Common Plant Questions Answered
Even the most seasoned of houseplant fanatics run into problems and issues with their plants at some point. For us, the biggest challenge comes when we leave behind those heady summer days and head into the colder autumn months; the light has changed, the days are shorter and just like us, our plants struggle to adjust. There are however, a range of problems that can occur throughout the year when it comes to houseplants. Here, we answer some of your plant problems:
Do I need grow lights?
Most people manage to keep their plants happy in autumn and winter without the help of grow lights, but some of the more needy plants require grow lights. If you’re interested in exploring grow lights for your plants, a good and cheap way to experiment with this is through IKEA. They offer a range of small units that you can place your light hungry plants into, they also offer grow light bulbs that can be placed into many of your pre-existing lamps.
When I repot from the nursery pot, do I need to look for a pot with a drainage hole?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to repotting.
Our preferred method is to bump up the plant to a bigger nursery pot (the next size up is usually best) and place this into a decorative outer pot. This way you know your plant has drainage holes for water run off, you have a decorative pot to catch any water when watering and you have the ability to swap and alter decorative pots if you desire.
Those who do pot into decorative pots do select plants with drainage holes, this helps reduce the chances of root rot and allows water to run off and release. However, if you find the perfect pot for your plant and it has no drainage hole you can drill your own drainage hole into the bottom, there’s plenty of videos on this on YouTube. Or you could line the bottom of the pot with materials that aid drainage such as layer of pebbles or leca to create a drainage layer.
I have a rubber tree and the leaves look washed out with white patches over them. Why is this?
If the leaves are looking washed out you can almost see the veins of the plant that this is Chlorosis and requires an iron boost from a good balanced fertilsier.
Alternatively, if the plant has small white dot-like sections then these are special cells called lithocysts, which are enlarged cells containing crystals of calcium carbonate, they don’t have a particular function but are perfectly normal in Ficus.
Why is my spider plant getting mushy brown tips? It’s definitely not overwatering.
The tips of spider plants are a permanent cause for concern for most spider plant owners, as they often turn brown. This is usually as a result of one of three things:
- Your plant wants humidity. Spider plants are more humidity hungry than people think. Try and group your spider plants near other plants to improve the local humidity.
- High levels of other components in the water. If you use tap water there are a number of chemical components placed in it which whilst fine for humans can build up and cause issues for plants. Try to use rainwater if possible.
- It’s getting too much sunlight. Your tips may be the first signs of sun stress and sunburn on your plant.
Am I overwatering my plants? How do I know?
First step is feeling the potting mix! Stick your finger into the soil a few inches deep, if it’s wet or moist the plant does not need watering. If the plant is slow to take up this water overtime you’ll need to amend your watering routine as needed and consider the natural light the plant is getting. There’s a relationship between light and water uptake with your plants. Remember that as we move into autumn and winter, plants will need a lot less watering and from October you can probably stop watering most cacti altogether.
A reminder that if you have any plant problems, we're always happy to help. Drop us a DM on Insta or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to help.