Here Come the Waterworks


I have learned a lot and my last post on being conscious of light placement was just the start. This hasn’t been easy, but I’m confident that I can help these plants thrive. To quote Natsu Dragneel, “Don’t give up, the beginning is always the hardest, so let’s keep on going till the very end.”

It has been a real test of patience and confidence. There have been times when I thought that buying the plants was a waste and that I ruined their chances at having a ‘good’ owner. I have had to push through the self doubt and regret in order to see that this is a learning experience and that I am ready to learn from it.

Something that I have had a troublesome time adjusting to is the watering schedule for our green friends. You would think that plants would just need to be watered about every other day, right? WRONG.

I have learned the hard way that each plant has a sweet-spot with individual water needs. The books I purchased in my last post, Finding the Light, gave a lot of information on watering. However, I found that it was more of a generalization or a guideline. Very few of the books I have found address my exact situation.

Every plant is different and there are a lot of deciding factors when setting up a watering schedule. House temperature, light exposure, and humidity levels are my key variables. Since I can not meet all of these conditions, I found that I do not rely on the book’s ‘recommended watering schedule’.

Since I am new to the plant life, I decided to play it safe and follow the book as best I could. I should have listened to my instincts and watched for the queues that my plants were showing. Unfortunately, I will need to just apply what I have learned into caring for my other plants.

Things that I didn’t know were real problems when having house plants were disease, infestation, root rot, and fungus. I know they sound horrible, but trust me, to a first time plant mom like myself I was terrified. I was afraid to touch or even water them and ultimately ended up doing more harm than good.

While not all plants developed a problem, just having a few with at least one issue was enough to send me straight to good ‘ol Google for guidance. My main issue ended up being the amount and consistency of my watering schedule.

Once I was able to pinpoint the issue and researched the individual problems, I was ready to act!

My English Ivy developed a bad case of spider mites. Spider mites are super tiny insects that attack plants that are too warm and dry. This was a real issue for me because of the limitations I have with the thermostat in my home. We tend to keep it at a steady seventy-nine degrees fahrenheit throughout the end of spring and most of summer making it a tad too warm for this plant.

I tried as many online remedies as I could get my hands on, but in the end I just didn’t catch the infestation early enough. In my attempt to rid the plant of the invaders I tried misting it with soap infused water, rubbing alcohol diluted in water, and things like repotting and cleaning the leaves. There are methods I did not try, like insecticides and sprays that may have worked. I’m a bit worried to get another Ivy in the future, but I definitely know to keep it misted often and kept in a cooler location.

Root rot and waterlogged plants were another unfortunate issue that I ran into. If we think back to the original post for this series, Going Green, you’ll remember that I purchased a few pots along with the plants. Well, I made a beginner’s error and I didn’t think of the plant needing to have a way to drain out residual water.

One of the Golden Pathos was waterlogged and developed beginning signs of fungus. This was found when I was spritzing away at the plants one day and happened to check the soil moisture with my finger. There were little yellow-ish crumbs on the surface and the soil was too damp.

So, of course I was in a panic and ran out to my back patio to try and do some damage control. When I removed the plastic container from the ceramic pot, I saw my mistake.

There was about an inch and a half of water at the bottom and I could see that the roots had just been sitting in it this whole time. I felt so bad. Quickly I grabbed our spare bag of soil and started to slowly detangle the roots from the dirt.

Once that was finished I re-potted the plant and set it closer to the top shelf of the plant stand in the studio. It was a close call and I feel so bad that I over looked that detail when I was potting the plants. To make sure it wouldn’t happen again I bought terracotta pots with draining dishes from my local hardware store.

These issues happened within a week of each other and really got me down. I had a hard time even wanting to touch our plants in fear of ruining them so I got a handy little soil tester to help me out between waterings. A soil tester is a great little tool that is able to give a readout for ph levels, adequate sunlight, and moisture level when placed in the plants soil. It’s like a smartphone for your Monsteras!

This tool is so useful and has really helped me confidently monitor our plants. Once we were able to memorize the watering amounts and duration between waterings I was able to sleep easy.

It took a combination of instruction from the books, gaining appropriate tools, and whole lot of trial and error to reach this point. Some plants just can’t thrive in our home’s environment, and that’s ok. I have what I need now to ensure that I provide the best for my plants with conditions I have.

Remember, you need eight glasses of water a day, but your plants probably don’t!