Maybe someone gave you a Calathea for your birthday or work promotion. Maybe your roommate left behind their cactus collection when they moved out. Maybe you were scrolling through Instagram and saw a reel of someone meticulously caring for their Philodendron and thought to yourself, “now that looks like something I could get into”.
Whatever your reasons for becoming a first-time plant owner, here you are on a plant shop’s blog trying to find out how to care for your new green charge. There are many tools that are a must when you are looking after plants, and the first plant care tool you need is knowledge! Not to sound like a PSA but knowledge is power- and researching your plant should be the first step in learning how to properly care for it.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and do a little digging about your new plant. What region does it come from? How much water does it need throughout the week? Does it like bright, indirect light or shade? You can find that information here on our website on your plant’s individual species page.
Watering is probably the thing that first-time plant owners are worried about getting right. I would suggest after reading up on your plant's specific watering requirements that you take a look at our Care Article Watering Houseplants 101. There’s a lot of good information in there that can help you water with success.
But you can’t just water with your mind. (Well, maybe you’re telekinetic and you can- and honestly good for you!) Most of us are familiar with the traditional watering can, so I’m not going to spend too much time going over its merits. You can use it to top water or bottom water your plants, it’s spout makes water delivery to soil easy, and you’re going to feel very cool holding one.
There are alternatives to the watering can, some of which might just be easier for first-time plant owners because they will take care of the dreaded question: “How often should I water?”
The olla is one such tool. An old, traditional method of irrigation (and cooking and dry food storage, it’s amazing) can be utilized when it comes to watering your new plant. The basic idea is that unglazed ceramics can be filled with water and buried in your plant's soil, allowing water to slowly leak out of the porous container over time.
Over time, your plant’s roots will grow around the olla in its soil. This will allow your plant to draw from the terracotta holder as needed- meaning the only thing you have to worry about is refilling the olla!
If you do want a watering can and are still worried about knowing when to water your plant, then I would recommend investing in some sort of moisture meter. We sell a few on our website, like the Plant Doc Color-Change Watering Guide for Houseplants from Daphne’s Botanicals which is completely biodegradable and changes from colorful blue to white when it’s time to water your plants.
You can also go for a reusable moisture meter, like these colorful ones from Jungle Club. Stick them into your plant's soil and wait 10 minutes to get a read on just how moist or dry your soil is.
If you’ve purchased or been gifted a Tradescantia, Spider plant, Pothos, or any other creeping, vining plant then you may want to invest in a good pair of pruning shears. Good quality shears will allow you to safely trim back your plant for years to come.
You can trim back trailing plants like Tradescantia or Pothos in order to encourage them to grow bushier and rounder. You can use any plant cuttings that your prune off of your plant to propagate more plants- so you may also want to check out our selection of propagation stations.
If you’ve only got one plant at home, or are just starting your collection, then you probably don’t need to invest in a large amount of plant food. Most houseplants only need to be fed a few times during the spring and summer, so it doesn’t make sense to buy an enormous bottle of the stuff if you’re just starting out.
We would recommend you buy the Single Serving Plant Food Packet from Flourish. This will allow you to buy as many servings as you need to feed your plant through spring and summer, without having to store a large bottle of plant food throughout the rest of the year. Plant food for one, anyone?
If you want to give your trailing or climbing plant some support and structure, then we would recommend a trellis. The Honeycomb Plant Trellis from PlantsNsht can be used in pots that are 3” or larger and 18.5” long- giving your plant plenty of growing room. The wood is ¼” thick, and will hold up under the weight of your plant as it grows- so no worries about this thing snapping on you.
These are some suggestions of good tools to add to your arsenal when you get your first houseplant, but there are so many more! Check out our “Tools” section to see our full range of supplies.