MAY FLOWERS BEE

Welcoming a new plant

Plantes en pot devant fenêtre
I have my plant, now what ?

You’ve thrown caution to the wind and finally decided to buy your first plant! So, what now?

  • Place your plant in its intended spot and leave it alone (no fertilizer and cautious watering).
  • During these first few days of adaptation, observe how your plant reacts.
  • If everything seems fine, I recommend repotting (see below how to do it), usually into a pot of the same size or slightly larger (1 cm or half an inch, in additional diameter is more than enough).
  • If, on the other hand, you notice leaves that appear burnt, your exposure to sunlight is probably too intense. Move your plant to a shadier area.
  • If the leaves are soft, turning yellow, or wilting, it might be a watering issue or fluctuating temperatures (beware of drafts!).
Repotting, why ?
Repotting (transferring the plant to a slightly larger pot) and replanting or transplanting (changing the plant’s pot without changing its size) are necessary and regular steps in a plant’s life. Here are common reasons to undertake this task:
  • You just bought your plant and want to ensure both the quality of the soil and the condition of the roots.
  • The plant has outgrown its current pot, and the roots are filling the pot completely, becoming entangled or emerging through the drainage holes.
  • The substrate needs renewing as it can become compact and nutrient-poor over time.
  • You want the plant to continue its growth and development.
  • The current pot or substrate is causing drainage problems.

Plante en cours de rempotage
Zamioculcas en cours de rempotage
Steps for successful repotting
  • Prepare the new pot and ensure it’s clean and disinfected to prevent disease spread.
  • Prepare the substrate and make sure it’s slightly moist before use.
  • Gently pull the plant and tap or press the pot while tilting it to free the plant.
  • Examine the root ball and don’t hesitate to bring your nose close to the soil: it should smell earthy but not foul! Rotten roots emit a very bad odor; if that’s the case, clean all the roots well, cut off any damaged ones cleanly, and change the entire substrate.
  • If there’s no bad odor, gently and slightly untangle the roots.
  • Line the bottom of the pot with a drainage layer of pumice, clay pebbles, gravel, etc.
  • Add a layer of substrate at the bottom of the new pot and place the plant in the center, ensuring the top of the root ball is at the same level or slightly lower than the top of the pot.
  • Fill the sides with fresh substrate, lightly pressing to eliminate air pockets.
  • Water the plant gently and ensure the water drains freely through the holes.
  • Let the plant drain completely before placing it in a cachepot or on a saucer.
  • If desired, finish by covering your substrate with a mineral or organic mulch.

To guide you in choosing the right pot, substrate and mulch, you can read our article “A little guide on soils and pots”!

Watering frequencies

Watering is often the hardest part to master. Even with the information provided for your plant, you’ll need to adapt it to your environment and the season: what works for your neighbor may not work for you! My best advice is to  gradually and closely follow the plant’s reactions while being cautious: soft leaves can result from both underwatering and overwatering!

How to know then? The first thing is to know where your plant is native to:

  • From a tropical zone? Your plant probably likes constant humidity without having its roots submerged in water.
  • From a Mediterranean zone? You’ll have a plant that’s rather drought-resistant and will need to be watered rarely but abundantly.
  • From a temperate zone? Regular watering is needed here, but you can let the soil dry out a few centimeters between waterings.
Brumisation d'une plante verte
Arrosage d'une plante verte
How to water?
  • From above: With a thin-spout watering can and preferably while avoiding wetting the leaves. Water slowly, in several passes, especially if the soil is very dry, to allow it to soak thoroughly.
  • From below: Here, you place a bit of water in the saucer of your pot or in a basin and let your plant absorb water by capillary action. It’s a slow method since you’ll have to wait for the water to reach the soil’s surface but very effective, especially with terracotta pots.
  • Soaking: This method involves immersing the entire pot or plant in water and leaving it until bubbles no longer rise to the surface. Be careful, this method is not suitable for all plants, and it’s preferable to have a somewhat heavy mineral mulch to keep the soil in place.
  • Showering: Some plants appreciate a lukewarm shower occasionally, which helps remove some pests and dust that accumulate on their leaves.
  • Misting: Using a spray bottle, this helps create ambient humidity that tropical plants love. However, be careful, some plants like misting on their leaves but not on their flowers!

Whichever method you use, always let the plant drain before putting it back in its cachepot or on its saucer, and don’t neglect drainage, which is done in two steps: the first consists of placing a drainage layer at the bottom of the pot, and the second, choosing a pot with at least one hole!

And what water to use? Rainwater is best as plants don’t really like the limestone and chlorine in tap water. Also, prefer room-temperature or even slightly warm water for some plants.

Light and temperature

Like watering, this important parameter is greatly influenced by the plant’s origin:

  • Tropical zone? Light, yes, but filtered, a warm and constant temperature, and especially no drafts.
  • Mediterranean zone? Lots of light, even full sun, with temperatures that can vary but generally should avoid dropping below 0°C or 32°F.
  • Temperate zone? Soft light and temperature, like those of summer mornings, will be best for this type of plant.

 

Beware of the indications of sun, partial shade, and shade; they are imprecise and, from my own experience, rarely accurate since the notions of luminosity are very different depending on whether your plant is outside or inside!

Also, avoid putting a plant directly in the sun that has come out of a greenhouse; it’s the best way to burn its leaves: UV rays are as aggressive for plants as they are for us. Acclimate them gradually, even those that must withstand the full summer sun!

Sanseveria en pot de terre cuite devant rideau avec paillage minéral
Plante en pot de terre cuite avec engrais en granulats
Fertilizer or not?

Theoretically, if you have the right watering, the right placement, and the right substrate, you shouldn’t need to resort to organic or mineral supplements. But, that’s theoretical, and some plants, especially for their flowering, will need a little vitamin cocktail to stay beautiful. Personally, I manage fertilizer on a case-by-case basis and depending on the plant’s health but never use it to make the plant grow faster!

Conclusion

Welcoming a new plant into your home is a rewarding adventure that begins the moment you place it in its new spot. By following these simple yet crucial steps – initial observation, proper repotting, careful watering, managing light and temperature, and providing fertilizer when needed – you’ll give your plant every chance to thrive. Remember, every plant is unique, and your attentive care will make all the difference. Take the time to understand your plant’s specific needs, and it will reward you with its beauty and vitality. Happy growing!