5 Questions to Ask Before Making an Emotional Plant Purchase

Don't bring a plant into your home that you aren't ready to care for

rare houseplants

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It’s that dreary time of year again when it seems like it’s always dark outside no matter what time of the day it is. Sometimes that can cause us to want to brighten things up indoors, and what better way to do that than with a new plant? Plants can add a little something extra to your space and make it cozier. But if you’re about to make an impulse buy because you’re feeling down, there are some questions you should definitely be asking yourself before you hit "add to cart," or pick up that gorgeous plant you’ve found at your local nursery. So until you ask yourself these questions, step away from the plant. It’ll save you time and money (and potentially some future heartache) to take a step back and think about whether or not you can provide the right home for the plant. 

Meet the Expert

Jo Lambell is the founder of Beards & Daisies, a UK-based online plant retailer.

Do I have the right space for this plant?

“Light, temperature, possible drafts – these are just a few factors that can impact a plant’s ability to thrive," explains Jo Lampbell, founder of the plant retailer Beards & Daisies. "Before you make your purchase, consider the spot you wish to place this plant in and this corresponds with its care needs."

There are many things to think about when you’re deciding on a plant to bring into your home. Each plant will have different needs. “A tropical plant, like a Calathea for example, needs humidity and bright indirect to be happy and healthy. If you home it in a dark hallway that experiences drafts and cold temperatures, it’ll likely struggle. Assess your home and space before buying,” suggests Lambell.

Bedroom plants

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If you don’t have great light in your home, you’ll want to stick with plants that can thrive in low light like the ZZ plant or a Sansevieria. If you have big, southwest facing windows, you’ll have more options because more plants will thrive in this type of light. 

Do I have the time to care for this plant?

“We’re all capable of being fantastic plant parents—just remember, some plants require more dedication and a stricter care routine in order to grow well,” says Lambell. There are certain plants that need constantly moist soil so you have to stay really on top of them; there are other plants that you could mostly forget about and they will thrive. 

“If you have a busy schedule and are always on-the-go, a plant like a cactus or snake plant might suit you better as they can go weeks without needing a drink," suggests Lambell. "Alternatively, if you’re a homebody who is very attentive, a plant like a fern could be your perfect match as they require regular misting and watering."

Boston Fern

Beards & Daisies

If it's a needier plant, make sure you have a way to keep track of when you need to water it. There are a ton of great apps out there that will send you a notification when it’s time to water. But as always, check the soil before you grab your watering can. You can use a moisture meter or your fingers to see if the soil is still sopping wet. And if your plant loves humidity, place it in your bathroom if you have a window in there, or invest in a humidifier.

How quickly will this plant grow?

“Some plants are fast growers—pothos and monstera, we’re talking about you," notes Lambell. "Make sure you are prepared for this—in other words, don’t be alarmed if your plant appears to be taking over your home. Prune back as you see fit.

Devils Ivy

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If your plant is growing too quickly it’s a great opportunity to expand your collection by propagating. You can also give friends plant cuttings so they can have a little piece of your indoor garden too. “Make sure you have enough room for these fast growing types in your home before buying,” says Lambell.

Is this plant toxic?

If you have pets, you definitely want to avoid making any impulse purchases. You’ll really need to do research before adding plants to your home to make sure they aren’t toxic to your pet. There are a ton of great resources out there to help figure out what’s toxic and what isn’t and you can also do a simple online search (the ASPCA website a great resource). If you are going to opt for any toxic plants, make sure they’re out of reach of your animal. 

pets and plants

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Do I really want it?

It’s really easy to get caught up in the latest plant trends and sometimes that can cause you to think you want a plant that you really don’t. We’ve all experienced FOMO before, and sometimes that can apply to plants, too. So instead of jumping on board the latest trend, make sure you ask all the questions above. A lot of plants that gain popularity can be rare plants that can have a hefty price tag, so don’t feel pressured to buy one because it looks cool at the moment. You’re going to have to care for whatever plants you bring into your home, even if your love for it is fleeting.

Bathroom Plants

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