Up your plant game: 5 Plant FAQs answered

1. How can I increase humidity without damaging my home/furniture?

Some people use humidifiers in their home to take care of calatheas, ferns and other high humidity plants. Personally, I don’t do this because it has the potential to cause damage to paint and wood. There are a few things you can do to ensure that your plants get the humidity they need in order to thrive.

Misting is a great way to increase humidity, but I would recommend it for a plant that needs only slightly more humidity than usual. Misting only really increases humidity for a short period of time, which obviously is not ideal for higher humidity plants. For a plant that needs a little more humidity, try a pebble tray. A pebble tray is basically a tray for catching water with some pebbles in it. The pebbles disturb the surface tension of the water and make it evaporate more quickly. It is important to note that plants that prefer to dry out between watering but require high humidity will need to be put in a cover pot with no drainage holes in order to stop the soil from making contact with the water and wicking it upwards, essentially bottom-watering the plant. You can always use glass pebbles or quartz in the tray to achieve different colour and textures with your pebble tray. Consider planting plants that require extremely high humidity in a closed terrarium to trap humidity inside. I’ll be posting about how to make a terrarium in the very near future, so keep your eyes peeled.

Coloured gemstones
Image via PickPik

2. How can I tell the difference between a pothos plant and a vining Philodendron?

The two are very similar, but philodendron leaves tend be pointier at the end. The sheathes that new leaves emerge from separate from the stem in Philodendrons, so they’ll eventually shrivel and fall off of the plant. Sheaths on pothos plants remain attached to the stem. I would not recommend trying to remove them. The aerial roots on pothos plants also tend to be thicker than those on vining Philodendrons.

Philodendron brasil and N'joy pothos
The Philodendron brasil on the left clearly has comparatively pointier leaves, thinner aerial roots and sheathes that separate from the stem, when compared to the N’joy pothos I’ve potted it up with.

3. How can I get rid of pests without using harsh chemicals?

I personally have nothing against commercial means of pest control, but some don’t like the idea of using harsh chemicals on their houseplants. Most pests can be dealt with using a mix of dish soap and water, which can be sprayed on plant leaves. That being said, make sure that you do your due diligence on whether your plant can withstand that treatment. Of course, there are still chemicals in dish soap, but it’s a lot more accessible and significantly less intimidating than some commercial means of pest control. If you don’t feel comfortable with using something synthetic like that, you can try neem oil in a spray by mixing it with water. A small minority of indoor gardeners actually introduce beneficial insects into their homes, but I’d imagine most would find it somewhat unsavoury to have insects flying around their homes. It’s just an option if you don’t mind the idea of having ladybugs indoors, after all, it is the option which involves the least chemicals.

Aphid
Image via Flickr

4. How do self-watering pots work?

Self-watering pots have a small reservoir of water at the bottom that the bottom of the soil is exposed to. This means that the soil at the bottom of the pot can wick water upwards, keeping the soil moist until the reservoir is almost empty.

5. Do I need potting soil, or can I just use garden soil?

Some plants can deal with garden soil, others can’t. As a general rule, succulents, bonsai trees and ornamental fruit trees, as well as dracaenas can deal with garden soil, and other houseplants cannot. Of course, there are exceptions, but over all, it’s a good rule of thumb to keep this in mind. Do keep in mind that just because some plants can survive in garden soil without catching a disease, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. A lot of garden soils tend to be slower draining than commercial potting mixes. This means that it holds onto water for longer, which might not be what your plant is looking for.

Published by plantboye

Tech illiterate and pretending to be proud of it.

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