8 Tips for Sustainable Plant Parents

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written by:  Caitlyn Nygaard

editor's note:

A lot of waste can be associated with trying to keep our plant babies thriving. Here are some ways to support both your plants and mother earth!

Houseplants are the trendy decor items in our homes these days and the perfect prop for an aesthetically pleasing instagram post. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get that “junglelow” vibe going in my home! Regardless of if you’re thinking about becoming a new houseplant parent, or if you’ve been growing (no pun intended) a plant family for a while now, these tips will help you stay on track with sustainable practices when caring for your plants.

1. Avoid Buying Plastic Pots

If you have to buy a new pot for your plant, avoid plastic! There are so many beautiful pots out there made from materials other than plastic. Terracotta clay pots are excellent go-tos as they are inexpensive and allow water and air to seep through the walls, which keeps your plants healthy! Another option is to upcycle containers you may already have: jars, baskets, tins– you name it. I personally like all of my pots to have a drainage hole to allow excess water to drain out. If there’s no hole, you can simply drill one yourself!

2. Use Natural Pesticides 

Bugs on houseplants are the absolute worst! If your plants happen to get an insect problem, stay away from the toxic pesticides! Many synthetic pesticides contain harmful chemicals that are dangerous to you, and also to your plants. I use organic Neem oil on my plants, which is a natural pesticide. Eucalyptus essential oil is also a natural remedy to keep insects away.

3. Choose Air-Purifying Plants

It’s true! Plants will purify the air we breathe! Have you seen the new show, Down to Earth and the episode about London’s pollution reduction efforts? One of their efforts is to install green walls around the city to purify the air and reduce pollution. A few of the best air-purifying plants, but not limited to, include snake plants, English ivys, spider plants, and aloe vera. Be sure to look into the care for each of your plants so that you can maximize their air-purifying qualities. Some plants have the capability to purify the air of toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide.

Check out NASA’s Clean Air Study to read more about how plants detoxify the air. Keep in mind, the more plants you have, the purer the air will be in your living space!

4. Reuse Your Water

If you live somewhere you can keep buckets out to catch rainwater, do it! This is such a great way to use the resource mother earth provides for us. Using fresh rainwater not only saves water, but it has less chemicals in it than tap water does, therefore it is more pure.

Another great way to save on water is to recycle the water you cooked unsalted vegetables in. If you do choose to use veggie water, I recommend diluting it with fresh water (like your rainwater!) to avoid a strong odor after watering your plants.

5. Buy Locally

Of course, ALWAYS try to buy your plants locally if you can! This not only supports our local businesses, but saves us from ordering online and requiring packaging materials. Find your local greenhouse or farmers market, and I am sure you will find some lovely houseplants to take home with you! 

6. Propogate

Another way to save money, avoid excess packaging, and reuse pots is to propagate your plants. Plants like ivys, christmas cacti, and pothos are excellent for propagating. Simply clip a piece of the plant off and put in a little jar of water. Within a couple of weeks you’ll notice roots growing from the clipping! Use your best judgement, and when you feel like there are enough roots to support the plant, go ahead and replant into a pot. Consider a “plant swap” with friends, and trade clippings from your favorite plants!

7. Clip Dead Leaves

To promote the longevity of your plants, be sure to keep an eye on their leaves. If you start to notice the leaves turning yellow, that could mean the plant is being overwatered. Allow the plant to completely dry out before watering next. If leaves are turning black, this could be that the plant is getting too much direct sunlight and getting “sunburnt.” Try moving your plant to a different spot in your home with less direct sunlight. Likely your plants will still have thriving green leaves in these scenarios.

It is best to clip those yellow or black leaves off right away so your plant can send its energy towards the thriving green leaves instead of the dying ones. This will help your plant to live a longer and healthier life so you don’t have to keep re-buying your favorite plant.

8. Buy Second-Hand

Oh, the beauty of thrifting! Instead of buying a brand spankin’ new pot every time, head to your local thrift store to find planters and pots for your plants. Brand new pots can get expensive, especially glass and ceramic ones, so save a few bucks and support your local thrift store or flea market. It is important to think about the items out there that can be used over and over, and that goes beyond planters. When shopping secondhand, also keep an eye out for other plant necessities such as a watering can, plant stands, wall hooks, or a grow light!

written by:  Caitlyn Nygaard

editor's note:

A lot of waste can be associated with trying to keep our plant babies thriving. Here are some ways to support both your plants and mother earth!

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