Thanks to our science classes in elementary school, we can easily recite the essentials for plant survival: sunlight, water, air and nutrients. Since air is all around us, we will look at how we can, through simple ways, ensure our plants are properly cared for in the other remaining three respects.
Imagine going to bed hungry. Not fun, is it? That’s how it is for plants that receive insufficient sunlight. Needles to say, this is because sunlight enables plants to photosynthesize, or make food. However, not every plant will thrive when simply placed under the glaring sun. Different plants require different amounts and intensity of sunlight. The different categories of sunlight plants normally fall into are:
- Direct: sunlight reaches the plant directly without any obstruction
- Indirect: sunlight shines around the plant but not directly on it
- Diffused: sunlight is filtered through a light drapery before reaching the plant
Be sure to arrange your plants accordingly. When selecting plants for your home, select those which will be able to grow well in the sunlight you can provide.
Plants, like us, require water to survive. This does not mean you make flower pots and beds overflow with water. As with anything, too much of anything is never good. Overwatering is actually one of the most common mistakes that can lead to a bigger problem for gardeners. When you add water to the soil and it does not get drained properly, the soil becomes waterlogged. Oxygen, the third basic need of plants, is then cut off for the roots, which then leads to the damage, decay and eventual death of the plant.
So, how much should you water? The answer lies in the type of plant you are growing. Like the level of sunlight a plant should get, the amount of moisture it needs also varies with different plants. Some plant species like to have moist soil in between waterings, while others prefer a dry soil. Consult your vendor to find out the level of moisture your plant roots need and keep up with the routine. Here are some helpful tips for plant watering:
- Stick your finger into the soil and push downwards to gauge how moist the soil is. You can aim for an almost-dry-but-still-moist soil before watering. This is important for wilting plants which may not require the excessive water you’re giving.
- Water thoroughly but not excessively, so roots at the bottom get water too.
- Use lukewarm water for watering as cold water can shock the roots.
- Place saucers below flower pots so water can drain off, and empty them when filled.
- Water more during the warm seasons than in the cold seasons (but only as necessary).
- Water newly planted shrubs and trees more frequently as they will not have developed deep root systems yet.
While plants can grow without feeding, containerized plants can benefit from it. Plants in garden beds can take up nutrients available in the soil but those without any resources have to be fed with fertilizers. Flowering plants are a group that will hugely benefit from feeding. Soils can also vary in the levels of nutrients they provide so rather than adding fertilizers, the situation may require special attention to the factors affecting the soil. Here are some tips for feeding your plants with fertilizers:
- Make sure the soil in moist when applying fertilizers.
- Feed plants when they show symptoms of nutrient deficiency.
- Feed plants when they are producing a lower than expected yield while still looking healthy.
- Feed during the growing season (spring/summer).
- Don’t apply fertilizers to compacted soil which may end up ineffective.
Now that you’ve got your basics right, you can start growing healthy green plants in your home.