Apr 03 , 2020
So you’ve just received a new plant in the mail. What should you do with it? And what should you do if you’re missing supplies and can’t access them due to lockdowns/isolation? Read on to learn!
1. Unbox your new purchase carefully!
You need to be super delicate slicing through the tape that held your precious cargo in place to ensure you don’t take a leaf off at the same time.
2. Quarantine your plant
The number one way that pests enter your home & settle in to live amongst your plants is by hitchhiking a ride in on a new plant you've brought home. Even the most reputable plant stores get pests every now & then. So I always recommend placing any new plant you bring home in isolation, somewhere that is away from rest of your plants and where you won't be brushing up against it. And leave it there for 1 to 2 weeks. I know it's tempting to display your gorgeous new green friend as soon as you bring it home, but this can save you the pain of having an infestation later. During its time in quarantine, check it closely every few days by inspecting it all over - the tops and bottoms of the leaves, the stems, the soil - looking for anything that may resemble a small bug, and treat it if necessary (more on this further down).
3. Give your plant a spa treatment
Your new friend will be in need of a humidity boost after spending a few days in a dark & dry box. And you don't need anything fancy to do this. Just grab a clear plastic bag and put it over the top of the plant to create a humidity tent for it. Just make sure you use a clear bag to ensure it's not blocked from receiving light!
If you're feeling fancy though, a glass cloche or a terrarium works a treat and looks beautiful too! Check out this example from my friend Naomi, who has made a supersized humidity cloche by joining two cloches together.
4. Give it a preventative pest treatment
I also recommend a good preventative treatment using neem oil or pyrethrum (both are very common all purpose plant pest treatments you can easily find online or a nursery or hardware store).
Make up the pest treatment per the packet's solution, and spray all surfaces on the plant (including the undersides of the leaves) until completely wet. You can also spray it on to the surface of the soil If you're worried about using it on a sensitive, you might consider doing a spot treatment first, then waiting a few days to do a full spray down.
If you can't get your hands on any pest treatment, Google "DIY plant pest treatment" and you'll find a bunch of articles with recipes that use items you have in your pantry that can be made into a homemade remedy. Ingredients such as dish soap, cooking oil, garlic or alcohol are commonly use. And if you don't have a spare empty spray bottle, you can reuse a narrow glass bottle (such as a beer bottle), and borrow the spray head from a cleaning or hair bottle.
5. Repot it, if you like
But if you don't have spare soil, don't sweat it. It can wait a few weeks or months before being repotted if necessary. If you need a different sized pot based on its root size, there’s loads of household items you can reuse (with some drainage holes made with a knife or scissors) from takeaway containers for shallow rooted plants like succulents, to yoghurt containers, or the end of a plastic bottle.
6. Find the right home for it
Find the right home for it. Read about its light requirements and find a spot that suits. You can use a light meter app such as ‘Plant Light’ on iOS to guide you. Many homes will only get medium light even right up against windows so keep this in mind, and accept that your plant will likely to adjust to getting less than its optimal plant needs, and that’s ok!