The interest in cultivating houseplants is cyclical, Cassandra Braman says.
The owner of Honey Plant, 1436 N. Wells St., explains that the previous houseplant boom was most likely in the '70s. However, the current surge of houseplant popularity appears to be accelerated by the pandemic as more people found themselves at home.
“I think so much of our lives, especially in this current era, is geared toward pursuing your career, pursuing technology, pursuing the next greatest thing that the influencers are pushing, that having something that is a little bit lighter, something that is green, kind of calms you down, brings you back,” Braman says.
If you would like to stretch your green thumb, she has provided a few tips to help houseplants thrive.
See the light
Braman says there is a common misconception that all plants need a large amount of light and water, but each plant will have its own needs.
“Succulents need to be watered every few weeks on average, whereas a very thin leafy plant needs to be watered every five to seven days,” she says.
The first step is evaluating what light you have available to you. If you have a lot of direct sunlight coming through your windows in the afternoon, Braman says a sun-loving plant such as a cactus or succulent or a hearty tropical plant is likely to thrive.
Conversely, plant owners living in shady spots should consider snake plants or ZZ plants (an abbreviation of Zamioculcas Zamiifolia), which can withstand low-light areas.
It isn't just about the plant, it's about the owner, too, Braman says. She suggests sitting down and figuring out what aligns best with your life.
“If we talked through everything, and we know whether you can handle a high-light plant or a low-light plant, then we can go into, 'Do you think you're going to want to water often or do you think you're just going to want to let it sit, be a part of the decoration and you check on it once a month?'” Braman says.
If you're the type to forget when you last watered your plants, she suggests a tolerant, resilient snake plant, or if you have a lot of light, but just not enough time, a cactus is better for you.
But if you're itching to see a plant grow and thrive right before you eyes, and you don't mind a more rigorous watering schedule, a philodendron or pothos will unfurl leaves every few weeks, especially in the spring and summer, Braman says.
“They are more talkative,” she explains. “It will wilt a little bit when it's thirsty and will perk right back up in a few hours after you water it.”
The next level
If you are successful, inevitably your next task will be repotting your plant. Braman recommends picking a pot only 1 to 2 inches larger than the original pot.
“That allows the plant to stretch its roots a bit, but it doesn't put too much soil around it that would hold water for too long,” Braman explains. “Perhaps you have your plant in a 4-inch nursery pot and decide to put it in a 10-inch new pot – unfortunately, that pot would hold so much water that you might end up rotting the roots before the soil could dry out.”
In general, the best time to repot a plant that has been sitting in your home a while is during the active growing season in the spring, summer, or early fall. Braman says any disturbances from transferring the plant from one pot to another are usually offset by the roots growing and changing due to the season.
Braman offers how-to videos at TheHoneyPlant.com.
Buy the basics: Quality soil with grit. Mixing grit into your potting soil creates pockets in the soil for water and air to move through, allowing the roots to grow freely.
What you need: A room that meets the light needs of your plant.
About the series
At this point of the pandemic, if it can be done virtually, you've done it, you've seen it and you've probably have told someone to turn off "Mute" at least 20 times.
It is time to turn inward. This is the last of a six-part series about finding new outlets offline, whether it's indoors or outdoors. We have turned to the experts to provide beginner tips on a range of topics that will give us something to brag about at Zoomsgiving this year.