There are sun loving plants and shade loving plants, there are drought loving plants and there are plants in need of constant watering… if you want your plants to thrive in your home, it’s important to choose those who will love your home conditions.
How can you know which plant will like your home? Should you always learn ahead about a plant before buying it? Of course not! You can’t be always ready when a new beautiful plant comes out of nowhere, while you were casually food shopping, right?
How can a plant tell you how to care for it?
There are a few indications you can follow in order to know what type of conditions the plant will like in case you don’t have the slightest idea of what type of plant it is or you’re in a store and found a plant you really like, but you don’t know what it needs until you come home and google the plant name.
Does the plant flower?
If the plant flowers it’s going to need more light, bright indirect light. The best would be to place this type of plant near an east, south or west facing window.
If you see that the sun coming through the south facing window is damaging the foliage of your plant or that the flowers are starting to dry out, move the plant from there or secure that you have a light curtain that will prevent sun rays to directly hit your plant during the hottest hours.
The sun is much stronger during summer, so maybe a plant that was right in front of a south facing window during winter won’t stand the heath from afternoon summer sun rays. If you start to see sings of burnt foliage or dry flowers, adding water to your plant won’t help it. You’ll need to move it away from the window.
An additional characteristic of flowering plants is frequent watering. Now, don’t get me wrong. You’ll still need to apply the watering frequency by the type of plant. For example, a flowering Kalanchoe will still need dry soil in between watering but it will consume water faster because of its flowers.
Type of foliage
There are a few categories when we talk about the foliage of the plant.
When it comes to leaf size, you can go by the general rule that plants with bigger leaves will need less light (can withstand places with less light) as opposed to plants with many tiny leaves that will require more light.
The color of the foliage
The general rule is – the darker the foliage on the plant equals that the plant will need less light and less frequent watering.
On the other hand, light green plants, colored plants and variegated plants will need more hours and higher light intensity than plants with darker foliage.
The thickness of the leaves
Generally, plants with thinner leaves (you’ll notice you can easily bend this type of leaves) will require more light and more water, as opposed to plants with thicker/harder leaves that will need less water.
Plants with thicker leaves store water inside of their leaves. If you plan on buying this type of plant, you’ll definitively need to let the soil dry out between watering and keep the plant in a pot with drainage holes with well draining soil. In this category you’ll find plants from the succulent world (all types of succulents, including cacti) and a kind of semi-succulent plants that don’t have a “classic succulent look” (ZZ plant, Peperomia, Sansevieria, Pilea and similar plants).
Is the plant woody or not?
Here’s an indicator that I learned the hard way, after having killed a few of them with over watering. I can say that generally, woody/sturdy stem plants need for their soil to dry out between watering so they don’t rot.
These type of plants are any plants that take form of a tree, like Dracena and Ficus trees (any type) for example. But I place in this category plants from the Monstera and Philodendron world also. So, any type of sturdy plant.
Opposed to them, you can find “soft stem” plants, as I call them, like Maranta, Calathea, Stromanthe, that love moisture and that you can water after just the top few cm (an inch) of the soil is dried out.
These are just general indicators if you have no clue on how to care for a certain plant. If you know the name of the plant, definitively check out the specific requirements that it needs.
You can cross upon plants that have opposing needs according to the type of foliage for example. If you are not sure what to do, the most important things when it comes to plant care are – lighting and watering.
The less light your plant gets, the less frequently you’ll need to water it. Also, if you are not sure how often you need to water your plant, it’s always better to water them less frequently then more! Let the soil dry out for the first few cm (5-10 cm) and then water your plant thoroughly.