Want to speed up the rate at which your plant produces new leaves? Check out these expert-recommended tips.
One of the most satisfying parts of owning a plant is watching it grow, so it’s only natural to be disappointed if your houseplant has barely produced a shoot since you brought it home.
However, while there’s lots of information and advice out there about how to keep a houseplant alive (for example, by avoiding overwatering or dealing with yellow leaves), there’s less discussion about how to make your plant grow faster.
While you might not be able to do much in the winter, now’s the perfect time to take action, as we’re still in the middle of growing season when your plants have enough light and warmth to start spreading their wings (or vines).
So, what else can you do to ensure your plant gets the growth spurt it deserves? To find out more, we reached out to Dan Bruce, plant expert at Leafy Plants, and asked him to share his top tips for making a houseplant grow faster. Here’s what he had to say.
How to make a plant grow faster
1. Use fertiliser
If you’re looking to speed up your plant’s growth, buying some fertiliser is the best place to start. While houseplant soil tends to have plenty of nutrients in it, using fertiliser allows you to top up or replace any that have been used up or weren’t there in the first place.
“Fertilisers come in many forms, including pellets, granules or liquids, and are used to improve and boost plant growth and health,” Bruce explains. “Most fertilisers are based on three major plant nutrients: nitrogen (which boosts leafy, green growth), phosphorus (for healthy root development) and potassium (for flowering).”
When it comes to fertiliser, Bruce continues, there are two main types: inorganic (manmade) and organic (derived from plants or animals). Which one is best for you will largely depend on personal preference.
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“Inorganic fertilisers are more concentrated, which means they are faster acting than organic, but both work well in promoting faster growth,” Bruce says.
“If you prefer not to use a synthetic fertiliser, then there are household goods that work perfectly well as fertilisers, although it might take a bit longer for you to notice the difference. For example, adding leftover coffee grounds, which are naturally full of nitrogen, calcium and potassium, or homemade compost to your plant’s soil can boost its growth.”
2. Make sure your plant is getting plenty of bright, indirect light
While light requirements vary between different types of plant, most will need a good dose of bright, indirect light to grow. If your plant hasn’t been growing at all – or has been growing incredibly slowly – make sure to check whether it could be struggling light-wise.
“Plants naturally grow faster when placed in a brighter area, as long as the light isn’t direct sunshine, so it is best to avoid a south-facing window, which is usually too strong for most houseplants anyway,” Bruce says. “Typically, a spot that is either east or west facing, without direct sunshine, will help provide a boost.”
3. Check whether your watering schedule is up to scratch
Warning: before you grab a watering can and start drowning every plant in your home, make sure you take a moment to think about whether your plants might need extra water.
For example, if you tend to maintain the same watering schedule throughout the year, you might consider increasing the frequency of these waterings in the summer months, when the weather is warmer. However, it’s best to take your plant’s individual needs as a guideline.
Bruce explains: “Be wary with this step as different plants require different amounts of moisture, so be sure to check your individual plant’s care requirements. However, you should generally increase the amount of watering during warmer weather, as this is when plants are more actively growing.
“You should be particularly mindful of watering now, especially after the recent heatwave in the UK and with more extreme heat on the way, in case your plant’s soil has dried out. You should never allow a plant’s soil to dry out completely, as no plant will grow quickly or at all if it is experiencing a drought.”
4. Get pruning
It’s only natural for a plant to have some dead leaves or dried-up stems – but if your plant has any dead or dying bits still attached, you’ll want to cut them right off.
“If your plant has a few dead or discoloured leaves or stems, then these should be removed as soon as possible,” Bruce explains. “A plant that has dead or damaged leaves and stems can drain the plant’s energy, so removing them is the best way to allow the plant to divert its energy into healthy leaves, thus resulting in new and faster growth.”
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To prune your plant correctly, you’ll want to keep two rules in mind: don’t use blunt instruments, and don’t go crazy and remove too much.
“Some leaves can be removed easily without needing tools, however, if you do use pruning scissors then make sure they are sharp and clean – this ensures the cuts you make are clean, smooth and do not cause harm to the plant,” Bruce says.
“Be wary as some plants, particularly more sensitive ones, may go into shock if you remove too many leaves at once. If you have any doubts about a particularly sensitive plant, then do not remove more than 10% of its foliage at once and see how that goes. You can always prune more at a later date if necessary.”
New to plant parenthood? Check out Stylist’s guide to buying, styling and caring for plants to get started.
You can find out more about the most common houseplant problems by checking out our range of plant care content, too.
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