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Drain Me, Don’t Drown Me!

I can’t stress the importance of drainage enough! Drainage helps keep your plants evenly watered and prevents them from drowning. Roots should never sit in soggy soil for prolonged periods of time. When a pot doesn’t have drainage, water fills up at the bottom of the pot and has nowhere to go. Over time, the roots will rot, and that will lead to plant death. Even if you don’t over-water, not allowing a plant to drain is a surefire way to kill it.

Every plant pot should have a hole. I know it may be hard to find, but it is key to caring for healthy plants. I love shopping at thrift stores for pots. One, because I find some extremely unique styles, and two, because it’s significantly cheaper! Yes, I save money from buying pots at thrift stores, but the majority of them (about 90%) don’t have holes. My theory is that the people who got rid of them realized the pots were killing their plants! Hole-less pots are highly impractical for live plants!

My solution: Diamond Grit Hole Saw Drill Bits! Drill bits made for drilling holes into ceramic, tile, glass, and concrete! I’ve drilled most of my hole-less pots, getting the best of both worlds – saving money by thrifting cool pots, as well as keeping my plants alive by providing them adequate drainage.

Get Yours Here!

Diamond Drill Bit Hole Saw 5-Piece Set
$6.99

I find that these work the best. Quite like a charm, actually. It’s almost effortless. All you need is a drill, some water, and a hole-less pot.

Check out my video here:

Before I discovered the magic of diamond hole saw drill bits, I used to use masonry drill bits. They work fine for light duty projects, but they won’t drill through certain types of extremely thick, bathroom tile-type material.

I have drilled holes into about one third of my plant pots. I have even turned little ceramic bowls that weren’t made to be plant pots, into plant pots. Anything can be a drainage-friendly pot when you put your mind to it!


Another option is to set plastic nursery pots inside of your decorative pots. Then when you water, you lift the plastic pot out and dump the water out of the bottom of the decorative pot. I find this especially helpful with indoor hanging plants planted in terracota inserts (placed inside the decorative outer pots), since terracota clay is particularly good at absorbing moisture.

Speaking of pots, look how freaking cute this Baby Groot pot is! And guess what, it has a built-in drainage hole!

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Baby Groot Planter
$11.99


Besides making sure your pots have drainage holes, another thing to consider is the type of soil you are using. It is vital to use a “potting mix” when planting indoor plants, or when using containers outside. “Planting mix” will not drain properly, since it is for ground plantings. It is a good soil amendment, and it is made up of all organic matter. Organic matter holds onto moisture for an extended period of time, has more surface area, and it is not a good option for a small planting space like the inside of a pot. Water will remain in the pot and can cause root rot. Potting soil is well-aerated, lightweight, and is made up of a good balance of organic materials and mineral particles like sand, peat moss, bark, vermiculite, and perlite. My favorite potting soil to use is a local organic blend by Gardner and Bloome, G&B Organic Potting Mix. I recommend you check out the ingredients in this soil and bring it to your local nursery and buy the closest thing to it. Or, if you want to order something online, this is a good substitute:


Fox Farm Organic Potting Mix, 12-quarts
$15.50, w/ free Amazon Prime shipping!

If you decide to not drill holes in your pots, or if you want to make something work temporarily, you can put a layer of perlite on the bottom (about 2 inches), which will help a lot. Keep in mind it is not a good long-term solution, though. A good perlite would be:


Hoffman Horticultural Perlite, 18-quarts
$17.25, w/ free Amazon Prime shipping!

The best soil for succulents would be either a Succulent-Cactus mix, or African Violet Mix. Peat moss is the main ingredient in most potting soils, which is hard to wet and then dries out quickly. Sand is mixed in to make it more porous. Adding finely-ground bark will make the water penetrate more quickly. Other good ingredients are any inorganic substances that allow water to soak in but drain out quickly, keeping the mix crumbly and airy, e.g. – perlite, pumice, crushed granite.


Organic Succulent-Cactus Mix, 10-quarts
$15.57, w/ free shipping!


Organic African Violet Mix, 4-quarts
$11.65, w/ free shipping!

I really hope this helps guide you along to properly-drained plants and that you now have a better understanding of the proper soils to use. When I caught myself using a planting mix for my indoor plants, it made sense to why they were so squishy and rotting at the base. I had to replant everything! Don’t let the same mistake happen to you!

 

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Cheers!

~CRK.

If you enjoyed what you read and don’t ever want to miss a post, securely sign-up for my e-mail list here.

All photo rights belong to Cristie R. Kiley. Please ask permission before taking.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if purchased, at no additional cost to you. This is to simply offset the cost of running this website. Please note that all of the above statements are entirely my own, honest opinions that are derived from personal experience. I would never endorse such products if they didn’t work or if I didn’t see real, positive results. Buy with confidence!

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Mad Props for Propagation

If you’re a plant hoarder like me, then you understand that you don’t always need to go to the plant nursery to acquire more plants. I can go shopping for more plants in my own plant collection, and I’m in a constant cycle of various leaf propagation starts and caring for cuttings.

When it comes to my succulents, they multiply! Some are more vigorous than others, readily propagating themselves, and others take more effort and practice. My Echeveria prolifica is among one of my most popular succulents to propagate, since it is not only very sensitive with brittle leaves that fall off easily, but it is also very fast-growing! Its common name is “Prolific Echeveria”, which is very fitting for its prolific self-propagating growth behavior.

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When I first got it.

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One year later.

[later update] As you can see, even though this plant is a lot fuller than what it was, it’s also very stringy and stretched out. Head and individual leaf propagation is necessary in order to fix it.

The leaves fall off of this plant even if you just breathe on it. They are extremely sensitive, but they also propagate like an Amish family. If given a fighting chance, they will propagate themselves wherever they land – whether it be in soil, the drainage plate, or on the floor/ground below them.

I will eventually clean up this mother plant and rid her of her needless strings, pop off the heads and plant them, but I love how full she is right now and how the new rosettes cascade down from the base of the plant!

See the bottom of this post to watch the propagation progress of this plant. Also, there are some exciting color changes as a result from greenhouse living!

Many baby succulent planters have been created from my mother plant:

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My favorite way to propagate succulents is by just pulling off individual leaves (or in this case, pick up leaves that have fallen to the ground) and set them out flat on trays and let them propagate in the air. It’s easy, and though it won’t take terribly long, the main ingredient is patience!

***For the most epic blog post on propagating succulents that goes way more in depth than this older post, check out Everything You Will Ever Need to Know About Propagating Succulents***


A few tips if you are going to air-propagate succulent leaves:
1. Lay them flat. I’ll usually just use a plate.
2. They do need to receive some light, but never too much full sun.
3. You can mist them, but do not let them sit and rot in water.
4. Channel patience.
5. Once they have developed heads, you can lightly plant them by laying them on top of a pot filled with soil, sprinkle some soil on top, and water.
6. Mist them once per week as they develop little roots.

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I will pot them even when they’re the tiniest of heads!

Two Month Propagation Mini Pot Progress:


Propagation Progress of Echeveria prolifica:

This portion of this post was added at a later date.

When hanging succulents get too lanky like this one did, the best thing to do is to sacrifice the fullness and cut off and propagate the heads and leaves. The stems should be discarded. Yes, it’s like starting the plant over from square one, but it will be better off in the long run. Once a succulent becomes deformed, you can not revert it. Read this post to learn more about etiolation (plant stretching).

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At the time, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of all of the hanging strands, but I should have (I ultimately did). Notice how it still looks messy?

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It was still incredibly stringy, and it was also just plain sad. Due to months of limited light, it had also washed out to a dull green.

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Once I moved it to my greenhouse space, the color went from pale green to sea foam green with hints of pastel pink! I also ended up biting the bullet to propagate it further, and I got rid of the stringy mess.

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6 months after moving it to the greenhouse

As you can see, it’s gorgeous. I nursed it back to its optimal health, and it stopped etiolating. The heads are now tight rosettes blushed with pink. It will only get prettier, bigger, and fuller. It was an emotional challenge to cut off a year’s worth of growth and start over, but I’m glad I did!

For other succulent propagation related posts, please see:

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~CRK.

If you enjoyed what you read and don’t ever want to miss a post, securely sign-up for my e-mail list here.

All photo rights belong to Cristie R. Kiley.  Please ask permission before taking.

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LED Grow Lights

If you lack sufficient sunlight, but you love growing plants indoors, LED grow lights are a must! Since I live in a redwood forest with mostly shade (but I also love caring for plants that require bright indirect light all day), I had to figure out a way to keep my plants not only alive, but thriving. These LED lights work so well!

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I’ve been using them for about a year now to supplement my lack of natural light, and I’ve seen nothing but great results! They’re not too strong, but they provide the normal blue-red light spectrum so that my plants can still carry out their necessary photosynthesis. I have them conveniently set on daily timers, running for about 12 hours per day. The growth and health I notice with my plants is better than when I used to live somewhere with floor to ceiling 9 ft. windows.

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And better yet, they are energy efficient! Even with them being on for 12 hrs/day every day, I don’t notice any increase in my electric bill. I have different lights of varying intensities, depending on the location in my house. I have an A-frame hinged plant stand, and I have an LED strip light wrapped around it. It’s 60 watt, and with it being so close to the plants on the shelves, I make sure to choose high-light plants for placement. Without it, the plants on the middle and bottom shelves of my plant stand would get practically no light and die. With it, I have thriving succulents and cacti inside a dark corner of my house.

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I can cram as many plants on this thing without worrying about overcrowding.

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Get Yours Here!


Waterproof Full Spectrum Red Blue 4:1 LED Light Strip
$13.99

Note: If you do purchase this rope light, please be aware that you’ll also need a 12V 5A power adapter to go with it, sold separately.  Click the image below to add that on.


Power Adapter for LED Light Strip
$9.99

The next LED grow light I’m about to showcase is this one I keep near the brightest window of my house. And when I say bright, I’m speaking in relative terms. I have massive redwood trees that tower over my house, but there is one gap in the trees. For a few hours, there may be some light that comes through. It’s not much, and I still need to supplement my plant babies with a lower wattage ceiling-hanging LED grow light. This one is 50 watt, and it provides a curtain of warm artificial sunshine.

Get Yours Here!


UFO 250 LEDs Indoor Plant Grow Light w/ Red Blue Spectrum
$26.99

Lastly, and this one is the kicker, the 150 watt dimmable hanging LED grow light. I keep this one in a darker part of my house that barely sees any natural light, but now I’m able to grow cacti, succulents, and tropicals under this bad boy.

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Get Yours Here!



Dimmable 150W w/ 289 LEDs Grow Light for Indoor Plants
$49.99

If it weren’t for these lights, all my plants would either be dead or dying. These are [plant] life-savers! I hope you try them out, and find similar results. All of these lights linked above are energy efficient, and the hanging ones conveniently come with easy hanging brackets. But remember not to leave them on all the time – plants need to sleep too!

Happy LED growing!

~CRK.

If you enjoyed what you read and don’t ever want to miss a post, securely sign-up for my e-mail list here.

All photo rights belong to Cristie R. Kiley.  Please ask permission before taking.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if purchased, at no additional cost to you. This is to simply offset the cost of running this website. Please note that all of the above statements are entirely my own, honest opinions that are derived from personal experience. I would never endorse such products if they didn’t work or if I didn’t see real, positive results. Buy with confidence!