7 Things Houseplant Pros Always Notice About Your Plants

Collection of Houseplants

Getty Images / Rhisang Alfarid

Do you ever wonder what a plant professional would think about your plant collection? Plant professionals are armed with all kinds of very specific information about plants. They know exactly where certain species will thrive in your home, whether that’s directly in front of a window or a little bit further back. They understand watering schedules and can recognize if our watering habits are a little bit too frequent. Plant professionals just notice things that a regular plant enthusiast may not pick up on. They have the training to understand things that we may not know and can better understand how to care for plants.

We spoke to a few plant professionals to find out what they always notice about your plants immediately upon entering your space, and the responses were very interesting. 

Meet the Expert

  • Matt Aulton is the head grower at Plant Proper, an online plant seller.
  • Sarah Burrows and Nick Behr are co-founders at Modern Sprout, which sells plant care products and accessories.

1. When Your Plants Are Overwatered

If you have a lot of plants, you probably stick to a watering schedule... but you may be doing it wrong. “At Plant Proper, we like to recommend checking your plants on a schedule rather than watering on a schedule," says Matt Aulton, head grower at Plant Proper. "Plants can go much longer than most people assume without being watered." Instead of reaching for your watering can, reach for your moisture meter to ensure you’re not overwatering your plants.

2. If You're In Over Your Head

If you have a ton of plants and they look like they are each only getting a fraction of the attention and care they should be, professionals notice. And we get it, it’s easy to get caught up in plant trends and get a little bit carried away. “Start easy, try a pothos," suggests Sarah Burrows, co-founder of Modern Sprout. It has pretty foliage ranging from light to dark green, and a tiny plant will quickly grow up into an impressive collection of trailing vines.”

It’s also essential that you research the plants you’re interested in bringing into your home. “Being able to offer a plant what it is accustomed to in its natural setting is important," notes Aulton. "Buying plants because of their looks or popularity is understandable but it can be frustrating to bring a plant into the home and watch it slowly decline."

3. Forgetting to Rotate Them

Did you know that you need to rotate your plants? This is a step that so many plant parents forget. “Plants tend to look one-sided" when not rotated, explains Aulton, "as they will always be more full on the side that is closest to the light." There's an easy solution: "By simply rotating the plant every two weeks to a month the plant will show more uniform equal growth throughout,” Aulton suggests. That means you should be getting growth on all sides. 

plants with dog

Getty Images / Westend61

4. Right Plant, Wrong Place

If you’ve picked a plant that you know will thrive in your home, you still have to give consideration to where you place it. “Light is a big one," notes Behr. "Place light-loving plants in unobstructed south or west-facing windows. If that’s not an option, consider supplementing with a grow light."

You also need to remember that as seasons change, your plants' needs may change as well. “Winter months can be challenging for plants that thrive in humidity, so keep tropical plants and ferns away from radiators or heating vents,” says Behr. 

5. You're Afraid to Prune your Plants

Did you know that it’s actually a good thing to prune your houseplants? Clearing off older leaves won’t hurt your plant. “This helps the plant to focus on providing new happy, healthy growth. It also lowers the likelihood of pests as they typically prey on weaker, older foliage,” says Aulton. The bonus of pruning trailing plants is that they’re usually super easy to propagate. “If a plant is trailing too long or isn't as full as you'd like, pruning it back is always a great way to allow the plant to fill back in fuller and to your liking,” notes Aulton.

6. The Drainage Situation

plants in a cluster

Getty Images / Westend61

“If your planter doesn’t have proper drainage, your plant's roots might be suffocating in a pool of water at the bottom of the planter, even if the topsoil is dry!" says Burrows. "Look for pots that include a deep drain tray and refresh your growing medium annually to ensure proper balance of oxygen and water,” says Burrows. You can also try loosening your soil with a wooden dowel before watering to ensure the water is actually getting to your plant’s roots (i.e., aerating the soil).

7. The Size of Your Pot vs. Your Plant

Don't just repot because you feel like you should. If you've got a small plant in a big pot, the pros take notice. “Plants are typically comfortable in pots for several months or even years. It is important not to jump the gun and place a plant into a larger pot than it needs as this can lead to unneeded watering issues,” says Aulton. There are a few telltale signs when it comes to if you actually need to repot plants. If the roots are coming out of the drainage holes, you should repot. If you take the plant out of its pot and there's more roots than there is soil, you should size up.