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Plant Care

PLANT CARE GUIDE

A perfectly placed plant can bring life to a whole room. Plants should not be an overlooked element in creating a warm and inviting room. For beginner gardeners, or even those with a year or two under their belts, the world of garden tools, materials, and supplies can be overwhelming. We provided this guide to help you decide what essentials you need to get started.

LIGHTING

Before choosing which plants you want to fill your home with, consider how much light the plant will need and the maximum size you want the plant to grow. These two factors determine the amount of light you need to provide to the plant. Small herbs, such as basil, will thrive under a single 20 watt Aspect, while tomatoes and cucumbers will need our 40 watt Aspect.

The size of the plant becomes a factor as well. Raising the light to increase the light coverage will reduce the amount of light reaching the plant. You can tell if your plant is not receiving enough light if it stops growing, the spaces between the leaves on new growth are much longer than before, the new leaves are smaller, the leaf color is lighter, or older leaves are dead.

Two Aspect units are great for medium sized plants. Large plants over 6 feet tall will require three or more Aspects. It is important that light covers the entire plant, including the sides of the plant. It is also important that the intensity of light is adequate to support plant life. If you have questions, you can contact Soltech Solutions and we would be glad to assist you.

How Much Light Should Plants Receive?

Before choosing which plants you want to fill your home with, consider how much light the plant will need and the maximum size you want the plant to grow. Each plant is very different, we break down plants into four general categories: low, medium, high and full sun light intensities. Check them out below!

Full Sun Plants
Medium Light Plants
Low Light Plants
High Light Plants

Plant Size

The size of the plant becomes a factor as well. Raising the light to increase the light coverage will reduce the amount of light reaching the plant. You can tell if your plant is not receiving enough light if it stops growing, the spaces between the leaves on new growth are much longer than before, the new leaves are smaller, the leaf color is lighter, or older leaves are dead.

Know The Signs of Unhealthy Plants

Unfortunately, there can be some unhealthy plants for sale. Look for medium to dark green foliage and avoid plants with unnatural yellow or brown leaves.

Look for pest, especially small white mites, on the undersides of the leaves.

Remove the plant from the pot and examine the root system. Healthy roots generally are visible along the outside of the soil and have an earthy smell. Brown or black roots, especially if they have a foul smell, are signs of a problem.

Dont Stress Your Plant

Changing the environment the plant is accustomed to will stress the plant and may cause damage, prevent growth, or even kill the plant. The greater the difference between the previous environment and the new environment, the greater the stress the plant endures. When buying a new plant, learn as much as possible about the extent of acclimatization preformed. Acclimatization is generally done in the greenhouse or the nursery. Plants are grown for a period of time under low-light levels and with fewer nutrients. Because this slows down plant growth, acclimatized plants are not ready for the market as early as nonacclimatized plants. The retailer should be able to provide this information. Bringing a non-acclimatized plant home is okay, just maximize the amount of indoor light you can provide it for at least 3 to 4 weeks, then move it to the final location. Remember that the most important factors of indoor plant growth are adequate light, fertilizer, and water at reduced rates.

TEMPERATURE

Temperature is a major factor influencing plant growth indoors. Before picking out your plants, consider the optimal temperature the plant needs. While many plants grow at temperatures around 60°F – 85°F (15°C – 29°C), some tropical plants grow best at temperatures exceeding 85°F. Be careful not to place plants near AC vents or heaters, the change in temperature may kill them.

HUMIDITY

Some indoor plants need high humidity and excellent air circulation for optimal growth. Humidity below 20% is considered low, up to 50% is medium, and above 50% is high. Many plants come from tropical regions and require high humidity. Since most homes have low humidity levels, you can do a few things to increase humidity.
• Place plants close together. Plants naturally humidify the air around them.
• Set your plants on a tray of pebbles filled with water.
• Use a humidifier if your air is very dry.

Take caution when misting plants, especially if your plant has hairy leaves. Your plant may be more susceptible to disease and mildew. You may want to consider adding a fan to increase air circulation.

POTS AND CONTAINERS

To start your garden, you need the right type of container for your plant. The container should have drainage holes so all water can be drained out. Plants that are grown indoors cannot sit in waterlogged soil or they will die. Unpainted clay and ceramic pots are also susceptible to mold, we highly recommend painting new clay pots or buying plastic pots.

WATERING

Often overlooked, watering your plants properly is important. When dealing with how much water to apply, consider the plant type, plant size, container size, soil moisture and light intensity. For most plants, when deciding when you should water, feel the soil by pushing your finger about 1 inch below the dirt’s surface. If the soil is still moist, do not water the plant. Overwatering can lead to root rot, mildew, and disease. Water meters are available at most greenhouses to simplify watering.

SOIL

Do not use top soil or soil from your garden! We recommend that you find a high quality, pre-mixed soil at your local garden stores designed for indoor plant growth. Top soil and garden soil have very poor drainage abilities and you may introduce unwanted pests in your home. Plants need soil which will ventilate the air and drain the water efficiently. If you find your pre-mixed soil does not drain well, you can add perlite, coarse sand, or peat moss to increase drainage. Different plants grow better in different soil, make sure you know which soil you plant needs before planting.

BUYING NEW PLANTS

Buying new plants is always fun, but make sure to look for healthy looking plants with medium to dark green foliage. Avoid plants with unnatural yellow or brown leaves.

Look for pest, especially small white mites, on the undersides of the leaves. Remove the plant from the pot and examine the root system. Healthy roots generally are visible along the outside of the soil and have an earthy smell. Brown or black roots, especially if they have a foul smell, are signs of a problem.

ACCLIMATIZATION

Acclimatization is the adaptation of a plant to a new environment. Changing the environment the plant is accustomed to will stress the plant and may cause damage, prevent growth, or even kill the plant. The greater the difference between the previous environment and the new environment, the greater the stress the plant endures.

When buying a new plant, learn as much as possible about the extent of acclimatization preformed. Acclimatization is generally done in the greenhouse or the nursery. Plants are grown for a period of time under low-light levels and with fewer nutrients. Because this slows down plant growth, acclimatized plants are not ready for the market as early as nonacclimatized plants. The retailer should be able to provide this information. Bringing a non-acclimatized plant home is okay, just maximize the amount of indoor light you can provide it for at least 3 to 4 weeks, then move it to the final location. Remember that the most important factors of indoor plant growth are adequate light, fertilizer, and water at reduced rates.

PRUNING

Pinching and pruning your plant is a great way to encourage dense growth while maintaining an optimal size and shape for its space. Many plants require some form of pruning to encourage dense growth. When you shorten stems, it stimulates latent side buds and will encourage bushy, dense growth.

Light trimming and reshaping can be done any time of the year, but heavy pruning should be done during fall or spring. Although not all houseplants need pruning, most will benefit from some attention, even if it’s simply removing dead leaves or diseased or damaged stems. Regular pruning will maintain and refine the shape of the plant. Plants concentrate growing on the top and outer parts; pruning these growth areas regularly will encourage growth closer to the inner parts of the plant. When the plant has outgrown its container, root pruning is advisable. Pull roots away from the root mass and cut back about 1 inch. Make sure the new container is clean and sterilized before planting.

FUNGUS GNATS

These gnats are a common pest of plants grown indoors, especially where humidity and moisture are high. You normally notice one or two gnats flying around your plants or near windows and you think nothing about it. Before you know it, they lay eggs in the wet soil and multiply. The larvae will feed on the root of the plants before becoming annoying adults.

To rid your plant and home of fungus gnats, you need to let your plant soil dry out more between watering. Fungus gnats do well in damp soil, allowing your soil to dry out an inch or two down will kill larvae and inhibit egg development. Applying sand, gnat nix, or other soil top dressing will help significantly reduce populations. To kill gnats deep in the dirt, water with Neem Oil diluted in 1 gallon of water. Neem Oil will help kill eggs and larvae deep down in the soil, let the soil dry out between watering. Lastly, yellow sticky traps can be placed at the soil surface to capture large numbers of adults.

PEST MANAGEMENT

Like all plants, indoor plants will occasionally come under attack from pests. If you notice a plant suddenly begins to look ill, take a close look. Chances are, it is infected with unwanted pests. If not quickly treated, infestations can be very severe, spread quickly and kill your plants.

Some of the most commonly encountered arthropod pests found on plants are those that feed on plant juices. These pests include aphids, scales, mites, leafhoppers and plant bugs. Some of these pests can even act as vectors of plant diseases. To remove the infestation, purchase oils or insecticidal soup. Soltech Solutions recommends a diluted organic Neem Oil, which can be purchased in the garden section of most stores. You can also treat the plants by wiping leaves and stems with insecticidal soap. Heavy infestations may be too difficult to treat, consider discarding these plants.

DISEASE

Healthy indoor plants will be able to resist disease much better than weak plants. Keep your plants strong by using the proper soil, avoiding drafts, and providing good drainage. Overwatering provides ideal conditions for disease mold and rot.

Soil with white mold is common. This fungus quickly forms when soil is moist and over watered. Carefully remove the top layer of soil and dispose of it. Repot the plants with all new soil, make sure your new soil drains well. Plants with black and rotten patches at the base are affected by fungus due to overwatering. Succulents and cacti are most at risk. The only treatment is to cut out the rot. Considering trying to propagate replacements.