If you picked up a houseplant plant (or three) over the last few years, you’re not alone. Even pre-pandemic, indoor plant sales climbed almost 50 percent in the three years leading up to 2019, according to the National Gardening Association. Then came quarantine, and in our increased time at home, it seemed everyone suddenly became a #plantparent – some more successfully than others. If you’re on Team Brown Thumb, here are some tips to give any leafy friends you invite into your home the best chance of success:
- Know thyself – and thy place. Do you travel often or can you devote hours a week to plant care? How much natural light does your home get? Which way do the windows face? Is your pad humid or drafty? For the best plant/parent pairing, take your location, light conditions and lifestyle into account.
- ·Water wisely. Over- and under-watering are the most common plant killers. To know when it’s watering time, you can buy a plant meter to read soil moisture levels. A simpler alternative: Stick a finger or chopstick 2 inches into the soil; if it comes out dry, it’s time to water.
- Know when to let go. Even the most attentive growers sometimes lose a specimen to pests or disease. If your plant can’t be revived, reflect on the season of beauty it brought to your life, then give it back to Mother Earth via the compost bin. You can always try another variety.
Even novice plant parents should be able to keep these five favorites alive.
1. Snake plant The hardy plant we used to call Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is a slow but steady grower that does well, even in low light.
2. ZZ Plant Formally called Zamioculcas zamiifolia, ZZ can be watered infrequently (its roots hold water) and requires little light.
3. Golden pothos The leaves of this popular trailing plant will tell you all you need to know about its care – when they droop, its watering time. If they turn yellow, oops! You’ve overwatered.
4. African violet Originally from the East African coast, these plants will flower for months. Pot them in a quick-draining soil; give them room-temperature water (to avoid leaf spotting); and make sure they get plenty of indirect light.
5. Jade plant These long-living, low-maintenance succulents can thrive even in low-light conditions.
Visit aarp.org to discover even more options.