I’m new to houseplants. What would you recommend as a good “starter” plant?
Welcome to the world of houseplants! While it’s best to choose a plant based on lighting and location, spider plants, pothos, snake plants and dracaena all make wonderful, easy-to-care-for green additions to your space.
What type of lighting does my plant need and how do I find it?
First, there are two types of light: direct and indirect sunlight. You’ll likely find both types of light in your home – the trick is arranging your plants to make the most of your light options.
Direct sunlight refers to sunlight in which the path of light from the sun to the plant is a straight line. For example, most windowsills provide direct sunlight. You can also create direct light with LED grow lights if your home doesn’t get enough direct sunlight to support your plant collection.
Indirect sunlight occurs when something in the path of light from the sun diffuses or filters the sunlight before it hits your plants. Examples include sheer curtains, a piece of furniture, a tree outside your window, or even another indoor plant placed in front to protect the lower-light-loving plant.
- Filtered sunlight is direct sunlight that fills the room most of the day, but is filtered by curtains, blinds, an awning, or even trees right outside the window. You can also create filtered light by placing your plant further from the window.
- Indirect sunlight is when your plant is in a shady area within an area that receives bright sunlight. It may be behind another plant or a piece of furniture.
- Partial sunlight is when the light is direct only during certain times of the day, such as in the morning or late afternoon. This is common in east-facing windows that receive a few hours of morning light, followed by a few hours of indirect afternoon sun.
Lastly, take some time to get oriented to the light in your space. The best way to do this is to take a few walks around throughout the day and see where the light falls (say at 9am, noon, 3 pm, and 6pm). You can also categorize your home’s light more broadly based on the direction the windows in each room face.
There’s dust on the leaves of my plants. Should I do something about that?
Yes! It’s important to keep the leaves of your plant clean and free of dust so they can take in the maximum amount of light and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. What’s the best way to do that? Try spraying your plant down with a hose in the sink, bathtub or shower… or haul it outside if needed. You can also gently wipe down the leaves of your plant with a damp towel.
Is a drainage hole necessary in my pot? Can I just put rocks at the bottom instead?
While rocks in the bottom of a pot can work for some plants and plant parents, on the whole, we’ve found it’s best to provide drainage via a drainage hole, as plants suffer more from too much water than from not enough. When rocks (or any such substrate) are placed at the bottom of a pot, the water caught at the base does not have a chance to evaporate and can be reabsorbed by the soil.
Though some folks are able to maintain the delicate balance between wet and dry soil conditions with the rock method, many folks quickly create a soggy, wet nightmare which can lead to root rot. We’ve found that a drainage hole simplifies the watering process, allowing excess water to “escape” the pot and mimic the natural environment of a plant growing in the ground. Yes, the water that drains away can create a mess but this can easily be avoided with a saucer or catch tray. Check out our saucer selection under here!
My succulent doesn’t look happy. Should I water it more?
As succulents store water in the leaves of the plant, they are generally quite drought-tolerant. It’s very important that the roots of a succulent have the chance to dry out between waterings. Without this drying period, root rot can set in. More often than not, when a succulent is not thriving the culprit is too much water.
My succulents are growing long and “leggy”... why is this happening and what should I do?
Succulents need a certain amount of light to grow properly. If they are not receiving adequate sunlight throughout the day, you will notice them stretch and become leggy (increased spacing between the leaves). There’s a word for this: etiolated. If you notice this happening, your plant is literally reaching out and looking for more light!
To correct this issue, slowly increase the amount of light your plant receives, either by moving it to a brighter, sunnier location or adding a grow light. Once you increase the amount of light, your plant will slowly recover and will correct its growth. The ‘stretched-out look’ will not disappear overnight. It may take a while for your plant to start looking normal again. You can then decide if you’d like to leave the plant as-is or trim it back and propagate it.
How do you propagate succulents?
The genus and species of a succulent will determine how it can be propagated. There are two ways to propagate succulents: by cuttings (includes pup propagation) and by leaves.
Propagation from cuttings: Use a sharp cutting tool to cut the intended area - this works for branches of a plant as well as new off-shoots (pups). Next, let your cutting dry for about a week so it can scab over at the area of cutting. Next, plug your cutting into soil and water well. Let the soil dry out completely before watering again. Don’t forget that the “mother plant” from which you took the cutting will likely branch and continue to grow at the location of the cutting!
Leaf propagation: Gently twist the leaf off the stem (make sure it’s a clean twist, leaving nothing on the stem). Set your leaf on top of the soil, making sure the cut end of the leaf is not in the soil. Water well. Allow soil to dry completely between waterings. New roots should begin to appear at the base of the leaf within 2-3 weeks.
How much light does a cactus need?
While cacti are touted for being great low-maintenance plants, it’s important to remember that most cacti need lots of light to thrive (10-14 hours per day). So while they sure look cute on your floating shelf in a dark corner of your room, they prefer to be in a south- or west-facing window receiving as much bright light as possible.
How do you care for an airplant?
Airplants do not need soil, absorbing water and nutrients through scales on their leaves. While airplants are often considered easy to care for, the high deserts of Eastern Oregon present challenges for many first-time airplant owners. Here are some helpful tips for keeping your airplants happy and healthy in our area:
Moisture - Airplants prefer humid conditions (remember, they’re native to South and Central America and parts of the southern US). In our area, many folks find it easiest to keep airplants in their bathroom or kitchen. Even in these settings, you’ll still need to provide additional moisture for your plant, either via misting every 1-2 days, or by submerging them in water for several hours every 7 days or so. Be sure to let your airplant dry out fully after each misting/dunking. Shake off any excess water and let them sit in a bright location until dry.
Light - Bright, filtered or indirect light is ideal for indoor airplants.
Temperature - Airplants prefer consistent temperatures, preferably between 60-90 degrees. Note that the hotter the temperature, the drier the air, which means you’ll have to water your airplant more often.
Circulation - Surprise, surprise… airplants need air! Avoid closed glass terrariums or vessels with small openings, both of which encourage damp, stagnant conditions.