Do's and Don'ts | 8 Steps to New Indoor Plant Success!

Indoor plants add beauty to your home or office while helping to clean the air you breathe.  Surrounding yourself with foliage also helps you relax, both physically and mentally.  So, the growing popularity of plants should come as no surprise as more and more people are purchasing a wide variety of houseplants for themselves and their loved ones. 

It isn’t difficult to help your new plants thrive, but anyone who has watched their new, precious plants quickly die has learned the hard way that there are some common mistakes you should avoid.

Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)1. Don’t Repot Too Quickly!

When you buy a new indoor plant directly from a grower, do not immediately move your new plant into a different pot.  Transplanting too soon will likely damage your plant’s fragile roots; and if broken roots do not kill the plant, the stress placed on the roots may inhibit foliar growth.  Wait until the roots have had time to develop sufficiently and take hold before you consider giving your new houseplant a new home.  Indoor vines like Hoyas and Pothos like to be a bit rootbound and will especially benefit from a delayed transplant!

2.  Avoid Direct Sunlight

When you buy a new plant, especially one that is labeled “sun-loving,” it is understandable that you would think that placing this plant in direct sunlight is best.  But be careful!  Like most people, plants do not like sudden, drastic environmental changes.  Unless you are certain that the plant had been living in direct sunlight prior to your purchase, you should first place the plant in indirect, bright sunshine and allow for a gradual introduction to the direct light in which it will ultimately thrive.   This is especially important if you live in a warm climate and plan to keep your new plant outside.  

Hoya carnosa 'Tricolor'3. Don’t Water Immediately

When you take your new plant home, do not assume that the plant is thirsty.  Even indoor ferns do not like to sit in soaking wet soil!  Instead of immediately watering your new plant, first check the plant’s soil and roots.  If there is moisture, wait until the top of the soil is dry before you give the plant a drink.  Over-watering plants is a leading cause of houseplant failure.  Let your plants dry out between waterings versus watering too often!

4.  Don’t Immediately Divide Your Plant

When you bring home a new indoor plant, allow the plant to acclimate to its new environment and develop more foliage before you attempt to divide them.  Plants like Maranta and Calathea have particularly tender roots that will likely suffer if you attempt to divide them too soon.  If you purchased a pot containing multiple plants, you can safely separate the plants from one another.  Just be careful: avoid ripping the roots as you disentangle them. 

5. Don’t Immediately Cluster Your New Plant with Other Plants

When you bring your new plant home, make sure it is free from pests and disease before you place it near other plants.  Most reputable growers work diligently to keep their plants healthy and clean, but it is still possible for some plants to become contaminated or infested. 

You should particularly careful if you bought your plant from an independent seller who may be unlicensed and have uninspected facilities. Therefore, when you buy a new plant, check the foliage and soil for a few days as you keep it isolated.  If you see anything concerning, spray the plant with horticultural oil alternating with neem oil. Once you have taken these precautions, you can safely introduce your new plant to the rest of your collection.  

6. Don’t Use Leaf Shine Products

Leaf shine products might make your new plant’s leaves look good in the short term, but the ingredients will ultimately damage the plant by clogging the leaves’ stomata and inhibit the plant’s ability to breathe.  Instead, you can safely achieve shiny leaves by simply cleaning the leaves with warm water mixed with organic soap.  You can also use neem oil mixed with water to achieve the same effect.  

New houseplants often have fertilizer and water residue on the surface of their leaves, and wiping them clean enables your new plant to exchange gases and undergo photosynthesis!

Monstera adansonii (Swiss Cheese Vine)

7. Look Before You Fertilize

If your plant is not doing well when it first arrives, do not immediately fertilize!  Most likely, the grower already gave your plant fertilizer, so feeding your plant more will likely hurt or kill it.  Instead, consider other possible causes of your plant's unhappiness:  Does it have proper lighting?  Are you providing the correct amount of water?  Is the room temperature or humidity good for your plant?  

If you take some time to determine what, in fact, your plant needs, you will be able to provide a successful remedy.  Wait at least a month before you start fertilizing your new indoor plants, and always dilute the solution to the recommended strength.

8.  Don’t Move Your Healthy Plant 

If you see that your new plant is doing well in a particular spot, do not move it.  Some plants, like ficus, will react negatively if you take them away from their favorite spots.  Large plants are particularly at risk. If you must move your plant, make sure its new location has comparable lighting, humidity, and temperature fluctuations.   

Buying a new plant is exciting and will provide you with so many lasting benefits.   If you want to ensure that your new purchase is stress-free and avoid common mistakes, simply follow these eight simple tips, and you will be able to enjoy the beauty and health advantages that your thriving plant will have to offer.  

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