set up for success! indoor tree care guide

Friends meet Olive, my olive tree, see what I did there? She’s absolutely delightful and has added so much character to the living room. In the morning I like to sit next to her while sipping coffee and pretend I’m sunbathing in the med.

Speaking of sunbathing, Olive probably wishes she was in the med too instead of dreary winter Ireland. She likes about 6 hours of direct sunlight a day, so I placed her in a bay window to get as much sun as possible.

I’ve learned a lot about tree parenting in the last few months from experience and from frequently harassing my local plant nursery with questions. Today I’m rounding up all of my tree care tips for you so that you can jump into the tree trend with confidence.

Tip #1
Don’t be intimidated! If you’re a serial plant killer don’t worry. Because of their sturdiness and large root mass trees are actually very forgiving. If you make a mistake there’s time to course correct it before hope is lost unlike smaller plants.

Tip #2
Chose the spot before you buy the tree.
Trees are big and they need light. Unless you live in a glass house, there will only be a few spots the tree can go. You want a nice sunny spot away from blowing vents or hot radiators. Also consider if there are little diggers in your house – dogs, cats, small people. You might want to restrict their access to the tree, or be prepared to live with the mess as I have done.

Tip #3
Check for health before you buy.
Like all houseplants, you want to give it a good once over before you buy. Make sure leaves are healthy and not turning brown and wilting. Checking for pests – little white cotton ball-looking clumps, or sticky sap-like stuff anywhere on the plant can mean mealy bugs. They are SO annoying and can spread to other houseplants easily.
Look for healthy soil as well. Not dry or pulling away from the edge of the pot, and should be free of mold.

Tip #4
Choose the right pot.
Trees should be sold in a pot that is a suitable size and with good drainage. Drainage is important to avoid root rot. It’s tricky to know how big the root mass of a tree is by just looking at it but use your best judgment and ask the person selling it to you. A quick check to make sure roots aren’t growing out of the bottom is a good idea.
Important to remember that your tree will probably need to be repotted into a larger pot if it grows. Most indoor plants need repotting every two years.

Tip #5
Sufficient light exposure and water is key.
Knowing how frequently to water and how much water is tricky. Start with the recommended amount of water and see how you go. The soil should be damp to the touch but not wet. It’s difficult to come back from root rot caused by overwatering. When unsure, air on side of underwatering vs overwatering. If the soil feels dry and starts to pull away from the side of the pot it’s too dry.
Trees love the sun so generally the more light the better.
If the tree loses a lot of leaves it’s an indication of a problem. Most likely is not getting enough sun or too much or too little water.

Tip #6
Dust the leaves occasionally so they can get more sunlight.
This is easily done with a spray bottle and dry cloth.

Tip #7
Don’t move them around too much.
If you’re one of the lucky ones living in a big airy home and you have the option to move the tree around, try not to. They get comfortable in their environment and get shocked when you move them about.

Tip #8
Let them vacation outside. The exception to tip 7 is that you can let them vacation outside when it’s warm. If you live in a cool climate start with short bursts of time outside, first an hour or two, working up to overnight. This will ensure that they don’t get shocked and die overnight which can happen.
They can bring in little bugs after being outside. Usually not a big problem, just make sure to check them regularly.

Indoor trees are an amazing and economical decorating option to cover a big space and add a tone of character. Just make sure the spot is suitable and keep an eye on the water. You’ve got this!

See you next time xxx

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