Houseplants 101 with The Garden Shoppe

Master Gardener Mike Kane chatted with us on how to be the best plant parent ever
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Did you know that plants like to have friends? That you should only use about half the liquid fertilizer than the label directs? Did you know you’re likely under watering your houseplants? For plant parent beginners such as ourselves, our chat with Master Gardener Mike Kane of The Garden Shoppe caused us to immediately run home to rearrange our plant babies into groups and give them a good watering.

We visited Mike at The Garden Shoppe to get a few plant care tips, which he typically shares during his bi-weekly Houseplants 101 workshop.

What are the most important aspects of caring for houseplants?

Houseplant care comes down to two main things: light and water.

Generally speaking, houseplants need bright but indirect light. An ideal spot in your home is somewhere in between direct sunlight and a dark shady corner.

Water your plants about once a week, but each plant is unique and different. For succulents, you only need to water them about every 3 weeks; for herbs, water them every one to three days.

A good rule of thumb is to let your plants dry out between waterings, then water them very thoroughly. And by thoroughly, I mean enough water to completely soak the pot all the way down so that water reaches the bottom. A common mistake is to throw an eight ounce cup of water onto your plant and call it a day. They need way more water than that.

Not all plants like to dry out though. Some examples include the White Bird of Paradise and anything in the Calathea family - they always like to stay moist.

How do you create the best living conditions for your plant?

Once you know the name of the houseplant, I always recommend researching where the plant is native to and what the conditions are of that environment. Then try your best to mimic those conditions in your home for a really happy plant. For example, if a plant is native to the rainforest, you know that the plant will need good moisture in the soil, not too much sunlight, and good humidity in the air.

Any fun facts about houseplants?

Plants like to have friends! Grouping houseplants together is a good idea because they start to create their own environment. They can release humidity into the air, and if they need more, as a group they can collectively raise the humidity in their micro climate to help each other.

What are some products that help your plant thrive?

A good all-purpose liquid fertilizer, which should be used about once a month. I recommend using half of the fertilizer that the label directs. Less is more when it comes to fertilizer. One note though, The Garden Shoppe uses a slow release fertilizer, so if you buy a plant from us, you won’t have to fertilize it for 3 to 6 months.

Leaf shine is a good product as well to help keep the leaves looking nice and remove any water spots. However, don’t use it too often or blanket the leaves in the spray because it can limit how the leaves process oxygen.

Also, a dechlorinator is good to use as some houseplants, such as prayer plants and Calatheas are super sensitive to chlorine. You can also use RO treated water, distilled water, or any purified water.

What are some of the top houseplants?

Some of our top sellers are the Fiddle Leaf Fig, Monstera Deliciosa aka the Swiss Cheese Plant, Monstera Adansonii, and the White Bird of Paradise.

Follow The Garden Shoppe on Instagram at @thegardenshoppewpb for more helpful care tips.

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