← Back to Blog

Attention plant killers! How to become a successful plant parent

Attention plant killers! How to become a successful plant parent

Are you a notorious plant killer? Someone who loves plants but sucks at caring for them? Someone who, despite your best efforts, cannot keep your indoor plants alive? Don’t worry! You’re not the only one!

Even the most experienced plant parents have had a few plants die on them. Caring for indoor plants takes a bit of practice, so help you go from a plant killer to plant parent; here are some handy hints from the team at Plants in a Box.

A tale of two killers: Over waterers and under waterer

There are two types of indoor plant killers – the under waterers and the over waterers! Under waterers are time insufficient and tend to forget about their plant babies because of their busy schedule. Before you know it, it’s been weeks between drinks, and their plants are wilted and dying.

On the flip side, over waterers kill with kindness! They care about their plants so much that they water too often, and eventually, their plants start drowning. The soil compacts, soil oxygen levels drop, and the roots begin to fail. 

Signs of overwatering and under watering

To make things even trickier, the symptoms of overwatering and under watering can look similar:

  • Yellowing of lower leaves 
  • Wilted plant
  • Curling leaves
  • Crispy or crunchy leaves (seen more with under watering)
  • Rotting or stunted roots 
  • No new growth
  • Browning of young leaves 

    A person watering indoor plants on a shelf with a watering can

    Watering: It’s all about balance!


    You’ve probably heard the gardening gurus say, ‘don’t overwater and don’t underwater’. Simple right? Wrong! While watering once every 5-7 days in the warmer months and once every 7-10 days in the cooler months will suit most plants, there’s no hard and fast rule.

    Each indoor plant will require a different watering schedule. It’s a matter of getting to know your plants – watering, watching and waiting! Luckily there are some simple ways to tell if it’s time to water.

    Rule of thumb (or rather finger) method 

    If you want to check your soil’s moisture the old school way, slide your most extended finger into the soil of your indoor plant down to your second knuckle. If there’s moisture in the soil, there’s no need to water, but if it’s dry – it’s time to water! While this is an excellent indication, some people find it tricky to tell the difference between cold and moist soil. If you aren’t sure, you can scoop out a teaspoon full of soil and rub it between your fingers.


    Make it simple with Sustee 


    If you want a super simple way to keep track of your watering, then you’ve got to get yourself a Sustee! A Sustee is a nifty little watering device that lets you know exactly when it’s time to water. Watch our step-by-step video about how to use Sustee devices.

    Pop your Sustee into your indoor plant’s soil down to the indicated level. The device absorbs water from the soil (at root level), and over time it evaporates through holes near the display window. When you water your indoor plant, the Sustee will turn blue as it hydrates and turn back to white when it’s dry, so you know exactly when it’s watering time! Sound good? Shop our full range of Sustee devices!

    Up your watering game with self-watering pots

    There are pots that self-water? Yup, there sure are! At Plants in a Box, we stock Mr Kitly, a range of Australian made self-watering pots that come in a range of beautiful colours. Choose the colour and size you like and then find a good quality, well-draining potting mix such as Rocky Point’s Premium Potting Mix or Grow More Premium Potting Mix for planting. Plant your indoor plant into a new home and give it good water from the top to help the potting mix settle. You can watch a video of how to set up a self-watering pot here

    Excess water will gather in the water well at the bottom of the self-watering pot, which the plant will draw up overtime. Once the water well dries out, simply fill the well at the bottom but only to half way up, your plant will keep taking up water into the soil but only as it needs. Ready to up your watering game? Shop our range of self-watering pots.

    Lighting: It’s all in the placement!


    While plants can use the energy contained in artificial light, it’s just not enough for our plant babies to survive. Even the brightest, sunlit room doesn’t compare with the sunlight outdoors. That’s why it’s so important to check your plant’s sunlight needs before you decide where to place them.

    Most indoor plants need high or moderate levels of indirect sunlight. Yes, I know what you’re thinking – I’ve seen low-light indoor plants! To clarify, ‘low-light doesn’t mean ‘no light’. It just means these plants can be placed 2 metres (or more) away from your windows and still survive. Other indoor plant varieties need to be placed closer to sunny windows to ensure they get enough sunlight.

    North, south, east or west?

    In Australia we are part of the southern hemisphere, which means we receive the most light from the north. North facing windows provide tonnes of sunlight year-round and receive twice the amount of winter sun than east and west facing windows. 

    This aspect is great for indoor plants that love lots of light. Plants that love bright direct light (such as succulent and cacti varieties) can be placed very close to north facing windows. Plants that like bright indirect light (such as Rubber plants, Peperomia, Pilea and String of pearls) will do better a few or so back from north facing windows. 

    Just remember! The Suns rays become more intense as they pass through glass, so in summer you may need to move your plants further away from north facing windows to avoid burning them. Their leaves should never touch the glass!

    East and west facing windows receive minimal sunlight in winter, autumn and spring, but they receive lots of sunlight in summer. East and west facing windows are great for plants with moderate light needs such as: Anthurium, Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) and Monstera Deliciosa.

    South facing windows receive no direct sunlight in winter and only early morning and late afternoon sunlight in summer. These windows are best for low light plants such as: ZZ plants (Zanzibar gem), Snake plants (Sansevieria), Pothos (Devils Ivy), Philodendrons and Parlour palms

    Don’t have a lot of natural light in your home? We recommend our Dark Matters Indoor Pack filled with hardy, low-light varieties!

    Cleaning: Bust the dust!

    Dust is super harmful to indoor plants because it blocks the breathing parts of the leaves. Dust reduces the amount of light that the plant can absorb and also the ability for the plant to draw energy. To stop dust building up, it’s a good idea to give your indoor plants a rinse off in the bath or shower every second or third watering. If your plant is too large to move, you can wipe all the leaves with a soft, damp cloth.

    Fertilising: Slow is the way to go!

    Indoor plants love slow-release fertilisers! Many indoor potting mixes come with slow-release fertilisers inside them. Once planted, you don’t need to worry about fertilising until the expiry time (usually between 3-8 months after planting). After this, you will need to top them up with more slow-release fertiliser. A great option is Osmocote Indoor Plant Fertiliser, which only requires a twice-yearly application (once in early Spring and once in early Autumn).

    Ready to be a good plant parent?

    Check out our wonderful range of indoor plant packs. A great place to start is The Plant Killers Pack. Filled with low-maintenance and easy to grow indoor plants, this beginner’s box is perfect for those who are still developing a green thumb!

    Plant Calculator Close
    Plants In A Box Logo

    Before you grow..

    Subscribe to our newsletter for growing tips and tricks + a discount on your first plant order (woohoo!).

    Our Plant Promise (to you).

    We take care in growing and packaging our plants so they will arrive in amazing condition (we've sent plants to over 20,000 happy customers!).

    If by random chance your plants don't arrive in great shape, never fear. Email our customer service team and we will either replace the plants pronto or refund the purchase price back to you. All you need to do is notify us within 24hrs of your order arriving.

    Continue Shopping
    Your Cart