5 houseplant FAQs answered

Before I start the main body of this post, I just wanted to acknowledge that I’ve finally hit 50 posts on this blog and thank everyone who has been reading. When I started this blog, I hoped, but didn’t to gain a readership. I kind of prepared myself to shout into the void, or rather, to the few friends that I’d force to read this. My fears were not validated, and that’s all thanks to readers like yourself.

Anyways, I’ve recently changed my plant setups because they needed to be up-potted, and so I needed to bump up their cover pots too. As many of you know, I’m increasingly becoming more an more of a minimalist where my aesthetic is concerned, so I’ve opted to use white pots in simple, cylindrical shapes where possible. Here are some pictures:

ficus elastical ruby
The Ficus elastica Ruby outgrew her pink cover pot so I’ve opted for a white, cylindrical one

white pots with plants
Arranged in height order from left to right. I kind of like that it looks like an upward trajectory.

I gave the Philodendron brasil and the N’Joy Pothos a haircut, and I’m keeping the cuttings in water temporarily.

spider plant in water
The spider plant that used to be in the small cubic glass container is now in a glass, where it will be able to spread its roots to its heart’s content, for now at least.

1. What to do if I overwater?

Overwatering is the biggest killer of houseplants, so knowing how to respond when you’ve overwatered can save your plants and your pocket, too. If you’ve overwatered, take your plant out of the potting mix and examine the extent of the rotting. If the rotting is limited to the roots alone, simply remove the dead roots and put the plant in water. You can tell that a root is dead if it’s mushy when squeezed, rather than being firm.

If rotting has spread onto the stem of the plant, remove the rotten parts of the plant by cutting them off, and then putting the viable portion of the plant into new soil. Keep this soil moist for the first month of the plant being in there to promote root growth. Alternatively, put the viable section of the plant into water if you know the plant can root in water. Consider taking a tip cutting on vining plants if you overwater them, just for extra assurance.

2. How do I know when to fertilise?

It might be intuitive that if the plant is healthy but it isn’t growing, that means that you should fertilise. This is not necessarily the case. Fertilising should be done sparingly at most in this case with a 1/8 strength water-soluble liquid fertiliser, or preferably not at all. This is because if a plant has stalled, it’s a sure sign of stress or slowing down due to natural causes like cold weather. Do not stress it out even more by adding mineral salts into the soil.

Instead, fertilising should only happen when a plant is already actively growing, but putting out smaller leaves than you know it can using your ~gardener’s intuition~, or if leaves are getting smaller. This may also be the result of natural causes like fewer daylight hours and colder weather, so be wary of over-fertilising in Autumn.

3. When should I take cuttings for the greatest success rate?

Cuttings should be taken in spring and summer, because they’re naturally inclined to put out roots and grow new leaves at that time of year. Moreover, the mother plant that he cutting comes from should be watered 2 days before the cutting is cutting. This ensures that the cutting already has nutrients and water inside of it, allowing it to sustain itself for longer while it is producing roots.

4. What do brown leaf tips mean?

Brown leaf tips on most plants are harmless, but they are not aesthetically pleasing. Generally, brown leaf tips mean over-fertilising or low humidity. It is usually the latter.

5. Do variegated plants require special care?

Variegated plants require more sun, because portions of their leaves lack chlorophyll, the green pigment necessary to perform photosynthesis. However, they also require higher humidity to maintain because the variegated sections cannot effectively use the sunlight that hits their leaves, so they’re more prone to drying out and shrivelling than the green sections. The one exception to the latter issue is plants with red variegation. Red variegation stems (see the pun?) from the presence of anthocynanin, a pigment that protects plants from sun damage, kind of like plant melanin or sunscreen.

Published by plantboye

Tech illiterate and pretending to be proud of it.

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