To-dos that will keep your plants happy

Research by NASA has revealed that in 24 hours houseplants can remove 87 per cent of air toxins. Studies also show that having indoor plants in your house improves concentration and productivity by up to 15 per cent, reduces stress levels and boosts your mood. But what can we do for our plants during these humid summer months to keep them happy? Here are some tips.

Avoid big box stores: You may think that grabbing a plant on your way out of the grocery store is a good idea or would make a great host gift on your way to a barbecue but if you or your hosts are beginners, it’s best to leave those plants on the shelf. Not to say that places like Home Depot or Canadian Tire don’t have their place in the plant world, it’s just that plants from big box stores are more for people who already know what they’re doing. It’s basically a giant warehouse and it’s on you the plant enthusiast to know: Where does this go in my home? Is this plant healthy? Does it have bugs on it that will infest my entire collection? If you’re a beginner, try a local plant shop or nursery.

Examples of the different light levels you can find in a home. Illustration by Leon & George

Know your lighting: Good lighting makes the difference between me having abs in a picture or not, but you’ll be surprised to know that good lighting also makes or breaks the happiness of your plants. One of the biggest factors in determining the type of light you have is the direction your windows face. An article on says the amount of light each plant needs varies and depends on the time of the year. So whereas some plants will be quite happy with semi-darkness permanently, others will only accept it for a limited time. It’s important to clarify that low light is not the same thing as no light. Some plants prefer low light to direct light, but no plant loves no light. Even if a plant might not die in no light, it won’t thrive, pump out new leaves and it will look sad.

Root Rot: I’ve mentioned before how over watering is worse than under watering and one of the biggest reasons for that is root rot. Elite Tree Care says root rot is a disease that attacks the roots of plants growing in wet or damp soil. This decaying disease can cut the life short of just about any type of plant and has symptoms similar to other diseases and pest problems, like poor growth, wilted leaves, early leaf drop, branch dieback, and eventual death. If you pull your plant out of its pot and see roots flaking off, or smell something a little sour, you probably have it. Root rot is very common in houseplants and less common in outdoor plants.

Be proactive: No one wants to have to spend hours of their summer afternoon remedying root rot, dealing with pests or repotting just for the sake of repotting. So don’t. Be a proactive plant parent and stay on top of all the things that could go wrong before they do. There are a few common pests to watch out for. Spider mites are tiny arachnids that leave thin webbing on the undersides of leaves. Mealybugs are white, cottony-looking insects. Thrips or aphids — all of which feed on your plant and can do serious damage if left unchecked. The first thing you want to do when you notice signs of pests is to isolate that plant from all the others. Rinse it off in the shower and then treat it by spraying the plant with a diluted mix of water and an insecticidal dish soap (a very basic dish soap). It might take two or three treatments to notice an effect and you’ll want to wait a week or two in-between treatments.

Got a green tip to share with us or something plant-ey you would like us to investigate? Send your ideas to Jace at

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