The short answer, make sure it has everything it needs to make energy for growing.
What is that? I’m glad you asked!
All green plants need four things to make energy to grow:
- Carbon Dioxide
Photosynthesis is the process by which plants make food. You were taught this in middle and high school but probably forgot all about it. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty, but what happens during photosynthesis is the plant uses sunlight (or artificial lights), carbon dioxide from the air and water and nutrients from the soil to create glucose for energy and oxygen, which it releases back into the air. So nice of them to help us out like that!
After the plant makes glucose, it uses this sugar to make starches and other things the plant needs to grow big and strong.
How do we use this information to help our plants grow faster?
First, we need to make sure our plant is getting enough light. Every plant has different light requirements that help it grow the best. Do a quick online search for your plant and find out what its specific needs are. For example, my Monstera deliciosa likes bright light but does not want to be in direct sunlight. Whereas my cacti and many succulents prefer direct sunlight to grow properly. My ferns don’t want to be near the sun at all!
Once you know what your plant’s needs are you can find a location at your home that meets its light needs. There is an old piece of advice that goes,
“Find a plant for the location, not a location for the plant.”
What this means is that when you are buying plants you need to consider where you want to put them and buy plants that will like those environmental conditions. For example, my dining room is very warm and bright because of an entire wall of south-facing windows and doors. I can only put plants that like a warm dry atmosphere in that room. My bathroom has one small glazed west-facing window and that room is often humid because of us all showering. I put my ferns here. A cactus would quickly die in this room.
Next, make sure your plant is getting the proper amount of water per its needs. Again, each plant has different needs. A cactus only needs water when the soil is completely dry. Even then you could forget for an additional week and it would probably be fine. A fern needs consistently moist soil. Not wet, moist. Let it dry out for a week and it will be dead when you come back.
Some plants even prefer specific kinds of water. There are many tropical houseplants, like Calathias, that require distilled or even rainwater. Otherwise, they turn brown and suffer. Research your specific plant and see what its watering needs are.
Without nutrients, plants cannot grow for very long. Out in the wild plants rely on the ecosystem around them to provide the nutrients they need to grow. When confined to a pot YOU are the ecosystem and YOU must provide the nutrients. This can be in many forms but most are nitrogen-based. Nitrogen is the element that helps your plants grow stronger greener leaves and limbs. One easy way to add nitrogen to the soil of a houseplant is to pour your leftover plain cool black coffee. Coffee is naturally high in nitrogen and will help replace some of what your plants use. I use fish emulsion on almost all my plants. You can buy it online or anyplace they sell plants.
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas that makes up much of our atmosphere. Plants need to break apart the carbon dioxide molecules to make new glucose molecules for energy. Carbon dioxide is what we breathe out and it is part of the air pollution clogging our cities. You may remember from elementary school that plants “breathe in” carbon dioxide and “breathe out” oxygen. This is why so many plants are marketed to clean the air in your home. All green plants do this naturally.
We do not want to increase the amount of carbon dioxide in our homes or our planet. This would not be healthy. Instead, we can make sure our plants are clean of dust so they can absorb as much carbon dioxide and light as possible.
So, what can we do to help our plants grow faster?
- Give it the light and water it requires.
- Fertilize it as often as the plant requires.
- Keep the plants’ leaves clean of dust so they can photosynthesize at their optimum level.