Gardening Houseplants irrigation Watering

Plants Get Used to the Care You Give

Your care is the best care. Source:

Are you a bit slow to water your houseplants? You forget to fertilize them? It’s a bit shadier where you grow them than it should be?

Don’t worry too much about it: plants get used to the care you give. Or perhaps I should say those that are capable of surviving the conditions you offer will adapt to them. (Those that can’t died ages ago!)

What few plants can adapt to though is irregular, inconsistent care. If you water like a demon for two months, then fail to water at all for a few weeks, many will die.

The same happens in the outdoor garden. Many gardeners will have noticed that a dry spring leads to plants well adapted to drought right through the summer, because they adjusted to a less than ideal source of moisture that year, producing long roots seeking moisture deep in the soil. But if a wet, rainy spring is followed by a sudden drought, even a short one, most plants will suffer quite noticeably and many will die. That’s because they had produced shorter roots than usual (unneeded when soil moisture was abundant) and just can’t find the moisture they need when drought does occur.

Fortunately for plants, human beings tend to be more consistent than irregular in their plant care. Or if they are irregular, they are so in a fairly consistent way. If you chronically underwater, those plants that can adapt to it will. If you can’t pass by a plant without watering it, again, most plants will adapt (as long as the surplus water can drain away).

When You’re Away

20181223A, GraphicMama-team &
Your plants will sure be pleased to see you when you get home! Source:, GraphicMama-team &, montage:

So, you’re off for a few weeks of fun and sun and you get your neighbor, locally renowned for her green thumb, to water while you’re away? Great! But expect at least some of the plants to go downhill while you’re gone. Two people rarely care for plants in just the same way and not all plants will adapt well to the change.

So, don’t blame the plant sitter when you get back from vacation and find a few plants have gone on to plant heaven. The carer probably gave the best care they knew how to give, but their care wasn’t your care.

Look at it this way. Your plants love you and only you. Isn’t that somehow reassuring?

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

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