Gardening 101: How to Care for Houseplants and Master Gardening
Updated: Sep 25
If you’ve had an indoor or outdoor garden, you know that it can be incredibly therapeutic to tend to plants. To have a small green life depend on us can give us incredible meaning – especially when our plants thrive! When we’re struggling with uncertainty, gardening also gives us something tangible we can control. But it can also be frustrating to have plants die or struggle and wonder what caused it. Are you overwatering? Why are your perennials slow to regrow? Was it too early to transition your plants outdoors? Solving gardening problems can be incredibly satisfying and rewarding.
Are you wondering how to help your houseplants thrive as spring appears? Let’s explore some common gardening inquiries.
What plants thrive outdoors?
It’s important to understand the origins of your plants. If you’ve ever had a friend from a tropical climate visit you, you likely noticed their tendency to throw on a sweater before you even noticed the cold. In California, you can often spot the Canadian snowbirds because they’re wearing shorts on days when the locals have their windbreakers on. Plants respond based on their origins; understanding this is an essential key to becoming a great gardener.
Natural Resources Canada information and resources to understand which plants will respond well to the climate you live in. Some tropical plants like jade, spider plants, and aloe vera are more resilient and can thrive outside in warmer temperatures. These plants need less water and light, so they’ll adjust more easily than other more sensitive personalities – like the Hibiscus plant, which will likely do better indoors unless you’re in a Floridian climate with high humidity. By doing your research and asking questions, you can curate a gardening ecosystem that perfectly suits your natural environment.
When can I bring my houseplants outside for the summer?
Moving plants outside too early is equivalent to a death sentence for your plants. Most houseplants will thrive outdoors, but only if the timing is right.
It will be tempting to bring sun hungry plants outside on the first day of t-shirt weather, but don’t let warm daytime temperatures fool you. Consider how cold it gets at night before you begin gardening outside. Some specialists recommend waiting 2-4 weeks after the last frost, while others suggest that nighttime temperatures should be consistently higher than 10° Celsius before making a move.
Train your plants so they get used to being outside. Start by putting them outside in daylight hours and moving them inside at night. This is Gardening 101 – testing things out slowly and monitoring how your plants respond.
Exercise special caution with sensitive plants from tropical climates, like violets or orchids. While most plants thrive outside, colder nighttime temperatures could put sensitive plants at risk.
If you’ve had an especially cold winter, it’s also normal for perennials to take longer to appear. Don’t panic if you don’t see growth in early spring, and give them time to wake up slowly.
How do I take care of houseplants?
The biggest mistake a plant owner can make is assuming that all of their plants need the same things. Just like people, plants are incredibly sensitive and could be responding to a broad range of factors at any time. Perhaps you had a fig tree with brown spots, and spraying it with baking soda and water helped it recover. Months later, you may have a different fig tree with brown spots – but for some reason, the same solution doesn’t work! A quick Google search can reveal that brown spots have a variety of causes. Your plant could have a fungal infection, be a victim of overwatering or need to be repositioned to a place with less direct light.
How can I learn more about gardening?
Read our article on 5 tips for growing houseplants.
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.