August 7, 2019

Grow a green thumb with Rainforest caretaker’s advice for keeping plants alive

Here are the key practices needed for your plants to thrive

Wish you had a green thumb but just don’t have a knack for keeping plants alive?

Discovery Place Science’s Anil Tailor, the unofficial caretaker of the Museum’s indoor Rainforest vegetation, has some useful tips that might make it worth another try. Whether you are caring for plants inside your home or outdoors, here are the top three things to remember:

  1. Know the right light. Put the plant in a spot where it will get the recommended amount of sunlight. “Really go by those directions on the plant information tags,” Tailor says. “Knowing how many hours of light the plant needs and finding the right spot for it is critical to success.”
  2. Know when to water. “People tend to either underwater or overwater their plants, which leads to major problems,” Tailor explains. To ensure your watering is just right, use what Tailor calls the soil test. “Stick your finger about an inch into the soil around the plant. For most plants, if it feels dry, it is most likely time to water.”
  3. Know your plant – and your space. Not all plants are the same and, if your aim is to keep them all alive, it is essential to understand the different species and their needs. It’s also important to know your space, Tailor says. “Knowing where the sun hits at different times of day, knowing your home setup – the more of that stuff you do ahead of bringing in the plants, the better off you’re going to be,” he says.

Ready to give it another go? Tailor, who obtained his horticulture degree from Central Piedmont Community College, suggests starting out with the following options to build your confidence:

  • Indoors – “Really any Cast Iron plant, Corn/Mass Cane plant or tropical vines would be great options,” Tailor says. “They are tough, durable tropical plants that are not especially needy. When in doubt, go with the plants that are labeled for beginner level difficulty.”
  • Outdoors – “Your evergreens, minus boxwoods, are usually pretty tough and keep their color year-round. Plus, they don’t drop as many leaves that you have to rake.”