Step 1: Look at the plant.
Sounds simple right? If the plant looks good, pat your self on the back for a job well done and walk away! If it does not, see step 2.
Step 2: Let there be light.
Plants need light to live and love to be near windows or under skylights. But be careful not to place your plant in a place where the sun can shine directly on it. Just like people, plants can get sunburned too. On the other hand, if you are squinting to see what kind of plant you are dealing with it could be too dark.
Step 3: Plants need air!
Plants hate a dank stuffy room as much as you do. Circulating air is an important part of a healthy plant's environment. Ceiling fans and office AC systems work well for this but often get turned off when people leave for home. If possible, place your plant in an area that gets a lot of "good" air.
Step 4: Check for water.
Wiggle your finger down into the soil about 2 inches deep. Is the soil moist or dry? If the soil is dry it must need water, right? The definitive answer to that is.....maybe. Lots of interior plants prefer very dry soil. These can include: Janet Craigs, corn plants, dragon trees, pretty much all cacti and succulents, snake plants, sheffleras, sago palms, lots of kinds of ivy, and a whole bunch of other plants.
There are also plants that like moist soil. Many varieties of palms, Peace lilies, ferns, figs, crotons, ficus trees, and birds of paradise plants prefer moist soil.
Knowing what the plant is and how much water it likes to have will help you decide whether or not to water. But remember, there are virtually no interior plants that will do well in WET soil, so soaking a plant to revive it or dumping your water bottle out in it every day is a bad idea. If a plant looks sad and you are noticing that from week to week the soil conditions are "too dry" or "too wet" for that plant type, you can begin to make adjustments.
Step 5: Routine maintenance.
Found a shriveled up leaf? Don't worry, plants do that. Remember that plants are living breathings things that grow up, get old, and (sometimes) die just like any other living thing. Plants go through a natural cycle of putting out new growth and letting older foliage die off. That is completely normal for a plant and you should expect that eventually a little trimming will be needed to keep you plant looking awesome.
A good pair of scissors should make pretty quick work of any dry or dead leaves or any brown or yellow leaf tips. Trying to tear leafs off with your hands often leaves a ragged mess. If you are working with a ficus tree try grabbing ahold of the trunk and give the whole tree a vigorous shake! Any weak leaves will fall to the ground and you don't have to worry about accidentally clipping anything off you shouldn't have.
When you water, try to water in small amounts. If you have a plant that likes a lot of water, rather than giving it a big "drink" all at once, split that up into two smaller "drinks" with time in between to let the first watering soak in a bit. Its way easier to add more water than it is to take excess water out.
Annoying bugs like gnats and bad fungi love it when you over water but the plants will hate it. Try to water in a way in which all the water is soaked up by the soil and not sitting in the saucer at the bottom of the pot.
Spraying the plant's leaves once a week with a mist of rainwater or a special mix called plant shine will help foliage looking clean and healthy.
Organic fertilizer can be added about once a month but should be used sparingly. A healthy plant will fight pests off naturally, but if you do see bugs like Scale, (a waxy looking brown bug) or Mealy bugs (which leave a tell-tale white cottony residue on the plant leaves) an organic insecticide can be used.
Step 6: When in doubt, call the experts.
If a plant is giving you trouble, help is only a phone call away. Feel free to call, text, or e-mail any questions you might have and if you can include it, a picture really is worth a thousand words in these cases. Here at Magic Gardens we love our plants and worry about them, and you, while we are away from week to week and want to know right away if we can help.
Above all, we want you to enjoy your plants and we work hard to make having them as stress free as possible. and as always, thank you for letting us be a part of your success!