Beginner’s Guide: Learning From Fellow Plant Parents (Part Two)

One of the biggest mistakes, in my opinion, a new plant parent makes is believing that a person is born with green fingers. Caring for plants, like any other hobby or interest can come more naturally to some but most of the time the only way you will succeed is if you are willing to learn. Luckily the plant community is filled with kindhearted people eager to share their journey, experience and tips with others. 

For part two of my Beginner’s Guide I asked a Cork local, Catherine from @myplantfamily for some advice and tips as an experienced plant parent. She was one of my earliest acquaintances on Instagram when I joined the online plant community earlier this year and was the first person to give me a plant as a gift. She is such a lovely person and was kind enough to take the time to share some of her knowledge with me. Not only is she an amazing plant parent with an incredible plant collection, she is also one of the hosts of Irish Houseplant Club on Instagram.

What is the most important thing a new plant parent should know about plant care?

The most important thing is to choose plants suited to your home conditions rather than trying to change conditions for your plants. You need to be mindful that every plant’s needs are different. Most people think all a plant needs is water and sun and this is not the case. There are so many different types of light requirements, from bright, indirect, partial to full shade. It’s not one size fits all. Water frequency is the same; some plants prefer to be on the dry side, while others love moisture. 

Plant care must become a part of your weekly routine. Pick plants to suit the type of plant parent you are. Plants that are drought tolerant or thrive on neglect may suit the under watering “laid back” plant parent whereas moisture loving high humidity plants would suit the “helicopter” over watering parent.

What is the most important thing you learned as a plant parent? 

I learned it can quickly become an obsession! Apart from that I learned that Spring and Summer are growing seasons and a lot of plants go dormant in the winter months. While allowing them their rest period you have to change your care routine as they will not need as much watering as they did in the growing season.  If I could go back in time I would enjoy those first winter dormant months I had instead of worrying about the lack of growth I was seeing.

What is your favourite part about caring for plants?

I love “watering” days. It allows me time with my plants to check on new growth, to notice any signs of struggle the plant might be showing and to really get lost in plant care. It is very rewarding to see a plant that is healthy and thriving. I feel like I am being rewarded for giving the plant the care it required. 

What aspect of plant care did you struggle with most at first? 

Ahhh the biggest struggle was watering needs! Just trying to get a routine of who needed what and when. Now I can read my plants so well and I just know. In the beginning I had a watering book, but I rarely use that now. I thought people were crazy when they said, “your plant will tell you”. I now understand that really is the case, or maybe I’ve gone crazy too!

Do you prefer buying plants online or in person in a store or nursery?

I definitely prefer buying plants at a nursery. They have people working there to take care of the plant’s specific needs. They will also answer any questions you may have. I can inspect the plant myself for any pests or issues the plant may have. I do buy online of course but it’s always a risk as some plants can get very stressed in transit not to mention parcels being damaged.  

What influences your decision to buy a plant?

I buy a plant based on its care requirements. The first thing I will do is research the plant. If my home and lifestyle match up to the plant’s needs, it’s in the basket.

If you would also like to share some of your knowledge with me, or if you have any particular topics in mind that you would like me to discuss please feel free to contact me here or send me a DM on Instagram.

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