January is the perfect time to hit reset and establish healthy routines in all areas of your life – including your plant care routine. So don’t leave it up to luck or until you discover a problem on your new foliaged friends – set yourself up for plant parent success while the year is young!

To find out how, we asked Greener Spaces Better Places friends and horticulturalists Dom and Dunc from The Plant Runners (Melbourne’s favourite plant shop on wheels) for their top tips to getting the year started on the right leaf.

TIP #1: Know your plant

Light: Some plants are going to be okay in dark areas of the house, and others will want more bright, filtered light. Check which light conditions yours prefer before selecting a spot for them to live.

Water: When you first get a new plant, regularly stick your index finger into the soil (up to the second knuckle) to get an idea of how quickly that plant takes up water. This will tell you how often you will need to water it – when the soil feels dry at that depth, it usually indicates it’s watering time. For more detailed advice on watering, head here.

Location: Consider things like air-con and heaters – don’t place your plants too close! This can remove humidity from the air and dry plants out.

If you’re still unsure about your plant’s preference on any of these factors, go and have a chat with the experts at your nearest nursery or garden centre – they’ll be super happy to help.

Image credit: Daniel Shipp

TIP #2: Don’t be afraid to re-pot

Most plants need to be re-potted up every 12 to 18 months, with the slower growers needing a re-pot every couple of years. Re-potting up your plant will give it access to fresh nutrients, encourage growth and help prevent diseases.

When re-potting up your plant, always try and choose a good quality potting mix, and make sure you pot up just one or two sizes larger.

Image credit: Daniel Shipp

TIP #3: Listen to your plants

Most plants will give you a sign when something isn’t right, like a discolouring in the foliage or crispy leaf edges. Take action early – look at your surroundings to see if there’s anything like an air-con or heater nearby that needs removing, and check the soil for moisture to see if your plant is thirsty. If you can’t quite pin-point the problem or simply want to check with an expert, take some photos and head to your local nursery or garden centre to ask for advice.

The quicker you get onto issues, the quicker the plants will recover!

Image credit: Daniel Shipp

TIP #4: Develop a routine

The best way to keep on top of plant care is by simply developing a regular routine where you check in on them and attend to what they need. Use this time to water your plants, feed them, prune them and remove dust from the leaves. If you check on your plants regularly, you’ll see signs of change which can tell you if they need more or less water, more or less sunlight etc.

Not only is this good for your plants, but it’s a great time to exercise mindfulness!

Image credit: Dr Excelsior’s Photography

So there you have it – levelling up your gardening game in 2021 is as simple as setting yourself up with a solid plant care routine founded on a bit of know-how, some regular time in the diary and putting the friendly local nursery on speed dial. Happy growing!

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