Hello everyone! Today I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned as a new plant mom!
I have to admit, this isn’t the post I planned to share today, as I had another in mind. (More on that when that post actually goes up.) That’s why this is late, as I had another post nearly ready to go but I haven’t gotten the last bit that I need yet to be able to post it! So instead I whipped this up for you!
I figured I should share the few bits of knowledge I’ve gained since adopting three new plants into my life. In case you don’t know, I have one fiddle leaf fig tree, named Frida, and two Calatheas named Glinda and Elphaba. So a lot of my new knowledge is based on these three gals, although it can be applied to many plants too.
My Top 5 Tips from a New Plant Mom
1) Water on their schedule
Honestly, this one is probably the most important! You should water on your plant’s schedule, not your own. Most plants have a sign, usually dying leaves, that will tell you when they’ve been without watering for too long. Frida the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree will get brown spots on the outer edge of her leaves (specifically one leaf) that grow quickly when she hasn’t had enough water. The Calatheas are a bit harder to tell though. After some time, I learned the best schedule for all three is to water weekly. In the winter, I will likely need to adjust again, especially for Frida, but right now that’s working for all three of them.
2) Less is more when it comes to water
A lot of plant content will tell you this and I know it’s hard to believe but it’s very true. It’s better to underwater than to overwater your plants! For the most part (it can be different for a few plants) it’s easy to come back from underwatering but if you overwater it can lead to root rot which can be impossible to fix if it’s severe. Start out slow with the water and resist the urge to add more water at the first signs of trouble.
3) To repot or not to repot?
Another thing I had trouble with at first was deciding if I should repot or wait. A lot of plant tips will tell you to wait to repot because the shock the plant experiences coming into your home and adjusting is already pretty big, so it can be a lot for them to also be repotted. Another is that you should repot immediately because oftentimes the nursery pots are too small and lots of people don’t believe they should stay in nursery pots once you bring them home.
For me, I repotted Frida after a few days while the Calatheas stayed in their nursery pots. I think I would have preferred to leave Frida in her nursery pot but she’s thriving without it, so for her it could have been a bad choice. However, it does make the watering a little easier as I could have easily removed her pot and dumped out extra water. Instead, I err on watering less with her now because she’s planted directly into that pot.
Glinda and Elphaba, on the other hand, I prefer to bottom water them so I needed them to stay in the nursery pots. Those pots have holes on the bottom so they can absorb however much water they need (fill a container with a bit of water, stick their pots in, and let them drink up for about 15-20 minutes). They won’t take more than they need to moisten their soil so it’s great to make sure I’m not under or over watering them!
4) Give them time to adjust
Just as you have to adjust to their water schedule, they need time to adjust too! Fiddles in particular do not like to be moved often so once I brought her into my home office, she had to stay there. I can’t move her back and forth from my room back to the office as she’d likely hate that so now she’s got a permanent home on top of a cabinet I own. The Calatheas are a bit more forgiving with that so I did move them around a bit until I found the spot for them that I felt was perfect. They’re pretty happy where they are now that they have their little home set up too. But all plants need time to adjust to your home, their new lighting situation, and even their new pots if you do repot them.
The best advice I can give besides don’t overwater is to do your research. I didn’t really research a ton into fiddles before I got Frida but I did do a bit which was very helpful. Glinda was my first Calathea, and I bought her on a whim so I did a ton of research when I got home. I already knew what to expect with Elphaba, so it wasn’t a huge issue but even so, they are different varietys of Calatheas so they had slightly different tips online. A lot of plant people will tell you never to buy a plant on a whim and always do your research but that’s not what I do so I won’t say that. I do think that once you commit to a plant though, you need to go all in and learn about that specific plant as best you can to give them what they need. All three of my plants need indirect light, for example, so if I hadn’t done my research they could have ended up being pretty badly sunburnt!
Additionally, plants can’t talk to you directly but they can tell you what they need indirectly. Frida tells me what she needs through her leaves, as I mentioned with her brown spots earlier. But if I hadn’t done my research, how could I have known that was what she needed? She might have big brown spots now and even lost a few leaves when she first arrived, but now she’s grown two beautiful new leaves so the research has really paid off.
Bonus tip: trust your instincts
As a last tip, I say trust your instincts! After doing research and getting to know your new plant, I find myself trusting my instincts to know what they need. Right now I can tell that Elphaba is starting to need a bigger pot, so I’m on the lookout for a bigger pot for her at TJ Maxx and other stores too. I won’t repot her if I can’t find one until it’s too late in the season, as I think that would do her more harm than good (winter is a terrible time to repot plants as it’s when they’re at their weakest). Again, the knowledge that you gain and getting to know your individual plants will really help you understand what they’re telling you they need so trust that!
And those are my best tips that I can give as a new plant mom! If you’re a more experienced plant parent, do let me know what yours are. I’m always looking to learn more!
Thanks for reading!
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