Plant Care 101 - A Lazlo Guide
Store bought potting soil straight from the bag typically doesn't provide enough drainage for most houseplants, this results in plant roots siting in wet dirt for too long with little to no air getting to the roots. The lack of air/oxgyen around the roots creates a perfect environment for rot-causing fungus to thrive, leading to what’s referred to as root rot.
To combat this, we put additives in our potting mix like perlite, orchid bark, and other chunky material. The additives create better drainage, allowing the water to move more easily through the soil and allows more air to get through and around the roots. These additives are the key to a suitable soil mix! Depending on your location and watering habits, you may find a better ratio of the 'additives' than the ones we use.
Pot and Pot Size
The size of the pot is crucial to the environment around your plant’s roots.
To determine the perfect pot size for your plant, look at the the size of the root ball, not the size of the foliage! You want a pot size that is only a little larger than the root ball, about 1-2” bigger in diameter than the plants roots. Too big of a pot can lead to the soil staying wet for too long, as there aren’t enough roots to soak up that water. Having the right size pot, along with the right substrate, allows the pot to dry out enough between waterings. Another way to look at it is that the correct pot size ensures that the substrate won't stay wet for too long (remember: staying wet too long = lack of oxygen to the roots, which leads to rot).
Having appropriate drainage in your pot (e.g. drainagle holes or slits) is also extremely beneficial for your plant: it gives the excess water somewhere to go and it prevents the water from pooling at the bottom of the pot. If water pools at the bottom, you’re increasing the duration that your soil stays wet which increases the likelihood of rot. While we typically recommend against pots without drainage, if you do have a plant in a pot without a drainage hole, after watering, tip the pot on its side over a sink to get the excess water out.
Watering correctly is all about the frequency at which you water your plants (how many times in a given week/month), and fully saturating the soil when watering (excess water will come out the drainage). Overwatering means that you have given your plant water too often, and ultimately didn’t give your substrate enough time to dry out in between each watering. Underwatering is when the plant dries out for too long before giving it water.
To properly water your plant, you want to saturate the soil with water and have water coming out of the drainage hole(s). We recommend bringing your plant to the sink while you water it, allowing your plant to drain the rest of the water out with minimal mess. If you have the water collect in a drainage dish, make sure you empty out the dish so that your plant does not sit in water.
Determining when it is time to water is done by checking the moisture level of the soil and, for most of the plants from our shop, watering is done when the soil is mostly, if not completely, dry throughout the entire pot. The best way to check the moisture is through feel - we usually stick our finger down a couple of inches in the soil but you could also use a chopstick and see how much wet dirt sticks to the stick when you pull it out. Another method of checking the moisture level is the weight of the plant. We recommend getting used to the weight of the plant after it has had a nice drink, and when it comes time to water. The plant is significantly lighter when it is time to water, and you will able to tell which plants need a drink by simply picking them up!
Identifying Over/Under Watering
Identifying if a plant has been overwatered or underwatered can be tricky, as the damage that's presented in the plants when these situations arise can appear similar.
An overwatered plant’s leaves might turn yellow or get brown spots with yellow around the brown. It may even be really mushy or look like they have water in the leaf itself.
An under-watered plant’s leaves might be really crispy with brown edges and dry stems; the leaves might be curled as if they are withering. A severely under watered plants leaves may also be yellow, but will not have the noticeable yellow around the brown spots.
Context also plays an important part in identifying over/under watering. If the soil feels heavy and wet, and you are noticing issues with yellowing and brown leaves, it is most likely overwatered. On the other hand, if you notice plants withering and yellowing and the soil is bone dry, it was probably under watered!
Sometimes, one leaf will turn yellow and die while the overall plant is still healthy, this can be due to lack of nutrients, light, or other environmental factors. When you notice multiple leaves yellowing, that is a good indicator that something might be wrong and to start diagnosing the issue.
*If multiple leaves are yellowing and you are positive that it is not from under or overwatering, it may be time to look closer to see if there are pests on the plant*
There are two different 'types' of light that we talk about in the shop, 'Bright' and 'Indirect' light. At first glance, these terms can be seemingly confusing, but we will get you on a path of understanding what each mean!
Direct light is when the plant can directly see the sun. An example of this in the home would be a sunny windowsill, the plant can directly see the sun and the sun can also 'see' the plant. There is nothing obstructing that light from the plant. Some plants that can thrive in Direct sun are True Cactuses, Fiddle Leaf Figs, Palms, Birds of Paradise, and most Succulents
The other 'type' of light we talk about is indirect light. This is different from Direct light because the plants never want to see the sun. They prefer bright light has bounced off of the floor or walls. An example of this in the home would be a coffee or dinner table in the center of the room. The plant can't see the sun, but there is light reflecting all around the room for it to absorb. would. Some genuses that love indirect light are Pothos, Philodendrons, Peperomias, Syngonium, Hoyas, Alocasias, and Anthuriums! Most of our plants in our shop thrive on this type of light!
In a typical home setting, the closer to the window the plant is, the more Indirect light it is receiving. Similarly, the farther away from the window the plant gets, the less indirect light it gets.