When do I repot?
Repotting is mainly for when your plant is drying too fast or hasn't grown in months. If you can't keep up with watering your plant, it could use some more soil, so it can hold water longer. The soil is like a sponge your plant drinks out of. Eventually, the plant eats its soil. The roots take over the space until there's not much soil left! When you repot, pick a container 1 inch deeper or wider than what you were using before. Anything too big would drown your plant. No need to unravel the roots, really. Just add more soil around them and pack it down.
What about drainage?
Plants don't actually need drainage holes. Drainage holes are just for letting extra water out if you pour tons and tons of it in. If you only pour 1/3 to 1/4 as much water as there is soil, that's a good drink for your plant and nothing will need to drain.
How much water?
Use 1/3 to 1/4 as much water as there is soil. Do this once or twice a week for plants with really thin leaves and stems (dragon's tongue, polka dot plant, nerve plant, and ferns). Do this every week or two for thicker plants (African violets, succulents, monsteras, pothos, and syngonium). If your plant's freaking out and wilting or turning brown, even though you water it, it probably needs more soil to hold the water.
Fertilizer is something you can use carefully for plants growing in a good amount of sunlight. Soil is like a fridge of food for your plant to take from. Fertilizer is more like guessing what your plant wants to eat and just putting that in its mouth. Fertilizer is mostly good for growing plants without soil (in LECA, hydroponics, etc.), or for rescuing a hungry plant that you don't feel like repotting yet. Too much fertilizer can burn your plant, so be careful and follow the instructions.
Where do I put my plant?
It's hard to overdo it with light for your plant, contrary to what people might tell you. Plants don't get burnt by sun, they get burnt by heat. Keep your plant within a few feet of a window if you want it really happy. Closer is better, as long as it doesn't get really hot or cold. The more light your plant gets, the more it'll grow and the more you'll have to water it.
Can plants survive without windows?
They can survive, but they might not thrive. Plants that don't need much light and can probably manage off of the lights in your ceiling would be nerve plants, pothos, silver satin plants, and peperomia. In these conditions, they won't grow much and won't need water often either. They'll also be more likely to get sick. It's best just to buy a $25 grow light from the shop to keep your plant happy. They're cute and have a timer too.
Are plants safe for pets?
Some are and some aren't. The toxicity of plants is usually way over-exaggerated and a pet would usually have to eat tons to get hurt. Even if it's not toxic, your pet will barf if it eats a lot of houseplants. It's better safe than sorry, so you should probably go for terrariums if your pets love chewing on houseplants. The truth is, if you have a non-toxic plant where a munchy cat can reach it, you'll end up with a plant full of holes.
Other options are to put the plant where your pet can't reach or in a room the pet isn't allowed in. Some pets are only interested in eating certain textures of plants, too. One of my cats has no interest in my plants at all. It's a personality thing.
Some non-toxic plants we tend to have in the shop are nerve plants, streptocarpus, African violets, peperomia, echeveria and haworthia succulents, and pilea (incuding baby's tears).
Some plants in the shop that are less safe for pets to eat would be the pothos, syngonium, and fig plants
What makes your soil good?
A lot of "soil" doesn't actually have soil in it. It's made of ancient moss taken from the bottom of bogs, fertilizer pellets, and those white crunchy things that don't look very nice. They try to keep things sterile to avoid tiny soil bugs and other normal parts of nature. Actual soil is a whole food web, with plants, tiny bugs, algae, and fungi all sharing nutrients and helping each other out. Our soil has a good amount of compost in it, which will feed your plants for a long long time and cultivate a healthy little ecosystem. It's got non-toxic good bacteria in it, too: the kind that keeps fungus gnats from having babies in the soil. A lot of soils you can buy run out of nutrients quickly, to get you to buy more soil and more fertilizer. I'm not about that life.
I make some of my own compost in my worm bin! It's basically a live culture of good microscopic plant helpers, with important natural growth substances too. Your plant can eat as much as it wants!
The soil is fluffy, too, so roots can spread out and breathe, preventing rot. It's designed with a special touch of akadama: Japanese bonsai clay pellets. They hold onto nutrients nicely, and change color when the dirt gets dry. I balanced the soil to hold water for just the right amount of time for your plants to drink. It's lightweight, too! The compost, coconut chips, and coconut coir used in the soil are byproducts, which makes them a lot better for the Earth than invading bogs and stealing the moss.
How do I tell if a plant is dead?
If there's still some green, there's still some hope!
Do you grow your own plants?
A lot of them, yeah! Some plants take too long and get ordered instead, but I grow my terrarium plants from cuttings of my larger plants in the back and at home.
Plants for beginners?
Really, any plant can be a beginner plant if you get accurate info on its care. If you're just starting: pothos is where it's at. Syngonium's another great choice. Succulents are usually called good beginner plants, but I think these guys are leaps and bounds more forgiving and easy to understand. For something flowering and unusual, get a streptocarpus!
I'm honestly still reading about these funky guys. I have a few at home, and one's even turning into babies. They're just very slow, and honestly, it's hard to tell if they're watered and if they're alive and happy. You'll basically never notice any growth on those guys. I'm looking into the different varieties and other plants in their family, seeing if some might be a bit more exciting.
I love bonsai! We have green island fig bonsai in the shop. They're perfect beginner bonsai that grow well indoors. We do bonsai workshops, too, and I plan on making some micro bonsai in the near future. Contact me if you're interested in doing a workshop or having a bonsai party!
The idea of a rare plant is something I have mixed feelings about. The idea of a plant as a status symbol, something that just shows you have a lot of money and can afford what others can't? Not a fan. Many rare plants are sought after, not because they're super pretty, but because people fee cool for having what others don't. The truth is, usually a year or so after a plant is a popular rare, with people spending hundreds of dollars, you'll end up seeing the same plant mass-produced and available everywhere for $10. It's not worth it.
The rare plants I'm actually interested in are the ones without much documentation. Pursuing rare plants for expanding available knowledge is something I care more about. It's the same thing with plants that aren't popular, that I think should be more widespread and enjoyed. I have a streptocarpus linguatus, a plant I couldn't find any photos of online. I'm excited to post about it and take some pictures once it's in better shape. Hopefully, one day I can share the plants themselves, too!
Lots and lots of them! Some unusual ones you might not have yet, too.
The flowers turned brown or wilted! Help!
Totally normal, don't worry. Plants make flowers, then discard them when they're done. If a flower looks like it's past its prime, you should be able to take it off pretty easily. The plant's still alive and can bloom again and again.
How do I make the flowers come back?
With good care, most blooming plants should bloom on and off. Compost or fertilizer can encourage it, and a few plants have blooms set off by how many hours of nighttime they get. Orchids are a bit annoying, since they usually aren't in soil. They need fertilizer pretty often if they're just living in bark. Orchids, even when happy, generally bloom like 2 months a year at most. Wax begonias and streptocarpus bloom continuously without any special care, so we sell them in the shop instead. The best thing for blooming, really, is plenty of light, nutritious soil, and watering the soil as it starts to dry (not when it's bone dry and not when it's wet).
Orchids? African violets?
Not yet, but I want them! I have pearl delight African violet babies that'll be ready for the shop soon. Right now, I have streptocarpus, which are African violet cousins with long thick quilted leaves and even more frequent blooming.