Our eyes are so incredibly sensitive, its hard to fully appreciate. But ask any photographer or videographer and they’ll tell you the same thing: natural, ambient sunlight is much stronger than artificial light. Plants need light for photosynthesis. So find a window and open the curtains.
Helicopter plant-care (like helicopter parenting) is bad. Plants thrive in their natural state, which means the occasional dry spell. It’s part of good growth. (For example, our East African native “ZZ Plant” thrives with little water.)
Like humans, activity causes plants to drink more water. An indoor plant with low light, exerts less energy. As such, it absorbs less water from the soil. Adding water only causes problems. Watering damp soil also prevents the natural drying-out process—creating a mushy mess and causing root rot.
If you ever questioned the importance of nutrient-rich soil, consider this. According to the EPA, 40-80% of farm fertilizer flows into lakes and rivers. Despite this waste and the incredible cost of fertilizer (both financial & environmental), farmers insist on it. Why? Because nutrients are incredibly powerful.
This is NOT a fertilizer endorsement! It’s just proof that dark, nutrient-rich soil matters. People pay for quality soil and it costs more. Some growers pay, while others don’t. Everything grows beautifully at a sun-kissed tropical nursery—even some plants with mediocre soil. But once you relocate plants to new, indoor environments, critical investments, like good soil, make a big difference.
4. Under Watering
Sometimes your week-long vacation transforms into three weeks of neglect. So here’s a test, stick your finger into your potting soil and remove it. If nothing really sticks, you have dry soil. Set an alarm and try to establish a regular routine.
5. Dead Ends & “Root Bound”
Roots need space and good soil to grow. Like a teenager who outgrows his blue blazer—over time, plants hit barriers and require repotting. The picture here shows what a “root bound” plant looks like.
Unfortunately, to reduce shipping weight and soil costs, some growers sell good-looking “root bound” plants. These plants are ticking along towards a costly upgrade. Its best to avoid them or accommodate for their growth.
6. Bad Florida Growers’ Soil
Americans are spoiled when it comes to soil. The Great Plains has some of the best on earth. (The Morton Arboretum has tons of Illinois soil information.) However, tropical nurseries are commonly located in places like south Florida, where sand is king and rich, organic soil is more expensive.
Avoid buying indoor plants from growers who rely too heavily on sand and clay. These plants generally lead to problems—especially with tall plants. Unfortunately, many large-scale nurseries sell these plants in bulk—mostly to chain stores and massive retailers.
7. Harsh Light
Harsh direct light, especially from the sun, can damage leaves and cause browning at the tips of certain indoor plants. Over time, this can seriously weaken your plant. Google your plant to learn more. Give low and mid-light plants the shade they deserve!
8. Poor Selection
There’s a place for poetic designs, but sometimes its best to stick with the fundamentals—plants that thrive indoors. You cannot engineer or manufacture the natural.