside weather conditions are warmer and there is more humidity in the air.
What’s interesting is that it doesn’t matter where people live their lives. Plants are everywhere. They’re something we just can’t, and don’t want to live without. Today’s tips are going to hopefully help you better understand how to care for and co-exist with your foliage friends.
Tip # 1 Read up and do a bit of research on your houseplant.
When you buy your plant at the nursery or garden center, bust out your lil smart phone and use Google! Type in “How to care for…” whatever the specific plant name is. We live in the “Information Age”. This means that the information is literally at your finger tips. Use it! You’re paying for all that data on your phone anyway.
Tip # 2 Start w/kitchens and bathrooms.
The humidity in kitchens and bathrooms create just the right amount of humidity that houseplants need and rely on. These rooms have sinks nearby so it’s convenient to water them when you see the plant wilt. Be careful, however, of bathrooms that don’t have windows. Even houseplants need some indirect light in order to thrive. Some need more than others or they’ll start to decline. Again, do your research but these rooms are a great start since they usually have moisture present.
Tip #3 Do not water your houseplants on a regular schedule.
Instead check the plants regularly and water them only when they want to be watered. Most indoor plants die from people trying to hard. We somehow believe that plants will benefit from routine feeding. This is actually a farce. Imagine if everyday at 8 am, noon, and 6pm, I showed up to cram food and water down your throat? No matter where you were, what you were doing, there I was, “Boom! Blam!” water and feeding time! Forget your stress level, never mind if you’ve just had a snack or not. Sleepy? Tired? It doesn’t matter, I just crammed food and water down your throat. How good would you look?
All plants go through what’s called the Temporary Wilting Point, or TWP, where their leaves become flaccid and wilt. They’re showing you that they need water. Water your plants during the TWP. Within hours the leaves will be turgid, lush, and healthy looking.
Tip #4 Saturate, but allow the soil to dry between waterings.
While some houseplants will tolerate being consistently wet, many need to dry out between waterings. The Tropics, because of their frequent persisting rainfall, have soil that contains less clay particles. This means that the soil’s ability to hold onto water, remaining wet and soggy, is greatly diminished. There’s no compacted clay to hold onto water. This is the reason houseplants are typically grown in extremely light and airy soil medium. You are trying to mimic their natural environment. So saturate, then allow the houseplant to wilt before saturating again. If mobility isn’t possible, try using a turkey baster to remove waste water from saucers. Waste water doesn’t allow the soil to drain and will surely be the demise of your indoor friend.
Tip #5 Rotate plants so that leaves can develop in a more balanced manner.
Leaves grow toward the sun. Indoors we simply use light or nearby windows to give a plant it’s illumination needs. A simple spinning of the pot or container every so often works fine.
Be aware that when you spin the plant, you’ll likely lose other leaves that are no longer getting the light they were accustomed to. Remember what I mentioned earlier about bathrooms without windows. “No light, no leaves.”
Tip #6 Plants don’t need nearly as much food as you think they do!
If you have it, use it but sparingly. Egg shells offer calcium, used coffee grounds, however, are superior.
You won’t need much though. Think of fertilizer as Red Bull, it’s got vitamins and gives you “wings” but too much of it and you will rot your gut. Also, never feed a plant without proper watering and removal of the waste water.
Tip #7 Water using recycled tepid water if you can.
Temperature does make a difference. Best selling plant book author Jack Kramer says “If you can drink the water from your tap, it’s fine for plants too. So don’t worry the plant to death; use the water from the tap, A good idea, however, is to let it stand overnight so it’s tepid rather than icy cold, to avoid shocking some of the plant roots. The quality of water is not as important.”
Standing water begins to build up algae. This algae in turn becomes a food source and fertilizer for houseplants. Plants also obtain much of their nutrients from the atmosphere. Dust and organic elements in the air, settle on the soil surface. When the soil is watered, these micro particles become micro compost that delivers nutrients to the soil.
Tip #8 Prune only what’s absolutely necessary.
Pruning actually steals food and nourishment from the houseplant. Leaves create food for the roots, so removing any leaves and branches limits the root growth and development of said plant. So limit removal of leaves to those that are dead, or mostly dead and brown. It’s normal for old leaves to die, in the same way that it’s normal for you and I to lose old hair and skin cells.
Tip #9 Protect your floors and carpet.
Water seepage happens. Be sure to use double layers of floor protection whenever possible. There are plenty of floor saving products out there. I suggest you find products that look the way you want them to aesthetically; and create 2 layers of protection from water seepage. I warned you, now go and be careful with your wood floors.
Tip #10 Talk to your plants.
Folks wanna know if it really helps to talk to your houseplants. My answer is yes! Plants take in CO2 and need Carbon Dioxide to live and thrive. We humans expel this Carbon Dioxide. Plants expel oxygen. This gaseous exchange is good for us both.
Here’s a link if you’d like to learn more on what benefits both plants and people.
And another on the benefits of plants and how they clean our air, as well as which houseplants are best for doing this in your indoor spaces, according to NASA.