Whether you’re looking to brighten up your apartment during a long, dreary winter or rainy spring, or you want improve the overall health of your space with bright, thriving life, houseplants and flowers can be a go-to decorating idea. Only problem? Keeping them alive once you’ve brought them home. If you’ve given up on the hope of ever developing a green thumb, take heart! Healthy plants are easier than you think. These ideas will help you keep your plants thriving.
1. Choose the right plants for your space
This one seems obvious, but it’s a simple step that will pay off for years to come. Wherever you buy your plants, talk to the vendor about where you’re thinking of keeping the plant. A bright balcony that receives tons of light? A dining room table more than twelve feet away from a natural light source? An apartment where you never open the windows, or one where the windows stay open all summer long? These conditions matter when it comes to plant care, and a few questions (or a handy Google search!) can set you up for success.
2. Remember to water according to the plant’s needs
One of the most frustrating things about maintaining a plant is knowing when and how much to water it. Some plants like a lot of water, some only a little, and how can you remember when you watered last before that grim morning when you glide through the kitchen and realize your plants are drooping and brown? The answer? Schedule it. Research the optimal watering schedule for your plants online, and set an appointment in your online calendar the same way you do your Monday morning staff meeting or your bi-weekly walk with friends. What gets scheduled gets done, and if you feel confident that you’re watering your plant correctly, you’re more likely to stick to the plan. Not a digital person? Label each plant with its ideal schedule and keep a stack of post it notes nearby, jotting down the date each time you water the plant and sticking it next to the label. With just a glance you’ll see when you watered last, and when you need to water again!
Pro Tip: Experts recommend swapping out regular water for flat club soda once a week to give your plants extra pep. The minerals in the soda are extremely plant-friendly!
Pro tip #2: Leaving town for a week? Invest in a watering globe or convert an empty wine or soda bottle into a DIY watering can by cleaning the bottle and filling it halfway with water. Then, turn the bottle upside down and bury it deep in the pot of a large plant (like a fig tree). The water will leech into the soil over time, keeping your plant perky while you’re away.
3. Fertilize like a (DIY) pro
It makes sense that occasionally adding fertilizer to your plants will help them grow, but there’s no need to buy an expensive mixture from the nursery. You can use your spent coffee grounds as a fertilizer instead. Ideally, you’d mix your fertilizer with other organic waste to form a compost, but that arguably takes time and effort. Instead, just sprinkle coffee grounds lightly over the soil about once a week and see how your plant responds. Remember—go light! You don’t want to deep roast your plant in coffee grounds.
4. Clean your plant (yes, really!)
Just like humans, plants feel better with a little tending. It’s a great idea to dust the leaves of your plants or mist them with a water mister (if they’re a water loving variety), on a regular basis. This allows you to really look at the plant, make sure it hasn’t become a new home for any plant-dangerous bugs, and also helps you reconnect with nature (which is probably part of the reason why you got a plant in the first place!)
Pro tip: Experts say that rubbing a little mayonnaise on your plant’s leaves every few weeks can make them extra shiny in a healthy way…you be the judge!