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How to care for your house plant (without killing it)

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At SpareRoom we’re not shy of admitting our undying love for house plants and succulents. There’s just nothing quite like a green, potted friend to put a smile on your face, give you a sense of purpose in life, and soften the blow of not being able to afford a flatshare with a garden (#CityLife).

But house plant parenting isn’t always easy, and just like real life babies they come with individual care plans that vary from plant to plant. Have you ever invested in a cute mini cactus cos “they’re impossible to kill”...only to resign your newborn to the bin a few weeks later?

Fortunately with a few basic tricks up your sleeve, you can ensure that all of your house plants have the happy, long, bountiful life that they so deserve. Let’s make that flatshare into a jungle, shall we?

1. Know your plant's name

...and not the name you’re going to call them (which btw is totally normal. Coming from the girl with a Spike, a Chactus...). Naming your plant is fun, but finding out what kind of plant yours actually is is probably the most useful start you can give it in life.

Different types of plants unsurprisingly require different care – members of the cacti family need minimal watering in summer, whereas yacca plants like frequent watering between spring and autumn. Your best bet? Check the label, or ask the florist you’re buying it from. Not only will they give you the name (ready for Google later on), they’ll probably have expert recommendations and care tips that are unique to your plant.

2. Let there be light

I mean, this might sound a little like primary school biology, but one of the fundamentals of plant love is LIGHT. Pretty much every plant benefits from some degree of natural light. Sounds basic, but can be difficult to achieve when it’s winter, dark all the time, and you’re out of the flatshare all day – leaving your curtains firmly shut behind you (extra insulation and all that).

If you know you’re going to be leaving the place in darkness, move your plant to somewhere with at least a teeny bit of day. A window sill in a communal area, like the kitchen, is ideal – just leave the blinds/curtains open a touch and let your baby see the world.

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3. Get some pampering in

How would you feel about walking around with crusty patches of dead skin on the ends of your fingers? Less than great, we’d imagine. So give your plant that same respect, and keep them as pampered as you would yourself.

This means gently pulling off any dead leaves that might appear, or trimming the dead ends off a spider plant. This will also help to prolong their lifespan by encouraging them to grow new, more shiny leaves, and let’s be honest – who wants a sad, browning plant hanging around in their flat anyway?!

4. Give them some space

When you’re growing a baby plant from scratch, there’s probably gonna come a time when said plant gets a bit too big for its pot. So instead of leaving them in there, spilling over the edges and struggling for space, why not give them a new, slightly bigger home? Repotting is super easy, and gives you the chance to invest in a fancy new pot too. Everyone’s a winner.

5. Thirst is forbidden

...but so is drinking too much. Let’s put this back on yourself: I’m guessing you probably function best when you’re not too parched, but you’re not full of excess fluids that make you uncomfortable? Your house plant is the same.

I get it, when you get a new one you just want to do everything you can for them. And like human beings, giving them plenty of food feels like the biggest act of love – but you can love things too much. And then they will die. Just ask my cacti-killing flatmate...

Obviously different types of plant need different amounts of feeding, so check this out properly with the name of the plant you responsibly sourced from your retailer. Just please, please do not water your cactus twice a day (looking at you, flatmate).

Looking for a house plant to start your very own urban jungle? London-based plant people, Patch have a great range to suit all budgets, flat sizes and needs. Each one comes with tailored care advice too, so you can be the laziest parent EVER. Dream.


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