how to take care of your plants
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
hey everyone! i've been gone for about a week and a half and i miss writing stuff. i have two jobs now and have one day off a week so life has been a little crazy. i want to get back into posting again so here we go! i asked you guys what content you wanted to see on the blog and the overwhelming vote was a story time. i have one in process and i'll be posting it very very soon! i promise...
one of the things that has helped me stay grounded throughout this incredibly hectic time 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. i'll start doing that actually by buying bigger pots!
here are some of my succulent & plant tips to keep them looking thriving and beautiful–
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 bigger by the day. check out the 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)
when i first started growing my cactus it took a while for it to really grow into what it is now! 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 cactus leaves growing bigger and bigger by the day but i think it totally has character. i remember when it was as small as the first picture and now it has 3 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 great! however, terra cotta pots (which my other plants & herbs are in) are best for maximizing air movement and draining excess water faster.
to water it, i fill up my water pitcher and give it a good soak about once a month. we usually have rainfall but otherwise it is well watered and happy. 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.
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 occasional watering.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 its 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 in 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 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
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 and i've loved doing it. i love to water the plants and see them grow. if you guys are interested in knowing more about the harvesting side / herbal remedies and recipes then please let me know in the comments! i'm excited to see how they evolve throughout the summer :)
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