What To Do After Buying An Indoor Plant? Indoor potted plant being bought from plant nursery

What To Do After Buying An Indoor Plant? 9 Step Easy Checklist

Let me be the first to congratulate you on your new bundle of joy!

It’s clear that you already love and adore your new plant and want to give them the best start possible, that’s why you are here.

The next few days will be critical, and, if you are not careful, your new plant can even harm your other plants.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult. All you have to do after buying an indoor plant is to follow the steps below:

1. Isolate Your Plant

Even though you want your new addition to get to know their other green friends, take a week to let them settle first.

This may sound cruel, but your plant is coming from a completely different environment than the one you’re bringing it to.

The first step after buying a new indoor plant is to isolate the new plant away from your other plants for 1-2 weeks. During this time, make sure you visually inspect the plant for parasites or disease and address any problems before letting it near your other plants.

Find an appropriate spot away from other plants, either outdoors in a secure space, or inside in a room of their own.

This ensures it’s had a chance to get used to the humidity and temperature of the new space and give you time to dispose of any hangers-on that may have hitched a ride.

Plants naturally attract insects, aphids, spider mites, fungus gnats, whitefly, and any number of little beasties could be hiding out in the leaves or soil of your new bud.

And if these get to your other houseplants they could turn your indoor garden into a graveyard.

Inspect your plant for any of these bugs or nasties before and after quarantine, and you’ll have the best chance of nipping any problems before they get too serious.

2. Keep Your Plant In Indirect Light

No one is accusing you of making an impulse purchase, but did you research your specific plant’s light needs before bringing them home?

Your second step is to avoid indirect sunlight on your new plant until you’ve done your research and you are positive the plant is healthy. Even if your new plant normally likes direct sunlight, it might still affect it until it accommodates to its new home.

Because we’re taught that plants need light to live, a lot of us are operating under the misapprehension that more light equals more healthy.

This can be very incorrect. There are a number of plants that need very little light in order to thrive, and direct Sun on leaves or petals could burn them.

There are even a number of plants that can overheat if put under a regular lightbulb!

Until you’ve looked into whether your plant needs direct, indirect, or filtered sunlight, a bright room, placed in indirect lighting is a health and safety must!

3. Check The Temperature

You’ve got your home set up just how you like it, and that includes the setting on your thermostat.

Most plants will should be absolutely fine in a space that’s between 60 – 75°F (15 – 24°C), but some aren’t.

In addition to keeping your plant out of direct sunlight, the third step is to make sure that the room you’re bringing your new plant into isn’t too hot or cold, exposed to drafty conditions or dramatic temperature fluctuations.

Though you may have a room that’s all ready to keep your plant temperate, you’ll undercut your efforts if you keep your new plant too close to a drafty door or window.

You may find your plant needs different climates during different seasons, but in the early days, consistency is key. 

So, make sure the room or area where your plant is quarantined in is free from dramatic fluctuating temperatures.

Dramatic fluctuating temperature means keeping your new plant away from windows that open to the cold outside and very important, keep it away from radiators!

4. Wait A Bit Before Watering Your Plant

Although it feels counterintuitive, it’s best if you don’t water your plant for a day or two.

No matter where you brought it home from, your plant had a particular schedule and set of needs based on the environment.

Your next step is to not water your new indoor plant in the first 24-48 hours. Unless the soil is very dry to the touch, you are safe to wait a bit before watering. It is better to wait before watering in order for the plant to adjust to the new temperature and light conditions.

Your green friend will need a minute to figure out what it requires from this new place, so just hold fire on the watering can.

Instead, give your plant a well deserved care by giving their leaves a little bath!

Washing the leaves on your plant will be hydrating and helpful and it will remove any coating from the nursery.

5. Gently Clean Your New Plant

A number of plant vendors, especially big box stores, treat plants with products that make the leaves look shinier, brighter, and therefore seem healthier.

It’s advised you clean your new plant by gently wiping the leaves because commercial leaf shine can clog the stomata (the tiny pores through which your plant breathes). It will also help remove dust and other dirt, while hydrating your plant.

By giving them a gentle wipe-down you can literally give them a breath of fresh air and increase the chance that your plant will keep its current crop of leaves.

Use warm clean water and a small amount of dish soap, and with your hands or a clean washcloth wipe down each leave gently, making sure to avoid pulling or damaging them. 

If you want to know how to safely clean and shine your plant, you can read this in depth article I wrote about it.

Don’t use anything else than warm water with diluted soap, especially on new or young plants!

Also, always remember to be gentle when wiping your new plant. Plants dislike being touched and there are some that absolutely hate it. Checkout here which ones.

6. Make Sure The Plant Is Correctly Identified

Wait, what? Isn’t it the same as that little picture on the tag in the soil? Or the name that came up on the receipt when the barcode was scanned? Maybe.

If you bought your plant from a nursery, garden center, or dedicated plant shop, you can probably skip this step. However, if your new plant is from a box store, the plant section of a small shop, a donation from a friend, etc. then you need to make sure your plant is correctly identified.

Don’t panic! There are lots of great ways to get a bead on your little buddy:

Best Apps to Identify Plants

There are a few reputable apps that you can download directly to your device of choice that will clear up any identity issues in a snap.

PlantSnap, PlantNet, and PictureThis are all great options.

I recommend PlantNet as it’s completely free.

Plantsnap and Picture have free versions, but you can also purchase premium plans.

Identifying Plants with Social Media

Don’t be shy about telling the world that you have no what plant you have and you need some help.

There are specific groups and hashtags to get more experienced eyes on your new roommate, and the Plant Identification group on Facebook is over 200 000 members strong.

In the event that your plant turns out to be one you can’t keep (roommate is allergic, or it could poison your cat) there are also tons of plant exchange groups online.

If you can’t return your accidental purchase, get in touch with your local gardening and plant care group and offer to switch for something more you-friendly.

Alternatively, if you really don’t want it, most parts of a potted plant are recyclable, one way or another.

7. Don’t Fertilize Unless Absolutely Necessary

We give plants fertilizer to provide a nutrient boost that’ll help them grow and stay healthy.

However, you should avoid fertilizing at the start, even if it’s the right season.

You shouldn’t fertilize your new indoor plant for 2-4 weeks or until it’s adjusted to it’s new conditions. Just like with watering and lighting, too much fertilizer, or fertilizing too quickly, can do serious harm–it could even permanently damage or kill a plant.

So once you’re done researching about what your plant needs are, and once quarantine is over, take a break and reward yourself with even more research: this time all about fertilizers.

You’ll need to know what kind to feed, how often to feed, and how to feed before even considering adding fertilizer to your plant’s diet.

8. Stop Yourself From Pruning

Pruning your plant–cutting off leaves and stems– is a necessary part of keeping your plant healthy and attractive.

Though you may assume it’s just the dead or dying bits that need removal, some plants require pruning of healthy parts in order to promote new growth.

You can even control a plant’s shape through pruning.

Though pruning is essential, you shouldn’t prune a newly bought plant unless you are removing long dead leaves. Pruning while the plant is already using resources to adjust to its new environment is bound to create setbacks and can even harm it.

Resist the (completely understandable) urge to start trimming the plant to perfection.

Each plant has their own needs when it comes to pruning, including how and when to prune.

Beyond removing clearly dead leaves, take your time to learn about the proper course of action before getting clip-happy.

9. Don’t Change What’s Working

Once your plant has served its time, you’ll want to move them to a prime spot that you’ve thoroughly researched, or immediately introduce them to their new siblings.

But do you actually need to move your little green friend?

If you’ve had your new plant for a few weeks, you have a watering schedule that works, your plant is thriving and has adjusted to the conditions, there is no need to change anything.

Even if it goes against what you’ve learned, or seems counterintuitive, if your plant is doing well in their temporary home (and it’s not in the way), leave it be.

Plants also don’t like being moved, especially once they’ve accommodated and doing well.

Plants will let you know in many ways when it’s time for a change of scenery, such as:

  • changes in color (yellowing, browning, or blackening)
  • loss of leaves or new leaves that shrivel before they’ve had a chance to grow
  • the plant or soil starts to smell like mold or mildew, etc.

Unless your new plant is shows signs that they’re not doing well, keep doing what you’re doing.

FAQ

1. Do You Need To Repot Plants After You Buy Them?

You don’t need to repot your plant immediately after buying. Even if the plant is rootbound, you shouldn’t repot in the first few weeks to allow your plant to get used to its new conditions first.

A rootbound plant means that if you pull your plant up from its current pot, the roots will have filled the entire pot and have taken the shape of the pot.

If you’re nervous about pulling your new plant from its container, check to see if the plant appears to be standing a bit up or roots are coming up through the soil.

2. When Should I Repot My Plants After Buying? 

You should never repot your plants immediately after buying. Repotting is very stressful for plants and as such, always wait until your new plant has settled in its new environment before repotting (a minimum of 2-4 weeks). 

There’s no rush!

You two will be together for a lovely, long time.

Even if you’ve purchased a plant that’s already rootbound, make sure to wait the recommended week or two to quarantine and let them settle first.

3. How Do You Treat Plants Before Bringing Them Inside?

If you’re concerned about bringing in bugs when bringing outdoor plants inside, even if just for the winter, the best way to keep pest-free is by conducting a thorough inspection and washing your plant with insecticidal soap.

If you just bought a new indoor plant from nursery or a regular shop, a visual inspection and a quick wipe with warm water and diluted soap should be enough.

4. How Can I Make My New Houseplant Grow Faster?

The best way to make your new houseplant grow faster is to keep the plant well pruned by removing only the very dried or clearly dead leaves, thus leaving energy for new growth. Don’t prune further or cut healthy leaves as it will have the opposite effect.

You may be tempted to dump a ton of fertilizer on your plant to help it grow big and strong, too much is liable to have the opposite effect.

Excess fertilizer is detrimental to the health of plants, and not necessarily what they need, especially when the plant is adjusting to a new environment.

5. Can You Leave A Houseplant In The Container It Came In?

You can and should leave a new houseplant in the container it came in. Although longer term you will need to repot your plant to give it room to grow, it’s best to leave the plant in the container it came until it adjusts to its new living conditions.

After that, it’s a good idea to repot your plants every 12-18 months, though some could require fewer or more repottings, depending on their growth pattern.

Also, you can always put the plastic container it came in a bigger, cuter pot. Why settle for the plastic pot look when there are a billion different kinds to choose from?

6. For How Long Should I Isolate New Plants?

It is recommended to isolate a new plant for a minimum of one week, especially if it’s coming from the outdoors.

If you need to bring in your new plant ASAP and keep it close to your other plants, then wash it insecticidal soap, inspect the soil for any signs of egg sacs or sleeping critters and make sure it doesn’t smell like mildew.

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