Beginner’s Guide: Learning From Fellow Plant Parents (Part One)

One of the biggest mistakes, in my opinion, a new plant parent makes is believing that a person is born with green fingers. Caring for plants, like any other hobby or interest can come more naturally to some but most of the time the only way you will succeed is if you are willing to learn. Luckily the plant community is filled with kindhearted people eager to share their journey, experiences and tips with others. 

One such person I had the pleasure of meeting on Instagram is the lovely Katia Rapota (@greens.and.tea). She is also a new plant parent and is based in London. Since starting her journey in January of this year she has acquired more than 30 new plants. You grow girl! She agreed to share some of her knowledge with me and I hope you will learn as much from her as I have.

What is your favourite part about caring for plants?

The joy of seeing plants flourish is something I haven’t experienced from anything else before. I love checking on each of my plants in the morning to see if they’ve started to push out any new leaves overnight or need a bit of TLC that day. 

What is the most important thing you learned as a plant parent? 

That plants are very resilient and forgiving. It can be easy to give up on them when you kill your first one, but don’t worry we’ve all been there! 9 times out of 10, a plant can be revived with a bit of love and care and the plant community is always happy to help answer any questions you have so don’t be afraid of reaching out to them.

What is the most important thing a new plant parent should know about plant care? 

Overwatering is a lot worse than underwatering! The best way to check if your plant needs water is to stick your finger into the soil a few inches and if no soil sticks to your finger when you pull it out, it’s ready for a drink. Also, when you water your plants (if you top-water them), make sure you give a really good drink, I’m talking a water-flowing-out-of-the drainage-holes kinda drink. 

What aspect of plant care did you struggle with most at first? 

Figuring out the right combination of materials when mixing my own soil. I initially thought I could just use plain potting soil but quickly learnt that most plants need a mix of other materials to help improve aeration. I’m still learning what type of soil mix each plant species requires, so there’s a lot of trial and error involved.  

If you could go back in time, is there something about your plant care or approach you would change? 

I would buy a proper humidifier for my plants instead of getting cheap £10 ones that kept breaking after a month. I’ve found that all of my plants are thriving with the one I bought last month and I bought a temperature/humidity meter to keep an eye on the levels; would highly recommend getting both!

What influences your decision to buy a plant? 

I usually have a space in mind that I want to fill in my bedroom and then I assess the lighting conditions and go from there. Though sometimes I might see a really pretty plant pop up on my Instagram feed and I’ll research the heck out of it to see if I could potentially own it one day. 

Which plant would you recommend to a new plant parent and why? 

I’d say a Golden Pothos is a great starter plant because it can flourish in a range of lighting conditions and grows pretty quickly. I feel like starting with a fast growing plant can be a great way to assure new plant parents that they’re on the right track and keep yourself motivated. 

Which plant is your favourite (if you had to choose one)? 

This is like asking me to choose my favourite child. Don’t tell the others but I think Delilah, my Monstera Deliciosa, is my favourite. She was the first plant I bought when I started getting into plants at the end of January this year and I feel like we’ve grown so much together. I always play ‘Hey There Delilah’ while I wipe down her leaves.

If you would also like to share some of your knowledge with me, or if you have any particular topics in mind that you would like me to discuss please feel free to contact me here or send me a DM on Instagram.

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