Note: These are my opinions and experiences, I am no expert and I have not been paid or incentivised to share my thoughts and reviews of any sellers, products or people mentioned in this post.
In this post I’d like to share my personal assumptions, that I had about plants and caring for them. While I am someone that likes to learn and really understand something, I did not know there was much to understand about plants and their care when it came to indoor plants.
Growing up we have always had plants in the house and my mum has previously told me that this came from her dad as well. My grandad would apparently always come back with a plant for the house or garden after running errands for the family. My grandma is very much a gardener and loves looking after her plants even at 85. She does a little bit a day to keep moving and to get through the maintenance.
So in a way I had every opportunity to try and really understand gardening and indoor gardening but it came so naturally to my mum, that I just thought it was common sense / easy. Let’s fast forward to me owning my first house 10 years ago and let’s explore assumption number 1.
1. Soil is just dirt, and plants don’t really care.
Let’s talk soil and substrates. I am no expert and am still experimenting, but you can’t just grab soil from your garden and plat your indoor plants in that dirt. Yes I have done that more than once in the last 10 years. ha! This is because you do not know what other creatures might be living in the soil, what the soil is made up of and it most likely won’t be well draining which is important for root health.
My personal plant collection is mostly in soil that I have mixed myself now. This consists of 40% pre mixed cactus soil, 30% perlite, and 30% orchid bark mix. Sometimes I don’t have the orchid bark and have added extra vermiculite and charcoal too. But this tends to be the mix I go for, for most of my plants. Cacti and succulents tend to just be in pre mixed cactus soil.
Other ways to plant up your plants are in just sphagnum moss, lecca, or pon. Lezchusa pon seems to be quite popular at the moment and it is the mix I am reading up.
The reasons you may want to go soil-less tend to be around pests, levels of maintenance and root health. So for managing pests it seems that doing semi hydroponics (Lecca or pon) discourages fungus gnats as there is no soil for them to lay their eggs in. I do not know if the same applies to using moss. Maintenance being less, I cannot comment on. I haven’t felt too overwhelmed with the maintenance I have with my plants being in soil, BUT what does sound interesting is that pon and Lecca, might be reusable, whereas I do throw the soil when I repot, creating more waste. If you change to moss, be aware that it does break down eventually and when I have used it for rooting, I have had problems with algae.
2. You can propagate ANY leaf (in water).
I did think that I can cut a leaf off ANY plant and put it in water and get roots. The fact this worked fine with begonias and pothos (by accident I included a node) did not help my assumptions. A lot of the plants I now try and propagate are aroids, and especially vining plants in the philodendron and monstera family. These need a node to be able to be propagated. Ideally there also is an aerial root already. Then you can of course just use water as a way of propagating, but that is not the only way! I am known to be lazy and shove things like maranta nodes and pothos cuttings just back into the pot with the mother plant and this seemed to work just fine.
Other ways that I am now trying to propagate cuttings are, using sphagnum moss or perlite. I have not had great successes with moss, as I have kept it too wet. I am now really wringing it out and placing it in a plastic box, to create a humid environment, and have had success with a philodendron hastatum. whoop! To use perlite I suggest using a clear pot with holes in it. Some people use those clear plastic drinking cups, and just cut holes in the bottom. Then thoroughly wet the perlite and pour out any water and place the cutting in the damp perlite, making sure to leave 1/3 of just perlite at the bottom. The idea is that you can either place this into a cover pot and keep a water reservoir at the bottom or just water from the top when the pot seems light and dry-isn.
3. The most important part in plant care is to water your plants.
While water is important, I have learned the hard way that it should not be the main thing you focus on. I have managed to drown many “hard to kill and easy” houseplants. Especially cacti. The first and foremost most important part to plant care is figuring out the sort of light you have and placing the correct plant in that spot. Then you can figure out a watering routine around how much the plant drinks, what substrate and pot it is in and what its real outside world environment may be. Many plants will give you signs by shrivelling slightly or drooping to alert you that they need watering. So the most important part is to have light and the correct type and amount of light. I will happily refer you on my expert source on this, Darryl fromHouseplant journal.
4. Low light plants do not need light.
A bit like point 3, I assumed that I could put a low light plant, such as a snake plant, in my dark landing, which might not even really get any natural light. Low light does not mean no light. It simply means it can deal with having less light and won’t necessarily die, but it will not grow either. You are just inducing a dormancy period in your plant. Again make sure you understand the light in your home and what sort of plants may work in that spot before buying a plant and then trying to find it a spot. Also if you do put a plant in low light, it will not use as much water generally, so don’t just water it without checking, it will induce root rot. Trust me, I have done it, many times. Ouch!