Greenhouses are beautiful spaces, but also a little overwhelming if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. The good news is that there are only a few key things to keep in mind.
First and foremost: Have an open mind on your houseplant experience
Becoming a succuessful crazy plant lady invovles a lot of trial and error (ie: dead plants). If your expectation is that you’ll be able to make your plant thrive every time, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. Not every plant will work for you. Maybe it had needs that your home just didn’t offer (humidity, in my case) or the care requirements didn’t match up to the time you did or didn’t have. It’s okay – it happens. Just compost the remains and move on with your plant life.
Know how to really read a care label
I often wonder how anyone can be a successful plant owner with the short-snippet care instructions that are found on most plant identification markers. And sometimes you don’t get anything at all. I mean, it’s not exactly a recipe for success. But once you’ve cared for a certain number of plants, you can start to read between the lines a little bit.
First, watering. Plants that need to be kept “evenly moist” or some similar wording, are great for people who like to water their plants, not so great for people who are forgetful plant owners. If you fall into the latter category (like moi), you would be better off picking a plant with instructions like “allow soil to dry completely between waterings.” That works out to every 1-2 weeks in most cases.
Now let’s talk about light. This one is tricky. There are a whole host of plants in the “bright light” category, but unless you are putting it directly in or around a window that gets a lot of light, know that you aren’t going to be providing that plant with adequate light. If we’re talking houseplants, we’re talking about a tropical species that is used to getting full overhead sun. The overhead thing immediately goes out the window when you bring a plant indoors, so it’s already getting less light than usual. And the further away it is from the light source, the less benefit it gets – not to mention that fact your windows are probably UV rated in the interest of not bleaching your floors and furniture. It’s not that you can’t get a plant that needs bright light, just consider where it’s going to go, and know you may lose some coloring if it doesn’t get enough sunshine.
Shade-loving plants is where it’s at for houseplants, in my opinion. I want something I can put in the interior of a room and have it look beautiful without my doing much to it. I recommend perusing the low-light plant section to see if there’s something you like. Ivy and Pothos are great choices and come in a wide variety of colors and leaf variegations.
A word on humidity
Some tropical species need humidity to really thrive – ferns are a great example. While ferns are generally easy-care plants, they aren’t so easy if you have to mist their foliage three times a day. I don’t like to talk about the time I had a humidifier running day and night and STILL lost a bunch of ferns, because the pain still feels so raw. Just another thing to keep in mind when you’re reviewing the care requirements. I frequently see suggestions to add a tray filled with water and pebbles beneath the plant, but I have yet to see that work, so I’m adding that to the list of internet-perpetuated myths (see also: using rocks in the bottom of pots for drainage).