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'I have an Instagram dedicated to my plants. Here are 3 rules to live by when growing your own.'

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String of Pearls. Pothos. Monstera Deliciosa. Hoya… I’ve killed all of these plants at some point in my plant care journey. I was sad at the time, but now I look back and realise that the mistakes I made with plant care helped me to get better at it. 

I didn’t know much when I started bringing home plants. All I knew was that every time I finished an assignment at TAFE, I’d walk to the nearby garden centre and pick myself a new plant as a reward. 

First, it was succulents, the gateway plants. Then I got into more of the leafy plants with striking foliage. Soon, they were taking over my home, and I wasn’t mad. The trouble was, they didn’t last very long, and I had to keep replacing them – until I worked out what they actually needed to be happy in the long term.

Through a mix of trial and error, as well as finding some reputable sources of gardening knowledge online, I went from plant murderess to pretty good at keeping a plant alive.

Here are three things to focus on to help you grow your plants better. 

Image: Instagram @elle.and.plants

Food

I love food. So. Much. I could talk about that for a long time, but I’ll spare you.

As it turns out, house plants and potted plants love food too.

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Every time we water a plant, we’re stripping away some of the nutrients in the potting medium (that’s a fancy term for the stuff the plant is planted in). 

Our plants aren’t growing in a natural environment, where they’d be getting nutrients from decaying matter and other stuff, so we’ve got to take a few extra steps to make sure they’re getting everything they need to thrive in our homes. 

That’s where fertiliser comes in. 

I have lost count of the number of “5-minute hacks” I’ve seen about making your own homemade fertiliser. Banana peel water. Potato water. Rice water. Pasta water. It goes on. I think it’s great that people want to recycle stuff, but this ain’t it. Either chuck your food scraps into the compost or, my preferred way of doing things – buy yourself a good, NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium – the three main nutrients a plant needs to grow) balanced fertiliser. 

I like CANNA’s range. Their fertilisers are high quality, and you can also get really specific and buy fertiliser for flowering, fruiting, and other plant needs, with different nutrient ratios. 

They also have a range of hydroponic fertilisers that are easy to use which is great for beginners along with a handy guide in case you're ready to level-up your plant care.

This is good news if you’ve got a veggie or herb garden (and if you don’t have one, I’d recommend getting one started, because how good is being able to snip some Rosemary from your garden and chuck it in a Spag Bol).

Image: Instagram @elle.and.plants

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Light

What the heck is bright indirect light, anyway? This term has to be one of the most perplexing and vague ways to describe light and it really threw me when I first started gardening.

Light is one of the key factors for successful plant growth. 

Plants can be fairly adaptable to different lighting conditions, within reason. Having said that, getting a general idea of what kind of light your plant needs will go a long way in ensuring it grows successfully. 

Generally, leafy tropical plants (and I’m making a big generalisation here), like bright to low indirect light. So if you pop them next to a bright window, or a metre or two away, that should keep them happy. But I’d also keep an eye on them and watch their progress. If they’re not happy, try moving them slightly and see how they go. Trial and error is a big part of this. 

Herbs and veggies tend to need more light, and if you’re in an apartment with a small or nonexistent balcony, this can be a challenge. Luckily, grow lights are becoming more and more popular and easy to find. These are a lifesaver, providing plants with supplemental light when we can’t get access to the sun.

Water

Staying hydrated is important. How many glasses of water have you had today? Yeah, I never seem to drink enough myself. 

I think it’s common for new gardeners to water plants a lot more than they actually need it. Unfortunately, you CAN kill plants with too much love.

How much water a plant needs will vary depending on the plant itself, but it’s also determined by how much light and airflow the plant gets. 

What I find the most helpful in knowing when I need to water a plant is reading their “leaf language”. Not sure how I feel about the term leaf language, but we’re going with it for now.

When a plant needs water, it may start to get droopy, and the leaves may start to curl. Some plants may also show they’re thirsty if a new leaf takes a long time to unfurl. I’ve noticed this happens particularly with Philodendrons, which like higher humidity and more frequent watering.

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Image: Instagram @elle.and.plants

Another thing to check is the soil or potting media. If it looks bone dry on top, that could mean your plant needs a drink. But I’d recommend getting a bit more investigative here and sticking your finger into the potting media. It might feel a bit strange, but it’s an excellent way to see if there’s moisture under the surface.

Just to add another thing into the mix, plants will need different amounts of water depending on the season. In summer, with longer days, more heat, and dry air, our plants need more water, more often. By that same token, winter generally means they’ll need to be watered less frequently.

It’s hard to give a hard and fast answer about how much to water a plant, or how often, but I think that’s kind of nice. We have to develop a relationship with our plants and get to know them, and that takes time – but it’s so worth it.

With 25 years' experience, CANNA's range of high quality nutrients support plant growth, resulting in better colour and texture. Experts in hydroponic gardening, they've got everything you need to level-up your plant care. 

Feature Image: Supplied/Instagram/@elle.and.plants

CANNA
CANNA is the supplier and manufacturer of high quality plant nutrients and additives designed to be used with hydroponic, coco and potting mix mediums. With 25 years experience and extensive research we have developed products to match the natural environment and provide the best quality nutrients for optimum plant growth. Giving the results deserved from a plant nutrient including growth, colour, texture, flavour and size of fruit.