Plant Care FAQ
Where should I start?
There’s nothing worse than watching your beloved plant family droop, shrivel or turn brown, so we are here to help with our plant care guide. Here you can find all sorts of tips and tricks to keep your fronded friends happy and healthy, but remember you can always check out your plant’s individual product page using the list above for specific care info.
Match your space to their natural habitat. 🌵🌿
There are lots of different types of houseplant, and each one has evolved in a different climate. To give them a good chance of survival you need to match their natural climate, as closely as possible, to the conditions in your home or office. The most important factors are the amount of natural sunlight (think desert vs shady forest floor) and the amount of water (think desert vs rainforest).
Use the filters on our website. ⏳
To make this crucial step easy for you, we have filters on our website to help you pick the right plants for your space. These filters allow you to instantly identify ‘tall’ plants that ‘can handle wind’ and like to live ‘outdoors’ from those that are ‘small’, ‘happiest in shade’ and live ‘indoors’.
Avoid the fussy plants to start with. 🥀
To set your plant parenting off on the right foot, we try to make the hardest parts of caring for plants easier. For starters, we stock a range of relatively hardy plants that don’t require excessive fuss.
Get healthy plants from quality sellers. 🚚
What’s more, all Patch plants come directly from growers with a Class A rating from Royal Floral Holland - meaning they’re far harder to kill than those you may have got from the supermarket.
How much light does my plant need?
All houseplants need some natural sunlight to survive, but each one likes different levels of light depending on their natural habitat - so check out your plant’s product page to see what its needs are.
When picking the next addition to your plant gang, start by working out what direction the windows face using the compass on your smartphone. Because we’re in the Northern Hemisphere, South-facing will get the most light each day whereas North-facing windows get significantly less. East and West facing windows fall somewhere in the middle. Remember to turn off the lights to get a measure for how the natural light fills the room, as houseplant's can't feed off light bulbs. 🌻
Then look out of the window and estimate how much of the day is in the shadow of another building, remembering that the sun will move East to West over the course of the day. If you are up higher than the buildings around you, your window will get much more light than if you are down in a basement flat in a built up street 🏢 🏘️.
When you’ve got a rough measure of the natural light level you expect the plant to get, use the filters on our website to see which Patch houseplants are going to be most comfortable. The closer you put the plant to the window, the more light it will get - so you can always put shade lovers at the back of the room and sun lovers by the windows.
🥀 If your plant is drooping, growing pale leaves, or shedding leaves altogether it may need more light. Move it to a bright spot and give the leaves a wipe to get rid of any dust (and maybe clean your™ windows while you’re at it to let in more light).
Plants getting too much sun will have soil that is baked dry and their leaves may be crisp, bleached, or have brown spots or tips. Don’t suddenly move them too far from the window though - they may just need the sunlight to be a little less direct.
Many plants will naturally grow towards the light, so rotate them monthly for even growth.
Am I watering my plant enough?
How much to water your houseplant is the most important thing to get right, but most books and blogs give unclear or conflicting advice.
We've read them all and summarised here - so you don't have to.
When you’re at home. 🏡
All Patch plants have a care guide on their product page which will tell you about their watering needs. Again, it very much depends on their natural environment. Dry desert plants may be used to going for a while without water whereas tropical rainforest plants are used to regular showers and high humidity. 🚿
Over-watering is much more common and equally as harmful as under-watering, so always make sure that excess water can freely run out of your plant’s soil through the holes in the bottom of its nursery pot (the brown one that it comes in) 🛁.
Letting your plant sit in water will be terrible for its health so, after watering, check the decorative pot for excess water and pour it away after half an hour or so. Similarly, don’t be tempted to repot your plant directly into pot without drainage holes; it usually ends badly!
When it comes to watering your plants be flexible, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Rather than scheduling in a certain day each week to blindly water your plants, regularly feel down into the soil an inch under the surface. Most houseplants like the top inch to dry out before watering, so if it’s dry to the touch, your plant needs a drink. But some dare to be different, so have a look at your plant’s product page if you’re not sure. Early morning is the best time and room temperature water is ideal. 🌅
You can judge whether your watering schedule is right for your plant by keeping an eye out for these signs:
If the leaves are yellowing or droopy you might be watering too much, or may not have proper drainage.
A plant with dry, curling leaves likely needs more water. Some plants are used to tropical conditions so try moving them to a room with higher humidity like the bathroom or kitchen. Use care though - you don’t want to overcompensate by drowning your plant. Curling leaves can also be caused by over-watering, so remember to check the compost first to see what you think the problem is!
When you’re on holiday. ✈️
If you’re popping away on holiday and are concerned about leaving your plant behind there are a few methods we recommend to keep it alive.
There are a couple of useful gadgets which promise to keep your plants happy while you can’t tend to them - check out our accessories to get started. Some products, such as water bulbs, slowly drip water into your plant’s soil to keep them hydrated.💡Others allow the plant itself to suck up water when it needs - check out hydrospikes for this. For a DIY cheap method for small plants, try putting one end of a damp piece of cloth in your the soil and the other in a glass of water - as the plant needs more moisture it will wick it up through the cloth. For large plants, place several layers of damp newspaper on top of the soil before you head to the airport.
An alternative is to recruit another person to babysit. We bet if you ask a plant-loving friend nicely they’ll pop round every once in a while to check up on your plant pals. If you have a lot of houseplants in your home or office, get in touch with us and we can arrange an expert to visit on a weekly or bi-weekly basis from £2 per plant - it won’t break the bank and you can be sure your plants are in good hands. 👩🌾
How do I make sure the humidity is right?
Many of our plants come from tropical climates so are used to higher levels of humidity than those found in most homes. There are a few ways to deal with this, so don’t fret!
Firstly, you could move your plant to a more humid room such as the kitchen or bathroom.🧖 Some plants can also be occasionally misted, in addition to their normal watering, to imitate a humid environment. 🛁
If you’re keeping plants that like high humidity in a dry room, there are a couple of quick homemade methods to increase humidity that you could try. If you group your plants together you can create a humid microclimate, as they release moisture through the transpiration process. Alternatively, fill a tray with pebbles and add water to the halfway point. Place your plants on top of the pebbles, making sure they are not actually sitting in the water. Replace the water with a fresh batch from time to time.This small trick can really help your tropical plants to flourish. 🌺
You could also invest in a humidifier - these devices can keep your plants happy but are also known to improve your own health, skin and sleep quality. 😴
What about soil and fertiliser?
Just like us, plants need healthy food from time to time to keep up their strength. Fertiliser is a product you can add to the soil to top up nutrients that would be naturally replenished in the wild by decomposing stuff. All indoor plants use up nutrients at different rates at different times of the year, so check your plant’s product page to find out if it would benefit from being fertilised in the spring and summer 🌺
Another way to restore your plant’s nutrients is by repotting it with a batch of fresh soil. You’re unlikely to have to do this for a year or two, but if it has been living in the same soil for a long time and is looking unhealthy, find our tips on repotting. You won’t need to feed for a few weeks after repotting in new compost - you don’t want to overdo it! Check the compost packet for information on how long its nutrients will last.
Most Patch plants live happily in multipurpose soil except cacti and succulents which need a special soil, and some outdoor plants which like an ericaceous soil. You’ll always find this information provided on their product page. 🌵
Should I trim – or ‘prune’ – my plant?
Pruning, which means removing dead or damaged leaves, stems and buds from your plants can really help to refresh them, as it allows your plant to focus on new growth rather than waste energy on old leaves. 🌱
Some flowering plants will require ‘deadheading’, which involves snipping or pinching off dead flowers. 🌸 During summer you can even do this as regularly as every few days. Not doing so can prevent your plant from producing more flowers, so it’s definitely worth the time to keep for your plant looking its best!
If your plant develops brown tips to its leaves they may need to be trimmed off. For some plants it’s a perfectly natural thing and you can grab some scissors and trim it off. ✂️ However, check the plant’s product page to see whether it’s a sign of poor health and review your care routine. You may be able to save the leaf by just trimming off the brown ends, but if the leaf is entirely brown chop it off at the base, as it will not recover.
We probably get the most pruning questions about our orchids. If you want to encourage your orchid to bloom again, watch this video.
Should I change how I look after my plant during winter?
Most Patch houseplants come from tropical places, where there aren’t as dramatic seasonal changes in the climate through the year as we have here 🏝. This is why they make great houseplants that are relatively easy to care for; because their natural conditions are a good match for your thermostatically controlled home throughout the year. 🏠
However, there are a few changes during autumn and winter that can affect how you should care for your indoor plants. Make sure your plant isn’t near a radiator because the high temperatures can dry out their soil faster. If you can’t keep your plants elsewhere, install a shelf above your radiator to house them. As long as it is as wide as the spread of your plant’s leaves, it will deflect hot air away from your plant and into the centre of the room instead. If you’re lucky enough to have underfloor heating, this can upset your plants by keeping their roots too warm. Plant stands are a good way around this problem.
Similarly, cold drafts from open or poorly insulated windows, or exits that are regularly opened to the outside world, will make your houseplant unhappy - your plant can freeze in minutes if exposed to cold air. ❄️
Another good rule of thumb is to try to avoid dramatic changes that might be a bit of a shock, like moving your houseplant from a very cold to very warm room. If you turn the heating off when you go away you might want to shuffle your plants to the warmest spot in the house, if it’s not too much trouble. 🧣🧤
Shorter daylight hours in winter may mean that your plant needs to be placed closer to a window than they would in the summer to get enough light. Make sure to also clean any dust off the leaves so they can soak up all the rays. ☀️
While there are exceptions, most plants are actively growing during the spring and summer but then slow down, or even become completely dormant over winter. As a result they are gobbling up less water and nutrients. Remember to check the soil and only water when it is dry an inch under the surface. You can also stop fertilising during winter if this is a part of your indoor plant routine.
To help you remember this lesson, here’s one of the key points delivered in style.
Why are my plant's leaves falling off?
If your houseplant is dropping leaves, it may be a normal part of their life cycle. For example, some shed leaves during winter so they have less foliage to maintain while the days are darker. 🌧 Others shed leaves year-round and some never naturally shed at all, so read up on your plant to find out whether or not it’s a sign that they are unhealthy.
There are a few reasons why an indoor plant that shouldn’t normally drop leaves might be doing so. They will often drop leaves if they’re in shock. 🆘 When your plant is delivered the environmental change coming into your cosy home or office might cause it to readjust, which can involve shedding some leaves. If you move it to a different spot in your home the same thing can happen. If it’s only a couple of leaves, and the rest of the plant looks healthy, just give it time and appropriate TLC to get settled in. 🌿
Plants make their energy from the natural light that they receive, so if brightness levels drop a plant may struggle to maintain all of its leaves. 🌒 Dropping a few is an efficient way to reduce the energy levels a plant requires - check your plant’s product page to see if it will appreciate being moved closer to a window. Similarly, if a plant is outgrowing its pot it might drop leaves as it can’t maintain all the new ones it tries to grow.🍃 If you can see the roots in the surface of the soil, or coming out of the bottom of its nursery pot (the brown one that it comes in), it might be time to repot it.
Overwatering can also cause leaves to fall off. When a plant receives too much water it absorbs it into its system, but with nowhere to go the water floods the leaves. 🌊 Gradually, starting from the bottom of the plant, you’ll notice leaves yellowing and going mushy. As they lose their structure the leaves can’t support their own weight anymore, causing them to drop. 🌾
On the other hand, plants rely on a certain level of water to stay healthy and stand tall! Water within a plant’s system is what helps it to stand up. So when a plant is under-watered the cells shrink and can’t hold the leaves up. As well as causing drooping, lack of water will cause leaves to curl up and go dry. 🍂
Are my plants harmful if my pets or kids eat them?
While you might know that it’s better not to snack on your plant friends (with a couple of exceptions) the little ones in your family might not be so wise. 🤢
There are a few plants that are harmless to your pets or kids if they happen to have a sneaky nibble including Big Ken, Howard, Lara, Alice, Juliette, Venus, Gary, Sharon, Amelie, our kitchen herbs and Bertie. 🐱
This list only includes plants that are totally safe for all. If you’ve picked up a plant that isn’t mentioned it’s worth having a look at its product page, as we always give toxicity details in the description. For example, there are some plants that are toxic to dogs, but your cat will be fine. 🌵
It isn’t a disaster if you have bought a toxic plant, either. You can just find a spot to keep it that can’t be reached by curious hands or paws - hanging planters or tall shelves are ideal! 🐾
Do I need to clean my plant?
It’s worth cleaning your plant from time to time. Not only will this keep it healthier, but it also encourages you to check in with your green gang to spot any signs of ill health.
Dust on your plant’s leaves prevents sunlight from reaching them, which will affect their growth. It can also block the pores on the leaves, which suffocates the plant. ☀️
We recommend cleaning the leaves every month or so using a damp cloth. Plants with fuzzy leaves can be cleaned using a soft brush. While you’re doing this, take the opportunity to examine your plant for any signs of stress or disease. If there are dead, brown or yellowing leaves you can gently remove them, and trim brown leaf tips, making sure not to cut into the healthy part of the plant. 🍂
If you think cleaning the leaves will take ages (maybe you’ve got a plant with loads of leaves like Bertie, or a bigger one such as Rick or Big Ken) you can just pop your plant in the shower.🚿 Use tepid water to clean the leaves, making sure not to hold the shower head too close to your plant - the force of the water could upset them. 🛁
Does my plant have bugs?
If you spy any webs, bumps or spots on your plants, it’s possible that your houseplant is putting
up with some unwelcome visitors. Quickly move your plant away from any others to prevent them spreading to the rest of your plant gang. 😷 Wipe the leaves to get rid of the bugs, they won’t harm you, and get an insecticidal spray to stop them coming back. 🌿
Sometimes you might spot mould on your plant’s soil, or even fully grown mushrooms. The white mould that develops is usually harmless, but probably a sign that your plant is being overwatered or not draining properly. Scrape the mould off and make sure your plant’s soil gets a chance to dry out between waterings. Check out our tips on watering to learn the finger dunking test. ☝️ Mushrooms also pop up due to moist conditions - it’s best to remove them and replace the top few inches of soil if you’ve got any potting compost. Also, as tempting as the mushrooms might look, do not eat them. They won’t hurt you if you touch them and they won’t contaminate the air, but they’re not good for you, your little ones or your pets to eat. 🍄
If you want to avoid bugs in the first place, check out these top tips.
Should I re-pot my plant?
The most wonderful thing about it your plant is that it’s alive and so, given the opportunity, it’s going to grow. After a while it might need a bigger pot to keep it from toppling over, or to give it’s roots some extra room and fresh soil. 🌿
Patch houseplants come in pots that they’ll usually be happy in for at least a year, so there’s no need to get your hands dirty repotting them for quite a while. 📆
However, if you can see your plant’s roots growing out of the drainage holes or becoming visible in the surface soil then you should choose a slightly larger pot when repotting it, to give the roots some space to grow. Only upgrade the size slightly though - moving to an enormous pot too quickly can cause your plant to go into shock. 🆘
If you don’t want your plant to grow as fast, keeping it in the same size pot can help. However, you will still need to replenish the soil after a year or two if it’s looking unhealthy as the soil breaks down and compacts around the roots. 🤒This stops air from reaching the them and impedes drainage, which can cause the roots to rot.
When it’s time to give your plant a pot upgrade, or a new batch of soil, here’s what you need to know.
It’s best to repot in spring, before your plant goes into its main growing phase. 🌱You’ll need a plastic pot (make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom), the correct type of soil mix for your plant, some drainage material, clean scissors and gloves - if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.
Start by loosening the plant from its existing pot. Remove it by holding your hand over the plant and soil surface, tipping the pot upside down so the plant falls out to rest in your hand. You might need to give the pot a good tap to get the plant out.
If your plant is too big to hold in your hands, carry them outside or lay out lots newspaper 📰Remove them from their decorative pot and lie them down on their side. Tap the sides of their nursery pot to loosen the roots and then gently shuffle the pot backwards.
Gently loosen the roots with your hands and repot into a new, larger plastic pot. The plastic pot must have holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain away. 💦 If there’s only one drainage hole in the bottom of your pot you should add some pebbles or broken pieces of china for drainage, but you can skip this if there are lots of holes.
Next add a layer of soil, as well as some slow-release fertiliser for an extra nutrient boost unless the soil already has fertiliser in it. 💪You should have enough soil in the bottom of the pot to lift the top of your plant’s root ball to 1-2cm below the pot rim.
Gently place the plant on top of this soil and fill in the space around your plant with extra compost. Give it a good watering, and you’re all set! 🌱
It might take your plant some time to get used to its upgrade, so during the next week keep it out of bright light and hold back on the water.
If you don’t want your houseplant to grow larger, once you get it out of its pot, you can trim an inch or two off the roots with sharp, clean scissors and re-pot in its existing pot with new soil. ✂️
How do I propagate my plant?
Propagation is the method of growing new plants from existing ones. 🌱It’s a great way to understand your plants better, see them grow, and share cuttings with friends.
Spring and summer are the best times to help your plant have babies, as your plant is likely to be in its active growing period. 🌞
There are a few different propagation methods, so start by searching for tips on propagating your particular plant.
The three main ways to propagate your plants are cutting, division, and replanting of offsets.
Taking a cutting and replanting it creates an exact clone of the original plant. It relies on the amazing ability of some plants to produce roots from the bottom of a cut stem or leaf. 🍃
Division involves splitting a parent plant into sections, each of which can be replanted as a separate plant.
Finally, some plants grow miniature versions of themselves called offsets. These can be removed and replanted to grow on their own. 🌱
Cutting off part of a plant’s stem or a leaf and replanting can create an exact clone of the original plant. Rapunzel and Chaz can both be propagated with stem cuttings, whereas leaf propagation works for Suri and Susie 🌱
Start by making a container where your cutting will live while it grows roots. Stem propagation requires deeper pots, but leaf propagation can be done in a shallow tray.
Don’t use a multipurpose potting soil for propagation, it’s best to use a soil mix optimised for propagation, usually referred to as a ‘rooting medium’, rather than a multipurpose potting soil. Check online for suggestions for a soil mix that will work for your plant. Some need to contain extra sand or Perlite, for example. 👍
Next you can take your leaf or stem cutting. Stem cuttings should be taken from a few centimetres below a node (where the stem and leaf meet) using a sharp pair of scissors. The stem should have a good few nodes above the point of cutting. 🌿
Leaf cuttings are different. For succulents, remove the entire healthy leaf down to the stem with your fingers. If you’re using Susie cutting the top section of the leaf will be enough. ✂️
Stem cuttings should be placed immediately into the rooting medium to keep the cut edge moist. Submerge them into the rooting medium just far enough so that it holds them up.
When it comes to leaf cuttings, fleshy leaves usually need to be left for a couple of days to develop a callus over the cut edge. Others can go straight into the rooting medium, with at least some of the cut edge of the leaf touching the soil. Sansevieria needs the whole of the cut edge to be placed into the soil.
Stem cuttings should now be misted and sealed in their container. Leaf cuttings can be left uncovered but should be placed somewhere warm, with indirect light. ⛅️
Make sure the rooting medium remains moist by misting whenever it feels dry. It will take a few weeks or even a couple of months to see your new plants forming, but once you see roots you can cover them with a bit of soil to keep the growth going. 🌿
To see this method in practice check out this video.
Plants that have separate stems, or grow in clusters, can be propagated by dividing the original plant into sections. Each one can then be replanted separately, and allowed to continue growing as a single plant.
Plants that can be propagated in this way include Juliette Howard Bertie and Venus Susie Zey and some succulents 🌿
Start by preparing the pots that your divided plants will be planted into. You can divide the plant into as many sections as possible, or just separate off a small section from the original - totally your call.
Dividing plants is messy work, so lay out lots of newspaper or set yourself up outside. 📰
Remove the original plant from its pot and massage the roots to figure out how easily they will separate. Once they’ve been divided you can repot your new sections into your waiting pots and top up with fresh compost.
If you’ve ever seen your plant growing miniature versions of itself, you’ll know what we’re talking about when we mention offsets. These are small replicas of a parent plant that can be removed and replanted.
Don’t be too hasty with offsets - they shouldn’t be removed until they can live independently from the parent plant. As before, have your new pot ready before removing the offset.🤱
How can I control the shape or direction that my plant grows?
Some plants can be trained to grow in a certain way, which can serve to keep them healthy and control their look.
For example, tall houseplants such as Robin and Fidel can be trimmed back to limit them to a certain height and encourage them to grow outwards rather than upwards. 🌳Simply decide the height you’re after and cut back the branches to this point once in a while. This can also help to promote branching, which means the plant grows wider or thicker rather than taller.
Plants which are natural climbers, such as Rapunzel appreciate a support to attach to along the way as they grow. For example, hang the tendrils along your wall using picture hooks, wire or string. 🧗
Other plants, like Chaz and Phil grow vertically and so benefit from a support to attach to as they climb. You can use a moss pole, bamboo sticks or a metal trellis to give your plant some structure. 🌱
If you’re adding these to your plant’s pot you’ll need to use plant ties to keep them together at first, but after a while the plant will naturally start to use the support. Make sure not to tie it too tight as the ties might start to dig into the stems as your plant grows. 🌿
Common plant illnesses and how to cure them
Before you diagnose your plant’s illness, there are a couple of things you can do that are good practice no matter what the problem is. Firstly, isolate the plant to prevent the infection spreading to others - you don’t want your whole collection to fall victim to it! 🏥
Secondly, don’t panic. Take your time to diagnose the problem and treat it correctly. You’d be surprised how many plants can be saved from infection with a bit of TLC. 💕
What does it look like? Small brown or yellow spots on the leaves. 🍃
What is it? Leaf spot.
How can I cure it? Remove affected leaves and spray with a fungicide (check out our natural homemade one below!).
How can I prevent it? Don’t go overboard on the misting - only if the air is dry and warm.
What does it look like? The roots are black and rotten. Leaves might go yellow.
What is it? Crown rot - a fungal disease of the soil.
How can I cure it? Apply fungicide to the soil.
How can I prevent it? Make sure your plant has good drainage so soil is not left wet for too long. Allow the top inch or so to dry out between waterings. 👍
What does it look like? A fuzzy, grey mold that can affect all parts of your plant.
What is it? Grey mold (also known as Botrytis).
How can I cure it? Remove the infected parts of the plant from the soil (leaves, flowers and stems). 🥀
How can I prevent it? Prevent excess moisture in the air and soil (good drainage and air circulation are key!).
What does it look like? Look for wilting and yellow leaves as early signs. Eventually the roots go soft and squishy, or collapse altogether.
What is it? Root rot.
How can I cure it? Remove the plant from the pot and gently wash the roots under the tap, removing as much soil and afflicted root as possible. 💦Use clean, sharp scissors to cut away the remaining poorly roots. If you have to cut away a significant portion of the root ball, it's best to clean your scissors and then prune back some of the plant's leaves so it can focus its energy on fewer leaves. Wash the pot that the plant was in and repot with fresh soil.
How can I prevent it? Ensure that your plant has good drainage, and isn’t being watered too often.
What does it look like? A powdery white coating on the plant's leaves and/or stems.
What is it? Powdery mildew.
How can I cure it? Isolate the plant to prevent the infection spreading. Remove affected areas and treat the plant with fungicide. 😷
How can I prevent it? Make sure your plant has good air circulation, and move it to a brighter spot.
And remember - when you throw away parts of your plants that have become diseased - put them in the bin, not in the compost.
How to make natural pesticide, fungicide and fertiliser
If you want an even more hands-on role in your plant’s health, why not consider making your own pesticide and fungicide? 👩🔬
Before you start, make sure you know what the issue is. Take a look at our info on common plant illnesses and how to cure them - treating your plant for the wrong thing can do more harm than good. 🤒Feel free to get in touch with us if you aren’t sure.
Once you’re certain of your diagnosis you can think about treatment. Chemical pesticides and fungicides can contain lots of toxins; often reintroducing those that we’ve brought plants into our home to remove! Making a natural alternative can avoid bringing these chemicals into your home, plus it’s safer to keep around if you have pets or kids. 🐱👦
A good place to start is a mix of mild liquid soap and water, sprayed onto houseplants. One teaspoon of soap per litre of water will do the job. It sounds simple, but this formula will treat a lot of common houseplant pests. Add just a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and it becomes a great fungicide as well. 🍄
Neem oil has been used as a natural pesticide for a long time. It’s easily bought online, and again can be mixed with water (two teaspoons of neem oil and one teaspoon of mild soap mixed with a litre of water) and sprayed onto infected plants. It also has a residual effect, so will keep working away in the background after you treat your indoor plants. ⏲️
🌶️ Others swear by chilli spray to repel insects (although it’s not known how well it treats existing infestations). Mix one teaspoon of chilli powder with a litre of water and add a few drops of mild soap and spray onto your plants.
We've also come across some recipes for homemade fertiliser 💪The fertilisers you buy can do the job perfectly well, but contain high levels of salt which can build up in the soil over time (you might see it in the surface of the soil, looking a bit like white mould) meaning your plant has to be repotted more frequently. They also feed the plant itself, whereas a natural option feeds the microbes in the soil, which in turn feeds your plant.
A natural alternative can be made up of ingredients that will provide the Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium that your plants need to grow. There are lots of options out there, but a good place to start is a mix of Urea, Potash, Bone Meal and water. Check out this advice from a pro at about 6 minutes in.
Why are there different types of soil?
In their natural environment, plants get the nutrients they need from the soil around them which is constantly replenished by the changing environment and flushed with water when it rains. 💦Houseplants, however, are limited to whatever is in their pot and the water you give them.
Each of your plants would thrive in a different ideal mix of materials in their pot, which we call their ‘potting soil’. However, having said this, all indoor plants from Patch except the succulents and cacti will be OK in a general purpose potting soil like the one you can get here, combined with a fertiliser routine if recommended on their product page. 🌿
Make sure not to add any old soil from your garden to your potted plants, as it could contain bugs or diseases and note that your outdoor plants will require different soils depending on their species and whether they are in the ground or in a pot. 🐌
To clear up some confusing jargon, potting soil is also referred to as ‘potting mix’, ‘potting medium’ or ‘compost’. Technically speaking compost is composed only of decomposed organic matter, whereas soil also contains inorganic materials such as sand or rocks. 🤓
Some potting soils contain hydration crystals which slowly release moisture to cut down how often you need to water your plants.
All potting soil needs to be replaced after a year or two for most plants, but a good quality mix will have to be replaced less frequently.
🌷The potting soil needs to be replaced because it eventually breaks down and compacts around the plants roots, blocking air and preventing drainage.
Sometimes your plant will be need to be repotted before the soil is spent because it’s out grown the pot, but if its a slow growing plant you may need to repot it just to replace the soil. 🌱
If you’re happy with the essentials you can stop reading here, but if you want to give your plant 5 star treatment, then you can optimise your potting soil for your houseplant collection. ⭐️
A good potting soil will:
- Provide support for the growing plant
- Provide adequate drainage
- Provide adequate available nutrients (usually through a fertiliser)
- Provide adequate aeration around the roots
Most houseplant soil is formed of a base of loam, which is a natural soil containing sand, clay and decomposed matter known as humus, but not to be confused with hummus! 🍽
Loam retains moisture well without preventing decent drainage, so is great to keep your plants thriving. However it won’t be right for cacti or succulents, for example, who need soil that contains more sand to mimic their natural conditions. 🌵
Many houseplant potting soils contain peat, but as it is a finite resource that takes hundreds of years to develop, while offering nothing essential to your plants we don’t recommend it - there are plenty of good alternatives out there. 🌍