5 tips for ‘brown thumbs’

Tahío Avila is an Architect and Landscape Designer who spends her time transforming gardens using beautiful, low-maintenance plants through her company Fresh Lemonade Gardens. Here, she guests posts about plant care for beginners.

We all have had troubles keeping our plants alive; this is a very common thing. Maybe your best friend has always told you that he or she “does not have the green thumb”. We’ve all been there and, if you LOVE plants as much as we do, it’s very frustrating to see other peoples plants thriving in the middle of their garden or living room.

I am here to tell you now that all of this is only a misconception (a big one!). The thing is:

We all have the “green thumb”. Trust me, we do!

How is that possible? How am I so sure? Well, the answer is simple. We (yes, I’m including myself in this) have been buying plants without knowing them. We think they just need water and light, but plants are like human beings: they have their likes and dislikes. Some of them love water, some of them not, some of them prefer shades, some of them not, and so on.

The secret to keeping our plants alive is to “keep the right plant for us”. The plant has to be part of our daily routine. If you work all day long, Monday to Friday, and have a million things to do outside your home, how on earth will a water-loving plant survive if you only, maybe, have the time to water it on the weekends?

So, we need to find the right plant for us, according to our daily routine and according to our needs and I’m going to show you how to find Mr. or Mrs. Right for you!

Follow these tips and you’ll be gushing about how beautiful your plants are in no time.

  1. Start with one low-maintenance plant at a time. Having a low-maintenance plant means that you don’t have to take care of them every single day. However, low-maintenance plants DO need some basic cares, like watering. But, as I said, doing it a few times a month is enough. Cutting off brown leaves and fertilising once or twice a year are the tasks that you have to know and follow to have a healthy and beautiful plant at home or in your garden.

Plant care for beginners by Tahío Avila

One of the best low-maintenance plants is the Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum). They are perfect on a window sill, with indirect light and few but strong waterings per month. If you’ll notice the leaves are less perky, that means they are thirsty.

Plant care for beginners by Tahío Avila

  1. Try indoor plants. Besides it being so satisfying to be surrounded by plants, it is also the perfect way to take care of them, because you’ll notice right away if they need water from their brown leaves, etc. You can clean them and you will appreciate new leaves or blooms during the year. Having your plant in a visible place will give you less chance to forget about it and more chances to care about it.

Plant care for beginners by Tahío Avila

  1. Some plants need more or less light than others. Some plants love direct sun while others, like the spider plant, grow well with indirect light. Once you’ve found a place at home that suits you and your plant, leave it there and see how it grows. If in a few weeks you’ll notice something’s not right, change spots and wait again. You will find the perfect spot for it and the plant will thank you for it with shiny leaves and, maybe, beautiful blooms.

Plant care for beginners by Tahío Avila

Plant care for beginners by Tahío Avila

  1. Sometimes, dry soil is better than wet soil. Watering plants (especially in containers) can be tricky but it’s way easier than it sounds – just keep a few things in mind. First of all, the best way to water your plants is soaking them in water. Put the container in the sink, fill it with water and leave the plant there until the container is heavy or until you see the soil is wet. The second thing is to keep in mind that if you give your plants a good amount of water, the roots will go down the soil and will be protected, the roots will stay moist longer and you will have a healthy plant. If you poorly water it, the roots will stay in the surface of the soil, they will dry faster and if you forget to water it, the roots will suffer damages and so will your beloved plant.

Plant care for beginners by Tahío Avila

  1. Fertilise your plants. As humans do, plants need nutrients. Depending on the plant, the best time to fertilise them is in spring, so you only have to do it once or twice a year. There are different types of fertilisers, pick the one you like and feel comfortable with and feed your plants.

Plant care for beginners by Tahío Avila

There are lots of low-maintenance plants and you will find the one that you love. You can choose from a great variety of succulents, cactuses, falling plants, even moth orchids! You just have to find the one you like and understand its needs.

After mastering the care of one plant, you can go crazy at home or in your garden. You’ll notice that you do have the green thumb and that having a plant doesn’t have to be scary or stressful.

I hope this post works for you and that you’ll find the right match for you and your home.

Visit Tahío’s website here.

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