No Green Thumb? No Problem. Here’s How To Keep Your Plants Alive

how to take care of plants
Courtesy of The Sill

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Taking care of plants can be tricky. How much water is too much? What type of soil is best? Given the high number of potential pitfalls and ways to get discouraged, it’s not surprising that many newcomers instantly diagnose a black thumb and give up. But wait! Even if you have already sent a few too many plants to a sad, lonely, shriveled up death, we’re here to get you back on track. Read on to discover how to take care of plants. In this guide, we’ll cover everything from what to look for in terms of health and vitality as well as signs of distress, and how to react accordingly.

Why Have Plants in Your Home?

Before we look at how to take care of the plants in your home, it’s worth mentioning some of the benefits of having plants around. Whether it’s in your living room, office, bathroom or bedroom, plants may provide a number of noteworthy positives. These include:

  • Increasing productivity
  • Improving the aesthetic
  • Boosting happiness
  • Cleaning the air
  • Improving concentration
  • Speeding up recovery from illness
  • Reducing stress

In short, plants are a great way to make your living space happier and healthier. That is, if you can keep them alive and well. So let’s take a look at the best way to keep them in the best shape possible.

How To Take Care of Plants

Plants need sun, water and proper fertilization. Oh, and a little bit of encouragement, too. We’ll help you find the correct levels of the former three and keep your plants living their best lives. Here’s how to take care of plants of all varieties in all types of homes, and keep yourself surrounded by the lush, green power of these all-natural roommates.

On top of the extensive research we did, we approached the plant experts at The Sill for some of their top tips on how to take care of plants, ensuring you can have full confidence in the advice you find ahead.

Additionally, to help you navigate the guide, we’ve broken it down into seven easy-to-digest sections, with comprehensive advice and information as well as suggested products in each. If you’re just starting out, we’d suggest reading each section to give a complete loos at what is required. However, if you already know what you’re looking for or want answers to a specific problem, here’s an overview of what each section is about.

  • Find the Right Plant
  • Find the Right Amount of Light
  • Find the Right Pot
  • Find the Right Potting Soil
  • Find the Right Watering Schedule
  • Find the Dead Stuff and Cut It Off
  • Find and Maintain the Right Temperature

So if you’re ready to learn the secrets of how to take care of plants, read on. And remember, every mistake is a lesson learned, especially in the world of taking care of plants.

  

Find the Right Plant

Make sure, first and foremost, that you choose the right plant. Some plants just can’t grow indoors, and others can only tolerate a very specific climate. Ask about the types of plants that suit your city’s climate as well as the kinds that fit with your lifestyle. If you’re an incredibly busy person who has trouble remembering to water plants, a snake plant or cactus might be a good fit for you. If you’ve got a sprawling garden or a trellis that you’re dying to use, those are also opportunities for certain types of plants to grow.

The Sill experts told us that their “number one rule of thumb when picking out houseplants is to choose varieties that can thrive in the level of light your space receives. If you’re not sure what type of light you have just by looking, start by figuring out what direction your windows face, then check if there’s anything right outside that could block some of that natural sunlight that could stream in. Keep it simple and decide first, is the light direct or indirect? Then, if indirect, is it bright, medium, or low? Once you narrow it down, it’ll be much easier to choose the best plant varieties for your space.”

In addition, there is a range of online resources where you can find information about certain plants and the environments where they thrive the best, make sure to do your research before you take the plunge.

  

Shop Succulents Collection of 12 Live Succulent Plants

Jumpstart your indoor garden with these live succulent plants you can order directly from Amazon. Included in each purchase are succulents of a bunch of different varieties all fully rooted in soil and ready to repot. Water them once a week in the summer and once every two to three weeks in the winter, adding a bit of diluted fertilizer to the water during the growing season. Use well-drained soil and make sure your pot has drainage holes so the roots don’t rot.

shop succulents pack of 12 succulents, how to take care of plants Courtesy of Amazon

  

Costa Farms Majesty Palm Tree

If you want to bring some island vibes to your apartment, and you’ve got the space a palm tree is a great option. They grow best near an east or west-facing window that will get plenty of sun early or late in the day, and only need water when the first couple inches of the soil is dry. They ship when they’re about three feet tall and come in a lightweight 10-inch decorative planter.

costa farms majesty palm tree, how to take care of plants Courtesy of Amazon

  

American Plant Exchange Indoor/Outdoor Golden Pothos

This beautiful indoor plant produces those IG-worthy trailing vines that look great draped over a bookshelf or off the shelves in a kitchen. This plant grows easily and purifies the surrounding air. It works great in shaded areas and will survive and thrive even if you forget to water it as it’s a very black thumb-friendly plant.

indoor golden pothos, how to take care of plants Courtesy of Amazon

  

Large Snake Laurentii

If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly plant that is easily cared for, this Large Snake Laurentii definitely fits the bill. While they do thrive in medium to bright indirect light, they are also capable of surviving in low or indirect light, too. This succulent only requires water every two to three weeks and is able to tolerate periods of drought. In addition to being beginner-friendly, this plant also brings a touch of style and comes with your choice of a number of different planter styles.

large snake laurentii the sill care for plants Courtesy of The Sill

  

Find the Right Amount of Light

All plants need light, but there is such a thing as too much light. Typically plants will come with instructions for how much light they need to grow and prosper — these could range from “full sun” to “partial sun,” “dappled sun” or even “shade.” Yes, there are plants that prefer no light at all and will thrive in your windowless cave of an NYC apartment. Follow these instructions carefully and if a plant’s leaves start to lose their color this could be a sign of too much sun and you may want to move them to the shade.

A great way to sidestep the lack of light in your apartment or living in a colder climate but having a passion for tropical plants is plant grow lights. Grow lights can act as a supplement to a lack of sun in the winter and create a comfortable environment for your plant anywhere. You can also adjust the light with grow lights to meet your plant’s exact needs, a perk the sun doesn’t necessarily provide.

  

EZORKAS LED Grow Lights

These grow lights have five-star ratings from over 11,000 Amazon reviewers for a reason. They’re the latest in plant-growth technology and come with an automatic timing function you can use to adjust the number of hours of sunlight your plants get every day. The lights also have nine different dimmable modes and three different spectral modes to accommodate different stages of plant growing. Each light is made up of 80 efficient growing LEDs, divided up with 52 red ones and 28 blue ones. The red lights promote photosynthesis and the blue lights ensure your plants are absorbing the chlorophyll they need for energy and germination.

EZORKAS plant grow lights, how to take care of plants Courtesy of Amazon

  

Juhefa LED Grow Light

These grow lights from Juhefa have a circular memory timer that allows them to turn on and off throughout the day according to your settings. The dual bulb design enables a 360-degree coverage of your plants so the light touches everything, and the gooseneck design is fully flexible and adjustable. The lights have three lighting modes and ten different dimmable levels so you can adjust the light to your exact specifications.

Juhefa LED grow light, how to take care of plants Courtesy of Amazon

  

Modern Sprout Smart Standard Growframe

This Modern Sprout Smart Standard Growframe provides users with an easy way to take advantage of the vertical space and grow plants in the process. The smart planter features built-in grow lights which supply your plants with full-spectrum light, allowing you to place it just about anywhere in your home. The Growframe is available in four different colors to make it easier to fit in with your home’s existing decor. Plus, it’s supplied with everything you need to mount it on a wall.

smart standard growframe the sill Courtesy of The Sill

  

The Sill Grow Light

Low light issues in your home? No problem. By investing in The Sill Grow Light, it’s easy to provide your plants with the light they need to grow. This allows you to grow all the different kinds of sunlight-loving houseplants your heart desires. We love the Vita Bulb because it comes in either white or black and is easily installed into any traditional light fixture.

vita grow light bulb Courtesy of The Sill

  

Find the Right Pot

A plant’s pot is its home, so you want to find the right one and be sure to repot them as necessary. Once a plant’s roots begin to become pot-bound its growth will be stunted and the soil will dry out quickly. If you see the roots wrapping around the base of the pot or growing out the top or sides, it’s time to size up.

You’ll want to repot them in a plant that’s at least 50% larger than the previous one, wet the soil first and untie a few of the roots so they can immediately go to work. Plants, like the rest of us, fear change, so be sure to be gentle during the repotting transition, and immediately water the plant in its new pot to rid the soil of any air holes.

Here are a few fun plant pots you can order online to prepare for your new arrival or purchase as a new home for one of your growing plant friends.

  

SE SUN-E Marble Ceramic Flower Pot

These petite planters are adorable for small succulents, herbs or other plants just beginning their journey. The marbled design is decorative and uses neutral colors that’ll blend in with your existing decor. They’re made of ceramic clay and have about 2.5 square inches of planting space.

marble ceramic flower pots Courtesy of Amazon

  

La Jolie Muse Large Indoor Planter Pot

This pot planter is perfect for larger plants looking for a more spacious home with a 14.2″ diameter. It’s got a speckled design that will work inside or outside and raised drainage holes that ensure your plant’s roots stay healthy. It has a water reservoir at the base so there’s no chance of overwatering your plants, and the pot is made to be weather resistant so you can use it outdoors as well without worrying about damage. It’s made of lightweight recycled plastic and natural stone powder so it’s easy to lift and move around if you need to rearrange.

A saucer is needed for indoor use and is not included with the pot, so be sure to order that separately if you plan on using it indoors.

large indoor pot planter, how to take care of plants Courtesy of Amazon

  

POTEY Ceramic Planter Flowerpots

If you want the look and feel of a wooden planter without the rot, these pots are for you. They’re perfect for medium-sized plants and have the design of textured wood on the outside with sturdy ceramic on the inside that you want cradling your plants. Each set comes with two pots that look harmonious next to one another and each pot has a drainage hole on the bottom to protect it from root rot.

potey ceramic planter flowerpot Courtesy of Amazon

  

The Sill Hyde Planter

The Sill Hyde Planter may be simple in appearance, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most reliable planter options available. It comes in six colors and three sizes, making it easy to match with your plant and home decor. The pot includes a pre-cut drainage hole and comes with a matching saucer to catch any excess water. In addition, this earthenware planter can be used inside or outside, although when experiencing conditions below 32°F it should be moved indoors.

hyde planter pot the sill Courtesy of The Sill

  

Find the Right Potting Soil

After you’ve found the right pot, you’ve got to fill it with something good. Standard dirt contains all sorts of weeds, fungi, pests and even seeds of other plants. You never want to combine plants into the same pot too close to one another, so putting plants where other seedlings may be hatching is also not a great idea. Your local garden center will have a great mix of soil that contains nurturing organic matter, and you can also pick one of the brands below to try.

“Soil” is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the greatest stuff to put your plants in is a combination of peat moss, vermiculite/perlite and compost. These three ingredients are your recipe for success when it comes to plant care. Also, make sure the soil is damp when you first plant your plants so the roots have something to sink into.

  

Burpee Organic Premium Growing Mix

This organic premium growing mix has nutritious Burpee plant food in it for thriving flowers, vegetables and herbs. It’s made to be used in plant pots, containers as well as for bed gardening as it’s got a slow-release plant food that can feed plants for up to three months. This mix contains coconut coir, a sustainable resource that helps the soil retain moisture between waterings so your plants don’t go thirsty.

Burpee organic plant mix, how to take care of plants Courtesy of Amazon

  

Fox Farm Happy Frog Potting Soil

This potting soil from Fox Farm is highly nutritious and pH adjusted for the maximum nutrient uptake for your plants. It’s best for container gardens rather than beds, and produces strong plants, speedy growth and maximized flower and fruit production. This mix is also very much alive with certain types of fungi and soil microbes that aid in your plant’s growth.

Fox Farm Happy Frog plant soil, how to take care of plants Courtesy of Amazon

  

The Sill Organic Potting Mix

The Sill Organic Potting Mix is made from a combination of ingredients, including compost, pine bark, coir, worm castings and perlite. This complex mix ensures plants enjoy the preferred air, moisture and nutritional balance they require to thrive. It’s also all-natural and can be used for a variety of indoor plants. From every 2.8-pound bag, you can expect to house one to two medium or two to three smaller ones.

organic potting mix the sill Courtesy of The Sill

  

The Sill Lava Rocks

If you have a planter that doesn’t include a built-in drainage hole, adding a layer of these The Sill Lava Rocks at the bottom before you add the potting soil can navigate any potential problem. These porous rocks create open spaces for any excess water to pool away from your plant’s roots, helping to prevent any issues with overwatering.

organic lava rocks the sill how to care plants Courtesy of The Sill

  

Find the Right Watering Schedule

Over-watering is probably the biggest cause of a plant’s demise, and it’s something that’s very easy to avoid. There are only a few plants out there that prefer very moist soil all the time, many of them only require a good dunk when the first few inches or centimeters of their soil is dry, depending on the size of the plant. Stick your finger into the soil near the edge of the pot and if it’s dry a bit below the surface, it’s time for watering.

When it comes to watering your plants, The Sill’s top tip is that “it’s better to underwater than to overwater. Overwatering is the easiest way to kill a houseplant! You may be tempted to water your plants on a strict schedule, but the best bet is to only water when needed. Always check the soil before watering: if it’s still moist, wait to water. Keep in mind seasonal changes outdoors can throw your plant’s watering schedule off indoors. For example, most houseplants need less water in the winter when they’re semi-dormant, but if you’re blasting your heater all winter low and the air is dry, their soil might dry out quicker and they might need water more often.”

There are also self-watering pots and water detection devices that can help you figure out when your plant needs more water. These tools can be incredibly helpful in knowing what your plant needs before you do and helping you stay on top of it.

To water your plant effectively, place it in the sink and water until a few drips come out of the drainage hole. If your saucer has excess water in it, dump it after about 30 minutes if there’s still water in it. Plants love a nice shower, but would never want to soak in a bath for too long.

  

Atree Soil pH Meter

This meter tests for three critical metrics for your plant’s health including moisture, pH level and sunlight intensity. After inserting the probe it’ll tell you if your plant needs more or less sun, more or less water and where the soil’s pH level is at. It works for both indoor and outdoor plants and there’s no battery or electricity needed.

Atree soil moisture meter, how to take care of plants Courtesy of Amazon

  

Medium Self Watering Cylinder Planter

If you want to take the responsibility of watering your plants out of your hands, the Medium Self Watering Cylinder Planter could be the answer you’re looking for. This smartly designed planter is capable of holding a water reservoir separate from your plants, only providing water through a wick when the plant requires it. The planter, which measures 7.5 inches tall, is also constructed from lightweight aluminum and is supplied with a saucer, a built-in drainage hole and a tray.

medium self watering cylinder planter Courtesy of The Sill

  

The Sill Watering Can

With its longer-than-average stem spout, this The Sill Watering Can offers users a handy level of precision. The can is made from BPA-free plastic and sports a 56-ounce capacity to provide plenty of watering for indoor or outdoor plants. This USA-made gardening tool is also embossed with a leafy plant motif and comes in your choice of green or yellow.

watering can the sill plants how to care Courtesy of The Sill

  

Modern Sprout Brass Mister

This Modern Sprout Brass Mister is a gardening tool worthy of being displayed in your home. The elegant brass finish gives it a high-quality look and feel. It also features an ergonomically placed handle and button to provide comfort and convenience while you’re gently watering and misting plants that love humid conditions, such as sprouts or seedlings. Additionally, the mister holds up to 10 ounces of water and sits just shy of six inches tall.

mister the sill metal Courtesy of The Sill

  

Find the Dead Stuff and Cut It Off

As your plant grows some leaves or flowers may not make it — and that’s okay? It’s not a sign that your plant is not doing well, but rather it’s moving on to bigger and better bulbs. Trim off those dead compatriots as they’ll only suck nutrients and energy away from the plant in the meantime. You can do this effectively with pruning shears, kitchen scissors or even your hands on smaller plants.

  

gonicc Professional Sharp Pruning Shears

These pruning shears from gonicc have a high-quality carbon steel blade made with ultra-fine polishing technology. The shears have drop-forged handles that are ergonomically designed and non-slip. They’re strong and comfortable to hold, and the blade has a sap groove that keeps the shears from sticking. They’re great for trimming, shaping and harvesting vegetables and herbs. These pruners can handle branches up to 3/4″ in diameter but remain lightweight and easy to carry.

gonicc Pruning Shears, how to take care of plants Courtesy of Amazon

  

The Sill Pruning Shears

For a little more precision when it comes to pruning your plants, you might want to give these The Sill Pruning Shears a try. The sage-colored, chrome-plated gardening tool features an ergonomic handle with no-slip grip to ensure you feel in control during use. The gift-worthy shears, which measure six inches in length, are also resistant to rusting and feature a handy, built-in lock to keep them closed when they aren’t being used.

pruning shears the sill Courtesy of The Sill

  

Find and Maintain the Right Temperature

Lastly, you should consider the temperature your plants live in. The Sill’s experts suggest that you “keep your houseplants’ environment as stable as possible. Most plants, just like us, are comfortable between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme cold or hot fluctuations in temps can stress them out. Do your best to avoid placing plants near temperature hazards like vents, radiators, and exterior doors or open windows, which might create hot or cold drafts of air.”

  

Govee Hygrometer Thermometer

This Govee Hygrometer Thermometer makes staying on top of the temperatures in your home simple. The easy-to-read LCD screen displays all the key figures regarding the temperature and humidity inside the room. The built-in Bluetooth function also allows you to monitor the area from a distance and receive alerts instantly if the humidity or temperature goes outside of your chosen ranges. Additionally, this device, which can be stood on a tabletop or mounted on a wall, comes backed by more than 17,000 five-star ratings from happy Amazon users.

govee hygrometer thermometer device how to grow plants Courtesy of Amazon