Frequently Asked Questions

There will always be a few questions that tend to pop up while taking care of your plants. Below you will find common questions for cacti, succulents, orchids, bromeliads, foliage, flowerings plants, and just the basics.

 

CACTI & SUCCULENTS

 

What is the ideal light for succulents, indoors or out?

  • Actively growing succulents do best with full spectrum light that is bright and diffused—beneath shade cloth outdoors or (if in a greenhouse) translucent white plastic. (Optimal light is when shadows are fuzzy, not sharp.)
  • Dormant succulents don’t need a full spectrum light source

What is the best soil for cacti and succulents?

  • Should be planted in porous soils that do not retain moisture.
  • You want grit in your soil: gravel, large grains of sand, pumice, etc. You want to make room for water to pass right through and not stick to the soil particles.
  • Avoid soil that will retain a lot of moisture such as soils heavy in organic matter (worm poop, manure, etc.) and moisture retaining agents like peat moss and clay.
 
 

How should I water my cactus or succulent?

  • Water them when the soil is dry, and don’t water them when the soil is wet.
  • The fatter the succulent or the fleshier its leaves, the more water it stores in its tissues and the less water it needs (and will tolerate).
  • Cacti in general are less tolerant of overwatering than smooth-leaved succulents.
  • If watering from the top, avoid getting water on the foliage and you want water to drain fast.
 

ORCHIDS

 

What is the best soil for orchids?

  • Orchids are best potted in well-aerated, porous soil so the roots stay lose. Soils are made specifically for orchids and are made of various expert mixtures of bark, lava rock, peat moss or sphagnum moss.
  • The roots will rot if sitting in a moist dirt-based soil, so avoid traditional potting mixes when indoor planting.

The orchid in my window suddenly developed black blotches on the leaves. Is it sick?

  • It sounds like your plant has a bad case of sunburn! You need to move your plant back from the window or put up sheer curtains to help protect it from direct sunlight. 
  • Frequently check their leaves and watch for any fading of their green color, especially on those parts of the leaf closest to the window. This is an early indication that they are being exposed to too much sun.

How often should I water my orchid?

  • The general rule of thumb for orchids grown in the home is to water every 5 to 12 days, depending on the type of orchid.
  • There are three basic types of orchids, as far as watering is concerned:
  1. Paphiopedilum, Miltonia, Cymbidium, and Odontoglossum; should be kept evenly moist (not soggy or wet) at all times.
  2. Cattleya, Oncidium, Brassia, and Dendrobium; should be allowed to nearly dry out between waterings, except when in active growth.
  3. Phalaenopsis, Vanda, and Ascocenda; kept nearly dry between waterings.

How often should I be fertilizing my orchids?

  • Most orchid fertilizers recommend usage once a month. 
  • Less frequent fertilizing may stunt growth and inhibit flowering; more frequent fertilizing may burn the roots and leaves and inhibit flowering.

How do I know if my orchid is getting the proper amount of light?

  • One good indicator is leaf color. Generally speaking, the leaves should be bright green rather than dark green. Dark green indicates too little light while reddish green indicated too much light. 
  • The most common reason for any orchid not to bloom is insufficient light.
  • Phalaenopsis hybrids enjoy the light behind curtains and window blinds.
  • You might also try lighting your plants with a fluorescent light fixture placed about 1-2 feet above the foliage.

Quick tips:

  • When watering your orchids, take care to avoid wetting the leaves. If water gets trapped in between the leaves, dry them quickly by using a piece of tissue or a cotton ball.
  • When the last flower drops, cut your flower spike halfway down the stem. A possible rebloom will occur if you continue caring for your orchid. 
  • Orchids can take up to a year or more to bloom again, as Phalaenopsis, like most orchids, is a relatively slow-growing plant.
 

AIR PLANTS

 

How much light does an air plant need?

  • Air plants should be kept where they'll receive bright, indirect, filtered light. 
  • If your plant will be in a spot with some pretty direct light, try misting them every couple of days to keep them hydrated.

How often do I water my air plants?

  • Your plants should be watered once per week
  • A longer, 2-hour soak is recommended every 2-3 weeks. 
  • If you are in a drier, hotter climate, more frequent watering or misting will be needed. 

How do I water my air plants?

  • Let them soak in a bath of water for 20-30 minutes. 
  • Gently shake the plants to remove any excess water from the base and the leaves.
  • Turn it upside down and place it on a towel in a bright space. (This is very important! Air plants will quickly rot if they are allowed to stand in excess water)
  • If your plant is in a dry area mist more frequently than you would in a humid environment 
  • 1-3 hours is the optimal drying time for your air plant after soaking.
 
 

Quick tips

  • Air plants are great for small bathrooms with natural bright sunlight. Due to the high humidity environment the plant won’t dry out as quickly.
  • Wrinkled or rolled leaves can be a sign of dehydration.
  • After watering, your plant's leaves will feel stiffer and full of water and they'll be softer and lighter in color when they're in need of water. 
  • Do all watering in the morning. Evening soaking or misting disrupts the plants ability to respire overnight, and extends drying time.
 

BROMELIADS

 

What is the best soil for bromeliads?

  • Bromeliads, like the orchid prefer well-aerated and porous soils. 
  • You can use a good orchid soil mix for bromeliads, which are an expert mix of textural elements like bark, lava rock, peat moss and/or sphagnum moss.
 

FOLIAGE & FLOWERING PLANTS

 

What is the best soil for foliage plants or flowering plant?

  • Both will grow just fine in a traditional potting mix made of potting soil, peat moss and vermiculite or perlite. 
  • Although they will be very happy if you add additional organic matter like worm poop or compost to your mixture.

How should I water my foliage or flowering plant?

  • For foliage and flowering plants (like palms, ZZ plants, snake plants, etc.) you want to water thoroughly – which means – you want to see water drain from the bottom of the planter (always empty drained water from planter tray).
  • If you’re one to over water, add some texture to your potting soil mixture–try gravel, small stones or lava rock. This will break up the compaction and help keep the soil lose while retaining the water it needs.
 
 

Quick tip.

  • Factors in getting your flower to bloom are sunlight, pruning, and the right balance of fertilizer. A helpful hint for the right fertilizer–too much nitrogen (N) will result in beautiful foliage, but may stunt blooms. Look for fertilizer that has flower-boosting phosphorous (P).
 

COMMON QUESTIONS

 

Can plants get too much light?

  • Yes, it is possible for plants to receive too much direct sunlight. 
  • If you start to notice dry, brown patches or small holes in the leaf foliage of your plant, this could be a sunburn and you should move your plant away from the harsh direct rays.

Do I need to rotate my plant?

  • Most plants grow toward a source of light, so turn your plants once in awhile when you start to see it lean toward to light source.
 
 

How often should I water my plant?

  • Check your plants every 3-5 days.
  • Start by sticking your finger into the top inch of your potted plant closest to the edge. Don’t get too close to the stem, you don’t want to disturb the roots. If the soil is completely dry, it is time to water.
  • When in doubt, don’t water. It’s easier to revive a thirsty plant than one that is overwatered.

How much water should I use?

  • Different plant types require different quantities of water. A good general rule of thumb: do not dump an entire water container in your plant at once–pour a little, watch it absorb, pour a little more, watch it absorb, repeat this slowly, until water is draining from the pot’s drain hole (always empty drained water from planter tray).
 
 

Should I leave water in the planter tray/saucer?

  • No. Water left in the tray/saucer is cause for root rot.

Should I mist my plant?

  • Misting keeps your plant clean, which decreases risk of insects/pests. And if you mist regularly and frequently, we believe this helps in relieving some dryness in the air.
 
 

What size pot should I buy for my plant?

  • Here is a helpful chart for when it’s time to upsize. 
  • 2.5” plastic pot —> 4” planter
  • 4” plastic pot —> 5/6” planter
  • 6” plastic pot —> 8” planter
  • 8” plastic pot —> 12” planter
  • 12” plastic pot —> 17” planter
  • 17” plastic pot —> 21” planter

Why are the stems close to the soil shriveling up and turning black?

  • The stems are rotting due to root rot. The soil is too moist, commonly due to overwatering.
  • Skip a watering and give the plant lots of sun and heat.
  • But give it some time, even if a stalk is fully rotted you can cut it off giving a fighting chance for the remaining part of the plant to keep growing.
 
 

Why are the leaf tips turning brown?

  • Depending on the plant specie and home environment, brown leaf tips can mean different things.
  • A common diagnosis is that your plant is to dry and/or receiving too much direct sunlight. Glass windows magnify sun and can often be too harsh for soft foliage, and leaves get sunburned. Ferns, palms, bird of paradise and others have sensitive foliage.
  • An easy solution is to move your plant so it’s foliage does not lay directly on, or too close to the window. Or pull a shade for a few days during the week to give the foliage a break from the harsh UV rays.
  • Another condition may be that the air is too dry.
 

If you have another question about plant care that we have not answered, that you feel should be on the FAQ page, feel free to comment on our social media with the hashtag #perfectchoiceFAQ