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If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I first got into house plants because I watched Jenna marble’s freaking AWESOME house plant tour.
At the end of the video, she gives recommendations for house plant YouTubers she loves, so I followed them all. I instantly binge-watched ALL of Harli G’s content. She’s so funny and sweet and doesn’t take herself or plants too seriously. She just seems like a normal person.
She also recommended Kaylee Ellen and Betsy Begonia, both of whom are great but don’t really do so many care videos anymore. Betsy is generally hilarious though, and Kaylee Ellen always has super up to date information on cool new plants, so they’re worth subscribing to.
Harli G still posts a TONNE of useful tips though. Not only about plant care itself, but also about dealing with plant burnout and juggling life (she has two kids) with caring for 600 plants.
I have no kids and fewer than half the number of plants she has, but her tips are still incredibly useful. They’re a bit different to the usual house plant care tips, but she doesn’t use anything hard to get hold of or fancy.
She just really seems to get what it’s like to love plants but also sometimes a little bit resent having to care for all of them.
I’ll probably post more of her tips in the future, but here are ten that I really liked:
1- Use sphagnum moss at the bottom of your pots
This is actually genius, especially if you’re using a pot with large drainage holes in the bottom.
Not only does the layer of moss help to keep the soil from falling out of the holes and making a mess, but if you bottom water plants the sphagnum soaks up the water quickly and can wick it into the soil – great if you can only let the plant sit for a few minutes.
2 – DIY cheap propagation boxes
Harli G is BIG on propagation boxes. She has a couple of grow tents in her basement and terrariums EVERYWHERE for propagating.
In one of her recent videos she cuts a Monstera obliqua (yes, it’s really an obliqua) into a load of nodes (that sentence makes no sense but you know what I mean) and puts them in an old plastic salad box.
A layer of sphagnum on the bottom not only gives the nodes something to root into, but it also keeps the humidity high inside the box. She uses a LOT of sphagnum, but I *think* she grows it herself.
Make sure to check that that box doesn’t have holes in the bottom before you put your moss in.
3 – Don’t cut your nodes too short
I always cut my nodes as short as possible because it just seems a bit of a waste of space to have a load of node-less bits of stem in my propagation station.
HOWEVER, Harli keeps her pretty long (like, an inch and a half of stem left on either side of the node), because that way, if the stem starts to rot you have a lot more wiggle room before the rot reaches the node.
It makes sense!
4 – Hard to care for plant? Into the terrarium it goes
I’m already an enthusiastic pupil of this school of thought, but it’s so true ESPECIALLY with plants like Calathea.
Although it can be a bit of a pain to set up a terrarium, once you’ve done it you don’t need to worry about the plants getting enough humidity AND it takes much longer for the soil to dry out completely.
Terrariums are also great if you’re interested in natural pest control because you can add a few predatory bugs into the terrarium, rather than unleashing a couple of hundred ladybird larvae into your living room.
5 – Use charcoal to stop mould
This is usually recommended for terrariums, but you can add charcoal to your potting mix if you get a lot of mould on your regular plants.
I have a bio-active terrarium, so I have a colony of springtails to clean up any rotting matter, but there’s charcoal in the potting mix we used, just in case. Our experience of keeping tropical fish taught us never to rely on a certain creature eating a certain thing, because they’ll inevitably either start eating something they find more delicious OR create more mess than they’re even gonna get rid of.
The springtails are doing a great job, but it’s important to have a plan B!
6 – Plant burnout is real
Almost everyone I know in real life that’s into house plants (including myself) got into house plants in the same way. You start off with a couple for years and years, and then something clicks in your brain and you buy twenty in a week.
It’s new! It’s exciting! You’ve gotta catch ’em all!
And then, inevitably, drama ensures, usually in the form of thrips or spider mites, and your plants become more of a chore than a hobby.
Oh, and as well as the twenty you bought, there’s the forty other propagations that you took. So sixty plants. All infested with thrips.
It was the propagation thing that really resonated with me. Like me, Harli LOVES to propagate but then what do you do with the remaining plants?
Sure, you can give them away for a while, but there are only so many golden pothos props your friends will accept before they start to politely decline (or continue to accept with a look of resigned defeat on their face).
You could sell them, SURE, but I doubt that would help with the burnout. Selling plants is NOT easy.
I can recommend putting your plants outside your house with a ‘free to a good home sign’. Also pots and other random clutter you’ve accumulated
7 – Increase humidity in terrariums/small rooms by keeping your water propagations in them
I mean, this just makes sense.
Another benefit to keeping water props in a terrarium is that it doesn’t matter if you accidentally knock them over and spill water everywhere.
8 – Sit rootbound plants in a reservoir
Harli does advise to proceed with caution here, and I know it can be a controversial topic, BUT if you have a severely rootbound plant and you don’t have the time, resources, or inclination to repot it, sit it in a deep saucer of water.
The caveat here is to make sure that the plant is in an airy soil mix, because if dense soil gets waterlogged, you’re looking at some quite serious root rot.
You don’t need to keep the reservoir topped up all the time, but having that saucer underneath can help remind you that this plant is rootbound, please give (water) generously.
Many people panic a bit about leaving plants standing in water, especially when bottom watering. A lot of websites say that you should only bottom water for a couple of minutes BUT, I just leave them in there until the top of the soil is damp.
Sometimes it takes half an hour, sometimes I leave them overnight. As long as you let it dry out enough before repeating the process you’ll be fine.
9 – Chop off yellow leaves
I do not do this (yet – I may start) but Harli G makes a good case for chopping off any yellowing leaves as soon as you see them.
A lot of plant experts recommend leaving them so the plants can absorb all the energy from the leaf BUT Harli G argues that if you don’t remove the leaf when it’s yellow, you might forget about it and it’ll turn brown and die. When leaves are dead they’re very dry and crispy and make a very inviting home for our old friends the spider mites. Oh, and fungus gnats too.
10 – Water your peperomia if you can fold its leaves
I don’t have many peperomia, but I tried it on the ones I have (aka the best beginner plant EVER) and it does work – if the leaf is malleable enough that you can fold it (be gentle, leaves aren’t designed to be folded), it probably needs water.
And those are ten current favourite tips from Harli G. Check out her channel here – she also has dogs!