Congratulations! You’re now the proud owner of a sprawling fiddle-leaf fig tree. The leafy green is known to improve air quality, boost your mood and bring some charm to your entryway. That is, if you can keep it alive for longer than a day. We reached out to Christan Summers, co-founder and plant whisperer at Tula Plants & Design, to gain some knowledge on how to keep our plant babies thriving. Here, she answers eight burning houseplant questions, all submitted by PureWow’s Instagram followers.
Help! My plant is leaning to one side. How can I keep her upright?
The plant slant is real. And while there could be several reasons your lil’ guy is favoring one side, Summers shares three of the most common causes:
1. Your plant is leaning toward the sun (aka its source of light). In this case she recommends a quick fix: “Rotating your plant every few weeks, so growth is more even and the sun reaches all sides of the plant.”
2. The roots aren’t grounded properly and are creating a weak foundation. Your best bet is to gently repot. Summers says this is to make sure the root ball can nestle deeper in its planter.
3. Low-light conditions can give way to flimsy (or “leggy,” in plant parlance) greenery. For these thin tilters, Summers suggests propping them up with bamboo or a garden stick (or even chopsticks from last night’s takeout). And some stems, like vining tropicals, may need to be tied to their stick supporters. Plant ties, or even twist-ties do the trick for spindly stalks. (Just be careful not to wrap too tightly.) And if you’ve got a leggy succulent on your hands, Summers says you can propagate the plant by cutting the longer stems. Then, replant those pieces and watch as new baby buds emerge. Did we mention plants are magic?
What does it mean if my plant’s leaves are yellow?
According to Summers, yellow leaves can mean you’re overwatering your plant. “The[y’re] a sign that your roots are suffocating, and that soil should be left to dry longer between watering,” she explains. To bring back those bright green fronds, Summers recommends cutting away yellow leaves and spacing out your watering days.
Will singing to my plants or playing music next to them help speed up their growth?
Good news for you and bad news for your neighbors: Belting out Adele at the top of your lungs is beneficial for your houseplants. “Studies have shown that the sound waves from music cause vibrations that stimulate growth in plants,” the expert confirms. Here’s hoping our aloe leaves are into ’80s pop and pitchy vocals.
How often should I water my small succulent?
Rather than sticking to a set watering schedule, Summers suggests getting to know your plant and how she looks when she’s thirsty. Maintain a close watch on the little cacti on your windowsill, keeping an eye out for wrinkling leaves and soil that “contracts from the sides of the planter” and feels “gritty and dry to the touch.” That means it’s time for H20. But keep Summers’s easy mantra in mind: “When in doubt, don’t water.” It’s much easier for succulents to recover from being under-watered than it is for them to come back to life after nearly being drowned by your watering can.
Which time of day is best for watering my houseplants?
Great question! Dole out water first thing in the morning during the cold, winter months and in the evening in the summer.
Is it a bad idea to place houseplants near my AC unit?
Turns out, your AC may be to blame for a lackluster indoor garden. Cold, dry air can do major damage, “causing dry leaf tips and unhealthy growth habits.” So, yeah, you’re going to want to find a safer home for your sprouts.
When should I repot my plant?
Summers says there are three signs it’s time to repot:
1. You water your plant and two days later it is totally wilted and begging for more water.
2. It’s spring or summer and your little plant hasn’t shown any signs of new growth.
3. There is new growth, but the leaves are coming in deformed.
But don’t repot before your plant is ready! Summers says that this is a common mistake among new plant parents. “If [it’s] pushing out loads of new leaves and growing at a healthy rate, don’t touch it.”
Which houseplants are the most low-maintenance?
Ah, so you’re looking for vegetation you can’t kill? Same. If your space is drenched with sunlight, consider cacti, sansevieria or succulents, says Summers. For lower-light conditions, her top picks include pothos, philodendron, sansevieria, spider plants, anthurium, schefflera and zz plants.
Is there a way to tell if my plant is happily (and sufficiently) watered?
Look for firm, plump leaves that stand upright, rather than looking droopy and sad. Give your plants a quick once-over before watering to avoid overdoing it. Then, throw on their favorite tunes.