If you've landed here, you've probably made a purchase or received a gift from The Plant Chick.
So, what's next?! If you're thinking "How do I take care of this thing?," you've come to the right place!
Regardless of which type of plant you're caring for, your first considerations when bringing home a new plant should be sunlight, water, and drainage.
(I dive deeper into these and other factors, like fertilizer, soil pH, pests, diseases, etc in this blog, but today we're gonna keep it short-ish and sweet.)
Bright, indirect light is best for most houseplants, so placing them near a window, or in a window that receives only morning sun will work for most houseplants. For cacti and succulents, outside is best. Many cacti will love full sun, but most succulents look their best when grown in part sun or morning sun. If you are growing them indoors, you'll want to put them in one of your brightest windows or provide supplemental lighting, like this adjustable desk grow light. To prevent damage to your outdoor succulents, be sure to bring them indoors or cover them up during freezing weather.
Watering is going to depend greatly on the species of your plant, so first, find out if your plant type likes to be damp, dry, or in between, and check if your plant's container has a drainage hole.
As a general rule, check the soil's moisture by sticking your finger 1" into the top of the soil. If the soil feels damp at this level, there's no need to water. If it's dry, it's probably time to water. (You can also use something like this moisture meter instead of your finger.). Cacti and succulents may need to dry out even more than this.
When your plant is ready for a drink, apply the water to the soil in the root area of the plant and try not to wet the leaves or the crown (where all the stems come together in the center of some plants). Pour in the water and allow it to flow through the soil and out the drainage hole. If your plant is very dry or wilted, you can allow the extra water to collect in a saucer, bowl, or your sink and leave the bottom of the pot soaking in it, with its drainage hole in the water, for about 30 minutes.
If your pot does not have a drainage hole, you'll need to be extra careful not to water too much, since too much water will cause your plant's roots to become soggy and eventually rot, which could be fatal for your plant.
For plants in containers without a drainage hole, apply just a small amount of water and allow it to soak in and distribute through the soil. Check the soil after several minutes to see if it needs more. We aren't shooting for soggy soil here, just damp, like a squeezed-out sponge.
For cacti and succulents without drainage -- be very careful! I find it best to use a spray bottle to water them, since the soil doesn't need to be fully saturated. Err on the side of too little water vs too much water. You can always add a little more, but you can't take it back out.
If having no drainage in your container makes you nervous, another option is to transplant your plant into an inexpensive nursery pot with drainage holes (or a repurposed sour cream container with holes poked in the bottom) and then place it inside the decorative container that has no drainage holes. With this set up you can pull the plastic pot out for watering, and put it back in when you're done.
I hope that helps get you started!
Please be sure to share a pic of your new plant baby with our little community of plant lovers in The Plant Chick Shop and keep us posted as it grows!
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