5 Houseplant Hacks You Need to Try Right Now
Your plants will thank you later
We're almost there plant parents. The winter season is nearly behind us, and we must endure just a few more weeks before the warmer weather kicks in. If you're like me, you're gearing up for a plant-filled spring and already have a game plan for all of the new plants you're going to add to your collection. However, with great plants comes great responsibility, and I use the winter season to learn and study new techniques that will take my plant parenthood to the next level. Come mid March, I'll be ready to test out what I've learned and I'm always eager to try new strategies that will boost my skills. Some methods might seem unconventional or foreign, but experimentation is the name of the game. Find what works best for you (and your plants) and run with it.
Here are five of my favorite plant hacks I'll be deploying this spring.
1. Bottom Watering
Prone to overwatering? Don't get all wrung out; dry your eyes, give yourself a squeeze, and try some "bottom up" watering. This method sometimes requires a special planter design but it allows you to water directly down to the roots into a porous, wicking material. The material prevents your plant's roots from sitting in water and if the plant gets thirsty later, it can keep pulling water from the reservoir below. Alternatively, if you have porous terra cotta pots, you can simply dip them in a reservoir and allow the water to be soaked up by the pot itself.
2. Cleaning Leaves
Want to make your plants extra shiny and clean? Just mix water with a splash of dish soap and get wiping. This is a great alternative to leaf-shine products and I guarantee you'll remove a surprising amount of dust from the leaves. If that dust is allowed to accumulate, it will inhibit photosynthesis and a good leaf clean once a month also reduces the risk of a pest invasion. Check out my video on leaf cleaning here.
3. Odd Soil Amendments
Cat's can be a major nuisance to our plants but cat litter can have some serious benefits! For one, it's lighter weight than grit or gravel, making big potted plants easier to move around. Secondly, cat litter is porous, meaning it can take in excess water in the soil and release it back gradually - think of it as an alternative to perlite. I don't have a cat (I'm a dog guy all the way) but I might have to buy a bag for my plants that prefer more moisture. Below are some more traditional soil amendments you can use!
4. Command Strip Trellis
Vines seem to climb effortlessly outdoors but that wild, vine wall aesthetic is harder to achieve indoors without some assistance. One simple strategy that doesn't jeopardize your plant's health (or your home's) is to use clear, command strips. They stick to your wall easily and can hold the stems and branches in place. Most importantly, your plants aren't hurt at all and you can reuse the strips as the plant grows or if you need to make adjustments. See an example here!
5. Semi Hydro
Ever heard of LECA? It stands for Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate and these little cocoa puffs act as an alternative to traditional soil. Simply surround your plant's roots with LECA in a pot or jar and the roots will cling to them over time. The clay balls expand to soak up water, and the roots can pull water and other nutrients from them. This reduces the risk of root rot and it’s a great medium for propagation.