Sugar daddies are overrated. I don't want sexual tension with old people. But house plant daddies—how do you become one?
Most of us present similar stories. You're over at your friend's apartment, and each time you think your friend is getting up to refill their mug, they're secretly reaching for the mister. Soon enough, you catch them furtively crouching over a snake plant. Then, it dawns on you. "Wow, I keep putting off getting a cat because it would definitely die. But a house plant might be more my speed."
After seeing the light, I have been throwing all my extra dollars toward keeping my various acquired house plants "happy." Indoor plants are beanie babies that (metaphorically) speak; they're something you can collect, place on a shelf, but you have to pay attention to them.
Lots of first-time plant owners are lazy and/or inexperienced, and they don't see their plants as individuals with different needs based on species, size, season and so forth. Botany is simply not for the faint-hearted. Plants die, and when they do, the trauma is at least equal to that of losing a fish in second grade.
But, there are a few things you can pick up—some specialty, some tricks of the trade—that can keep your green thumb up and your plants happy and healthy.
Think of watering lobes as health insurance for your houseplants. All you have to do is stick one of these mystical-looking glass thermometers into your plant and the lobe automatically drip-feeds it water over the course of five days. Buy one of these and you can feel free to take a long weekend trip to Seattle (or even San Francisco) and know that your plant is being properly attended to.
If you're like me, you own at least six plants. Stock up on these three-packs, which are not only affordable, but aesthetically pleasing and collectible. That's why you bought the plants to begin with, right?
Also, you can get mini ones ($13.99 for a three pack) for smaller plants, too.
Some plants, astoundingly, like the peace lily—act like nature's air humidifiers. If you're a fledgling plant owner, having a failsafe that keeps your plants moist beyond simple everyday misting can save a plant's life. Regularly misting a plant is solid, but there's a common misconception that it increases general humidity. Many plants, such as the lovely pink-striped calathea ornata (my personal fave) require more attention to moisture rather than just keeping them wet. Too much water can be destructive, especially during the winter months. Overwater, and your lants can drown, or start to rot.
A humidifier serves two purposes for the houseplant owner First, it provides moisture. Second, it means cleaner air for your plants and you (Fun fact: Oregon is potentially the worst place in America for seasonal allergies).
This particular humidifier—the TaoTronics Ultrasonic Air Humidifier—shuts down automatically when the water level is low. This humidifier is suggested for bedrooms, but if your living room is small like mine, you should be able to utilize it there.
Soil is to plants as food is to humans. Boring comparison, but very true. The type of soil we put in our pots contributes to our plant's healthy growth, and some plants like the calathea ornata really prosper when planted in organic soil.
My recommendation: FoxFarm Ocean Forest Organic Potting Soil. This potting soil is a blend of premium earthworm castings, bat guano and Pacific Northwest seagoing fish and crab meal. Fox Farm's sil is designated as a non-chemically produced garden product, which means it's more environmentally-minded. This stuff is pricey, but it's top of the line, and local(ish).
Next fun fact: according to the Amazon comments, this soils is great for growing cannabis.
Your plant has a body, and just like you, it values cleanliness in order to shine. If soiling a plant is like feeding it, then cleaning a plant is all about choosing the right shampoo. Plants have different hairstyles, but there are a couple common misconceptions about how to bathe them, and I highly recommend reviewing this Apartment Therapy article which has some inventive pro-tips.
One such tip claims that sponges work well for cleaning firm plants, but a solution that provides more radiant results involves moistening a t-shirt with room temperature water, and then soothing it into the plant's leaves. Milk, which many people use to wash plant leaves with, can clog pores. It's no Proactive.
If your plant is suffering from dry skin, try a touch of water and rub some diluted, non-detergent soap (i.e. Dr. Bronner's) either on your t-shirt or place in a spray bottle and then apply to the leaves. Another bonus: This can also act as a natural bug repellent!
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