Jared's Plant 101: The core need-to-knows for plant care

Jared's Plant 101: The core need-to-knows for plant care

Been gifted a new plant for Christmas? Made the New Year’s resolution to become a plant parent or improve on your skills? Good shout. That plant needed a good home and, with you, it’s found someone that cares. Plus, there’s perks in it for you – houseplants add life to our spaces, boosting our aesthetic but also our moods and productivity (it’s true, science says so). 

“Plants make people happy, and in the last few years more people than ever are clueing onto the benefits they bring” - Brocc Rogers, Willow Horticulturist 

Navigating plant info is a maze and you may be feeling a tad intimidated. Willow co-founder Jared here to help 👋

Before the plant addiction truly kicks in (because it will, trust) and you look to grow your urban jungle and/or take on the more high-maintenance plants, I've put together the need-to-knows of plant care to help you master plant parenting (and avoid any plant killing along the way). 

Let there be light

The journey from plant newbie to plant parent begins with understanding the light and space available in your home. This determines where you can best position your new plant and consider what plants to get next. 

If I have to rank plant needs in terms of priority, I’ll put light as #1. Light is critical for plants because it gives them energy to grow – or at the very least, stay alive! 


A detailed lighting guide is available in the Willow app

Some plants such as the ZZ Plant, Parlor Palm or Pothos will be just fine in low-medium light settings. However, try and place your Peace Lily in direct light and you’ll suffer some serious leaf scorch. Direct light, particularly the intense afternoon rays from a north or west-facing window, is only really suited for cacti and some succulents. Generally speaking, most plants froth bright, indirect light which means they have a clear view of the sky, but the light is filtered. 

Watering and your schedule 

A hectic work schedule, busy social life, or general forgetfulness can lead to unintentional plant neglect. And look – who hasn’t forgotten to water their plant at some point, right? Honesty with yourself and your commitment level is key here. Some plants can handle your jetsetter life, while others will need more TLC than you can maybe spare.

Resilient and drought-tolerant plants like the Snake Plant, Spider Plant or Haworthia are great if you need your plant to have that hardy sink-or-swim mentality and put up with your busy self. On the other hand, orchids, ferns, and tropical beauts won’t be as understanding as they require added humidity, more frequent waterings, and are overly sensitive to changes in their environment.

Philodendron watering

I said light was #1, so let’s put water as a very, very close #2 in plant survival priorities. Watering your plant is important, and getting the timing right is even more so. 

One tried and true tip?  Ditch the schedule. Think of it this way: do you hydrate yourself at the exact same frequency? No, and neither do your plants. It’s better to under water than over water your plant and when you water on a schedule, you risk over watering which can lead to issues. 

You only want to water your plant when it needs it. Check the soil and assess whether it’s time to water based on dryness and your plant’s preference for soil moisture levels. If you’re chasing something way more effective, Willow’s Sensor monitors your plant and tells you, among many other things, when it’s thirsty. 

ficus moisture sensor

Other things to consider are: 

  • Watering less frequently during the dormant winter months when plants hold onto moisture longer
  • Drainage holes in your pot are a must to avoid root rot. Plants will take in as much water as they need and let the excess water drain out (yep, they’re clever)
  • When you do water, be generous!  

Quick tips on proper leaf care

If your new plant bub’s already got some leaf dramas, like brown or yellowing leaves, that’s a sign of past neglect or improper care. But don’t fret – we can get your plant looking its best green self in no time.

Step 1: Remove the damaged leaves. They’re an eyesore and zapping energy your plant could channel into growing new leaves.  Use a clean cutting tool and take care not to tear the plant during removal. 

trimming dead leaves

Step 2: Keep the leaves clean. Leaves act like solar panels catching the light that helps plant growth. Cleaning them regularly will help photosynthesis, reduce the risks of pests and other diseases, and have your plant looking shiny and schmick. Make use of a microfiber cloth or glove with a natural or specific cleaning oil.     

Some extra TLC

During the growing season over spring and summer, your plants are at their most active and working up a proper appetite. Providing a quality fertiliser with the right mix of nutrients will replenish them. And while chasing growth goals is great, just be mindful that too much fertiliser can do more harm than good. Always remember to read the instructions on the product and to dilute any liquid general-purpose fertilisers. Willow can lend a helpful hand with feedings and managing frequency in the app so you can avoid second-guessing. 

My plant faves

Read this far and thought “you know what, I’m ready to give being a plant parent a (or another) go” but not sure which plant to add to the collection? My vote – A Ficus Audrey or Ficus Yello Gem. We’ll also have some great new features in the app to help you find the right plant match – more on that soon!

ficus audrey plant

For those of you that have loved and lost a Fiddle Leaf Fig or were simply too intimidated to commit to one based on its reputation, allow me to introduce you to Ficus Audrey (Ficus benghalensis). A close relative that is often referred to as “the next Fiddle Leaf Fig”, it is less dramatic when it comes to inconsistent care or changes in circumstances. With slightly fuzzy smaller leaves and a light-coloured trunk, it can grow to heights of up to 3 metres indoors, making it a great statement plant for any space. The Yellow Gem (Ficus altissima) is a variegated Ficus with similar care needs that adds a wow-factor with bright yellow and green leaves.  

  • Plant Care