Do I talk to my plants? Of course. If by talking you mean communicating with them to understand what they need and want. Kind of like communicating with a pet when you know perfectly well they won’t answer back in English.
Before I reveal whether I holler at plants or just croon softly, do you know how to make a pineapple turnover? Try tickling its stomach.
So, how can we communicate with a plant? The concept might be grounds for a good long eye-roll, but observing plants’ signals helps them grow better, especially houseplants.
Begin by approaching the plant with confidence. Size up the situation. Is the plant healthy with fresh-looking foliage and young new growth emerging from a bushy, robust plant? Or are there yellow leaves, wilted foliage and crisp brown leaf tips on a not-so-attractive specimen?
Next take a look at the soil in the pot. Does it appear hard-packed and dry, moldy and mushy-wet or a just-right blend of ingredients? Lift the potted plant before watering and afterwards to develop a feel for a plant that has adequate water. The weight of a dry plant versus a newly-watered plant is a very good way to tell if a plant requires watering.
Has the soil sunk within the pot? Plants grow better if there is only about ½ inch of “headspace” between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot. If the soil has sunk deeper than this, add fresh to the top.
Is the plant communicating its happiness with its light situation? Sunlight changes greatly from winter to summer. During winter plants relish some sun. Summer’s intense sun can be filtered with sheer window curtains or moving a plant to the side. If a plant has grown spindly as it stretches for more light, an increase might be needed. Light requirements vary greatly by houseplant type. Research is often needed.
Your plant is hungry you say? Fertilizer used to be called “plant food” although plants don’t really eat. Then we started referring to it as fertilizer. Now I notice Miracle Gro is again calling its product “Plant Food” on the label. Fertilizer is best applied to healthy plants to maintain vigor, especially during times of new growth. It is not medicine for a sick plant, and can make situations worse if given to a plant suffering from other ailments.
Do I really talk out loud to my plants? Of course not, do you think I’m crazy or something? Besides, my wife and children might hear.