How To Keep Potted Plants Alive
If you’re a plant lover but find gardening stressful, or cringe every time someone hands you a plant and promises you’ll kill it in a week, we have some advice for you. Keeping even one houseplant requires a lot of effort, so despite envying the green thumbs of your neighbors, friends or relatives, do you struggle to keep one yourself?
The good news is this is nothing to be embarrassed about, as many people struggle at first to keep plants alive, but with practice and some instruction, anyone can learn how to do it. Simply because something does not naturally come natural to you does not mean that you will always be unable to do it.
There is no reason you can’t achieve the skill of maintaining potted plants. This tutorial is designed to help you learn how to care for potted plants. Get your gardening gloves and potting soil out and let’s get started. By the time you’ve completed this lesson, you’ll be ready to put these skills to work.
Tips to Keep Potted Indoor Houseplants Alive
Although much of the rules related to plants are similar, some will differ slightly depending on the environment you want to grow them in. Our guide to keeping indoor plants alive is for those who mostly wonder how to take care of potted indoor plants. Here are the best tips for keeping houseplants alive:
Choose the Correct Pot
It is essential for plants to have ample drainage. Pots should be designed with holes at the bottom for excess water to drain out of the soil and collect in a tray beneath the pot. The extra water in the soil will inevitably lead to a plant drowning if there is no hole to drain it, because there will be no hole for the moisture to escape. The chances are good that you have a drainage problem, and the plant is too wet, if your plant appears wilted and droopy, and the soil remains damp.
For the same reason, plants need a lot of space to grow. If the roots don’t have enough room to stretch out, they become top-heavy, and the roots are not strong enough to support the amount of foliage. It will eventually wither and die.
The easiest way to keep your plant healthy is to leave it in the pot it came in (or the basket) it was shipped in. However, this isn’t always the best option. If you want your plant to be healthy, it should be kept in a pot that provides enough space for it to grow and expand its roots. It should also have a pot with adequate drainage.
Use Good Potting Soil
Your houseplant’s container needs to be re-potted if you want it to thrive in a new pot. You also need to consider the type of potting soil you’ll be using. To make sure your houseplant will flourish and remain strong, you should use potting soil instead of just digging up dirt from your backyard. Potting soil contains extra nutrients and fertilizers that should help thrive.
The type of plant you plan to grow will determine whether you can find a potting mix specifically formulated for that species. There are usually potting soils specifically formulated for plants of this type. For example, cacti and succulents often require potting soil spiked with the right nutrients.
Watering: Not Too Much and Not Too Little
When you’re new to plant care, watering can be tricky. Too much water and your plant can drown. Too little, and the plant will dry up and die. For healthy, happy plants, you’ll want to find a fine balance between these two extremes. Most plants thrive when the soil is allowed to dry between waterings, with the exception of some plants that prefer moist soil.
You can tell whether your plants need water by starting with the dirt in the pot. If the dirt feels dry and crumbly, water soon. If it still feels damp, you shouldn’t water just yet. Within a few weeks of following this method, you should begin to learn when your plants need water.
You’ll also be able to tell if your plants are thirsty by looking at the leaves. If they appear dry, brown, and shriveled, your plants are in dire need of water. Hopefully, however, you will realize this earlier rather than later.
If you are giving your plant water, make sure it runs out the hole at the bottom of the pot or the soil cannot hold any more water. If it starts to pool on top of the dirt and won’t absorb any more, then you are done watering.
Almost every plant has its own needs, so it is hard to prescribe how often to water the plant. You can learn more about your plant by reading up on its specific needs, however, in general you should let the plants determine when they need water. Read a plant’s soil and leaves, and you’ll be able to determine when it needs water.
Give Them Plenty of Light
The preference of every plant can vary in terms of light and shade, but no plant should grow when it is totally deprived of light. Keep your plant out of the closet, up high on a dark shelf or hidden in a shadowy corner, and it won’t do well at all.
Window sills are ideal for putting plants, as they receive ample sunlight. If your windowsill is not large enough, however, try putting the plants on a table or cart in front of a window, or in some other place that receives sufficient sunlight.
Keep Your Pet Away
Even though this should go without saying, you might not think about it if you are new to houseplants. Your pets may love your plants, but unfortunately this often results in them eating them or destroying them in their enthusiasm.
For this problem, you create an ideal situation by placing your houseplants in places your pets cannot access. Maybe put them high on the counter, or put them on top of a cabinet. Keep in mind that you should balance their safety with the fact that they still need sun.
In addition, there are some plants that can be poisonous to animals, so keeping plants and pets separate is imperative.
Learn About Your Plant
Learn the specific care requirements of the plants you are handling, whether they are indoor houseplants, outdoor baskets, garden plants or something else altogether. Learn how much sun it likes, or how much shade it prefers. Find out if it needs daily watering, or if it can go two weeks without it.
All plants require different care and there are plenty of general rules that apply to most, but when learning about each specie, you’ll have the best results and the greatest rate of success.
Keep Outside Potted Plants Alive
If you want to learn how to take care of outdoor potted plants, you will have many of the same concerns as indoor plants. You must still use a good potting mix. When caring for outdoor plants, you need a pot that is large enough for the plant to grow and has plenty of drainage. However, you need to consider a few additional things.
Here are some tips for keeping outdoor potted plants alive:
Watch for Shade vs. Sun
This is especially crucial when it comes to outdoor plants. Your plant should come with a tag which tells you whether it likes full sun or partial shade. If you cannot find this tag, contact your local garden center or conduct a quick Google search.
When you know what type of lighting your plant needs, you can find a location that matches them. That might be the side of your house that gets partial sun, or it might be your porch that gets full sun. Your plant will flourish once it is in the right spot.
Keep an Eye on the Temperature
When it comes to outdoor plants, the weather is a factor to consider. It can be tempting to put your plants out during a sunny March day when temperatures soar to the high 50’s. Next thing you know, the temperature drops causing irreparable damage to your plants.
There are some exceptions, but most annual and many perennial plants cannot be left out until night temperatures are above freezing. Knowing the approximate last date of frost in your area will make it easier to determine when it’s safe to plant outside. However, keep in mind that this is only a rough estimate of the last frost date. To be safe, wait a little beyond this date; the tag on the plant may even mention this specifically.
You should also remember to bring in your plants before the temperatures drop in the fall as well.
Think About the Rain
You will also need to consider how rain may affect your watering schedule, since your plant is an outdoor plant. The soil in your region may need more water than normal for quite some time, so you will have to wait until the soil dries out. It might be wise to bring your plant indoors during extremely heavy rains, so that it does not suffer any damage. If this is not an option, at least provide some form of shelter to prevent the plant from drowning.
Although this advice can be used with indoor and outdoor plants, we’ve included it in this section since outdoor plants more often tend to be flowering varieties.
It’s not as complex as it seems, so don’t worry if you’ve never done deadheading before. This is simply a process of pinching off dead blossoms that are hanging loosely on stems. Of course, it’s not something you have to do. Eventually, dead blossoms will naturally fall off, but there are several benefits to doing the deadheading yourself instead of waiting for them to fall off.
The first reason is an aesthetic one: the plant looks better without dead blossoms attached to it. Since many plants are meant to look beautiful, it makes sense to remove them. But what’s even more important is that deadheading stimulates new growth. By pinching off the old, dying foliage you encourage new blossoms to appear and cause your plant to grow bigger and healthier.
Keep Pests Away
It is important to remember that when you place your plant outdoors, you are putting it at risk for rabbits, squirrels, and deer, all of which would enjoy a taste of your plant.
In order to prevent this, think about securing your potted plant. For example, do you have a screened-in porch? If so, you can place it there. If this isn’t possible, then a fenced-in garden is also the best option, and hanging baskets are nice too, since most animals will not get to them other than squirrels.
Learn More About Caring for Your Potted Plants
Do you want to be successful this time and keep your potted plants alive? Reading this guide will get you started. But what’s next? How can you continue learning about how to take care of your beautiful plants? The next step is to talk to an expert about how you can make sure your plants remain happy and healthy. If you have any questions, we’d be happy to discuss them with you.