Woman bringing plants home

Essential Steps for Bringing a New Houseplant Home

There’s probably nothing more exciting for a plant enthusiast than bringing a brand-new plant home, except maybe a plant rewarding you with a new leaf. Being a fellow plant hoarder myself, I've brought many plants home over the years. I've developed a solid routine when adding a new plant to my collection, something that new plant parents might not have a clue about.

PLANTS IN A PLANT SHOP

So let’s look at exactly what to do before, during, and after purchasing a new plant to ensure it settles well into its new home and makes you happy for years to come.

What To Do Before Buying Your Plant

PLANTS IN A CART

In an ideal world, everyone would research which plant will thrive in their space before buying one. But let’s be honest, we’ve all bought a plant on a whim, mesmerized by its beauty and unable to resist adopting it from the scary plant shelter.

However, at the very least, I suggest doing a thorough once-over at the plant shop/nursery before buying the plant, looking out for the following:

  • Check for Pests: Look for any signs of pests on top and underneath the leaves, as well as on the surface of the soil.
  • Check for Root Rot: This can manifest as yellowing or browning leaves.
  • Check Soil Quality: Depending on the species, a chunky soil mixture with visible bark and perlite is usually a sign of good quality.
  • Check for New Growth: New growth is usually a sign that the plant is healthy and pest-free.
  • Inspect the Underside of the Pot: If the roots are peeking out of the drainage holes, this is a sign that your plant will need to be repotted soon. This is not ideal, as you are already removing the plant from its home. Look for another plant that isn’t root-bound.
  • Smell the Soil: As strange as it might sound, it’s worth taking a sniff of the soil. Healthy soil should not have a foul odor. A bad smell could indicate root rot.

What To Do When Traveling With Your New Plant

PLANTS IN A CAR

Most people don’t consider that transporting the plant from the shop to their home can be very traumatizing for the plant. Remember, you're most likely taking the plant out of an ideal environment with controlled humidity and watering schedules.

  • Cover the Plant: If it is particularly cold where you are, cover the plant with something like a jacket when moving it from inside the plant shop/nursery to your car.
  • Secure the Plant: Ensure that the plant is safely secured in your car. Placing it in a box often works best, and if possible, buckle it in! It is a living thing, after all.
  • Weather Considerations: Depending on the weather, ensure the car windows are closed in winter or open in summer. Keep in mind the plant is likely used to warm, humid conditions.
  • Go Straight Home: Plan your day so you can go straight home after buying your new plant. Making stops means the plant stays in the car for an extended period, which is not ideal.
  • Drive Carefully: You basically have a child in the car—drive slowly and carefully.

What To Do With Your Plant When You Get Home

When you get home, immediately take your plant out of the car and into the house. If you don’t know the plant's care requirements yet, familiarize yourself with them as soon as possible to choose a spot to place the plant for the next few weeks. Specifically, research its light requirements, as some plants need more natural light than others. However, never place a plant in direct sunlight, as this will likely scorch its leaves. Read my blog post on "The Best Rooms For Your Indoor Plants" to help you with this step.

Acclimatize Your Plant to Its New Environment

Once you've assessed the plant's needs and your space, place the plant in the desired location. Make sure you are happy with the plant there, as it’s best if the plant stays put to fully acclimatize and settle in while getting used to its new surroundings. As an extra precaution, ensure that your new plant is not close to any other plants just in case it has pests that you might have missed. You DON’T want these pests to spread to your other plants.

First Week Care Tips

  • Keep it in the Nursery Pot: Keep your new plant in the nursery pot it came in. If the plant is healthy, there's no need to upset it further by repotting it. Give it some time to get used to its environment before uprooting it again.
  • Hold Off on Watering: Resist the urge to water your plant for the first week. If your plant came from a nursery, the soil should be relatively moist already. By watering it again, you will likely over-water it, which is the number one plant killer. Give the soil some time to dry out first before watering it.

First Month Care Tips

  • Avoid Fertilizing: Hold off on fertilizing for at least the first month to give the plant time to adjust to its new environment before taking in additional nutrients.
  • Check Soil Moisture: Allow at least the top few inches of the soil to dry out before watering. It’s best to use a moisture meter to ensure that you are not overwatering.
  • Watch for Stress Signs: These can include leaves wilting, yellowing, or dropping and can be a sign that the plant is not adjusting well to its new environment. If you notice one or more of these signs, slightly adjust the position of the plant, as it’s possible that it needs more or less light.

Long Term Care Tips

  • Maintain Stable Temperatures: Plants don’t like sudden changes in temperatures, so avoid keeping your plant near drafts, heaters, or air conditioners. This will ensure that the temperature remains as stable as possible throughout the day and night.
  • Maintain Humidity: Most houseplants originate from tropical climates, which means they like higher humidity than the average indoor environment. To increase humidity, use a humidifier or place the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water.
  • Frequently Rotate: Rotate your plant regularly to ensure it doesn’t start leaning heavily towards one side.

By following these steps, you’ll give your new houseplant the best chance to thrive in its new home. Enjoy your new green companion!

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