How to Look After House Plants

How to Look After House Plants

Congratulations, you have a bouncing baby houseplant. Doesn’t it look divine amongst your fairy lights and polaroids? Here’s how to keep it big, strong and alive so that it can one day look after you in your old age.

Light of my life, fire of my loins

Different plants require different amounts of sun. Dunedin’s stupid grid system might have produced Baldwin Street and a road called Harbour Terrace which doesn’t even have a harbour, but it makes it easy to place your plants.

If your child enjoys lots of light, point it up towards North D Maccas. The sun and dazzling golden arches are perfect for cacti, kalanchoe and other succulents. 

West or East towards Unipol will ensure maximum swoleness for shady fellas like ferns and begonias. 

South doesn’t get much, but works for philodendrons, peace lilies, or spider plants. If you live in a shitty dark flat, which you do, invest in a cheap purple light. Recall the blissful days of mixing colours in primary school. Red light encourages photosynthesis and blue light helps plants develop, so if you combine them, you obtain maximum plant power without looking like a cop #acab. People will also think you are growing weed and it will make you much cooler. 

Stay hydrated

Slurp up some water with your hydro homie. Don’t overwater or their roots will drown and rot -- this is why the little hole at the bottom of plant pots is important. If you aren’t sure whether your plant needs watering, dive into third base and give the soil a big ol’ 5cm finger. If the soil sticks then it’s wet enough for the time being. Keep it wanting more, you dirty dog. 

If your plant likes it moist, spritz them with a misting of water; placing pebbles around the base helps contain humidity, too.  Plants such as cacti and succulents retain water and don’t need much, which is why they’re popular amongst people who love the aesthetic but can’t commit to the bit. 

Share a hot steamy romance

If you have a plant which craves humidity, such as a monstera, take them along for a sensual shower. Light some candles. Blow out the candles so they don’t set your plant on fire. Don’t be shy; you’re beautiful the way you are. Share an intimate moment which makes you forget that time exists. Don’t get soap suds on your plant, unless they have mealybugs (gross fluffy bug things), in which case do. Rinsing your plant keeps them pest-free. 

Repot & cut away new growth

If your child is getting too big for his britches, gently relocate him to a different home, like my parents did when I turned 18. Don’t worry - the roots will regenerate. Trimming your plant at a 45 degree angle above a sprouted leaf encourages new growth, especially in winter. Pluck off dead bits. 

Aggressively breathe

I don’t actually know if talking to your plants helps them grow, but if you’ve got shit chat then you can always just heavily breathe some juicy CO2 on them. Apparently the vibration of your voice also helps, so you could also try epilating really close by. 

Poo on them

Plants love poo but also egg shells, seaweed, kitchen scraps, banana peel, garden clippings and coffee grounds. Squelch them into the soil for an occasional tasty snack. Some cafes such as Morning Magpie even give out free coffee grounds at the end of the day. Careful though: poo and coffee grounds are very acidic and can burn your plants if they’re not into that. 

Give up and buy a plastic succulent

You tried and you failed. You are a horrible mother. Luckily, just like a silicone reborn doll, you can buy a new and better artificial child. Your Instagram followers will never tell the difference.


Basic baby plants for noobs

Peace lily —  the easiest plant ever. When it starts to wilt, water it. It’ll perk right up. Doesn’t need much light at all, so perfect for livening up your miserable flat. You can sometimes find them at Countdown. 

Philodendron — decadently art hoe and very hardy. These are the plants you see on Pinterest. Prefer indirect sunlight but can tolerate the gloom. Give ‘em a finger and water when the top 25% of soil is dry. The leaves will droop a little when they want more or less water, then spring right up again. 

Tradescantia/spiderwort — these ornamental delights are criminally underrated, probably because they’re considered pests, so don’t grow them outside unless you hate the environment. They grow like NUTS with a weekly water and make you feel like a druid. Can be kept in low-light but develop sick purple zig-zags in the sun. You can hang them in a basket or have them delicately draping from a pot. Trim occasionally; it’s super easy to propagate the stems in a cup of water if you desire.

This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2020.
Posted 2:51pm Monday 11th May 2020 by Asia Martusia.