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9 Indoor Gardening Mistakes That You Didn’t Realize You Are Making

When you first get a new plant home, you are excited to have them and care for them. But sometimes, things don’t go as planned, and your plant starts suffering.

You might start seeing some problems like yellowing of leaves, droopy plants, or even wilting foliage. But why does your plant start dying all of a sudden even when you are doing everything to keep them happy?

In most cases, we end up making some common mistakes, leading to a lot of problems in our plant. And in today’s article, we will discuss 9 common indoor gardening mistakes that we don’t realize we are making, but it ends up hurting our plant badly. So, let’s begin.

Pothos plant grouping

I have done my best to address all of your concerns in the article below. However, if you still have any questions or are confused about the article, you can receive personalized one-on-one assistance from me by leaving a comment below. I will respond to your comment within a few hours.

Please note: Simplify Plants is reader-supported. Some links in the post are affiliate links and I get a commission from purchases made through links in the post.

Not doing proper research about the plant

Researching about your plant is always essential to avoid bad experiences with the plant. Since you are beginning to make your plant garden, you should do your research to know the primary care of each plant.

Without proper research, you might end up wasting your money, time, and resources. Therefore, we recommend you start researching with small and easy-going plants. These plants are hardy and can tolerate some neglect.

The research will help you to save your plant from dying and unnecessary problems.

Each plant has different requirements, some need more light, and some may survive in low light. Some are drought-tolerant, and some may wilt as soon as their soil dries.

Buying sick plants in the first place

zz plant turn brown

Buying a sick plant is a nightmare for any gardener, and if this is your first time into gardening, then sick plants are surely going to crush your garden dreams.

Sick and weak plants will make things harder not only for the planter but for other plants too. They will waste your time and resources and never come back healthy.

The best way to avoid this problem is by buying plants from a reputable nursery. They have high-quality, healthy, and disease-free plants. In addition, they will help you to choose the plant that is perfect for your growing environment and clear your queries when buying new plants.

Nurseries are pretty expensive but are worth it as they give quality plants. In other stores, the quality is cheaper, and the staff may not provide you proper knowledge and help regarding the plant you bought.

Buy plants that seem healthy; it will save you from harm.

Also, we recommend you keep any new plant you bring home separate from your older ones. If the plant is sick or infested, and you may not know that, then isolating will help you understand that and save other plants.

If you end up mixing them up by any means, then it is undoubtedly going to spread diseases and pests among all of them.

Not watering your plant right

Spider Plant underwatering

Watering right is one of the first things a beginner has to learn. Since it is told in every other article to follow a schedule for watering your plants, this might hurt your plants. A single schedule for watering doesn’t exist.

Many planters water their plant following a regime blindly without checking on them whether they are happy with the regime or not.

The plants need to be watered but not following any routine without check on them. So they need to be looked at before you water them.

The environment plays a vital role while watering your plants. For example, if you follow a watering regime once a week in summer, it must change if the temperature goes down.

You cannot be sure if the soil is dry just visually; you need to check the soil moisture properly to avoid under and overwatering them.

You can follow a few steps to rely upon the results to ensure the correct watering.

Droopy, wilting leaves are the first few signs that your plant is thirsty. But it would be best if you validated before making assumptions as it can be due to other reasons such as pests infestations, diseases, etc.

You can check the soil at the border. If the soil is pulling away from the sides, then the soil is dehydrated. You can touch the soil to feel it.

The best trick to check soil moisture is digging your finger in the soil up to 2-3 inches and thin it out. Then, if the soil is sticky to the finger, you can wait for a few more days before watering them.

It would be best if you researched how your plant likes its soil to stay. For example, some like their soil mix evenly moist between waterings, and some like them to dry out. 

If you keep a saucer under your pot and you forget to empty them after watering. Due to staying wet all the time, the roots will get rot and slowly affect all the healthy roots. 

You might wonder that you are watering right, but the roots are dying inside, and the plants also don’t make it. Empty the saucer every time you water your plant to avoid roots sitting in water.

Tip: Stop watering your plant just as you see a few drops of water coming out of the drainage holes. This will ensure that the plant is evenly watered, and the saucer will also not fill with water.

Also read: How long can houseplants go without water? (with 25 examples)

Not providing appropriate light

zz plant lowlight

Plants need light to produce energy and nutrients they need to function. Different indoor plants have different light needs. Even the light need may vary depending upon the time of the year, the stage of growth for the same plant.

Major mistakes are:

  • During winter, the plant faces more issues with lighting as the light is weak and might not be enough for them. 
  • You might be overestimating the light your plant is getting during hot weather and not providing them enough light. 
  • You might be keeping your plant in the scorching sun when the light is intense; even a few hours of such light can burn the leaves.

The best way you can combat your mistake, and the problems you are facing is through knowledge. Knowing your plants and their requirements is a sign of a good and responsible gardener.

You must know what kind of light your home receives, keep plants that can easily thrive in that light condition. 

For example, if you have plants that need different lighting, let’s say need more bright light, and your home receives less light, then you may use grow lights to provide bright light.

You can also move your plants outdoors by following the proper process so as not to shock them. They will happily survive outdoors too. You just have to know them and choose the right spot for them.

Not Using adequate fertilizer

simplify plants fertilizer

Plants growing in containers need to be fed as the growing medium cannot fulfill their nutrient requirements. As a result, you either overfeed their plants expecting more growth or underfeed them, leading to weak plants.

The nutrition in the soil gets flushed out with time due to watering. The soil lacks nutrients that it cannot create on its own. It would be best if you made sure the plant gets sufficient food.

Overfeeding is as harmful to your plants, and underfeeding may make them weak and leggy.

Again you need to know how much and what fertilizer your plant needs. Some like high nitrogen content, while some like high potassium, and others like balanced food.

Both types of fertilizer and the schedule of fertilizing your plant depend on the type of the plant and season.

As some plants are heavy feeders, and some need light feeding. Some like to be fed all around the year, and some like it only in the growing period.

Using wrong type/size of containers

Croton pot

Wrong containers usually indicate the wrong size of the container that you are using for your plant. If the size of the containers is not suitable, it may affect your plant’s growth and health to a large extent.

If you are planting a seedling in a big container, it may die if you are not careful with other needs. The soil will take forever to dry and will lead to its death.

If the pot is too small, then it can limit plant growth.

The plant that likes to be root bound may find it difficult to survive in small pots and will not grow to its potential.

In addition, they will need frequent repotting, which can also shock the plant and lead to stunted growth.

Here understanding what your particular plant type needs to go a long way. Repotting should be done only when the roots are coming out of the drainage holes.

Another common issue many planters face is growing plants in containers with no drainage holes.

This mostly happens when planters plant in pretty and decorative pots. They might not have drainage systems or holes that are of no use. This will keep the soil soggy and result in root rot.

You need to buy pots with a proper drainage system such as clay, terracotta, ceramic pots, etc., that are readily available in the market.

Using wrong growing medium

ZZ Plant soil

To grow indoor plants, choosing the right soil mix plays a vital role and taking care of their nutrients needs when grown in pots. Each plant has different needs when it comes to its growing medium.

Some might like a well-draining mix, while some like a heavy mix. Soil mix highly depends on the type, species of plant you are growing.

If the soil mix is inappropriate for the plant, the plant may suffer even if other conditions are checked.

If a plant is growing in heavy soil but prefers a porous soil mix, then due to lack of air and water flow, the plant may die due to root rot.

Using gardening soil is one of the biggest mistakes beginners make when planting new plants.

Garden soil is heavy, compact, and filled with bacteria, and fungi that are not suitable for your indoor plants. They are the reason for root rot, pest infestation, and bacterial growth in plants, even when kept in optimal conditions.

You should not use compost alone to grow indoor plants. Unfortunately, many beginner planters grow their plant in such materials expecting them to provide proper plant growth.

Compost deteriorates over time and will not provide the proper structure for your plant to grow. No matter how much fertilizer you add, the plant will always lack nutrients.

What you need to do is choose the right soil mix that your plant requires.

An ideal soil mix allows accessible water, air, and nutrient flow with water retention quality and also is rich in nutrients. It should also allow the root system to move through it. But it may still vary from plant to plant.

Growing too much at once

Calathea light requirement

Another mistake beginners often make is over-committing and overdoing. It leads to poor results, pulls you off, and de-motivates you. Instead, we recommend you start slow and manage your excitement.

Many new planters take too much responsibility by buying too many plants at once and then cannot handle them and end up losing them all.

Each plant requires different watering, different lighting, etc., which a new planter will need time to understand.

Some plants need extra care; some are fragile and need their routines or spots to be changed according to the cultural conditions.

Instead of picking too many plants, whether different or identical, start small.

Pick a couple of plants, maybe 2-3 plants in the beginning.

It is recommended to choose plants that are sturdy and low maintenance, and of the same types. It will help you gather experience and confidence to increase the number of plants in your indoor garden.

Not pruning your plants

Arrowhead Plant clipping

Pruning is like giving your plants a haircut and also helpful to good plant growth. But, unfortunately, new gardeners are pretty hesitant to prune their plants.

Cutting off parts of your indoor plants will promote healthy growth, but beginners feel that it might harm them.

Cutting at the right spot is essential to boost their growth. In addition, pruning dead and damaged leaves are essential to keep pests at bay.

Don’t be afraid to clip your plants. It will help them grow and lighten the entire plant’s burden on the soil and roots if they are weak.

You need to know when to cut your plant and where to cut it. Keep an eye on them, cut the leaves as soon as they start to discolor, look weak, etc.

Sources: College of agricultural studies, University of Vermont.

Recommended Garden Supplies

Are you looking for a readymade indoor plant soil mix that you can open and pour? Check out rePotme. They offer a wide range of readymade soil premixes for all your indoor plants.

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