Just Because You Like It, Don’t Make It Right…

“Just because you like it, don’t make it right…”

Kinda sounds like an old country-western song, doesn’t it? My grandma always loved country songs – the more heart-breaking (or heart-broken) the better. However in this case, I’m not talking about love (or the lack thereof), but instead I am referring to – of course – plants.

When I first began my plant journey, I bought plants purely based on looks; if I thought a plant was pretty, I bought it. I didn’t bother to do any research about the proper growing conditions for the plant, what kind of sunlight it might like, how often to water it, etc. I simply bought a plant, stuck it in the spot where I wanted it, and watered it (maybe – if it was lucky) once a week.


As you can imagine, things did not go well. If I knew what I know now, I would not have put many of my plants where I did, I would have watered them on a different schedule, or bought different plants entirely.

Whenever I lost a plant, I felt defeated and sad.  However, my experiences taught me an important lesson: just because you like a plant does not mean that it is right for your space.


Light is one of the most important elements when it comes to maintaining healthy plants. Some plants require bright light, some like indirect light, and some do well in low light. (Some plants, like the ZZ plant, can even grow with no natural light/florescent light only!) Plants rely on the sun to convert light into energy through a process known as photosynthesis. Too little light, and the plant isn’t able to create enough energy to survive. Too much sun, and the leaves can burn or the plant can dry out completely.

The first step in ensuring that you have the correct light for your plants is to understand the light in your space. Spaces that have north or east facing windows get less direct sun; therefore plants that like low light or low, indirect light will do better in these spaces. Spaces that have south or west facing windows will get more direct sun; because of that, these spaces will better sustain plants that like bright, indirect light or bright light.


You also will want to think about how close to your light source you are putting your plants (i.e. directly up against a window, close to an inside wall with no windows, etc.).  A space that has bright light up close to the window might also have bright, indirect light a little further into the room.

Once you understand your space, it’s time to head out to buy plants. At some plant nurseries or plant boutiques, plants are sorted or marked according to the type of light they need. At other places, this information isn’t clearly stated. If you aren’t sure about what light a plant needs…ASK! Whenever I go into a store and don’t know about a plant’s light needs, I’ll hold him up and say, “So tell me about this guy…”


If you have a plant in your space that doesn’t seem to be doing too well, try changing his lighting. My monstera plant survived in a low, indirectly lit space, but he didn’t show a lot of growth. Once I moved him into a brighter area (bright, indirect sun), he started putting out new shoots every week! Keep in mind: many plants will survive in the “wrong” light, but won’t thrive.


Water is another essential part of the photosynthesis process. We all know that every living thing needs water to survive. However, too much water can be “too much of a good thing;” one of the most common mistakes made by new plant owners is overwatering their plants.

Before buying a plant, research to find out how much water/moisture your plant requires. Some plants like to dry out between waterings. Others prefer to have constantly moist soil. Still others, like cacti and many succulents, like to be watered infrequently. Once again, sometimes this information is attached to your new plants, but other times it is not. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you don’t know how to properly water your plants. And, if you leave the store without knowing how much water your plant needs, check online.


I have found, though, that much of the advice you find online can differ, depending on where you look. One site might say to keep the soil for a certain plant moist, while another might advise to let it dry out between waterings. Asking for advice from someone who is knowledgeable about your plant, but also understands your local climate, can be a much more effective way to gather knowledge!

A great piece of advice that was given to me in regards to watering was to set a watering schedule. If you have a set day or time that you always water your plants, you will be less likely to forget about them and find crusty, brown leaves in a pot weeks later or, on the flip side, drown your poor plants by watering them any time you feel like it.


Another aspect to consider when it comes to water is the humidity of your air.  Climates and homes that are more humid will provide additional moisture to your plants, and may require an adjustment to your plant’s water needs.


Temperature is yet another element to consider when it comes to your plants. It is less of a big deal when it comes to houseplants, as most homes stay within a certain temperature range. However, if you keep your home on the chilly side or live in an area that gets very hot (or very cold for that matter), this factor may matter more to you. Some plants come with suggested temperature range information attached, but others do not. As I’ve said before, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask what is best for your plant! Your plants will generally do best if they don’t get too hot or too cold.


Here are a few things to consider: What is your lighting like? What day should be your “plant watering day (or days)?” What kind of climate do you live in, and how does that impact the temperature and humidity in your home?

I’m not saying that having this information will give you guaranteed houseplant success or it’ll be all rainbows and lollipops. (HA!)  However, if you consider these three elements before selecting houseplants, your chances of succeeding will be much greater.

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Now, go buy some plants! (That’s what I’m heading off to do right now!)

– the {house}plant momma

3 Replies to “Just Because You Like It, Don’t Make It Right…”

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