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How to Be the Best New Houseplant Parent

Lucy Mercer
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How to be the Best New Houseplant Parent | The Home Depot's Garden Club

When you bring a new baby home, even a fur baby, you want to give it the very best start in life, and houseplants are no different. There’s a right way and wrong way to care for plants, and The Home Depot wants to make sure you begin your houseplant family, or collection, with the knowledge you need for success.

It’s easy to bring houseplants home now that they can be ordered online and delivered straight from our grower’s farms to your home.

Before you buy, make sure you understand the light conditions in your space. “The best rule of gardening, indoors or outdoors, is to know your conditions,” says Justin Hancock, houseplant expert and horticulturist at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla. Some plants, like ficus lyrata, the trendy fiddle leaf fig, thrive in bright light. Others, like sansevieria, are just fine in low light conditions.

Research low light favorites. The best light for houseplants is from an east-facing window. Second best is southern exposure. But keep a careful watch and move the plant back into the room if the light is too harsh.

If you don’t have sufficient light for your houseplants, fluorescent light will work. About 10 hours a day is enough to keep houseplants healthy.

What to Expect When You Order Houseplants Online:

Growers like Costa Farms’ nursery and dedicated fulfillment center in Miami ship houseplants directly to new plant parents. The plants for order are not stored in a warehouse, or taken from Garden Center stock. Most orders are filled and shipped within two days. 

 

How to be the Best New Houseplant Parent | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Growers carefully package plants to ensure they reach their new owners in the same condition that they left the farm. Bubble wrap protects succulents’ fragile leaves while paper sleeves protect other types of houeplants. The paper prevents soil spillage and a bamboo stick inserted keeps the box from being crushed during shipment. 

Open the box as soon as you can after it arrives. When you open the box, indoors or out, place a tray or towel to catch any dirt that may spill when you pull out the planter. The grower waters plants before shipping to keep the plant happy in transit.

 

How to Be the Best New Houseplant Parent | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Open the box from the bottom and slide out the package. A baker’s half sheet pan helps catch any soil spills.

 

How to be the Best New Houseplant Parent | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Peel away the paper and inspect the plant. The potting soil may have shifted, so you can push it back into place. Most items are sold in grower’s pots that you can gently place into a decorative cache pot. Alternatively, you can repot the plant into your own container.

Tip: Be sure to recycle all packing materials.

Give Your Houseplant the Best start:

Each plant will ship with specific instructions just for your plant. The instructions include ideal light conditions, when to water, how often to fertilize and special features of the plant like “easy to grow” and “purifies the air.”

Most houseplants will be fine in a grower’s pot and cachepot, but if you decide to repot the plant, first give it two to three weeks to adjust to its new environment. A new pot and a new atmosphere at the same time can adversely affect your new houseplant as it transitions to its new home.

Houseplants grow in a nurturing environment that’s humid and very warm, between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Give your new plant a few weeks to adjust to new surroundings. If, after a few weeks, leaves turn yellow or drop, give the houseplant specialists at Costa Farms a call for specific advice for your houseplant.

 

How to Be the Best New Houseplant Parent | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Discover these houseplants:

Expand your houseplant horizons with these lesser known but worthy favorites, suggested by Hancock.

  1. Red Aglaonema (shown above). Colorful, durable and highly tolerant of changes in humidity. The red tips make it a Valentine’s favorite, and keep it in mind as a companion to poinsettias at Christmastime. Do not overwater and it will reward season after season.
  2. Ficus Robusta, the rubber tree. An old-school houseplant with bold foliage like a fiddle leaf fig, the rubber plant is not nearly as finicky when it comes to light conditions. If you succeed with a rubber plant, you can graduate to a fiddle leaf fig. 
  3. Chinese evergreen (shown below). This aglaonema has silvery-green leaves and is just as easygoing as its colorful cousin above. This houseplant has been known to live 20 years and is an ideal choice for a novice gardener.

How to Be the Best New Houseplant Parent | The Home Depot's Garden Club

If you have any problems or questions about your Costa Farms houseplant, contact a houseplant specialist directly at 800.251.9909 or email them at questions@costafarms.com.

Got questions about this article or any other garden topic? Go here now to post your gardening ideas, questions, kudos or complaints. We have gardening experts standing by to help you!