Gardening is probably the best hobby in the world. It adds greenery to the earth, lets you nurture a living being as if it were your own and grants you tremendous joy when it thrives. Plants are now a fixture for many modern households. Rarely you would walk into a building and not notice beautiful green plants and flowers adorning the balconies and terraces of at least a few apartments. Lush, green plants offer calmness and peace of mind while adding immense value to the home decor.
But as it is the case with many, people often face the situation where they buy a beautiful plant from a nursery, water it, nurture it only to find out that the plant is slowly dying or not growing as it should. By adhering to the following 5 steps carefully, you would not only find your plants surviving,but also thriving to the maximum of their potential.
Buy Plants Suited For The Sunlight Your House Gets:
Plants need sunlight, that is a no-brainer. But how much? Therein lies to key to the growth of your plant. DIfferent plants have different sunlight needs. In this age of over population and cramped living spaces, very few houses get ample sunlight throughout the day. If you unfortunately live in an area where full sunlight is available for only a couple of hours, you would do better to choose plants that require less sunlight to grow. These plants are also known as indoor plants.
While this may seem elementary, most people, when they start gardening, have no idea about the sunlight needs of plants. Some best plants that grow without much sunlight are all variants of Epipremnum Aureum (commonly know as “Money Plant”), Peace Lily, Snake Plant, Fuchsia, Forget-me-not and Chinese Evergreen are among the best indoor plants. There are many many more plants in this category as well so do your research before deciding on one.
There are of course plants that require full sunlight for multiple hours. Plants such as Marigold, Hibiscus, Zinnia, Lavender, Petunia and Rose thrive when they get direct sunlight for hours at a time. If your apartment terrace or garden is flooded with sunlight, these plants are your best bets. In fact most plants with flowers require direct sunlight than other varieties of plants.
Find Out The Watering Needs For Your Plants:
Believe it or not, you can actually water your plant to death. Same as sunlight, some plants require more water to survive while others can spawn a forest with only a glass of water each day. Watering too much causes the roots of the plant to rot eventually killing the plant. Watering your plants depend on the water supply of your area, the amount of sunlight and also your own schedule. If you work a 9 – 5 job, you surely cannot keep a plant that needs to be watered every 4 hours. Most plants, however, do quite well if you water them thoroughly once a day. This is even truer for potted plants. One general suggestion is to water the plant only when the soil is totally dried out. Poke a finger in the soil and if it is moist, postpone the watering.
Plants that require less water are often indoor plants needing less sunlight as well. So many of the plants mentioned in the list above will appear in this list as well. For starters, all types of cacti need less water (obviously). The Christmas cactus is great for indoors along with Peruvian Apple, Bunny Ears and Rat’s Tail. Golden Barrel Cactus is also quite popular but it is more suited for a garden. Apart from cacti, Money Plant, Snake Plant, Palm, ZZ Plant and Sempervium also require less water and will thrive indoors.
Some plants, on the other hand, require lots of water to grow properly. All variants of the Iris, Yellow Hibiscus, Sunflower, Pendula and Daffodils are all plants that will need a lot of water. As mentioned above, most plants with bright flowers require lots of sunlight and water. According to The American Gardening magazine, tropical plants with large dark leaves have higher water requirements as the large surface area of the leaves allow more water to be vaporized. If you are not sure about the watering needs of a plant. go for plants with thin pointy leaves as a rule of the thumb.
Setting The Soil:
Once you have decided on the plant, soil is the next most important thing to decide upon. Do not use general soil or dirt from the garden to set your plant. These soils often have weed seeds, fungi, insects or other elements that can ruin your pants. You can get good quality soil quite easily from a nursery nearby. There are sometimes different types of soils needed for different plants. Quiz the guy in the nursery about the type of soil best suited for your plants.
Choosing The Pot
If you are going for potted plants, choosing a good pot is the key. First of all, make sure that the pot has a hole or holes beneath to drain out water. There are plastic pots available now-a-days where the hole has to be punched in before you can use the pots. Make sure the hole in the pot is large enough to drain water but not too large otherwise soil will escape.
While setting the plant and soil, ensure that the soil is loose enough to let water pass through. Never pack the soil too tight. Once you start watering the plant, the loose soil on top will settle down and you can add some more soil to the top of the pot. A general way to find out if the soil is too tight is to check how long it takes for the water to subside. If the water sits on top for a long time creating a puddle, you need to loosen the soil. To stop soil from escaping through the hole, you can place a few small rocks above the hole before setting the soil. Some people prefer to put a net on the hole so that water can escape the pot but not the soil.
Clay pots are usually the best choices as these are porous. They allow air and moisture to pass through thus keeping the soil and the plant healthy. But clay pots can break easily so you have to be extra careful while handling them. Plastic pots are heavily used due to their unbreakable nature and attractive prices. Beautiful Chinese clay pots are good for indoor plants as they add to the beauty of the plant.
Utilizing Food And Fertilizer:
Some plants, especially plants with flowers, require food and fertilizer to be added to the soil apart from watering them. Fertilizer provides them with Potassium, Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Fertilizers can be water soluble, in grain form or in paste form. Grain fertilizers need to be pushed into the soil before watering. They make way to the root of the plant and fertilize it from within. Water soluble food, as the name suggests, can be mixed with the water making your job easy. Fertilizers that come in paste form needs to be mixed with the soil carefully usually once a week.
Over fertilizing can burn or kill a plant quite fast. If you notice wilting flowers or dead leaves on the plant even though you are doing everything as prescribed, you might be using too much fertilizer. If such is the case, stop adding the fertilizer and water the plant thoroughly a few times to drain out the remaining fertilizer from the soil. It is best if you take advice form a knowledgeable person about the food requirement of a particular plant. Plants that need direct sunlight and more water require more fertilizer as well. It is best to fertilize very little when a flowering plant is dormant such as during the winters.
There is much to know about gardening than this article can convey. But I hope that these 5 cardinal points about gardening will help you grow many beautiful plants just the way you wanted. Repot the plants if they outgrow the original one. If it is too hot and dry for you as a human, it is probably just as hot and dry for your plant as well. Just remember that plants are living, breathing organisms just like us. Treat it as such and enjoy the best hobby this world can offer.