Plant Intuition✨ - how to communicate with your plants

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

Plant intuition might sound a little crazy but after reading this you’ll have a better understanding of what we mean!

Plants are living things just like you & me. They eat, grow, reproduce, & communicate just like we do just in different ways. So how can two totally different species find a middle ground of communication? Well it takes a bit of patience, knowledge, & a open mind!

Believe it or not your plants are constantly communicating with you, just not with words. Plants are more ”visual” communicators. What I mean is that they will show you what’s wrong instead of telling you! Yet what are you supposed to look for & how will you know what it means? Lucky enough for you, you are in the right place to find out!

Set a time of day at least once or twice a week for you to check your plants. I tend to make this my morning ritual, while I have my coffee I stroll & browse my plants for visual clues of what they’re trying to tell me.

One thing I recommend is doing a bit of research on your new plant once you bring it home. See what type of lighting, moisture, & humidity levels it enjoys. As well as seeing if they are prone to any type of pests (ex: Alocasia varieties tend to be more susceptible to spider mites due to their juicy veins). Another thing to look for is if they’re considered more of a “signal” plant, or a plant that is more expressive (ex: peace lilies will often ”faint” when in need of water, string of pearls will wrinkle when in need of water). Once you have an idea of this plants ideal conditions you can rule out a lot of the possibilities for problems.

Lets talk signals & signs! Some plants are less expressive, but there are a general rule of thumb for most signs.

  • When To Water: Research what type of soil conditions your plant enjoys. For example philodendrons enjoy to dry out between waterings, where as calatheas do not like to dry out whatsoever and prefer to be kept moist. Getting a feel for your plant when it’s watered vs. when it’s dry can also help you determine when to water. When you pick up your plant and feel that it is quite light you will know that your plant is ready to be watered. Soil texture is also a good way to tell if your plant is ready to be watered or not. Crispy dry crunchy soil is a sign you need to water.

  • Over Watering: mushy stalk, stunted growth, root rot = bad smelling soil, black rot on stem, lots of fungus gnats, plant feeling soft & limp, you’ll also notice browning/yellowing leaves as well as bottoms leaves falling off. Solution: make sure pots have drainage holes, choose a soil with good aeration & drainage, bottom watering allows plant to take water as needed, cut back any rotting parts.

  • Under Watering: droopy leaves, plant feels thin & crispy, yellowing/browning of leaf, wilting of the plant, slow or no growth, & dull leaves. Solution: Choose a soil with higher organic material or peat moss, stay away from terracotta pots or pots that suck up moisture, bump up your watering schedule.

  • Humidity: Some plant enjoy humidity more than others, plants like calatheas need humidity in order to thrive. Signs that you’re lacking humidity can be crispy leaves, leaves curling inwards, or even leaf drooping. Solution: There has been some debate over what actually can help increase humidity. Here at Green Culture we highly recommend humidifiers for best results! Misting your leaves regularly is another good way & can also get you in the habit on checking on your plants. In our opinion the tray with rocks & water trick is not as sufficient, a pain in the butt, & if done improperly can cause root rot.

  • Low Light: loss of color or variegation in variegated plants, small new leaves, dull leaves, no blooms (on flowering plants), slow or no growth, leggy growth due to reaching for brighter light. Solution: Increase amount of light available by moving plant or adding a grow light. Mirrors can also help reflect light & make a brighter room.

  • Too Much Light: crispy crunchy leaves, leaf bleaching, sunburnt black crisping on leaf, scorched leaves. Solution: decrease amount of light available, provide shade

  • Fertilizer: plants require fertilizer to give them the nutrients that aren't readily available in the soil. Especially indoor plants that are kept in containers. Signs of deficiencies can be: older leaves turning yellow, chlorosis, purpling of leaves, new leaves yellowing. (refer to our blog “Fertilizing 101- feeding your friends“ for how to tell which nutrient you're lacking) Solution: Find the right fertilizer for your plants, feed plants atleast every 3 months, water with super thrive to add additional vitamins & nutrients.

  • Repot Time: A good way to tell your plant is ready for a repot is to see the roots from the bottom of the pot. Also look for stunted growth, & soil looking compact & drying out too quickly between waterings. Solution: Bump up the size of your pot to the next size up (ex: 4in-6in-8in, etc). Putting a pot too large for the root zone can cause root rot.

  • Pests: yellowing leaves, leaves loosing green color, webs on leaves, seeing pests present (reference our blog “Plant Predators“) Solution: using neem oil as a preventative, wiping leaves occasionally to get rid of dust, quarantine new plants or plants that are contaminated. Treat infected plants with pest solution.

In conclusion, plants are a lot more expressive than we are lead to believe. Taking the time to listen to them can help ensure their success in your collection. So make sure you do your homework about your new plants, checkup regularly on your current collection, & always remember that one yellow leaf is not the end of the world. 💚 Hope this helped you lovely plant people! Till next time, happy growing!

- Liv & Yas

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