Plant parents, don’t panic

Plant parents bloomed over the course of the pandemic.

Adri and her plants
Photo courtesy Adriana Guardia

Plants brought a sense of companionship to people quarantining alone. It also gave them something to post about on social media since going out for brunch or to the clubs was no longer an option. Be it Instagram, TikTok or FaceBook, millennials were talking about their new babies.

FIU Institute of Environment Ph.D. Candidate Jazmine Lock-Rodriguez shares her expertise on ways to make sure your plant babies are well taken care of as you transition back to work.

First things first. Summer season is right around the corner and not all plants sold at stores can make it through the heat and rain.

“Don’t beat yourself up about a dying plant that is not meant for our climate or our season,” Lock-Rodriguez said.

Outdoor Plants

  • Mulch, Mulch, MULCH!
    • This is the best way to retain moisture in the soil and to keep temperatures cooler for plants. It’s also important to protect your soil from eroding during some heavy rains. Mulch helps prevent runoff while also retaining the rain in the soil for days to come. If it hasn’t rained in a few days, push back the mulch and make a ball with a small clump of soil. If it sticks together, it doesn’t need to be watered. If it falls apart, give it a good watering. It is best to water really early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is not too high in the sky, which is the perfect time for those going back to work.
  • Irrigation System
    • There may be times when you get stuck at the office for long hours. Don’t panic. Lock-Rodriguez suggests setting up a relatively simple irrigation system on a timer set to go off every couple of days. The system provides some relief knowing if you skip a day as life becomes more hectic, your plants are covered.

Indoor Plants

  • You got the mulch?
    • Plants in pots can be a little picky. Check if the soil is getting too dry. Every plant is different. Look up the best water schedule for your specific ones. Many common house plants do well just with one to two good waterings a week. If you put a small plate under the pot to hold some water, the roots will take up the water as they need it. Once you notice it is dry for a few days, that’s when you can refill.
  • Haircut
    • Lock-Rodriguez urges plant parents not to be afraid to give their plants a haircut. Cutting dried or wilting leaves can stimulate new and healthy growth. Read up on your plant’s preferences before pruning.
  • Healthy Diet
    • Plants need to eat, too! Try some organic nutrients like worm castings.

Share pictures of your plants on social media. Tag @FIUCASE and use #CASEoftheGreenThumb.