Spring is a season of renewal and growth, and the perfect time of year to give your houseplants some extra TLC as they come out of their winter dormancy and begin to grow again. With the right care and attention, your beloved plants can thrive and bloom beautifully throughout the summer months.
That said, we decided to sit down with the lovely duo behind Potted in Portland, a local neighborhood plant shop run by sisters Sara and Carie, to chat general plant care, tips, tricks, and all things houseplants.
Can you recommend some of your favorite low-maintenance houseplants? Are there any specific plants you like to design with?
It depends what you’re looking for! That said, a few of our favorites are ZZ plants, which are soft in shape but nice and hearty, Aglaonemas, which are great for bringing a bit of pattern into your space, and leafy plants that vine, such as Tetrasperma (often called mini monsteras!).
All that to say, no matter what plant you choose for your home it’s important that each one receives the appropriate light. That said, plants that are grown in indirect light (such as an Aglaonema or ZZ plant), usually need less water. So it’s important that you allow the top few inches of soil to completely dry before watering again.
As for designing, we love using Raphsodoras to frame fireplaces or vine around a gallery wall. They also make great statement plants!
How do you know when your plant is ready for a new pot?
There are a few questions you should ask yourself when you’re considering whether or not your plant needs a new pot. One, has your plant grown significantly, or doubled in size since you last potted it? Has there been significant root growth? Is it going through water more quickly than normal? If you answered yes to all of these questions, it may be time for a new pot.
That said, we recommend repotting early in the growing season, not necessarily year round when your plant is dormant (especially if you live in a place with deep winters like Oregon). Additionally, if you’re not quite ready to repot your plant for whatever reason, a good trick to prolong its life in that container is to add some fertilizer or soil to the top of the pot. This will buy you some time until you're ready to re-pot!
Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to watering?
Yes! The number one thing we tell all of our customers is…don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! While soil moisture meters can to do the trick, nothing works better than sticking your finger in the soil to see if it’s still damp. Another thing to note is that oftentimes the top soil dries out quickly, but the soil towards the bottom of the pot is still damp, meaning you don’t want to give the plant more water and risk overwatering which can lead to root rot.
As for our other tips, we recommend picking a day of the week to water your plants and sticking to that schedule. Also, pay attention to each individual plant! If you water every Sunday, and notice that one or two plants are still damp from the week before then maybe they don’t need any additional water that week. This will ensure your plants stay healthy and continue to grow, no matter the season.
We love the look of larger houseplants, but sometimes it can feel overwhelming to know how to best take care of them. Do you have any tips or tricks regarding care for larger plants?
It’s funny you ask that, because we feel that larger plants are actually a bit easier to care for! Once a plant has matured, it tends to become lower maintenance. That said, there are a few tips and tricks we have for caring for larger houseplants that will ensure your plant stays healthy and continues to grow.
One, make sure the leaves stay clean. It’s important to do this for a few reasons, one being that clean leaves can capture more sunlight, so you definitely want to keep them clean. Additionally, cleaning the leaves of your plant will help reduce the possibility of pests making their home in your plant.
We also recommend “cache potting” large plants, which means planting your larger houseplants in a container with more drainage (such as a plastic pot from your local nursery) and then setting that in a more decorative container. There are a few reasons we recommend this, but the major one being that these types of pots, while not very pretty, allow for 4-10 times the amount of drainage and provide essential air flow to the soil. Plus, if you’re an avid pottery collector, or find yourself regularly redecorating your space but don’t always want to repot a larger plant, this is an easy way to change things up!