Adulthood 101: Plant Parenting

Here’s your crash course on becoming a plant mom, plant dad, or plant parent.

Illustration credit, Tiffany Chan

By: Jessie Morton 

First off: the seven best plants for plant-parenting newbies

  1. Snake plant

The ultimate hard-to-kill plant, it is commonly called the Mother in Law’s Tongue. It does well in limited light and acts as an air purifier for your home. Choose one with dark leaves; avoid pale ones. The roots are prone to rot, so when repotting, use a soilless/cacti mixture. Allow the soil to dry between watering.

  1. Spider plant

Plant in well-draining potting mix. Bright, indirect light. They really like hanging baskets and grow quickly, so will need a larger pot each year. Water well, but allow to dry out between waterings. They like a slightly cooler space and enjoy light pruning. These guys also purify your air!

  1. Aloe

Tired of buying aloe gel when you burn to a crisp in summer? (Where my pale folks at?) Buy an aloe plant and use the gel! Choose a pot with a drainage hole and fill it with a succulent/cacti mix. Root rot is the main cause of death for aloe. It likes bright, indirect sunlight. Water deeply and infrequently, don’t let it sit in water. Harvest the gel by cutting the arm from the main stem, leaving about an inch. Cut in half and scoop out the gel.

  1. Pothos

They can live in many lighting conditions, including fluorescent lighting though the more white in the leaves, the more light it requires. They can also tolerate long periods of dry soil, or can live indefinitely in water. Their vines can grow up to 30 feet long: perfect for trailing around windows or shelves.

  1. Jade plant

The lucky plant! Water when the top inch of soil is dry. Never let this plant dry out completely, but do not overwater. Jade plants require full sunlight, and therefore, they like their surroundings to be a bit balmy.

  1. Boston Fern

These ferns like mild temperatures with high humidity and indirect light. In the winter, set

the pot on a tray with pebbles and water to allow for optimal humidity. Regardless of season, ensure that their soil remains damp; they like to be potted in peat moss mix.

  1. Air Plant

These plants are super cool, mostly because they don’t need soil! They love bright, indirect light. A sunny bathroom would be perfect with its combination of light and humidity. Watering will depend on how much light it is receiving. Every week or so, soak your plant in water for about five minutes. Then, place it on a towel and let it fully dry. Mist once a week as well. These plants look great in glass terrariums or vases with crystals or stones. Try hanging them in a window!


Top Tips

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when plant shopping. You wouldn’t buy a car without

talking to the salesperson, right? Buying plants is no different. Tell them what amount of

light and warmth the plant will have at its new home and they can make some

recommendations! They can also help you pick out the right pot and soil.

  1. Have a propagation party! Most plants can be propagated, meaning you can take a

cutting and regrow it in water or soil, creating a new plant. Swapping cuttings from your

plants with a group of your friends is a free way to get new plants. Do some research online on the best way to start a cutting from specific plants.

  1. Fertilizer is your friend. Plants need food too! As a general rule, plants will flourish with

some fertilizer once a month in growing season (summer and spring). Plants tend to go

dormant and grow less to survive winter, so they won’t need any treats over the holidays.

  1. Most plants die from overwatering; it’s worse than underwatering. Stick to a schedule so

you don’t overwater out of forgetfulness.

  1. Let your plants acclimate to their environments. Moving plants to new locations in the home can stress them out. Plants love consistency.
  2. Dust your friends. It allows more sunlight to reach the leaves and makes then look pretty.
  3. Being a plant parent doesn’t have to be expensive. Small plants that will grow large in a

few years are under $10. Shop around for pots and other accessories at thrift stores and

on Craigslist; paint can make anything trendy.