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Plant School

Tips from plant specialist MacKenzie Earl. Some of us were born with a need to surround ourselves with the lush greenery and vibrant blooms that only plants can provide. Although the love is there, the green thumb may not be. In a little shop in Culpeper, Virginia, house plants thrive and flourish in an abundant display of greens that would make the Emerald City swoon! We knew MacKenzie was the plant guru we always needed within minutes of meeting her. With just a few questions, she found the perfect plant and offered planter suggestions to house our new plant bestie. It all came down to light, soil, and planter. We've asked MacKenzie to break down the process for successfully raising a plant to become healthy and robust. It’s actually not that hard!

image of woman and planter with plants. bright, indirect light, is the sweet spot for most houseplants

<b>Viva:</b> Can you tell us the difference between low light, indirect light, and full light?<br /><b>MacKenzie:</b> Low light does not mean any light. Low light is very diffused light that receives no direct sun. Low light is across the room (8-10 feet) from a very brightly lit window or next to a window that receives very diffused light. Northern windows tend to have medium to low light - depending on the architecture of your surroundings. If you have a covered patio or trees outside of a northern window - plants next to this window will receive low light.<br />Medium-light is found in an unobstructed northern window or a diffused eastern window - or pulled back 2-6 feet from a bright window. Medium-light spots might receive less than an hour of direct light throughout the day.<br />Bright indirect light- this is the sweet spot for most houseplants. Bright indirect light has 1-3 hours of direct and ambient light for the remainder of the day. Eastern windows provide bright indirect light - with direct light hitting the space in the morning. Western windows that cast direct sunlight in the afternoon often cast stronger hotter light. Succulents and hoya are ideally situated close to western windows. The intense afternoon sun will help your succulents and hoya bloom.<br />Eastern light is ideal for most foliage houseplants. Gentle morning sun and bright indirect light throughout the day are perfect for philodendron, dracaenas, pothos, anthuriums, and other foliage plants.<br />Direct Light: Southern windows will offer direct light for most of the day. Soft-leaved tropicals are ill-suited for this level of intense sun. If they are introduced to it gently, hearty succulents and cacti can withstand this kind of lighting. I recommend placing your high-light plants near a southern window for a few hours for 1-2 weeks before keeping them in high-light full time. This allows the plant to gradually transition and helps avoid burning.

<b>Viva:</b> Is there anything we need to do differently if the planter has drainage versus no drainage hole?<br /><b>MacKenzie:</b> I always recommend a planter with adequate drainage. If you do not have drainage in your planter, you have to be careful about the volume of water you use every time you water. If you add too much water to a pot at one time - stagnant water will accumulate in the bottom of the pot and drown your roots.<br /><b>Viva:</b> Is there a rule of thumb for planter size based on the size of the plant? For example, if I bought a plant in a 6” pot, what size planter should I transfer it into?<br><b>MacKenzie:</b> A good rule of thumb is to only increase the size of a pot by two inches at a time. If you have a 4” plant getting too large for its pot, it may be ready for a 6” pot.<br /><b>Viva:</b> Are there different types of soil mix that work for succulents versus a fern?<br><b>MacKenzie:</b> Ferns need moisture-retentive soil that is heavy in peat and/or coco coir. Succulents need well-drinking soil that dries much more quickly. Succulent soil often includes perlite or vermiculite, sand, and orchid bark.<br /><b>Viva:</b> Can you suggest a few almost impossible to kill plants for beginners?<br /><b>MacKenzie:</b> Zz plants and snake plants are great for beginners because they thrive on neglect. They want to dry out completely between waterings. For plant parents who want a little more action, pothos and philodendrons are a great place to start. These tropical plants are resilient to inconsistent watering, and many can thrive in lower light.

For more information, watch our plant school video series. See how to trellis, learn about water globes, and watch as MacKenzie transforms a shallow planter into a showstopper!<br />Be sure to visit MacKenzie in the beautiful shop Botanical Dwellings, a home decor and gift shop for the plant-obsessed.<br />

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Thu Jul 18 08:05:09 EDT 2024