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  • Writer's pictureEva

How to Take Care of Your Plants

Updated: Mar 21

One of the things that has helped me stay grounded throughout this incredibly hectic time in my life is taking care of my plants. I water the garden and take care of my indoor succulents. Seeing them grow everyday makes me so happy. I really can't wait to grow my collection.


Here are some of my succulent & plant tips to keep your tiny garden thriving and beautiful–


the start of my garden

At the beginning of June I bought rosemary, lavender, sweet basil, lemon balm, and aloe. These few plants began my little personal garden and I wanted to add more to the collection. In spring of 2019, my uncle geoff shipped me one of his cactus leaf clippings from Miami. He asked me to start growing it and i did! Since then its been growing bigger and funnier by the day. Check out these comparison pics below–


Pic 1: May 2019 (3 mo growth)

Pic 2: October 2019 (8 mo growth)

Pic 3: July 2020 (1 year 5 mo growth)



Cactus

When i first started growing my cactus it took a while for it to grow some little guys. You can buy a small cactus and continue growing it yourself or take a shot at this way using a cactus leaf clipping. i will definitely say that my cactus has a very unique look! It's wonky and there are new tiny cactus leaves growing but I love it because it's part his plant and part mine. I remember when it was as small as the first picture and now it's wide with 3 baby branches!


Plastic or terra cotta pot?

I'm going to buy another pot for my cactus. My uncle sent me the plastic pot with the clipping and i think it works just fine. However, terra cotta pots (which my other plants & herbs are in) are best for maximizing air movement and draining excess water faster.


Watering

To water it, i fill up my water pitcher and give it a good soak about once a month. Succulents don't need a lot of watering. Make sure the soil is dry before watering it again. I've heard in the summer you can water it as much as once a week but I've never done this.


Sunlight exposure

My cactus has survived being outside (at home in PA) and inside (my dorm at Oberlin) and is incredibly resilient. It does the best when exposed to sunlight (under some shade but exposed to sun outdoors) and very occasional watering.


Succulents



Fall of 2019 I bought several baby succulents. I repotted them in separate containers. I planted the succulent in the first picture on the right into a mason jar and it's been doing really well! you can see how much it's grown from fall 2019 to summer 2020. in general i prefer shallow containers to hold succulents, but i think the mason jar looks super cute on a desk or something.


Watering in General



It's important that your plants get a drink every day. The patio is a combination of me and my mom's plants. Hers are in the big terra cotta pots and mine are in the small pots on the metal stand and deck. Make sure to give them a good soak during the summertime. These pots have great drainage so watering daily is essential.


Harvesting Herbs


Use sharp, clean scissors to trim your herbs as to prevent plant damage. Cut the stems entirely. If you want to utilize the leaf, separate the leaves from the stems. Otherwise, tie your herb stems together and pin them upside down to dry. You must harvest basil, sage, and thyme before their flowers bloom or they will lose their taste. In order to promote plant growth, prune perennial herbs such as rosemary, sage, and tarragon. I usually prune and harvest my herbs every several weeks to promote their growth and use them of course!


I haven't harvested my lavender plant just yet but the best time to harvest it is when buds have formed on the plant but the flowers haven't opened yet. closed buds will retain color and fragrance longer. This picture below from garden therapy shows how they should look like. the lavender bud on the left is ideal because it has fully formed closed buds. gather a small handful of long flower stems and secure the bundle with twine.



Setting up your home garden

purchase a select set of plants & herbs that aren't too difficult to take care of. This will help you maintain a small amount without overdoing it at once. When you're comfortable getting into the flow with this section, then you can go ahead and add more.


Research

Know about the plant that you are purchasing and research what conditions it needs to thrive. If you are very busy and cannot water your plant often, maybe a succulent is the way to go. But maybe if you wanna grow an herbs on your deck in the summer then basil and lemon balm are for you. Find the plants that coincide with what you are able to accommodate.


Sunlight

Having a good source of light is very important. From your research, figure out what sunlight preference your plants have. Most herbs need at least 6 hours of consistent sunlight to thrive. Check out the sunlight requirement chart listed below from The Happy Gardening Life blog–


Herbs that need 6+ hours: basil, caraway, dill, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme

Herbs that could do 4-6 or 6+: bay, chives, mint, parsley, and tarragon


Good water supply

Whether it's a hose or simply well water, having a reliable source of water for your garden is extremely important. Use the shower nozzle feature and stand back a bit until the soil is completely soaked. If your plants are not in pots then you may have to water them more often. Don't overwater. In order to tell if they need to be watered, stick your finger in the soil 1-2 inches deep. If it's dry then it's time to water. For very hot days, especially if your plants are not in pots, you may need to water them a little extra.


Good soil & soil depth

I didn't know how important it is to have good soil until i became a plant owner. Purchase some organic potting soil (major plus if it has earthworm castings) and get planting! Also make sure to check out the appropriate soil depths for each herb & plant–


Oregano, tarragon, thyme - 6 in

Basil, parsley, cilantro - 8 in

Rosemary, mint, dill - 12 in

Coriander - 18 in

Sage - 24 in


Pests

It's important to keep your plants away from animals to avoid them from being eaten. When you plant a garden, it can be difficult to manage pests unless you have a fence or wire. These protective methods however never usually work out 100%. Having your plants in pots on a deck or high surface is a great way of solving this issue. Or you can have a wire rack (like the one shown in the first picture) to keep them above the ground.


 

Gardening has been extremely therapeutic for me. I love to water the plants and see them grow.

I'm excited to see how they evolve throughout the summer :)


Best of luck


xox



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