What to Do After Buying A Houseplant: First Steps

* Image sources: All images used in this post are from the author

Especially as a new plant parent, you might be wondering what you best do with the houseplant you just brought home from the nursery. What does it need? How do you accommodate it best into your home?

A newly bought houseplant is best quarantined separately from other plants for one month in a spot that suits its light and water requirements. During the acclimatization phase, the plant needs to be checked regularly for signs of pests or diseases and its general condition.

In this post, I will share simple but important steps with you on how to go about integrating a new houseplant into your home. Enjoy reading!

Immediate First Step: Check the Soil And Health Of the Plant

As a first immediate step to take after bringing a plant home, check the soil and overall health of the houseplant.

How moist is the soil? If soaking wet, put it in the sink to let excess water flow out and avoid watering it until the top inches of soil have dried. If the soil is bone-hard and dry, give it a rinse. Always make sure to let excess water flow out when you water a plant. Having a plant sit in water can easily cause root rot.

Did you know that overwatering is the main cause of root rot, the most common houseplant disease? Most people tend to be too generous when watering – with good intentions but it does more harm to the plant than you think. Learn all about how to avoid overwatering and how to properly water your plants in my watering guide right here!

How healthy is the plant? Check for any wilting or yellowing leaves, cut off any dead leaves, and check the underside of the leaves as well as the stems for bugs and pests.

For a complete and easy step-by-step plant health check, click on the link right here!

As a piece of extra advice here that can save you a lot of hassle with a new houseplant, always check for signs of pests and diseases in the store already before buying the plant. Just quickly take the plant, check its leaves, stems, and root ball, and then decide which plant you buy.

Step-by-Step Guide For A New Houseplant

Now, let’s get into the steps you should take when bringing the plant home:

Look Up Light and Water Requirements of the New Plant

Before you let your new green housemate embellish your home with its beautiful presence, it is essential that you know what plant species it is and hence what its light and water requirements are. This will define the plant care routine you give it over its lifetime.

Hopefully, the exact plant species is mentioned on the label it came with. A quick online research will tell you what that plant species needs.

In case the plant type is not mentioned on the label, an easy way to find out is by using a plant identifier or plant care app. A lot of these apps are for free and will tell you quite accurately what plant you have in front of you with just one photo.

Tip: Don’t know which plant app to use? Check out my post on the seven best free plant care apps and choose one that suits your needs!

Once you know what light and water requirements your new houseplant needs, note them down somewhere to not forget about them.

Look For Appropriate Spots in Your Home

Given the light requirements of the new plant, look for spots in your home that suit these needs.

Again, I can only recommend using a plant care app. A lot of these apps even have an integrated light meter that can tell you how much light specific spots in your home have – very handy indeed!

Tip: Are you unsure about exactly how bright direct “full-sun” light is or how shady indirect “full shade” light can be for a houseplant? The indications on plant labels are not always self-understood. Here is a quick guide on how to interpret the light requirements of houseplants!

Note down what spots are suitable.

How much light do plants get on each windowsill? (Image source: author photo)

Choose a Spot That Is Far Away From Other Plants or In a Separate Room

From the spots noted down, choose the one that is furthest away from your other houseplants or best in a separate room where no other plants are.

Why isolate a new plant? This is an easy measure to quarantine the new plant for a while to make sure it brings no pests into your home. By putting it away from other plants, you prevent any possible pests and diseases from spreading to other houseplants.

Once you decide on a spot, put your new houseplant there and welcome it to your home!

Let Your Plant Acclimatize For At Least A Month

It is best to leave your plant separated for at least a month or a little longer. Infestations of pests or diseases sometimes take their time to show up.

This phase is also an acclimatization phase for the houseplant. It gives it time to get used to its new environment out of the greenhouse nursery. During that phase, I recommend leaving the plant mostly to itself while giving it a weekly check for water and its health.

Avoid Using Fertilizer In the First Month

Refrain from using too much fertilizer (or in fact, none at all) in the first month. At the nursery, plants are often over-fertilized to make them look healthy and grow fast. By avoiding fertilizers in the first weeks, the plant will use up the nutrients stored in its soil which prevents build-ups of unwanted components and helps flush them out with each watering.

Tip: What fertilizer do you use for your houseplants? Did you know that there are plenty of natural fertilizers you can make yourself at home? Check out my post on what natural ingredients you can add to your plant water!

Repot Your Plant After Two to Three Weeks

Most plants from the nursery are still in their first tiny nursery pots and have long outgrown them. Hence, the main reason for repotting your plant soonish is not necessarily the soil quality but rather a space issue.

If you want to repot your plant, make sure you wait at least until its acclimatization phase is over and you are sure it has no pests or diseases.

Choose a new pot that is about two inches wider than the original pot and create appropriate drainage for excess water to flow out the bottom.

To know how to repot your plant, check out my post with step-by-step instructions right here, and then come back here to finish reading.

After At Least One Month: Plant Quarantine Is Over

Your new plant has been in a separate spot or best room for the first month in your home to prevent the spreading of pests. If the plant shows no sign of pests or diseases after about one and a half months, better two months, then chances are very low that it has any.

In that case, the plant no longer needs to be quarantined, so if you want to change it to a different spot in your home, you can now do so. Keep in mind that changing the spot means it has to adjust to new light conditions again but this time the adjustment time is shorter as the rest of the environment in your home (such as temperature, humidity, and fertilizer used) remains the same.

Good to know: When you buy soil from the store, make sure to buy good quality, organic soil. Even then, there is always the possibility of some eggs of bugs being present in the fresh soil. Therefore, I usually check on my repotted plants more regularly to spot any signs of pests early on and treat the plants accordingly.

With these steps done, your new houseplant and you as a plant parent will feel all comfy and happy!

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