Plant Care 101

Basic plant care for beginners

Sofia Ball

If you’re anything like me with a love for anything green, it’ll start out as one or two plants. Before you know it, a week goes by and you’ll have twelve. As overwhelming as this may seem, when you break down the specific plant and its needs, it’s really quite simple.

Most house plants are divided into different categories such as cacti, succulents and tropicals. It’s important to know the category so you know how much sunlight it requires.

A commonly asked question is “should I repot my plant right away?” Nursery plant pots tend to have excellent drainage, which is why I recommend that you keep your plant inside them for as long as possible. 

The only time I will ever encourage you to repot your plant right away is if the plant is root bound. To see if your plant is root bound, grab a plant gently at the base and lift it out to look at the root situation. If you see mostly soil and a healthy amount of roots, then it has plenty of room to grow, which is an excellent sign. But if the pot is crowded with roots that all tend to be tangled, that’s a sign that it should be repotted right away!

Figuring the type of pot to use for your plant is also a tricky question. When buying a pot always make sure there are holes in the bottom for excess water to drain. If the pot doesn’t have holes in the bottom, that’s okay. You can always either drill the holes yourself or get them drilled at your local nursery, which will usually do it for free. 

When it comes to pot size, you should generally buy a pot close to slightly bigger than its original pot. If you get one that’s too big for your plant, you risk the chance of root rot. That’s when the roots aren’t able to pull in the water fast enough, leaving it wet for too long and eventually drowning the roots.

The biggest question plant parents will ever ask me is “how do I know if I’m over or under watering my plant?” To answer that question, it’s all about leaving consistency. 

If you are overwatering your plants, the leaves may feel damp and squishy. When you are under watering your plants, they will feel paper thin, dry and will tend to crumple easily. Either way, there is a good chance that they may start to droop, which is why it’s important to feel the leaves.

You may have noticed that on all of these different platforms such as TikTok, YouTube or Facebook, there will be ads for apps that track your watering schedule for your plants. These tend not to work as well, as they say they will. Instead of using them, you should pay attention to your plant and let it tell you if it needs more water or not.

Finally, for those of you who might not even have plants and want to know the easiest ones to care for, I would personally recommend one or two of the following to start:

  • Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata) 
  • Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
  • Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
  • English ivy (Hedera helix)