Tuesday, October 4

Tips For House Plant Newbies from an Ohio Gardening Social Media Superstar

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When you rack up over 160,00 followers on Instagram for your houseplant magical abilities, you’re clearly doing something right.

And now that green-thumbed magician is passing on some of those tips to us!

If you’re a houseplant newbie, never fear, because Ohio Tropics’ Raffaele Di Lallo is here to provide you with some much-needed insight below. So, break out those gardening gloves and read on for some helpful hints. Also, be sure to check out our full interview with Di Lallo to dig up his nutrient-rich backstory.

Tips for Houseplant Newbies

Opt for Easy Plants First
I’m sure you’ve seen this on Instagram, but there’s all these rare, exotic plants that everyone wants to get their hands on, but I would recommend starting off with tried and true standards that are easy to find and care for. Once you get comfortable with their care, then you can slowly branch off to the more unusual or more expensive plants.

Try these: Pothos, snake plants, ZZ plants, orchids (they’re easier than you think), philodendrons or parlor palms.

Hold Off on Repotting
Everybody seems to be in a rush to re-pot a new plant and load it up with fertilizer. You don’t want to shock your plant. The plant needs a bit of time to adjust and during that period, you might see a yellow leaf or two, it may not look the same as it did in the greenhouse that it was growing in. For a good couple of weeks at least don’t repot or fertilize it. Give it a little bit of time to acclimate.

Take Your Time Acclimating Plants to More Light
Anytime we change the light dramatically from a lower light situation to a higher light situation, we have to do so gradually because the plant is used to lower light. You can’t just put it in full sun outside, because the light is much stronger than it is indoors. You have to put it in the shade for a few days and slowly acclimate it to higher light, otherwise you’re going to burn it.

Use the Right Size Pot
When your plant needs a larger pot, don’t go into too big of a pot. For example, if you have a plant that’s in a four-inch pot, I only recommend going up the next size, to maybe a six inch pot, or if you’re in a six inch pot, go up to an eight inch pot. If you go to a much larger pot, you have a lot more potting mix in there and it’s going to take a lot longer to dry out. And that could cause problems, especially in the winter time when we have less light and our plants aren’t using as much water.

How to Keep Your Houseplants Healthy in Winter & Early Spring

Prioritize Light
Give your plants as much light as you can and don’t be afraid of some direct sun,” says Di Lallo. “You might want to change that later on as the days get longer and the light gets stronger. You can always either supplement with a grow light or you could grow them under grow lights year round too, and then they won’t even know it’s winter.

Dust Your Plants
Especially plants that have broad leaves like rubber plants, it helps to keep them clean because if you have a lot of dust accumulating it’ll inhibit light from reaching the plant. You can wipe them down with a damp sponge, or I even take my plants for a shower and I rinse them off.

Avoid Repotting
You don’t want to repot when the plant is just sitting there and not growing because if you do that in the middle of the winter it might stay too wet for too long. I always recommend if your plant is not actively growing, I would definitely wait until you start to see signs of active growth and then you can go ahead and repot.

Add humidity and keep them warm
I’m a big proponent of using humidifiers in our climate, especially in the winter, since our air can get so painfully dry for our plants. Most of the plants that we grow in our homes are tropical plants so they don’t like cold drafts. You also don’t want to put them right in front of a heating vent. They like stable, warm conditions for the most part. 🔥

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About Author

Ilona Westfall is a Cleveland-based freelance writer. When she’s not penning articles for a variety of northeast Ohio publications, she’s roller skating with Burning River Roller Derby, rolling d20s with her D&D group, or getting muddy in the woods.

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  1. Pingback: Green Machine: How an Ohioan and His Houseplants Became a Viral Sensation - The Buckeye Flame

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