The basics of plant care

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The other day I stopped by my dad’s to re-pot a couple of recently sprouted seedlings, seeing as they were ready for a size up. The task was over, and I had the absolutely brilliant idea to carry all three pots up to my car, at once. This brings us to rule number one of plant care: do not try to carry three plants at once. Your radish sprouts will end up in a pile on the floor, or rather the concrete. But if you already have your clumsiness figured out, and you’re ready to learn the basics, then you can start with this article.

Much like us, plants need four things to survive: food, water, light, and air. If you are able to provide your plant with all of these, it will thrive. I’m going to break down each necessity, and share a couple of my own personal tips on how I ensure my plants are in the right conditions. 

Thinking back to fourth grade science, do you remember learning about photosynthesis? It is the process in which a plant uses sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to create energy and grow. 

Your plant needs water to survive, but can also die if you water it too much. Overwatering a plant clogs the soil and will suffocate a plant’s roots, causing them to rot. It is incredibly difficult to save a plant from root rot, and oftentimes the only fix is to salvage what you can by cutting off the healthy pieces of plant and placing them in water or soil so they root and create a new plant. Because different plants need different amounts of water, you should Google how much water each of your plants needs. If you are having trouble remembering the different watering needs for your plants, I recommend putting a sticky note with watering instructions on your plant’s pot. 

Different plants also need different amounts of sunlight to thrive. This is another opportunity to use Google! All of my plants need bright, indirect sunlight, but I find that getting a couple hours of direct sunlight can be really helpful for most of them. 

Too much sunlight causes the leaves of a plant to become crispy and brown, whereas a lack of sunlight causes a plant to start putting out smaller leaves or develop leggy growth (having very long stems with fewer leaves).

Finally, the section of this article that I am most passionate about: FERTILIZER! Just like us, our plants need food to survive. Instead of eating, they get nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus through soil. In order to keep the soil packed with these nutrients, you need to add it yourself. Most potting soil mixes come with a slow release fertilizer that will keep the soil nutrient packed for around two months. When this time is up, you best get to fertilizing. I recommend picking an organic fertilizer such as fish or seaweed emulsion. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer to see how to use it!

The first time I fertilized my plants was right before I left my dad’s for my mom’s. I came back a week later, and the amount of new growth was remarkable! If you have any questions or fun plant stories you want to see in an article please email me at [email protected]. I would love to leaf through the emails you send me. Have a plantastic day!