The Plant Newbie: Plant 101

The Plant Newbie: Plant 101 is delighted to have numerous customers who are first time plant owners. Every plant newbie has one thing in mind. “How do I take care of this plant because I do not want to kill it” or “I don’t have green fingers!”
Not to worry! Here are a few tips on basic plant care.

First things first, plants are natural survivors! No matter what their circumstances are, all they want to do is grow. It is their only goal in life.

As we know, plants are living and breathing organisms, it will require help from us to survive especially if it is potted. It is all about knowing what is required to provide them with their needs and to ensure its comfortability and happiness!
Before purchasing your first plant, here’s some basic requirements that your plant needs:-

Sunlight – Determine bright indirect spot to place your plant.

Plants appreciate adequate natural sunlight. The sun acts as a form of energy to plants. Their leaves absorb sunlight and convert it to energy for growth. Lucky for us, Malaysia is blessed with ample of sunlight all year round! Naturally, plant placement in your home or office plays an important role to ensure that they are happy. Choose a spot where your plant will get lots of bright indirect natural sunlight. Examples of plant placement in your home or office would be by a bright window with curtains / blinds open majority of the day. Or by a balcony sliding door. A south, east, west facing window or balcony has the best sunlight. A north facing window provides the least amount of sunlight. Download a Light Meter App to measure sunlight in your chosen spot. The Light Meter App is available for download on Android and Iphone. Read more about this here

Water – Determine watering schedule and amount of water.

Potted plants need constant watering. Plants depend on us to supplement water in its pot since it is unable to retrieve water from the ground on it’s own. Water and nutrients are taken up from it’s roots which is then supplied to each leaf of the entire plant. As the saying goes, strong roots produce beautiful leaves. What we want is a strong root system. So just how much do I need to water my plant?
We noticed that the No.1 killer of plants is over-watering. Over watering and stagnant water will cause roots to rot. However, on the flip side, under-watering will cause stress to your plant and leaves will start to droop and fall off. With that in mind, the rule of thumb is:  Water plant with 1/3 – of water to the size of your pot, 1-2 times per week or every 3-4 days. For big pots, a quarter of pot is approximately a quarter bucket of water or 1-1.5 litres of water 1-2 times a week or every 3-4 days.For small pot, an estimate a glass of water is sufficient every 3-4 days or 300ml is sufficient 1-2 times a week or every 3-4 days.
Please note that this is a general guideline for plants. Some plants prefer less water and some plants prefer soil to be moist at all times based on plant type.
To measure moisture of soil, use a Water Moisture Meter to test soil moisture before watering. Available here for purchase

Fertilizer – Feed your plants.

And last but not least, plants will need us to provide nutrients for them to be healthy since its roots are confined in a pot. Fertilizing them once a month will keep your plant healthy. You will notice that your plants will grow greener and bushier after fertilizing.

We prefer to use liquid fertilizer as we place pebbles as soil cover. Liquid fertilizer will provide better absorption by its roots. You can purchase liquid fertilizer at any hardware shop or hypermarket. Please follow instructions on label. Liquid fertilizer for foliage and flower is also available here for purchase

Instincts – Get to know your plant.

Every plant reacts differently to its new environment. Even with this basic guideline, your plant will eventually let you know what it needs more or less of. Needs will vary based on it’s specific environment, for example air humidity, outdoor is hotter compared to an indoor fully air-conditioned room.
Just like humans, plants have preferences, you may find that different plant needs more or less water, more or less sunlight than what we have mentioned. It is up to us, to monitor, notice and provide what the plant needs. For example, if it has been hot lately, water evaporation will be faster which means, plants will needed watering frequently up to 1-2 days instead of 3-4 days. It could also mean it needs less water in an air-conditioned environment because evaporation is slower because it is cooler. This is where instincts will be your best guide. Check soil moisture before watering. Touch the soil to determine how wet or how dry the soil is, before watering. If you think inadequate amount of sunlight could be an issue, try moving it a foot or 2 nearer to the window. Or if it is too bright or hot, move it 1-2 foot away from the window. Monitor progress of your plant after any adjustments. It may be just what the plant wants.
You can use tools such as the Moisture Sensor and Light App mentioned above to assist you.

Let’s Sum It Up!

  1. Sunlight – Determine bright indirect sunlight for plant placement.
  2. Water – Determine watering schedule and amount of water.
  3. Fertilizer – Feed your plants.
  4. Use your instincts – Get to know your plant and it’s needs.

We hope that with this basic guideline, you will be proud owners of healthy and happy plants.
In my next post, I will be explaining on “What to Expect When You Receive Your Plant”

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