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8 Ways to Make Your Houseplant Obsession More Eco-Friendly

Whether you're a new plant parent or a pro, these tips will help you become a more sustainable plant parent when caring for your houseplants.

Written by
Caitlyn Nygaard

Houseplants are one of the trendiest home decor items around. They also better your mental health, make for a fun hobby, and provide the perfect prop for an aesthetically-pleasing Instagram post. But how eco-friendly are your gardening practices?

Regardless of whether you’ve been thinking about becoming a new houseplant parent—or have been growing (no pun intended) a plant family for a while now—these tips will help you manage a budding houseplant obsession in a more planet-friendly manner.

8 Ways to Be a More Sustainable Plant Parent

1. Avoid Buying Plastic Pots

If you buy a new pot for your plant, avoid plastic. There are so many beautiful pots available that are made from more eco-friendly materials.

Terracotta clay pots, for instance, are inexpensive and allow water and air to seep through the walls, keeping your plants healthy. There's also options made from upcycled materials, like this one made from recycled feed bags.

Another option is to upcycle containers you already have at home: baskets, tins—you name it. Just make sure whatever you use has a drainage hole, which prevents root rot. If there’s no hole, simply drill one yourself.

2. Use Natural Pesticides 

Spotting bugs on your houseplants is the absolute worst. If a plant develops a pest problem, stay away from toxic pesticides. Many synthetic pesticides contain harmful chemicals that are dangerous to you, and also to your plants. Instead, try using natural insecticides like neem oil and garlic oil spray.

3. Reuse Your Water

If you live somewhere you can keep buckets outside to catch rainwater, do it. It's such a great way to use the natural resource Mother Earth provides for us. Using fresh rainwater not only saves water, but it has less chemicals in it than tap water does, making it a great option for your plants.

Another great way to save on water is to recycle the water you used to rinse your fruit and vegetables. There are even items that help with this, like this mixing bowl and colander set.

4. Buy Locally

Of course, always try to buy your plants locally if you can. This supports small businesses, reduces packaging waste, and cuts carbon emissions. If there's not a greenhouse or plant shop nearby, no worries. There are plenty of places you can buy houseplants online, including Bloomscape and The Sill.

5. Propogate

Another way to save money, avoid excess packaging, and reuse pots is to propagate your plants.

Plants like ivy, monsteras, and pothos are excellent for propagating. And, learning how to propagate a plant is easy. Simply clip off a piece of the plant following the instructions here, and put it in a little jar of water. Within a couple weeks, you’ll notice roots growing from the clipping. You can even display them in a DIY macrame propagation station.

When there are enough roots to support the plant, go ahead and replant it into a pot. You can also consider a “plant swap” with friends, where you can trade clippings from your favorite plants.

6. Promote the Longevity of Your Plants

You don't want to toss plant after plant into the garbage. 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 it again. If leaves are brown and crunchy, this could mean you're underwatering your plant. With some extra care, your plants will live long and healthy lives—no rebuying needed.

7. Buy Secondhand

Oh, the beauty of thrifting! Instead of buying a brand-spankin' new pot every time you need one, head to your local thrift store. New pots can get expensive—especially glass and ceramic ones—so save a few bucks and support your local thrift store or flea market.

When being a sustainable plant parent, it's also important to think about the items we have that can be used over and over again, 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. You can find everything you could ever need!

8. Go Peat-Free

Peat is found in most potting mixes because of how well it retains moisture and oxygen, and how cheap it is to produce. Unfortunately, harvesting it takes a toll on the planet. Keep an eye out for peat alternatives when buying potting mix, like options made from coconut husks. They still benefit your plants but keep the planet healthy, too.