The Basics of Caring for Plants: What You Really Need to Know

The Right Soil

How Much Sunlight?

Watering Your Plants

Other Things to Consider

While caring for plants, there are some basic things to consider. Proper care calls for the right soil, sunlight, and watering techniques for the plants. The way you care for your plants can help them prosper and grow into something beautiful.

Flower garden in rainboots on a fence

Whether you’re just starting out and looking for initial direction or brushing up on the basics, this is a great place to start. When starting out, the same few factors are all at the foundation of caring for plants. After familiarizing yourself with the basic needs and knowing what to look for when purchasing plants, it becomes simple to apply the knowledge to any plant in the future.

The Basics of Caring for Plants: What You Really Need to Know

When you know the basics, caring for plants is pretty easy. Soil, sunlight, and watering are all key ingredients to plant care.

Plant tag with care information

Many plants come with information about the care needed in order for proper growth. For example, most plants at nurseries have a small tag in the soil that lays out the amount of sun and water, how far apart they should be plants, and other small facts about the plant such as blooming seasons. Look out for these while shopping as they tell you all the secrets for growth of that specific plant! It also doesn’t hurt to hang on to these handy little tags after planting to remind yourself of the plant needs and when its expected to bloom.

It is important to read the information that comes with your plants to know proper plant care. In addition, if you are unsure about what your plant might need, don’t be afraid to ask an employee! If you’re buying plants online it is also a good resource to look at the information listed there or consult the FAQs to learn more.

The Right Soil

Soil with garden shovel and small plant container on desk

Plant care starts off with choosing the right soil for your plants – its like building a strong foundation for a house. Some plants require a soil mixture that drains easy (a well draining soil) while other plants do better in a soil that holds moisture better.

The main concern is using the proper soil is ensuring that the roots of your plants don’t rot from too much or standing water. For example, caring for plants that are succulents requires a well-draining soil. Since they are typically found in the desert, the goal is to mimic their natural environment by allowing water to easy flow through the soil of the plant. Try this soil, which is great for succulents and cacti.

To learn more about soil and whether or not its well-draining, check out this article by Better Homes and Gardens.

How Much Sunlight?

Another thing to consider when caring for plants is the amount of sunlight they need to grow. Some plants require little sun, while others need full sun to prosper.

Plant in partial shade

Some of the best spots for plants are areas that get great natural light, such as a windowsill in a kitchen or living room. Another spot that can be good is a bedroom if the sun shines in. There are some great houseplants that don’t require a lot of lighting that can be explored if lighting isn’t ample in your home.

Many factors can impact lighting, such as the way windows face. If lighting is a challenge, there are other options that can be explored. Plants can be moved around and even put outside in the sun on warmer days. Another option is to invest in a plant light. A plant light can be a light bulb that is specifically for plants that can be swapped out with a normal bulb, or can go more advanced beyond this. Here are some different options to explore.

Watering your Plants

Plant being watered with watering can

One of the most important things when caring for plants is watering them. Ensuring that the plants don’t get too much or too little water can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have the right combination of soil and sunlight, as these are both factors that impact moisture.

In addition, the guidelines for watering plants are different if the plants are outside versus inside. For indoor plants, it is key not to overwater them, as the factors that impact evaporation are different than outdoor plants.

Vegetable garden with plants growing

On the flip side, its recommended that outdoor plants and gardens receive one to two inches per week. In addition, it is better to water outdoor plants in the early morning or later in the evening, especially in summer. This is because it is typically hottest during midday which then allows the water to evaporate more quickly rather than giving your plants the drink they need. Other guidelines for watering outdoor plants can be found on this post on Morning Chores, which also includes a great watering table for different veggies as well.

If you’re planting multiple plants in one pot or area outside, it is important to do your best to group plants with similar needs. Since all plants do not require the same amount of water, this can be tricky. One type of plant this is a major concern with is succulents.

When it comes to watering, succulents are relatively easy to take care of but are also easily over-watered. This becomes even more problematic when one plants needs little water while its neighbor requires a lot. Therefore, grouping plants with similar needs protects your plants and makes things easier on your end as well.

Other Things to Consider

While soil, sunlight, and watering are the biggest things to consider when caring for a plant, there are some other things that can make a difference too.

cacti in a variety of pots along a windowsill

One thing is to consider is the container that that plant is in. For example, succulents or cacti can be planted in almost anything, from actual pots to coffee mugs. The main concern when doing this is making sure the water has somewhere to go. In addition to the well draining soil, stones or marbles (or something similar) can help to give the water a place to collect after it runs through the soil and roots.

Another thing to consider when caring for your plants is space. Ensuring plants have the proper space to grow is important to allow for spread. As the plant begins to grow, its important to consider the height the plant can reach as well as the expected spread and growth of roots.

Overall, while it seems like there might be a lot that goes into caring for plants, understanding the basics can help bridge the gap. I hope this guide helps build the foundation of your garden and gets things under way. Happy planting!