We’re finally moving into the part of summer where soaring temperatures are beginning to ease, and you can finally enjoy some outdoor time. And guess what? Your plants are enjoying it too!
We might call these indoor plants, but each one of these plants is growing somewhere in their natural habitat! The plants that we refer to as ‘houseplants’ are simply the ones that can adapt to living in containers, and thriving with relative ease in the indoor environment. But even plants indoors have a sense of what’s happening outside, and they can benefit from the growing season just as much as your garden can!
Before we dive into the summertime benefits for your houseplants, make sure you’re following us on Instagram for the best plant care and styling tips all year-round!
What To Do (And What Not To Do) With Your Houseplants at this stage in the summer:
DO: Give your roots some space.
Your plants know the signs of summer. With more hours of light per day, your plants are in grow mode. You may already be noticing a few more inches in height, more leaves, and general overall fullness on your houseplants. These characteristics are indicative of what is happening below the surface as well: your plants’ roots are stretching deeper into the soil. If you suspect that your plant could use a repotting, now’s the best time to do it! Here’s a step-by-step guide on exactly how to get it done.
DO NOT: Maintain the same watering schedule as you did in wintertime.
Photosynthesis is a whole different ball game in the summertime! Your plant is processing water more rapidly than it does when the days are shorter. Not to mention, hotter temperatures can evaporate water from the soil more quickly.
If you purchased or repotted your plant over one year ago, then it’s possible that your soils’ nutrients have been depleted, and your plant could benefit from some supplemental feeding. If fertilizing isn’t something you’ve ever considered, we have an article all about fertilizing your indoor plants!
DO NOT over-fertilize.
It’s too easy to give your plants too much of a good thing, and too much fertilizer can cause damage to the roots of your houseplants. To avoid this, be sure to use a mild, organic fertilizer, and dilute more than the directions indicate (either cut the amount of fertilizer in half, or add more water!).
DO Stick your indoor plants outdoors:
If you live in a climate where the temps remain above 50 degrees fahrenheit during the growing season, you can leave your plants outside where they can benefit from more light and humidity throughout the growing season.
DO NOT fry your plants in the sun.
Sometimes moving your plants outside means exposing them to way more sunlight than they were previously used to. Your plants can be adapted to higher light over time by gradually moving them into higher light over time. Try this: simply place your plant outside in a shaded area, and move it every day to a location with slightly more sun exposure. Note: We do not recommend placing tropical plants in full sun exposure with no shade.
If you want a home full of effortless and beautiful plants all year long, make sure you’re following us on your preferred platform:
The term “overwatering” simply does not tell the entire story of why your plant is struggling. When we’re told we’ve overwatered our plants, we immediately examine our watering routine and try to figure out how we’ve managed to drown them. The good news is, if you’ve overwatered your plant, chances are you need to reduce your routine. That’s right, do less! With a more strategic approach to plant care, quality over quantity, your plants will be the happiest they’ve ever been.
We regularly take questions about people’s plant issues, and we’ve observed that what we call ‘overwatering’ is the culprit of the majority of these issues. So what’s happening here? Let’s dig in.
What is root rot ?
What we’re seeing in an overwatered plant is usually the results of what is generally termed as “root rot”. Root rot is typically the result of a widespread soil pathogen, the spores of which can remain dormant in soil for many years until their ideal conditions are met. With consistent moisture, these spores will penetrate the roots of a plant, causing them to decay.
What are the signs of root rot
Root rot typically manifests as a yellowing or drooping of the leaves. Sometimes the signs of overwatering and underwatering can be similar in appearance. If you’re having trouble spotting the difference, read this.
Is it reversible?
The pathogen that causes root rot cannot survive without moisture. Most plants experiencing the early stages of root rot can recover if you allow the soil to dry out completely. To accelerate this process, place the plant in a space with slightly better light. (Note: if you abruptly introduce your plant to much more sun than it was previously used to, it can cause the leaves to burn. Gradually moving it into more sunlight over the course of many days will help it acclimate.) Use a soil probe or similar device to ensure the soil is dry all the way to the bottom before resuming watering.
Onto the most important question: How do we prevent root rot?
You’ll want to make sure you’ve got the following covered:
Roots do more than delivering water to the plant. They also require oxygen for respiration! To ensure proper oxygen flow in your soil:
Use a well-draining potting mix, with lots of perlite, vermiculite, or rice hulls which keep the soil from compacting after multiple watering cycles. Our preferred potting mix is Organic Mechanics.
Occasionally aerate the soil with a soil probe, chopstick, or similar device by poking holes in the soil.
Always house your plant in a pot with proper drainage! The preference will always be a pot with at least one drainage hole at the bottom. We recommend adding a couple inches of rocks at the bottom of the pot before potting your plant, whether or not the pot has a drainage hole. This allows some added airflow, and keeps the bottom of the soil from becoming water-logged.
Note: If your pot does not have a drainage hole, these rocks will act as a reservoir. Air on the side of underwatering plants that are potted this way, and limit the quantity of water to not overflow the reservoir of rocks. You can learn more about repotting your plant here.
Frequency of Watering
The soil of any potted plant will need to be allowed to dry to some degree between waterings. The degree to which the soil prefers to dry can vary from plant to plant, so start by researching your plant’s watering preferences (our product descriptions are a great place to find this info!). For most indoor plants, we recommend testing the top two inches of soil for moisture, using your finger or a probe, before each time you water. The top two inches of soil should be completely dry.
Quantity of Water
Water slowly, and fully saturate the soil. You should be using enough water for some excess to come out into the drainage tray.
If the water appears to be coming out of the bottom too rapidly, this can be a sign that your plant has become root bound, meaning the roots have grown so thick that they’re beginning to displace the soil. No big deal! Consider repotting it during the growing season. In the meantime, bottom water your plant by placing it in a tray or bowl of water, and letting the plant suck up the water through the drainage hole of the pot. We recommend leaving the plant in water for at least 15 minutes.
Your plants’ ability to process water relies heavily on its access to proper lighting. Your plants’ roots will function better in an environment that suits its needs. With adequate sunlight, your plant will take up water more efficiently, leaving less water lingering in the soil, thus lowering the chances of root rot.
So next time you’re having issues with a plant in your collection…
Look first to how your roots may be doing, and adjust your routines accordingly. This might mean lowering the frequency of water, moving your plant to a more brightly lit space, or repotting your plant for better drainage. But there’s no need to feel shame around the idea of ‘overwatering’ ever again, especially now that you know precisely what it means.
Ever the interior designer favorite, theFiddle Leaf Figis probably as popular as it is… problematic? If you’ve ever owned one (or killed one) you’ve known this to be true!
We’ve decided to zero in on this plant and reveal some of the best industry tips to keeping your Fiddle Leaf Fig happy. It can be done! And those of you who’ve had success with your FLF’s have probably seen large and rapid growth on them
The most important takeaway is probably this: these plants thrive on routine. Once they’re acclimated to their conditions, they can become reactive to any changes in those conditions. This is why it is very normal for your FLF to lose a leaf or few in the first week of being brought home. And once you’ve picked a spot for it, it’s best not to move it. So choose wisely!
Starting with Light
When our customers seem curious about the Fiddle Leaf Fig, we like to screen them on where they’re thinking of placing their plant. This is because perhaps the most important thing for your FLF is going to be proximity to a window with good, bright light. The best placement for your FLF will be close to an East or West facing window. South Facing windows, will work too if your FLF is not directly in the window, but pulled back slightly so the leaves don’t burn given the long hours of direct sun exposure. Ultimately, its best to provide your FLF too much light vs. not enough light.
Water the right way.
Your FLF thrives on routine and deep waterings. Drainage is also very important.
Plan to water your FLF every 7-10 days, always checking to ensure the top 1-2” of soil is dry before watering. Your FLF likes for its soil to dry out a big between waterings, and then receive a good, deep watering. The kind of watering that is done slowly, ensuring absorption into the soil, allowing water to run out the bottom. This is why drainage is imperative. Ensure your fig is potted into a container with drainage holes and a tray to catch any excess water. It is also important that the bottom of the pot does not sit in water, so consider purchasing a tray that elevates the pot, or plan to dump the tray of its excess water. If you’re potting your FLF into a pot with no drainage hole, its best to leave it in its growers pot inside the decorative pot.
Common issues and their solutions
If your FLF has been established in the same location for over a month, and you’ve ruled out the presence of common household pests, there are a couple signs to look out for. The most common issue we see with FLF’s is a phenomenon called edema which presents as tiny reddish brown spots clustering throughout the leaf, particularly in new growth. This can be a sign of irregular waterings (deviating from the established routine watering in any way). Luckily, it’s not so much an issue as it is a signal to water more diligently, and ensure proper drainage.
If your FLF has lost a leaf or two unexpectedly, this can also be a sign of over OR underwatering. As we learned in telling the subtle difference between overwatering and underwatering, if otherwise healthy growth is droopy or turned downward, that tends to be a sign of underwatering. On the contrary, if growth is firm, it's likely that you haven't left enough time between waterings. Adjust the frequency of your waterings accordingly, and be patient. It may take some time for your plant to recover, but they can be shockingly resilient plants!
Tips and Tricks
Pruning your FLF along its woody growth will encourage new growth and branching. Plus, you can save the cut piece and root it in water, and grow a whole new plant!
You can encourage new leaf growth along the woody stem as well! Identify the nodes by finding circular shapes on the woody part of the plant. Use a clean, sharp instrument to make a 1/2” incision, enough for the white sap to begin to leak out of the plant. This process stimulates a growth hormone that will encourage new leaves to bud!
Many folks swear by giving their FLF’s a bit of a shake-up to encourage their roots to fortify. This process is known as thigmomorphogenesis, which is caused by the wind in nature. In order to do this, you’ll want to take the plant by its trunk and gently shake the plant in a way that rustles the leaves but leaves the soil undisturbed. You can add this step to your watering routine, to keep things simple!
Be Radically Honest
Don’t force things. Take a good hard look at your space and make sure it has ample light and room for a Fiddle Leaf Fig to grow over the long run. If you live in a space with low light, you’ll want to consider investing in a grow light, and level your expectations for success. There are plenty of plants that will thrive well in low light conditions! So you always have options.
And then examine yourself and your routine- you may be a person that thrives on regularity, in which case, the Fiddle Leaf Fig is perfect for you! Most plants really don’t thrive on routine waterings in the same way that FLF’s do, as we learned in our blog on proper watering practices. If you’re a free spirit or prefer to go with the flow, there are TONS of other plants that will suit your needs.
The point of having plants is to have fun and enjoy their company for however long you have them. And they have a whole lot to teach you along the way! You will learn as you go.
It’s hard to go wrong when selecting a plant as a gift! Plant have been proven to promote a sense of calm, wellbeing, and even promote productivity- who wouldn’t want more of that? At worst, they last longer than a floral arrangement. And at their best, well, they can grow to hit the ceiling, or even become a mother plant for many clippings. So if at this point in the season, you’re still searching for the perfect gift, look no further.
We like to think of ourselves as matchmakers between plants and people, and we maintain that there’s (at least) one plant for everyone out there. But we know that there’s a lot to choose from, so we’ve narrowed down the best plants for the following kinds of people in your life to whom you’re looking to spread some plant love.
These are some of your foolproof options that are quick hits.
Succulents require so little care. With a sunny spot, they’ll thrive on almost total neglect, meaning your team mate or boss can enjoy them passively, and not worry when they get too busy to water. Plus aren’t they just so adorable?
Buuuut as we know, the cubicle isn’t always bathing in sunlight. Enter, the ZZ Plant. It can thrive in a variety of light conditions, and requires very infrequent waterings.
Pothos are a popular office pick, as they can thrive in LED lighting, and grow long vines which can be easily propagated and shared with the whole team!
Fancy, artsy, designer friends
This category can be the hardest to shop for, so we’ve got you covered.
Cacti come in all shapes and sizes, but they always seem to have this sleek, sculptural quality to them, and can enhance any interior design layout.
There’s a lot of variety amongst Hoyas as well, but we like the kind with elegant vines. Plus, if you treat them right, they’ll bloom for you!
Scheffleras have beautiful, radial leaves, and come in all kinds of unusual shapes and sizes. They’re often seen as easier alternatives to the Ficus.
We’ve got a lot to say about to pet owners about selecting the right plants and maintaining them when you’re also caring for your four-legged friends. But for those of you shopping for people with pets, there’s a few easy go-to plants to consider that are totally non-toxic to pets.
We’ve been known to carry unusual varieties of Ferns, which are a popular choice especially during the winter time.
Same goes for Hoyas, which are even easier to care for, letting your friends focus their energy on their pup or kitten.
And once again, our friend the Cast Iron Plant has shown us that it’s not only nearly indestructible, but a safe option for furry friends.
And finally, your plant lovers and plant collectors
And particularly the ones you like A LOT because these designer rare plants have a price tag that matches their scarcity.
We have a number of clients who opt for plant consultations because they’d like to see more greenery in their homes, but they aren’t entirely sure where to start. Many don’t have much prior experience keeping houseplants, or they’ve had some failures in the past, and this time they want to invest in their plants success while achieving their ideal interior aesthetic.
The good news is, we don’t have to throw any curveballs at them. Anyone can have a home filled with uncommon greenery that’s easy to care for. Plants really aren’t challenging once you’ve got the hang of them!
But if you look up easy houseplants online, you’re bound to find the usual suspects: Snake plants, Pothos, Succulents. And no shade on these reliable options! But we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t offer a few of our more treasured items in our collection. You’ll notice one thing that all these plants seem to have in common. Read on to find out what that is!
Scheffleras come in all shapes and sizes: they can be small tabletop greenery as well as large trees. They come with both large tropical leaves (Acintophylla) or small round leaves (Aboricola) and all kinds of colors and varieties therein.
They tend to grow upward, making them a space efficient plant with high visual impact, and they lend great texture to a space. Best of all, they are drought tolerant and somewhat flexible on degrees of ambient light, tolerating both some direct light as well as limited indirect light.
There’s an Aglaonema for every occasion. This plant is a great way to infuse color and pattern into a context where someone might opt for a flowering plant but doesn’t have good enough light to support it. They’re especially useful for areas with more limited light, making them a great bathroom or bedroom plant. And what’s better? They’re also quite drought tolerant and can go weeks without watering - perfect for clients who travel.
Peperomia is another valuable asset for areas that could use a little pop of texture or color. Their sculptural, radial shape makes them great table toppers, counter plants, and shelf plants. They hold water up in their bodies and use it efficiently over time, much like succulents, but they don’t require as much direct light. As an added bonus, they’re also nontoxic to pets, and the propagate really easily.
There’s no other plant that gives you verdant greenery and height without taking up a good amount of lateral space. Most of us have an empty, narrow nook or corner in our house we’re looking to fill, and the Dracaena is the perfect plant for the job. Some of its varieties thrive well in lower light, while others thrive well in relatively better light that are ideal for window spaces. And once again, drought tolerant as always.
These vining plants are super ideal as hanging plants near windows as well as for shelves that could use cascading greenery. There’s a variety in shape and texture of the leaves, but all of them have a structured, almost sculptural quality. They have a sophistication that your typical tropical vines seem to lack. And if you treat them really well, they’ll bloom! These plants enjoy ample light, and, you guessed it, they can withstand periods of drought.
Plants are especially tricky; they don’t fit squarely into a box, need sunlight and water, and won’t respond well to being packed away for days on end. They are fragile and require a delicate touch, not one that most movers (or friends who are helping you move) have or readily understand.
Moving is stressful, no matter the distance. Making sure all your belongings get safely from point A to point B with as little hassle as possible is no small feat, let alone having to worry about your plants arriving in one piece!
Read on for our best tips and tricks for moving and acclimating your green roommates!
Re-evaluate your collection
Have a bunch of struggling plants that you are barely holding out hope for? Maybe your favorite Calathea never really hit its stride and has one sad leaf left. Or you aren’t totally sure that the thrips on your Philodendron are completely gone. Now is the time to leave these plants behind!
We all amass a collection of plants that are either experiments, rehabbing, or just never really worked out, but we don’t want to throw them away. It can be hard to part with these plants when we have invested so much time and energy into them but it’s important to remember that the trauma of a move could be the final nail in their coffin. So, ask yourself if you really think the plant is healthy enough to survive the move. If not, is it worth it to take up valuable space in your car or truck on this sickly, half-dead plant? Probably not. Plus, getting rid of some sad plants will free up pots and space in your new home so you can start fresh with some new plants!
Treat and propagate
If you have some plants that are recovering from a pest problem or haven't been checked for pests in a while, now is a great time to go back and check them with a fine-tooth comb. The move will be a stressful transition for your plants, making them more susceptible to pests in the weeks after you bring them into a new space. Making sure they are pest free now will save you a lot of headache later. Routinely wiping your leaves down with a diluted neem solution is a great preventative, and will make your plants nice and shiny!
If you have really wild and grown-in plants, you may want to consider pruning them before the move. This will not only make them take up less space and be less likely to be damaged, but it will also allow the plant to focus its energy on acclimation versus lots of growth. Pruning can be a little painful (to us!) especially if you have let a plant grow out for a long time, but it is an essential part of houseplant care and will allow your plant to take a new shape in its new space!
Pack and Wrap
Now that you’ve narrowed your collection down to your faves, prepped and propagated them, it’s time to get packing! Plants should be the last items to be packed and wrapped up- ideally within a day or two of the actual move. Consider how far you are moving; if it is just across town or a few blocks, minimal packing is needed. Maybe some newspaper between pots in a box or buckling your big guys in is all you need!
If you are moving far, you will need to prep your plants for the long haul with sleeves. Paper sleeves are how plants are shipped from growers to sellers. They taper from the bottom so all of the leaves and branches of your plant are pushed up into a cone for minimal breakage and so they uniformly take up space. Doing this also keeps any spilled dirt inside the pot and saves you from making a mess in case your plant takes a tumble. You can get sleeves from most packaging stores, your local hardware store or plant shop. If you can’t source paper sleeves you can make your own with kraft paper or newspaper. You may also want to wrap your planters in newspaper or bubble wrap so they do not break in transit.
In some instances you may also want to consider shipping your plants. Plants that are easily shippable are usually still in a growers pot, have a uniform shape and size, aren’t very delicate or have specific environmental requirements, and are less than an 8” pot size. Anything heavy, oblong, heat sensitive or drought intolerant shouldn’t be shipped without knowing that you may open the box to a very sad (or dead) plant friend.
It also helps if your plants are not freshly watered before the move, not only will this make them extra heavy, but it can lead to pests or rot down the line. Water your plants as normal within a week or a few days before your move to allow them to dry out enough before they get packed away!
Temperature Consistency: In addition to the above, it is important to also consider what season you will be moving in. Our house plants are acclimated to the consistent environment of our homes and can get stressed very quickly if left outside in harsh conditions.
If you are moving during the summer, make sure you are not exposing your plants to prolonged direct sunlight (even if they are in a bright window inside!) and harsh heat. Plants can get burned and wilt within a few hours, or less for more sensitive plants like ferns and calatheas.
In winter, plants can experience cell death in minutes or seconds if the temperatures are much below 50 degrees. This can result in black spots and mushiness that is not reversible. Make sure if you are moving during a colder season you are wrapping all your plants thoroughly and not leaving them outside for more than a couple minutes during transport.
I would always recommend traveling with your plants in your own vehicle versus packing them into a moving truck for this reason. Your car will be more climate controlled and therefore similar to its prior environment versus a stuffy trailer or freezing truck.
Climate and season should be equally considered when packing your plants up to be shipped as well!
Laws and limitations
Most traditional movers will not assist in moving houseplants due to their delicate nature and due to limitations and local law. Moving some outdoor plants, like herbs, citrus, or perennials can constitute agricultural transportation and require certain permits or can be illegal due to invasive species acts.
Knowingly transporting these plants without telling the moving company can void your contract and make you liable for fees, so be sure to read the fine print and when in doubt, do it yourself! It is also worthwhile to check in with local law wherever you are moving to to make sure your plants aren’t invasive and won’t get confiscated in customs.
We’ve been getting this question a lot lately… something along the lines of this:
“I was having issues with my plant, and I looked up the symptoms and it said I could be overwatering my plant or underwatering my plant and how the heck do i know which it is??”
REWILD is here to make the process of plant care easy, even relaxing, which means we’re here to equip you with the knowledge to properly care for your own plants at home! This sometimes means we stray a little bit away from giving you the prescriptive approach to caring for your plants, encouraging you to take some time to observe your plants patterns. Be a scientist for the first few weeks of owning your plant. Your plant will tell you what it needs if you learn to see those signs! There tends to be a lot more context than just the issues themselves.
So I’m seeing brown leaves on my plant, which can be a sign of underwatering or overatering. How can I tell what the real issue is?
First one’s obvious: how does the soil feel? If it’s dry, it’s quite likely to be underwatering if the first couple inches of soil feel dry to the touch.
Secondly: how do the leaves look and feel? A droopy leaf that has become dull in color tends to indicate underwatering. If the leaves of the plant feel like they have a solid structure, and the stems are sturdy, it’s likely to be overwatering. You may also notice yellow leaves in the case of overwatering.
Finally: what are the external conditions that could be affecting your plant? Is it near a radiator that could be diminishing the humidity? Is it receiving a great deal of direct sunlight that could be burning the leaves? It wouldn’t hurt to check for pests, so check out our article and video on how to do just that.
If your plant is new to your collection, it’s always possible that it’s going through a bit of an adjustment period.
These plants are often journeying from the greenhouse, to the plant shop, and finally to your home. Have you ever moved with your plants and noticed them struggle for a couple weeks in your new home? Leaf loss and other irregularities are normal to expect during your plants adjustment period, so as challenging as it may be, give your plant time and patience. Continue to water as usual, when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry.
What will help you the most is taking time to observe your plants in action in your home.
For instance, notice what your plant does the day after your water. Can you see the leaves become more upright? When you touch them, do you they feel more plump?
Proper watering is paramount, so check out our post onhow to water your plants, and check out this video for some examples of the differences between overwatering and underwatering.
This article will elaborate on our approach to common houseplant pests, and will not be a technical article because we are not entomologists! Mainly, we will touch on the common reasons we get pests and what products and methods we find the most effective, based our personal experiences.
In our opinion, there are two categories of pests-- not a problem for the plant but annoying to you; and then a real problem that is ultimately detrimental to the plant.
Pests that won’t harm your plant (even if they annoy you)
Fruit flies, fungus gnats, mosquitos, and spiders are generally common and anyone who has more than three houseplants will see them from time to time. Are they a problem? Not really. They have just found a home in your plants soil and you need to make that environment less hospitable as a host for these bugs. The good news is these bugs won't eat your plant but they will spread with vigor if you aren't proactive.
Where do they come from? There isn’t one specific way they get into your home, but so long as you don’t live in an airlock container they are getting in! On our food, through open windows and doors, our clothes, etc etc. Bugs love decomposing stuff, they love moisture, and likely your plants’ soil is holding moisture which is attracting them from all corners of your home.
The preventative approach for these types of bugs is pretty easy. Add some extra perlite or vermiculite to your soil before you pot your plant. These materials will make your soil extra coarse and well-draining so that water doesn't sit in your soil. Make sure your pot has a drainage hole. When you water, drench your plant and watch that water run out of the pot. Empty your tray of excess water and make sure not to have any standing water for extended periods of time (more than 10-15 mins).
In general, these solutions apply to lots of common houseplant problems. Most issues start with not giving your plant an appropriate amount of light, then leads to overwatering, then the pests move in. If you do happen to have a pot without a drainage hole, be sure to limit the quantity of water you give your plant on watering days. If your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole and you’re not sure how much water to give it, feel free to contact us for guidance.
Here’s what to do when you have a Category 1 bug problem:
I've refined this method in my own home as I've seen quite a lot of gnats and fruit flies. Say it with me hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide. The great part about hydrogen peroxide is it's an antiseptic so if you have anything else funky in your soil it will clear it up too. I take 3% hydrogen peroxide solution from CVS and I put 1-part hydrogen peroxide and 6 parts water into a spray bottle. I then spray the soil thoroughly with the solution. I also don't water the plant and make sure the soil really dries out after the application. Then I wait... After a few days if there are still some bugs, I reapply with a spray bottle. This almost always does the trick for me. We also recommend those yellow sticky traps to customers as a preventative as they are super effective at capturing adults so they can’t continue to reproduce. Worst case scenario if it is really bad I end up repotting the plant outside and voila Category 1 is taken care of!
We will add that if you live in DC (or any other hot, humid, or otherwise swampy place) gnats, midges, mosquitos and just bugs in general are a part of life! Even if you do everything right you will likely always have to deal with them, especially in the summertime! So have your solutions at the ready but don’t beat yourself up if they come back every year or you can’t completely eliminate them.
Pests that will harm your plants and can cause damage
Category 2 bugs are aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites, thrips, and scale. I'm not going to sugar coat this for you: if you have one of these bugs it is an uphill battle. Can you win the battle? Yeah, sure. Is it worth winning? Not always. I will be the first to admit I have thrown away many plants at the site of these bugs because I just wasn't in a fighting mood. There are also varying degrees of these infestations, so it’s a good idea to check your plant often so you can catch them early on!
The biggest difference between these pests and the ones mentioned above are that these pests live ON your plant. The bugs in the previous section generally live in the soil. When bugs live on your plant, it means the bugs are having breakfast, lunch, and dinner courtesy of your beautiful houseplant all day and night.
For Category 2 identification of the exact bug is fairly easy, as the bugs look much different. My favorite resource for this is google (very inventive I know) or just shoot us an email. Our process and treatment for all of them is the same so I'm going to save you from having to read my personification of each bug. I am going to shout out aphid's though because I've never actually defeated them. They look like mini mini grasshoppers and can fly. They are the worst and if you have aphids, I'm really sorry. (My business partner managed her aphids by bringing the plant to an outdoor space and treating it with live ladybugs, which can be purchased at an outdoor garden shop or hardware store).
Category 1 is all about hydrogen peroxide and eliminating the warm, wet environment so the bugs don’t move in. Category 2 is more complicated, you’ll need a few supplies, based on the severity of the infestation: rubbing alcohol (70% concentration), neem oil, insecticidal soap, castile soap, a spray bottle, an old toothbrush, and paper towels. There are some other insecticides that you can substitute for neem oil and insecticidal soap that are probably fine, but we like these because they’re safe and organic.
All of the bugs in Category 2 you can see with your eyes which is going to be important in the treatment. This treatment is a process and you can't really skip any steps so I'm going to go ahead and bullet point it.
What to do if you have a serious pest infestation
Quarantine your plant
Swipe off all pests that you see with rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip
Scrub the affected areas with your toothbrush (this is most helpful with scale)
Wipe down the areas you scrubbed very thoroughly with your Castile soap, neem, or insecticidal soap mixture(castile if the infestation isn’t bad, neem if its moderate, insecticidal soap if its BAD)
If any of the bugs fall on the soil spray the soil (or cover the soil with a paper towel so this doesn't happen)
Wait a day or two and then rinse and repeat these steps
You are looking at a minimum of two times of going through these steps. Likely it is going to be more 3-4 times but it really depends at what stage of the infestation you started tackling the problem. Remember that you still want to make sure you resolve what caused the pest in the first place, so if the plant isn’t getting enough light, move it somewhere brighter! Usually plants on the mend like more light anyways.* Make sure it’s not sitting in standing water or overwatered. Make sure it’s clean! If your plant has a ton of dust on it, it is suffocating! This is usually what causes pests if you have a plant for years and then all of a sudden its covered in bugs.
Dealing with a pest is stressful to you and to the plant, so keep in mind that your plant might lose some leaves or have yellowing because of the treatment. Any of this is going to be better than a dead plant so just ride it out!
*Note that if you use neem or insecticidal soap the plant cannot be in direct sunlight until it’s washed off a few days later. Otherwise it will burn and just stress the plant out even more.
After writing this it occurs to me that when I say bugs are annoying, it's not fully true. They are really treatable (other than aphids) and with some patience, any pest problem can be overcome. The occasional bug problem doesn't even come close to the fun of having lots of plants in your home, so don’t give up!
In no universe should plant-care create stress or anxiety in our lives. While it can seem overwhelming, especially in the winter months as we all try to adapt to fewer hours of sunlight, plant-care is at its core a form of self-care. When we devote energy to the wellbeing and growth of plants we are also allowing ourselves to undergo transformation. Here are four ways to bring plant-care practices into your self-care routine!
Castile Soap it Up
Have a pest infestation? In need of a deep, rejuvenating facial cleanse? Your Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap is a friend to both your plants’ foliage and your sensitive pores! Dilute unscented or peppermint castile soap with water and apply to plant leaves to fight infestation. After treating the leaves, stems and soil, treat yourself to a long shower!
Drop a Leaf and Release!
If your plants are dropping more leaves than you’d prefer, try reframing their natural response to the winter season in a more loving way. It can be frustrating and saddening to watch your plants lose many of the leaves that brought you joy in the warmer months. Like the plants who shed their leaves to conserve their energy, we are also allowed to let go of stagnant energy and dead weight in our lives. The next time you notice a leaf drop it may be time to say “thank you” to something we’re ready to release.
Take Your Vitamins, Make Mom Proud
Just because we don’t fertilize in the winter doesn’t mean we can’t give our plants a little nutrients boost. Brew a cup of herbal tea to feed your plants after the infusion has cooled. Herbs like nettles, raspberry leaf, basil, and parsley are high in rich vitamins that your plants will love! Don’t forget to enjoy a cup for yourself. Your mom would be delighted to know that you’ve finally committed to taking your daily multivitamins!
Of course, the best way to get vitamin D is to sunbathe. The moments when the sun shines directly into our homes can truly be the highlight of our days. Try dipping into a light meditation the next time your home is filled with sunlight, bright indirect included! Visualize its warm rays nourishing your space, your body and your plants. Allow yourself to witness the magic of receiving energy alongside your plants! Mindful plant parenthood looks great on you.
Shelby Moring (she/her) runs the online apothecary Creations by Floreawhere she offers tea blends, facial serums and body butters. She enjoys being surrounded by plants 24/7 and thinks this is where she has her best conversations. Keep up with Shelby here!
This time of year you may notice your plants are not looking as lush and vibrant as they did over the summer; whether that manifests as slowed growth, stretching, yellowing or browning leaves, or even leaf loss! This is due to decreased hours of daylight, a weaker angle of the sun, overall cooler temperatures, and lower humidity levels.
Below are four ways you can adjust your care regimen to help keep your plants happy and healthy until spring!
In winter, there simply isn't enough energy from the sun for plants to keep up with their summer growing pace. As a result you may notice more leaf yellowing, specifically on the lower leaves. This is your plant re-prioritizing newer growth (which is closer to the light source) and eliminating growth that isn’t working as hard anymore. Prune yellow or dead growth back to keep your plant looking its best. Yellowing or browning growth will never revert back to green, so once you have determined the reason for the discoloration, you can snip and toss!
Ideally if you are able to move your plant a few feet closer to the light source, this will help it get as much energy as it can and survive, if not thrive during winter! Don’t be too concerned if your plant starts to look a little sparse, most plants fill right back out come spring!
As a general rule of thumb less light = less water for most plants year-round. As the less intense and less frequent winter light signals to your plant to slow down or go dormant, your watering should be adjusted accordingly. This time of year we rarely need to thoroughly soak a plant, meaning to water slowly until all soil is saturated and comes running out of the drainage hole. Rather, you can add about 3-5 days onto your watering cycle, always checking the soil for moisture first, and focus on watering right around the root ball. An additional 1-2” of soil should be dry before watering again to protect against root rot. The use of a wooden skewer or chopstick is helpful in assessing soil moisture deeper into the pot.
You may be surprised by how long it takes your plant to dry out! Resist the urge to overwater! Some plants jump up into several weeks between watering and true cactus rarely need a single drink all season!
Most houseplants grow so well indoors because of the relative lack of temperature fluctuation year-round in our homes. Consistent temps between 65-75 are ideal, however be careful not to place plants too close to heating or cooling elements. Artificial temperature changes are usually too drastic for plants to react to and can cause shock. This may show itself in rapid leaf loss, scorching or brown spots/tips, or leaf curling. Be sure to keep your plants at least a few feet away from heating elements and add a fan for air circulation if possible.
This may be tricky if your heating vent is under your window! Try to balance giving your plant more light in the winter, without scorching it on a radiator!
We all know one of the worst parts of winter (aside from cold!) is the dry, dry air. This especially affects our tropical friends who would love for humidity levels to stay between 40-60% all the time. You may be surprised to know that humidity levels in our homes can drop to 20-30% this time of year! I personally use an Acurite hygrometer (the fanciest equipment I use for indoor gardening, coming in at a whopping $13) to help monitor my indoor conditions and inform whether or not I need to use my humidifier.
It may seem excessive to buy a humidifier for your plants, however, there are multiple health benefits for humans too! Plant care is self care 😊 If you still aren’t convinced, you can try grouping your plants, adding pebble trays, or misting first.
Hopefully this helps you and your plant friends beat the winter blues, spring will be here sooner than you think! As always feel free to DM or email us with any specific plant questions not addressed here!