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4 keys to keeping your mini-garden healthy, according to the ultimate plant lady


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Dotting your space with plants and pops of greenery adds visual appeal to your home, sure, but it’s also a health perk. Studies aplenty link health and well-being to the benefits of owning flora. Plants help increase oxygen levels, purify air, and flat out make you feel better.

For Summer Rayne Oakes, author, founder of SugarDetox.me, and all-around plant guru, her motto is the more the merrier (seriously, have you seen her 500-plant New York City apartment with a living wall?). “The fact is that so many of us are in cities and we don’t have a lawn to play in or a backyard,” she says. “We have to turn to our balconies or indoor spaces to make us feel a bit calmer, cooler, and more collected.”

Oakes answered the desire for a deeper connection to the outside world by turning her space into a magnificently groomed jungle of succulents, dracaena plants, and cacti. To help awaken yours, here, she shares her effortless plan to keeping greenery happy, so that one plant at a time, you’re on your way to an indoor jungle.

Keep scrolling for her tips on how to keep your plants happy inside.

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Give your plants time to adjust

Most plants come from a nursery or a big box store, which is totally fine, but Oakes recommends shifting your perspective a bit when you bring greenery into your home. “Plants are grown in the optimum conditions,” she says, but that might not exactly mimic your home’s environment. It takes plants a little while to adjust. If leaves drop or your plant doesn’t look its best, it’s likely just adjusting to its new home, so give it a moment.

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Know the plant

Understand a plant’s growing conditions before you decide whether or not it’s a good match for you. “Get a sense of what it is,” Oakes tells me. “Sometimes we get a plant because we like what it looks like without assessing what the plant is, how it prefers to grow, and what kind of lighting conditions are ideal.” Instead, do a bit of research and go in with a few varieties in mind that would fit well with your space.

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Give it the right light

Plants consume light, so knowing what your space can provide is one of the most important keys to keeping a healthy, happy plant. “In my seminars, I notice that two-thirds of people don’t know what direction their windows are facing,” she says. Not enough or too much light can keep your plants from thriving.

“If you have south-facing windows, it is really hot and west-facing windows are the second brightest and still a hot light,” she tells me. “East is less bright light and north-facing has low light that’s consistent throughout the day.” she says. So, by deciphering where your windows are, you’ll have better intel into which plants will work in your space.

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Buy based on your skill level

Plants like succulents and cacti, and other plants with thick shiny sheens or fuzzy coatings can block out excess sun. Others will burn and wilt, so if you plant seems to be deteriorating, move it away from windows. Oakes also recommends a variety of starter plants. Her go-tos include devil’s ivy, a hanging plant that tends to grow and grow; rhipsalis, or mistletoe cacti, which are used to low-light conditions; and the fabulously named mother-in-law’s tongue, AKA snake plant, that operate well in a range of lights and grow straight up, needing little space.

Happy growing! Here’s why you should buy some greenery for you shower and while we’re on the topic of showers, should you be color bathing?

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