4 Everyday Habits That Could Be Harming Your Plants

updated Nov 16, 2020
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You might not even realize it, but there’s a chance that some of your normal (non-plant-related) life routines are affecting your houseplants. Gasp, right? Some of your everyday habits—like not following through with your home care schedule or even rushing out of the house without opening the curtains in the morning—could be taking a major toll on the health of your plants.

Are you guilty of these seemingly innocent tendencies? If so, it’s time to clean up your act. 

Choosing Aesthetics over Practicality

Decor is everything when it comes to making a space that shows off your personality. But if you’re a sucker for a super cute planter or pot, it’s important that you don’t only focus on how it looks; also consider if it’s a good fit for your plant’s well-being. The biggest disconnect between aesthetics and practicality is usually proper drainage: Plant lover LaMar Thompson-Hightower warns that if your pot is missing a hole in the bottom, then you might have a problem allowing water to drain out of the plant’s soil. If you’re sold on your pretty pot, they suggest drilling a hole yourself, or asking someone at your local nursery if they can do the drilling for you. Another option is layering up and placing a well-draining nursery pot inside the more aesthetic one.

Using Plants as Accessories

Yes, that plant looks fantastic on your bookshelf, but it may not be the right choice for you just because it goes well with your new floral theme. Plant care expert Bri St. Holder suggests that, before purchasing any plant, you get familiar with the needs and required care of that particular plant. Make sure you have the genuine interest and time to take care of it properly, and also think about whether that plant is a good fit for your space, as far as sunlight, humidity, and air flow are concerned.

Credit: Viv Yapp

Leaving Curtains Closed While You’re Away

All plants need light to thrive. And while you may have done your due diligence to make sure that your west-facing windows are perfect for your new plants, you could be hurting them if you leave them for long periods of time with the blinds closed or curtains drawn. If you notice your plants drooping, losing color, or not growing for a long while, make sure you’re not absentmindedly cutting off their access to sunlight. Leave your blinds open at peak sunlight hours, or find a new position for your plants outside or near unobstructed windows.

Being Inconsistent with Your Plant Care Schedule

It’s completely normal to slack on your routines when life gets busy or you’re not feeling your best. But there’s less at stake when you get behind on the laundry than when you forget to water your plants. If you do miss your normal watering routine, don’t try to make up for lost time. As plant doctor Maryah Greene explains, there are two ways to overwater your plants: watering them too often, and giving them too much water at one time—and the latter can cause your plants to go into shock. Instead, provide just enough water to hydrate the soil to that plant’s preferred level, then try to set reminders so you never miss a watering session again.

The Apartment Therapy Plants vertical was written and edited independently by the Apartment Therapy editorial team and generously underwritten by Greendigs.