Here we have several articles about plants – from our newsletters……enjoy!
Tropical Plant Care 101.
As Vedic Gardens marketing reach has been broadening, we have been increasingly asked “Please just give me the plant care basics so I can start somewhere.” So here goes!……
It has to be recognized that as the needs of different species vary, it could be bordering on dangerous to write this article and it’s best to read up on the ideal conditions specific for your type of plant. This article is a general guide for beginners.
1) “Minimise The Culture Shock” (making the transition):
Like many of us, plants need time to adapt to their environment. So it’s good to avoid sudden changes. Eg. for a plant shipped “bare-root”, the newly arrived plant needs a couple of weeks to get established first in a pot in a shady area… before moving into the sun. The contrast between “bare-root” with no light and the ground with full sun is significant to sometimes cause a shock (but not always). It’s also better to make stepped changes from shade to sun. So move the plant into a partially shaded area before finally moving it into the sun, and the reverse when bringing the plant indoors from the sun.
Smaller plants (e.g. potted plants rather than large trees in the ground) are less able to tolerate extremes in temperature.
2) “Pots & Pans” (potting, soil and fertilizer):
Prior to the plant arriving is a good time to read up on the plant care instructions and get the pot, potting soil and compost ready.
Most plants prefer a well-drained soil (exceptions exist of course – e.g. grape-vines love a heavy clay soil). Always use a pot with drainage holes at the base. It is preferable (but not essential) to put an inch of gravel at the bottom of the pot before adding the potting soil, local soil and compost mix.
It is possible to over-fertilize plants ……a little every 2 or 3 weeks is usually optimum. e.g. about a table-spoon full only per pot.
3) “Shower With Love” (watering):
More people tend to over-water than under-water. The two easiest ways to determine whether a plant needs watering are:
a) Put your finger in the soil of the pot to a depth of around an inch or two, and if it seems dry, it’s probably time to water.
b) Lift the pot. From experience you will know the difference in weight of the pot just after a thorough watering compared to when it is dry. Water is heavy!
Most plants like a heavy, infrequent watering than a little every day (there are of course, exceptions).
4) “Health Check” (avoiding and treat bugs):
Bugs are everywhere and a fact of life…. Humans too are subject to bugs.
If your plant has a few bugs, this is a normal part of nature and a sign that harsh chemical pesticides have not been used. However, it’s good to stop the bugs from getting the upper hand on your plant.
Monthly checking a few sample leaves’ underside for bugs is worthwhile – e.g. for whitefly. An organic spray is often required, and good to repeat this after two weeks to be effective. Ie. once-off is often not effective.
Geraniums (in spring) and chrysanthemums (in fall) are often good company for many plants – because they deter bugs quite effectively. Several other plants are also good for this purpose, but these are typically the most easily available in USA.
Happy tropical-plant gardening!