Things to know before getting a plant

Useful things you should know before getting a plant

Since we are asked to stay home as much as possible, it seems like there are no better times than these to own some indoor greenery. Having plants in your home can have multiple benefits: plants are not just beautiful, they also help to purify the air around you and they have a calming effect by reducing anxiety and stress.

Having plants at home is therefore much more than having a nice piece of furniture. However, they are living creatures and they need a certain amount of care in order to thrive. Plants are autotrophs (from Greek, “self nutrition”) which means they can produce their own food using sunlight, water, carbon dioxide and other chemicals they find in the air and in the soil. But even though they are able to provide for themselves, you still need to have basic knowledge about your plants’ requirements. Don’t worry, it can be easier than you think!

If you have never had plants before and you would like to make your apartment a bit greener or if you have been killing all your plants so far, here there are three things you should know which will help you through the process of becoming a true plant owner:

1. Know yourself

There are thousands of plants you can choose from for your apartment. You can choose based on your personal taste, what is available on the local market, on your budget or what is the last trend. However, I suggest you choose your plants based on how much time you are willing to spend on them. If you are a beginner, start with something that doesn’t need much attention. Growing plants is definitely a journey that makes you realize many things about your personality.

Do you think your life is very busy at the moment or you are not sure you can remember to watch over your plants every other day? Then you should select some variety that doesn’t require much caring or water. Do you think instead you are ready to put (some of) your free time into repotting, meticulous watering and pest/disease control? Then your options cover a wider spectrum of choice.

2. Know your space

Whether you live in a small apartment or in a big house, it is important for you to know the characteristics of the space where you want to place your plant(s). Ask yourself: How much sun does that specific corner receive during the day? Is the chosen spot next to a radiator? If you own pets, you may want to see if the plant is in their range, either because they may dig into the soil or because they may chew the leaves (some plants are toxic if eaten).

Very important to know is also the quality of your tap water: many municipalities add chlorine to purify the tap water and while this is ok for human consumption, is not ideal for plants. The best would be to use rainwater, otherwise, a water filter could also do.

3. Know your plant

At last, after you decide how much time you want to put into plants and where to place them in the house, you can go shopping. There is a wide number of species and varieties you can choose from and usually when you buy a plant they provide you with a plant care tag that indicates its name and its basic needs. Personally, I think that the most important thing to know about a plant is where it comes from. Having a general idea of its original environment helps you to understand its true needs. If the plant comes from the Mediterranean area, most likely doesn’t require much water but lots of light. Yet, it would need more water than a plant coming from the deserts, such as cactus which could go many days or even weeks without it. If the plant comes from a pluvial forest,
definitely needs a good amount of water and lots of humidity in the air but can tolerate partial shadow.

Tip: As a beginner, if you have a very nice bright spot in the house, I would suggest you start your “houseplants journey” with a beautiful Senecio Aquarine Mount Everest (also called Curio Mount Everest). It is indigenous to South Africa, it requires little care and little water, it grows quite fast and the colours of its chubby leaves are simply amazing!