This year I decided to try my hand at plant parenting and, while there were some ups and downs, I feel like it was a success! I was pretty nervous to commit to raising house plants because when I was eighteen I bought a bonsai tree and it did NOT go well. (For anyone thinking of buying their first house plant, please don't start with a bonsai). For the first few months my bonsai slowly died. I left my apartment for a month at Christmas and had pretty much given up on my bonsai at that point, but when I returned it was completely alive again! Like magic... except that it died all over again once I was back. I clearly did not have the knack for plant parenting yet.
I'm not saying that I am ready for a bonsai tree this time around, but I have definitely learned a thing or two in the past year and now I am the proud mom of twenty-two beautiful plants! So I decided to put together a blog post of some of the little tricks I learned this year.
It's pretty obvious that plants need water and light, it has something to do with photosynthesis I think *giggle*. But even though I knew that going in, it took me at least 6 month before I got comfortable with how to water my plants and where they should go in my house.
Each plant is a little bit different, so before you choose a plant make sure you think about:
- How much light you have in your house.
- This is very important because some plants need lots of direct light and other plants will get sunburnt if they have too much sun. I got in the habit of researching my plants before buying them so I could make sure they are a good fit for my house. For example, don't buy a cactus to sit in a dark closet and don't buy a fern to sit in the glaring sun.
- How much attention you are willing to give to your plants.
- Some plants only need to be watered once every couple months, whereas other plants need to be watered every few days and monitored for humidity daily! Being a plant parent can be a lot of work, so make sure you research plants so you aren't taking on more than you want to handle. I know from experience because one of my first plants was a maiden hair fern, which requires LOTS of attention and humidity. Meanwhile, I live in calgary (a VERY dry city) and now I have to take my plant into the bathroom every morning and mist it twice a day...
The number one thing I learned is not to give up. When I realized I had purchased the most difficult plant to keep alive in Calgary, I was certain that it would die within a couple of weeks. Now it is 8 months later and my maiden hair fern is thriving! It takes awhile to get to know your plants, so the first few months may be a bit of trial and error but don't be discouraged!
Here are a few extra tips I learned about the best ways to care for my plants:
- Research which plants need humidity and mist them every few days. It makes a HUGE difference!
- As you get to know your plants, make a watering schedule to help remind you when to water.
- This is especially helpful once you start to accumulate lots of plant babies.
- I use a to-do list app on my phone. It is a great way to keep it organized and makes it easy to adjust if I realize that my plants need more or less water.
- Even if you have a regular watering schedule, check the soil before you water to make sure you aren't overwatering your plants.
- The top inch of soil should dry up between waters.
- Make sure to actually stick your finger in the soil because sometimes it looks dry on top when the soil is still wet underneath.
- Repot your plants every year because this helps them grow!
- My grandparents are plant experts and their biggest advice was to use good soil, so make sure to plant in proper potting soil.
- I repotted my first plant with my mom and I was really stressed about killing the plant, but my mom showed me that plants are really hardy so don't be too scared.
- Keep some basic supplies on hand like water, a baster for watering, a mister, and some trimmers.
HAVE FUN WITH IT!
If there is a plant that you have always wanted but you're scared, give it a try anyways! I always wanted to grow airplants because it seemed so cool that plants could grow without soil. I was pretty darn nervous but they are actually my easiest plants now. Plus they are just absolutely adorable!
The trick for airplants is to just leave them be. Once a week a water my airplants by soaking them face down in a small bowl of water. Make sure not to get the roots too wet because airplants get water through their leaves (seriously, how cool is that?!).
My favourite part of my airplants is that they can go pretty much anywhere. In tiny little jars or that pot you bought because it was cute. I bought a hanging sloth planter before I bought my first plant, definitely an impulse buy. Then I tried to plant my first plant in it and realized their was no room for roots, not very practical. It ended up sitting on my shelf unused for a long time until I got my fifth airplant... It fit perfectly!
PLANTS AND PETS DON'T ALWAYS MIX
My biggest struggle as a plant parent is being a cat parent at the same time. My cat, Juicebox, is a big fan of plants... well eating plants, which is unfortunate. A few months into my foray as a plant-mom I decided to try buying a non-toxic majesty palm for the corner of my living room to see if my cat would eventually stop trying to chew it. She never got bored of it, and eventually my majesty palm died after Juicebox jumped into the leaves and broke all of the stems...
Needless to say, it has been difficult to find locations that are out of reach of my kitty but still get enough light. My best strategy was buying a set of wire shelves. Juicebox can't jump onto the shelves because of the wires and we only put plants on the top couple shelves so she can't reach them from the ground. I highly recommend this technique if you have cats that like to nibble on your plants.
I also have to be very careful to avoid toxic plants, so make sure you do your research before purchasing any plants if you have a furry friend or children at home. And when in doubt, set up some barricades so that your pets can't reach your plants!
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All photos in this blog post are copyright Kaitlyn Guenther.
I am Kaitlyn, the K in DLTK, and I've been working for the family website since I could hold a crayon. Now I am all grown up and I live with my partner, Callum, and our adorable cat, Juicebox! When I'm not helping my parents on the site, I am studying psychology at the University of Calgary. I love my work and my studies, but when I can I love to head out to the mountains and enjoy the outdoors! You can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram. You can also follow my cute kitty, Juicebox, on Instagram.