Houseplant Tips for Beginners – The Minnesota Daily – Minnesota Daily | Directory Mayhem

Plant experts from the University of Minnesota offer insights into caring for houseplants.

As the cold weather approaches and the winter blues kick in, plants can be great mood enhancers or vibrant decorative pieces for those who miss the greenery.

Keeping plants alive can be difficult for those without green fingers. There’s nothing worse than coming home to a drooping pile of brown leaves in a pot and having no idea how it got there.

Plant experts from the University of Minnesota and the community offered advice applicable to plant owners of all skill levels.

picking the plant

Laura Irish, a propagation lab instructor at the university, recommends doing some research first to determine which plants will best suit the space you’re buying them for.

“I would definitely make every effort not to buy plants on a whim,” Irish said. “You want to look at the space you’re going to put a plant in, and it really comes down to light, temperature, and airflow.”

Irish added that students living in dormitories often have less light and less airflow.

“For situations like this, I usually recommend starting with a pothos. This is really good for people starting out in plant ownership,” Irish said.

Julie Weisenhorn, a horticulture teacher at the university, enjoys growing sansevieria, also known as snake plants.

“I think they’re really easy plants to grow, and they don’t have a lot of pests,” Weisenhorn said. “They grow in low light and now they come in all sorts of shapes and colors.”

Vaughan Johnson is a third year student of landscape architecture with a minor in horticulture.

“Sansevieria, cacti, pothos vines and tradescantia are some basic ones. They require little attention and add great color and texture to a room,” Johnson said.

Succulents, a popular option among college students, caused some disagreement among experts. Johnson and Irish both warned that most students don’t have enough light to grow properly and that people tend to overwater them.

Weisenhorn disagreed: “Succulents can be a great option for beginners. You hardly need to water them and when you think they need watering you can just feel them and when they are soft and mushy they are lacking water.”

Weisenhorn specifically recommended Haworthias and Christmas cacti for beginners looking to make their own succulents.

purchase of the plant

Plants are available from major department stores like Home Depot as well as a variety of local garden centers.

“Many of the owners of these garden centers are trained gardeners and you can ask their advice. They also grow really high quality crops,” Irish said.

You can start your search by looking for plants without a lot of brown and yellow.

“When you’re looking for a plant, you want to tip it out of the container a bit to see what the roots look like. You want to make sure it’s not super pot-bound,” Weisenhorn said. The term pot-bound describes roots that tangle and circle around the pot, leaving them no room to grow.

Bring the plant home

Weisenhorn warned against placing new plants immediately next to other plants if the plant harbors pests that were not noticed in the store.

Experts urge plant owners to think about light when placing the plant.

“You shouldn’t put highlight plants directly in the window as that can actually burn your plants, but you can put them a few inches away from it,” Irish said.
Irish also noted that cold winter temperatures can easily transfer to plants if they touch windows, potentially damaging them.

care of the plant

Weisenhorn advises plant owners to find out where a plant is originally grown.

“People just read the label and that’s how they take care of them and that’s a great place to start, but it’s always fun to find out where your plant is a native plant and try to simulate that environment in your home ‘ said Weisenhorn said.

According to Weisenhorn, overwatering is the leading cause of death in indoor plants.

“Ideally, all of your plants should be in a pot with at least one drainage hole,” said Weisenhorn.

Watering, lighting, research, all of this can overwhelm a newcomer. Irish encourages young plant owners to take risks and take it easy.

“Don’t be afraid to experiment,” Irish said. “Killing plants is okay. We all do it.”

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