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What the FAQ is going on with my plant?

A quick Tula guide to keeping plants alive and thriving

What is the best soil for cacti and succulents?

Cacti and succulents grow best in porous and well aerated soil. This means, you want grit in your soil – gravel, large grains of sand, pumice, etc. You want to make room for water to pass right through and not stick to the soil particles.

Avoid soil that will retain a lot of moisture such as soils heavy in organic matter (worm poop, manure, etc.) and moisture retaining agents like peat moss and clay.

What is the best soil for orchids?

Orchids, similar to bromeliads are best potted in well-aerated, porous soil so the roots stay lose. Soils are made specifically for orchids and are made of various expert mixtures of bark, lava rock, peat moss or sphagnum moss.

To help imagine why orchids need air flow and aeration you can imagine them in their natural habitat. Orchids are both epiphytic, which means they grow on other plants like trees (no harm done!) and terrestrial which means they grow on grounds like the forrest.  The orchid roots are thick and tendril-like, which is how they attach to other species like the tree and rough ground covers in the forrest. The roots will rot if sitting in a moist dirt-based soil, so avoid traditional potting mixes when indoor planting.

What is the best soil for bromeliads?

Bromeliads, like the orchid prefer well-aerated and porous soils. You can use a good orchid soil mix for bromeliads, which are an expert mix of textural elements like bark, lava rock, peat moss and/or sphagnum moss.

Although a bromeliad can be planted in traditional potting mixes, they will grow better and healthier in more porous soils like that for the orchids as its roots want to be well aerated and lose.

What is the best soil for foliage plants?

Foliage plants will grow just fine in a traditional potting mix, although they will be very happy if you add additional organic matter like worm poop or compost to your mixture.

The golden rule for container planting is to pot plants in well draining soil so the roots don’t rot. If you’re one to over water, add some texture to your potting soil mixture–try gravel, small stones or lava rock. This will break up the compaction and help keep the soil lose while retaining the water it needs.

What is the best soil for flowering plants?

Similar to foliage plants, flowering house plants will grow well in a traditional potting mix made of potting soil, peat moss and vermiculite or perlite.

Factors in getting your flower to bloom are sunlight, pruning and the right balance of fertilizer. A helpful hint for the right fertilizer–too much nitrogen (N) will result in beautiful foliage, but may stunt blooms. Look for fertilizer that has flower-boosting phosphorous (P).

How do I know if my apartment has good light for plants?

First, find out which direction your windows face. Fastest way to do this is to use the compass that comes with your smart phone. If you do not have a smartphone, look for where the sun sets or rises. The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. North and South are easy to figure from there. ‘

Southern exposure is ideal for plants.

East and west facing exposure are also good. With Eastern light, you will notice during the winter solstice your light will decrease significantly. Its okay, just make sure to decrease watering and don’t expect much growth from your plants.

Northern exposure has the least amount of light and you should consider low-light plants for your home.

IMPORTANT: with too much sun, some plants can get a sunburn. Ferns, pothos, certain palms, ivy, peace lily, aglaonema, etc. are some of the plants on the sensitive foliage list.

Can plants get too much light?

Yes, it is possible for plants to receive too much direct sunlight. If you start to notice dry, brown patches or small holes in the leaf foliage of your plant, this could be a sunburn and you should move your plant away from the harsh direct rays.

Remember, the sun’s direction is seasonal and it’s position will change depending on which direction your windows face.

We’ll have a list available soon of plants with delicate foliage.

My plants are starting to die, what should I do?

We’ll help diagnose the problem and keep your plants alive. Contact us to learn about our home visits and/or digital plant doctor service.

Why are the leaf tips turning brown?

Depending on the plant specie and home environment, brown leaf tips can mean different things.

A common diagnosis is that your plant is to dry and/or receiving too much direct sunlight. Glass windows magnify sun and can often be too harsh for soft foliage, and leaves get sunburned. Ferns, palms, bird of paradise and others have sensitive foliage.

An easy solution is to move your plant so it’s foliage does not lay directly on, or too close to the window. Or pull a shade for a few days during the week to give the foliage a break from the harsh UV rays.

Another condition may be that the air is too dry. Read the section on humidity, under Watering for tricks on combatting dry air.

Do I need to rotate my plant?

Most plants grow toward a source of light, so turn your plants once in awhile when you start to see it lean toward to light source.

What’s the best room temp for a plant?

Fortunately, most plants live well within the same temperature we do; ranging anywhere from (59-75°F) or (15-22°C).

Plants do prefer more humidity than we have in most homes so if you want to try combatting dry air, read the section on increasing humidity under the Watering section.

Why are the leaves losing color and turning pale?

This is the result from too much direct sunlight, cold/frost damage or soil that does not have a healthy PH balance.

For too much light, an easy solution is to move your plant so it’s foliage does not lay directly on, or too close to the window. Or pull a shade for a few days during the week to give the foliage a break from the harsh UV rays.

For cold damage, move the plant away from the cold draft until the season changes.

For PH balance, make sure you are using the correctly balanced fertilizer for your plant specie. Contact us if you don’t know what we mean by that.

Why are the stems and leaves growing long and spindly?

Your plant needs more light. Reposition it closer to the window and watch photosynthesis work it’s magic.

Why are the stems close to the soil shriveling up and turning black?

The stems are rotting due to root rot. The soil is too moist, commonly due to overwatering.

Skip a watering and give the plant lots of sun and heat, hopefully its not too far gone. But give it some time, even if a stalk is fully rotted you can cut it off giving a fighting chance for the remaining part of the plant to keep growing.

My plant fell over and is on its side! What should I do? Will it die from the fall?

Don’t fret. First, help your plant friend get back up. What you should not do is take the opportunity to repot it with all the new soil.

Prop the plant back into its original pot, careful not to disturb the roots too much. Salvage as much as the soil as possible and pack it tightly around your plant, in it’s original pot. If the pot is broken or is no longer sturdy, then repot into a new planter, just be sure to use the same size (if the plant is not rootbound). Read this post on best repotting practices.

Only add soil to the top if necessary. Check to see if any leaves or branches were damaged in the fall, if so, prune the damaged parts back.

My cat/dog/toddler/friend/sibling/etc. has damaged the foliage on my plant. Will that hurt the plant?

Time for a good pruning. Don’t worry, unless the culprit attacked the roots, your plant is okay. It has just take on new character.

If half of foliage is still in tact, follow the lines of the foliage and prune the leaves into the shape they naturally grow.

For foliage severely damaged, best to prune (cut) the entire leaf, cutting close to the stem or the nod (looks like a tiny knuckle) it grew from.

I live in the city, should I filter tap water before watering my plants?
Most tap waters contain very low levels of chlorine and fluoride (there are exceptions, like in Oregon). However, the level of minerals are so low, they will not hurt your plant.

If you live in an area where tap water is considered hard (water with high levels of minerals and salts), then filtering or distilled water is a better alternative.

**New York and the Tri-state area have good tap water for plants, no filtering necessary.

How often should I water my plant?
The most common mistake, is over watering – you can avoid this by getting to know your plant and setting a routine.

Is it time to water? Start by sticking your finger into the top inch of your potted plant closest to the edge. Don’t get too close to the stem, you don’t want to disturb the roots. If the soil is completely dry, it is time to water.

Check your plants every 3-5 days and choose a watering day – ours is Sunday. Every Sunday we water. If the soil is dry before Sunday (during the summer it usually is), we water. During the winter we decrease watering frequency to 1X/two weeks or 1X/month (this will vary depending on your plant specie).

When in doubt, don’t water. It’s easier to revive a thirsty plant than one that is overwatered.

How much water should I use?

Different plant types require different quantities of water.

A good general rule of thumb: do not dump an entire water container in your plant at once–pour a little, watch it absorb, pour a little more, watch it absorb, repeat this slowly, until water is draining from the pot’s drain hole (always empty drained water from planter tray).

You will get to know how much water your plant will take until it begins to drain. You can also pick it up if small enough and gauge by weight (dry vs. watered), as the difference is notable.

For foliage and flowering plants (like palms, ZZ plants, snake plants, etc.) you want to water thoroughly – which means – you want to see water drain from the bottom of the planter.

How should I water my foliage or flowering plant?

For foliage and flowering plants (like palms, ZZ plants, snake plants, etc.) you want to water thoroughly – which means – you want to see water drain from the bottom of the planter.

How should I water my cactus or succulent?

For succulents and cacti, water less and slowly.

A good trick we like to use is filling the sink with 1-2” of water and placing our potted succulent or cacti (bottom down) into the sink for about 1 min. Let it drain completely.

If watering from the top, avoid getting water on the foliage and you want water to drain fast. Succulents and cacti should be planted in porous soils that do not retain moisture.

Should I leave water in the planter tray/saucer?
No. Water should not remain in the planter tray/saucer and should always be emptied after a thorough watering and drain. Water left in the tray/saucer is cause for root rot.
Should I mist my plant?

We are fans of misting. It keeps your plant clean, which decreases risk of insects/pests. And if you mist regularly and frequently, we believe this helps in relieving some dryness in the air. Give your email a break and make it a morning routine.

How do I increase humidity in the air?

We use humidifiers. Others use pebble trays full of water that they place under their planter tray (never sit the pot directly in water). Most plants however, will survive just fine without humidifiers or pebble trays.

Best practices: do not place your plant next to a radiator or air vent and consider the control you have over the heat/AC. And if your place feels like the sahara desert during winter, invest in some awesome cacti.

Read this post to learn when your plant is struggling from air that is too dry.

Does my pot/planter need drainage holes?

Yes. Contrary to popular belief, even with tricks like rocks at the bottom of your planter, plants are healthier when planted in pots with drainage holes.

Without drainage holes, the risk of root rot is higher, it is also hard to gauge when your plant has been watered “thoroughly” (“thoroughly” means until water drains from the bottom hole).

Furthermore, plants in pots with no drainage are never able to “flush” mineral build up from tap water or fertilizer, which can cause root burn and discoloration of foliage.

Does a bigger pot make my plant grow bigger?

No, a pot too large for your plant can actually lead to plant death. 

Why? Too much soil often results in root rot. Soil retains moisture and too much moisture takes longer to dry and roots can’t absorb essential minerals and oxygen, so they rot.

Your priority is to provide your plant enough soil so that it dries out between waterings. When you water, look for tiny air bubbles popping at the surface. This means oxygen is in the soil and thats a great sign and your plant will grow big and healthy if you get this right.

For more information read this post on soil and potting tips.

I just bought a new plant, should I repot it?

This is a sticky subject because popular belief leads us to repot plants directly after purchase. However, this results in most plant problems and sometimes leads to plant death.

However, we can avoid this if equipped with the right knowledge. Read this post to learn best repotting practices and the right time to repot your plant.

When should I repot my plant?

If after a thorough watering your potted plant dries out 2-3 days later and needs to be watered again, it’s time to repot your plant into a pot one size larger.

If you haven’t already, best to read our repotting post as most plant problems are caused by incorrect repotting.

What size pot should I buy for my plant?

We’ve created a helpful chart for when it’s time to upsize. If you haven’t already, best to read our repotting post as most plant problems are caused by incorrect repotting.

2.5” plastic pot —> 4” planter

4” plastic pot —> 5/6” planter

6” plastic pot —> 8” planter

8” plastic pot —> 12” planter

12” plastic pot —> 17” planter

17” plastic pot —> 21” planter

Can I pot my plant in a glass planter?

We don’t recommend potting your plant in a glass planter. Glass is not porous, wich means the soil will take a long time to dry and the roots won’t receive much oxygen. Many think of terrariums, which are assembled to create self-sustaining environments, different from an everyday house plant that needs to be watered.

Plants are healthiest in a terracotta pot. Terracotta in Italian means baked earth and is the most porous and breathable material available for plants.

Our Tula collection of handmade terracotta planters will be available soon. Sign up to be the first to know when the collection is available.

What type of soil should I use to repot my plant?

Have a look under the Soil category for your plant’s best soil match.