Monday Must: AMA: Samantha Hermann
Samantha Hermann is a houseplant enthusiast that has been growing her indoor garden for over 10 years. After realizing a need for plant help in the community, Samantha started an Instagram account dedicated to helping fellow plant lovers after learning through her own research and trial and error. This Monday, Samantha answered some pressing plant questions from our community.
I have about 36 plants, ranging from "loves neglect" to "loves attention" and can't bare to part with any of them. But I have a big problem with motivation and being overwhelmed by having to water them all with different schedules. Any tips for the hopelessly overwhelmed?
With over 200 plants I absolutely understand the stress this can cause. I’ve found the best way to combat being overwhelmed by their care is to do daily morning checks as part of my routine.
I usually walk around and check all my plants, this takes me about 10 minutes each morning. I either water the ones that need it immediately or note which plants need to be watered and do it when I have time.
I’ve also found that using self-watering pots for plants that like to stay damp (think ferns, calathea etc.) is very helpful for me.
Most plants can go longer than you think without water and I’m definitely someone that will push the limits of that, sometimes waiting until my plants are showing outward signs they need to be watered like curling leaves or looking limp overall.
How did you decide to start an Instagram account for plants? Thinking about posting when I do my own plant care but not sure where to start!
My love for plants was radiating into my normal posts on my personal page. My grandma actually asked me to start posting less about plants and more about my kids, so that’s when I knew I needed to start a separate account. If you’re wanting to turn it into a career, posting consistently is very important.
If it’s a passion you will have plenty of content to post about. “Everything is content” so just post about your plant finds, your favorite plants, tips & tricks you’ve learned on your own journey.
During winter/cold months, how much less should I water my plants? Struggling to find the balance between overwatering during the winter and not watering enough!
The amount of water a plant will use directly corresponds to how much light it’s getting. If you have your plants in a bright south window over the winter the watering may not change much. If they’re back a bit from windows and you haven’t added any supplemental light (grow lights) you may water less.
Check the soil with your finger. If it’s dry as far down as you can feel and the pot seems light when you lift it, it’s time to water.
If some of the soil still feels damp or you have soil stuck to your finger, then let it go a few more days.
In general plants can rebound better from lack of water vs too much. If you’re watering too frequently you usually don’t see the signs until root rot has set in and your plant starts to decline.
If you err on the side of underwatering you’ll see signs like curling limp leaves that will perk back up after you give it a good soak.
How do you know when a plant needs to be put into a bigger pot?
There are a few signs to look for when deciding if it’s time to pot up.
The first sign I look for is roots. If you can see roots coming out of the drain hole (your pots should ALWAYS have drain holes, by the way) then I will lift the plant out of the pot and check the roots. Sometimes you’ll have one root that made its way out but that doesn’t mean you need to pot up. If there are more roots than soil then it’s time.
Another sign to look for is yellowing leaves, droopy leaves shortly after watering, slow growth. These can all be signs your plant isn’t getting the water/nutrients it needs.
If your plant is showing signs of needing to be put in a larger pot, make sure you only go up 1”-2”, as any more than that can lead to root rot if there is too much moisture being retained in the soil.
I also prefer to use a chunky soil mix of equal parts potting soil, perlite and orchid bark. It helps the water drain freely and creates oxygen pockets to prevent root rot, but still retains a good amount of water for the plant to use.
When potting up there’s usually no need to remove the old soil, I prefer to mess with the roots as little as possible to avoid damaging the fine hair roots that do most of the work. Just set the entire root ball in your new pot and fill in around the roots with more soil.