How to Stop Killing your Plants PART 1: Light

I have a confession.

I have not always been a plant person...GASP! Don’t get me wrong, I have always LOVED plants, I just though they didn’t love me back! But I was wrong - they just didn’t love the way I was caring for them.

Before we owned a plant business, many of you know that I was a high school science teacher. As a teacher, I didn’t have much time to care for plants (and I didn’t always remember to water them, either). I would get a new plant once in a while, water when I remembered to (which wasn't often), and place it where I thought it looked good. Well, shocker…this routine does not work for very many plants! So when I discovered succulents actually thrived under my "care", I was so excited! And that’s where my plant parenthood journey began.

Having chosen to open a plant shop, it's now my job to take care of hundreds of plants each day! Crazy!! But I still remember what it's like to see my plants struggling (it still happens!) and wonder what they were trying to tell me!

I thought I would share some of the most important things I’ve learned about being a plant parent in a blog post series I'm calling "How to stop killing your plants: The 4 most important things I've learned about being a plant parent".

Part 1: Light

Part 2: Water

Part 3: Soil

Part 4: Attitude


Let's dive in!

Part 1: Light

Think back to 7th grade science and you’ll probably remember hearing the term photosynthesis. 'Photo' means light, while 'synthesis' means producing something. So photosynthesis is like a magical (aka scientific) process that plants use to make their own food and keep themselves alive. Just like we need to eat to get energy, plants use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to make their food. They have special parts called chlorophyll inside their leaves that act like tiny power stations. When sunlight touches the leaves, the chlorophyll gets to work, turning sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose. Oxygen is what we breathe, and glucose is like the plant's meal that gives them energy to grow and stay green. So, in a way, plants are like nature's little chefs, cooking up their own food using sunlight and a bit of magic! Pretty cool, right?

Yea, it’s pretty cool if you ACTUALLY GIVE THEM ENOUGH LIGHT! Yes…I’m yelling! LOL But only because so many people don’t give their plants nearly enough light. And without it, no amount  of water, fertilizer or plant whispering will help. I was definitely guilty of this before I knew better. It’s so easy to just bring home a new plant and put it where you think it “looks pretty” but did you check to see what kind of light that plant actually needs

When plants don't get enough light, it's like they're missing a key ingredient for their growth and health. Just like how we feel tired and sluggish without sunlight (winter blues, anyone?), plants start to struggle too. They might become weak and droopy. They might actually stretch, like they're trying to reach out for more light. Their leaves might turn yellow or pale because they can't make enough food without sunlight. Sometimes, plants might even stop growing or start to lose their leaves.   It's like they're saying, "Hey, I need some light over here!" Remember, low light does not mean no light! Low light plants still need some indirect light, otherwise they cannot photosynthesize. It's important to give plants enough light so they can stay happy and healthy, just like us when we soak up some sunshine!

But the reverse can also be true. If plants get too much light, it's like they're getting too much of a good thing. Just like how we can get sunburned if we stay out in the sun for too long, plants can also get "sunburned" if they're exposed to too much sunlight. Their leaves might start to look scorched or burnt around the edges, and they might wilt or droop because they're losing too much water. It's like they're saying, "Whoa, that's too bright for me!" Too much light can also make it hard for plants to make food properly, so they might not grow as well or even start to turn yellow. So, it's important to find the right balance and give plants just the right amount of light they need to stay healthy and happy!

So how do you find the right balance? Choosing the best place for your plant in your home is like finding its own little happy spot! Here's how you can do it without needing to be a plant scientist:

Check the Sunlight: Pay attention to how much sunlight different areas of your home get during the day. Look for spots where sunlight streams in through windows or doors.

Watch the Shadows: See if you notice any shadows moving throughout the day. Plants need sunlight, but most  don't want to be in direct, scorching sun all day long.

Direct vs. Indirect Light: We’ve all heard the term ‘Bright indirect light’. So many plants like it but what exactly is it? Direct light is unfiltered. A plant that enjoys direct light means the plant likes the sun's rays to touch their leaves, like the sun is beating down on the grass in your front yard. Indoors this would be a large south or west facing window or skylight with no obstructions. Indirect light is light that is filtered by a shade, sheer curtains, or the leaves on a tree outside the window. In the US, a north facing window will never get direct light.

Know Your Plant: Do you know the name of your plant? No, not the name you gave her but the botanical or scientific name, such as Monstera deliciosa. Google Photo and iPhones will literally identify a plant for you and while the accuracy is not guaranteed, it will likely come close. Different plants have different needs. Some like lots of bright, indirect light, while others are happy with just a bit of light. Check the care instructions that came with your plant or do a quick online search to learn about its light preferences. Or better yet, think of a place in your home where you might like to have a plant and take a photo of the area in the morning and the afternoon. Bring it in with you to the shop and we will make a recommendation! Seriously - we can make a great recommendation for something that will do well in just about any area of your home if we know how much light it will get!

Experiment and Observe: Try placing your plant in different spots around your home and see how it reacts. If its leaves start turning yellow or drooping, it might be getting too much or too little light.

Find the Sweet Spot: Once you've found the right spot where your plant seems happy and healthy, that's its new home sweet home! Just remember to keep an eye on it and adjust if needed as the seasons change and the sunlight shifts.

With some observation and a little trial and error, you'll find the perfect spot for your plant to soak up just the right amount of light and thrive in your home! And of course, we are always here to answer your questions and help you out so don’t hesitate to call the shop or stop in! We love helping you become an even better plant parent!



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