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Proper Houseplant Watering Techniques - Ed's Plant Shop

Proper Houseplant Watering Techniques

Probably the most difficult and most asked question we get is ‘when exactly should I water my plant’? The truth is, the only one who can give you that information is the plant itself. Through this article we hope to give you some tips and tools you can use to identify when your plant might be ready for a drink, or needing to dry out a little 

What it Means to Thoroughly Water Your Plant 

When people talk about ‘over’ or ‘under’ watering plants, what they’re actually talking about is the frequency of watering or how often they do it. It has nothing to do with the amount of water you give your plant at the moment. In fact, always make sure that you’re covering all of the surface soil and pouring until excess water starts to drain out of the bottom.

water draining from terra cotta pot into it’s tray while watering a plant

 

The Importance of Drainage

While there are ways to cheat and use pots that don’t have drainage holes, we do not recommend planting directly into them. We always prefer our planters to have drainage built in, especially for new plant parents

drainage hole on a terra cotta pot

 *a note on soil & aeration*

    • Hopefully you read our posts on choosing the best soil for your plant and repotting. If you did, we have every bit of confidence that your soil should be airy and not hold water. If not and you notice water pooling at the surface or not moving through the soil quickly you may need to aerate the soil by poking at it (gently) with a stake or skewer

    Water Quality

    Here at Ed’s we always use filtered water for our plants! Some people take another step and use exclusively distilled or rain water to further reduce risks, but we haven’t seen any issues with filtered thus far. The reason for this is that materials like salt, chlorine and hard metals contained in a lot of normal tap water will harm your plant over time. Some plants, like Calathea and Nepenthes are more sensitive to tap water than others, but we find it’s always best to err on the side of caution 

    Signs Your Plant is Thirsty

      • yellowing/browning leaves at the base
      • droopy leaves
      • wilting 
      • soil coming away from the outer edge of the pot
      • the pot feels much lighter than normal
      under watered plants

      Signs Your Plant Needs to Dry Out

        • soggy soil, even days after watering 
          overwatered, soggy soil
        • soft, even mushy leaves especially at the base 
        • wilting
        • root rot 

        Again, keeping and caring for plants is a learning experience. It’s important to observe your plants consistently in order to figure out their needs and it’s normal to lose a few leaves (or plants) here and there. We’re always here to help wherever we can, but we believe in your ability to grow! 

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        Should You Water Orchids With Ice Cubes? Here's What Experts Say - Ed's Plant Shop

        Should You Water Orchids With Ice Cubes? Here's What Experts Say

        Watering orchids with ice cubes has become a topic of discussion among orchid enthusiasts and gardeners. This method, promoted by certain commercial brands, suggests a simplified approach to orchid care. But what do experts say about the efficacy and safety of this practice? Read on to find out more.

        Understanding the Method

        The technique of watering orchids with ice cubes involves placing three ice cubes on the potting medium once a week. The slow melting of the ice is supposed to provide a steady, moderate amount of water that the plant can absorb without the risk of overwatering. This method is touted as especially beneficial for those who struggle with giving their orchids the right amount of water.

        The rationale behind this method is that it prevents the common problem of root rot associated with excessive watering. However, the use of ice cubes raises concerns about the potential shock of cold water to tropical plants, which naturally thrive in warm environments.

        Should You Water Orchids With Ice Cubes? Here's What Experts Say

        Expert Opinions on Ice Cube Watering

        Researchers at The Ohio State University and the University of Georgia have conducted studies to assess the validity of watering orchids with ice cubes. Their findings indicate that for moth orchids (Phalaenopsis), this method did not harm the plants and was as effective as traditional watering methods in maintaining plant health. This suggests that the practice might be safe for certain types of orchids under specific conditions.

        However, it is important to note that the research primarily focused on Phalaenopsis orchids. Experts caution that results may vary with other types of orchids, such as the jewel orchid, which may have different care requirements and sensitivities to temperature changes.

        Potential Risks and Considerations

        Despite some supportive research, many horticulturists express concern about the potential long-term effects of using cold water on tropical plants. Orchids are sensitive to temperature changes, and repeated exposure to cold water could potentially stress the plants. This stress might manifest as reduced flowering, slower growth, or even leaf damage over time.

        Critics of the ice cube method argue that while convenient, it does not necessarily account for the varying water needs of different orchid species or changing environmental conditions. For instance, orchids in warmer, dryer conditions might need more frequent watering than what the ice cube method can provide.

        Should You Water Orchids With Ice Cubes? Here's What Experts Say

        Alternative Watering Methods

        For those hesitant to use ice cubes, there are alternative methods that can be equally effective. The 'soak and dry' method is widely recommended, where the orchid’s roots are soaked in water until fully hydrated and then allowed to dry out completely before the next watering. This method mimics the natural rain and drought cycle orchids experience in their native habitats.

        Using a moisture meter can also help orchid owners determine exactly when their plant needs water. This tool measures the moisture level of the soil, providing a more scientific approach to watering that reduces the guesswork.

        Gardener Experiences and Anecdotal Evidence

        Among the orchid growing community, experiences with the ice cube method vary. Some gardeners swear by its simplicity and effectiveness, while others report that it does not meet the needs of their plants. Such mixed feedback highlights the importance of understanding the specific needs of your orchid species and monitoring their response to different care practices.

        Anecdotal evidence suggests that while the ice cube method can be a good starting point for beginners, it should be adapted based on the plant's response and environmental conditions. Tailoring care practices to individual plant needs is often the key to successful orchid cultivation.

        Adjusting to Environmental Factors

        When considering the ice cube method for watering orchids, you must also account for environmental factors such as air temperature, humidity, and light exposure. These elements can greatly influence the effectiveness of any watering method. For instance, orchids in a dry, warm environment might require more frequent watering than what ice cubes can provide.

        In cooler or more humid conditions, the moisture from the ice cubes might be sufficient. However, it’s important to regularly check the moisture level of the potting medium to ensure it matches the plant's needs. Over-relying on a fixed routine without considering environmental changes can lead to suboptimal growing conditions and stress the plant.

        Feedback from Professional Orchid Growers

        Professional orchid growers often emphasize the importance of understanding each plant's specific needs and the nuances of its natural habitat. While some growers find the ice cube method effective, others prefer traditional watering techniques that they feel better mimic natural rainfall. These professionals might use finely tuned irrigation systems that adjust for humidity and temperature changes, offering a more controlled watering environment.

        Feedback from these growers suggests that while the ice cube method can work as a stopgap measure, it should not replace a more comprehensive understanding and approach to orchid care. They recommend incorporating the method cautiously and always observing how the orchid responds over time. Adjustments should be made based on the plant’s health and growth patterns.

        Long-Term Implications and Research

        The long-term implications of watering orchids with ice cubes are still under investigation. Continued research is needed to fully understand how cold water affects different orchid species over extended periods. This is particularly important for ensuring that the method does not slowly degrade the health of the orchids.

        Current research is promising, but it is largely limited to shorter-term studies. As more longitudinal studies are conducted, the orchid care community will gain a better understanding of whether the ice cube method is just a convenient solution or if it can stand the test of time as a reliable watering practice. For now, orchid enthusiasts are encouraged to use the method with caution and to keep informed about new research findings.

        Considering Certain Factors for Orchid Growth

        Watering orchids with ice cubes can be a convenient method for those looking for a simple solution to orchid care. However, it is essential to consider the type of orchid, its environment, and its specific needs before adopting this practice. As with any care technique, observation and adaptation are important.

        Rely on Ed's Plant Shop for a Large Variety of Orchids

        One of Ed's Plant Shop’s specialties is orchids. We have a wide variety that includes the beautiful phalaenopsis orchid, which thrives with careful watering and attention. At our shop, you will find the perfect orchid for your home and receive personalized care tips to ensure your orchid flourishes.

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        Does Music Really Affect Plant Growth? - Ed's Plant Shop

        Does Music Really Affect Plant Growth?

        The idea that playing music can influence plant growth has intrigued many over the years. The theory suggests that sound waves could stimulate growth-promoting processes within plants. This concept has been explored through various studies, though scientific consensus remains elusive. Let’s explore the question, “does music affect plant growth” in more detail below.

        Historical Background

        The notion that music affects plant growth gained popularity in the 1970s, notably through the book The Secret Life of Plants. This book presented the idea that plants could respond to the emotions and intentions of humans, and it explored how music might influence their growth. Early experiments, such as those by Dr. T. C. Singh in 1962, claimed substantial growth improvements in plants exposed to music, suggesting a profound connection between sound and biological response.

        Scientific Studies on Music and Plant Growth

        One of the first documented experiments was conducted by Dr. Singh at Annamalia University. He reported a 20% increase in height and a 72% increase in biomass of balsam plants when exposed to classical music compared to a control group. Singh's subsequent experiments with raga music produced even more promising results, with crop yields surpassing the national average by up to 60%.

        In the United States, Dorothy Retallack conducted her own series of experiments which further supported the idea that music could influence plant behavior. Retallack exposed plants to various genres of music, observing that those which "listened" to classical and jazz oriented themselves towards the speakers and thrived, whereas those exposed to rock music demonstrated negative growth effects. These experiments suggested that not only the presence of music but also the type of music played could significantly affect plant growth.

        Skepticism and Criticism

        Despite these early findings, many in the scientific community have been skeptical of the methodology and conclusions of these studies. Critics argue that these experiments often lacked proper controls and reproducibility. The University of California, Santa Barbara, points out that factors such as light, water, soil conditions, and even the presence of the researchers could have skewed the results.

        Furthermore, some researchers propose that any observed benefits to plants may not directly result from the music but from increased care and attention from the gardeners who believe in the practice. This suggests a placebo effect in horticulture, where the expectations of the caretaker rather than the treatment itself drive improvements in plant health.

        The Role of Sound Vibrations

        A more scientifically grounded theory posits that it is not the music per se that benefits the plants but rather the vibrations produced by sound waves. These vibrations could potentially stimulate cytoplasmic streaming, a critical process in which cells transport nutrients and growth hormones. Some scientists liken the beneficial effects of certain music on plants to the natural stimulation from environmental sounds like bird calls or wind.

        Impact of Music Genre on Plant Health

        Different music genres appear to have varying effects on plant health according to anecdotal evidence and some experimental data. Classical and jazz music, often characterized by soothing rhythms and harmonies, have been reported to promote growth and health in plants. Conversely, rock and metal, known for their harsher and louder tones, have been linked to negative growth effects, such as reduced plant size and vitality.

        The physiological responses of plants to these genres may be tied to the specific vibrations each type of music emits. The gentler vibrations of classical music could mimic natural environmental sounds that plants are evolutionarily adapted to thrive around. On the other hand, the intense vibrations from rock music might be too harsh, possibly causing stress or damage to plant structures.

        Does Music Really Affect Plant Growth?

        Role of Frequency and Volume in Plant Growth

        The frequency and volume of music could play critical roles in how plants respond to auditory stimuli. High-frequency sounds have been shown to potentially encourage growth by stimulating certain biological processes within the plant cells. Lower frequencies, while still effective in some contexts, might not have as pronounced an impact depending on the species and environment.

        Volume is equally critical; too loud can be detrimental regardless of the type of music played. Moderate volume levels are ideal to prevent any potential stress or damage that loud noises might cause. It is about finding a balance that mimics the natural sound levels plants would experience in their native environments.

        Does Music Really Affect Plant Growth?

        Experimental Design and Scientific Rigor

        One major challenge in validating the effects of music on plant growth is the design of experiments. Many earlier studies lacked the rigorous controls and standardized methodologies that modern science demands. This has led to skepticism regarding the validity of reported results and the reproducibility of experiments.

        Recent studies aim to overcome these challenges by using precise instruments to control and measure sound exposure, as well as including adequate control groups. By improving experimental design and focusing on the scientific method, researchers hope to provide clearer answers about the relationship between sound and plant growth.

        Gardener Observations and Anecdotal Evidence

        Despite the lack of definitive scientific consensus, many gardeners swear by the positive effects of music on their plants. They report that their plants appear healthier and grow faster when exposed to music, particularly classical or soothing genres. These anecdotal accounts often spur further scientific investigation and help to shape experimental questions.

        Gardening communities frequently share their experiences and techniques, including the types of music they play for their plants. This collective knowledge, while not scientifically rigorous, provides valuable insights into potential benefits of music for plant care and encourages a more holistic approach to understanding plant health.

        Future Directions in Research and Application

        The field of plant bioacoustics continues to evolve as researchers explore more about how plants perceive and react to sounds. Future research might focus on identifying specific frequencies that most benefit plant growth, examining different plant species' responses, and determining the optimal sound conditions for agricultural applications.

        Furthermore, integrating sound into commercial farming and indoor gardening practices could revolutionize plant care and cultivation strategies. By tailoring sound environments to the needs of specific crops, producers could enhance growth rates, improve plant health, and potentially increase yield without the use of chemical additives. This sustainable approach could lead to new advancements in how we grow and manage plants in various settings.

        Modern Perspectives and Continuing Research

        Despite the controversies, interest in the effect of sound on plant growth continues. Modern studies tend to focus on more precise measurements and controls to isolate the impact of sound vibrations from other variables. These studies strive for a clearer understanding of how and why certain frequencies or types of sound may influence plant physiology.

        Technological advancements and interdisciplinary collaborations are increasingly playing a role in this research area. Scientists are utilizing sophisticated acoustic equipment and collaborating with experts in fields such as physics and botany to dissect the intricate ways plants interact with their sonic environment. This approach not only enhances the reliability of the results but also broadens the scope of the research, potentially uncovering new aspects of plant behavior and response to sound.

        Proper Plant Care is Needed Too

        While conclusive scientific evidence is still pending, the theory that music can affect plant growth continues to captivate the imagination of many. Whether through indirect effects such as enhanced caretaker diligence or more direct mechanisms involving sound-induced physiological changes in plants, the potential for music to influence plant health remains an intriguing possibility. As research progresses, perhaps we will come to better understand the intersections of sound, care, and plant growth, shedding more light on this captivating topic.

        Ed's Plant Shop's Experience

        Shop for the perfect indoor plants at Ed's Plant Shop for plants that thrive in a soothing auditory environment. With our wide selection of houseplants that you can grow yourselves, you have the choice to take care of them using a blend of music and other practical tips that you know of. Browse our collection of healthy indoor plants today!

         

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        10 Clear Signs That Your Plants Are Too Cold - Ed's Plant Shop

        10 Clear Signs That Your Plants Are Too Cold

        As temperatures drop, it is vital to recognize the signs that plants are too cold to prevent lasting damage. Plants communicate stress through physical changes that, if spotted early, can save them from decline or death.
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