1. Choose Plants Based on Light in your Space
Are the plants you love the ones you can have? The available light in your space will help you decide. Check the direction your windows are facing; south-facing windows give bright light, east/west-facing windows give moderate light and north-facing windows give low light. Most houseplants prefer bright, indirect sunlight.
If the sun is intense through your windows, add a lovely sheer curtain to diffuse the light. Cacti and some succulents like aloe can of course handle brighter, direct sunlight. You don’t want to overexpose or underexpose any plant. They need the right amount of light to live.
2. Figure Out Your Plant Compatibility
Are you new to urban farming? A busy work schedule, social life and general forgetfulness can lead to unintentional plant neglect. It’s okay. Some plants can handle that kind of lifestyle. A jet-setter like yourself will enjoy the toughness of low-maintenance succulents, cactus plants or snake plants, all pretty low key, as long as they have enough light (bright and low light respectively). These should keep looking their best when you return from your next trip or when you remember.
Like a mist for the face, an extra spritz of water daily between waterings keeps humidity levels nice and balanced for these delicate plants.
3. Less (Water) Is More
It’s better to under water your plants than to overwater. Too much water can lead to root rot. Ditch your water schedule and water your plant only when it needs it. Check the soil first to make sure it’s dry at least 2 inches deep below the surface. If your soil looks dark in color, feels moist, and sticks to your finger, your plant has enough water to do it’s thing for now.
How often you water will also change throughout the year. Plants need less water in the cold and rainy seasons, when they’re growing slower, the days are shorter and sunlight is less intense. If the heat is on and the soil is drying quicker, they may need a bit more water. Wilting leaves or soil that looks pulled away from the sides of the planter are signs of a thirsty plant.
Always let the water sit out for couple of hours before use. The water served in Nairobi has a high concentration of chlorine and a few hours in an unsealed bottle does the trick. Its also advisable to use warm water because it absorbs best. Pour water directly on the soil around the base of the plant, because plants absorb water from their roots.
Place a saucer under your planter. When you water, let it soak in for a few hours, then toss any water that’s left on the saucer. If no water is left over, give the soil another soak.
4. Raise the Humidity Levels
Staying true to your plants natural environment will help your plant thrive indoors. Most indoor plants prefer high humidity and bright to moderate, indirect light. Mist these plants in between waterings. During the cold months of June/July, grouping similar plants together helps to create a more humid microclimate. On the other hand, most desert dwellers, like cacti, prefer dry air and bright, direct light with no shade at all. They definitely don’t need to be misted and don’t care for humidity all that much. Another way of increasing humidity levels around your plants is to set them on a tray of pebbles and water. Place a layer of pebbles in the tray, and then add water until the pebbles aren’t quite covered. Or place the pebbles at the bottom of a pot holder and follow the process above.
5. A Note on Stability
Keep your plant’s home environment as stable as possible. Extreme changes can stress plants out. When the plant first get to your home, it needs time to acclimatise and in this time, some leaves may drop or the plant may stretch out in search for light. Avoid placing your plants near cookers, fridges, radiators, A/C units and forced-air vents, which can create hot or cold drafts.
6. Show A Little TLC
Friendships are fragile. You and your plant need time to adjust co-existing. Show your plant a little extra attention starting out. Observing your plant will tell you when to water and when to not, if the temperature is too high or too low, and if it’s getting enough sun. Plus they’re so pleasing to look at and talk to.
Also, as the large leaves collect dust, an occasional mist and or wipe with a damp cloth is beneficial. Hold the leaf, supporting the underside so that it does not tear as you clean the leaves. This does not apply to all plants tho.
Rotate your plant once or twice a month to keep it standing straight and tall. Generally indoor plants can become unbalanced with denser foliage on one side of the plant if they aren’t rotated regularly.