For those who have recently started, or who are looking to start, their houseplant collection, it can be difficult to know what you actually need to purchase and what you can re-purpose or go without. If you have the money or the resources you may be tempted to just buy everything brand new – and you definitely can – but you can also easily find things cheaply second hand, re-purpose things from around the house, or even buy things at the dollar store.
In order to care for your plants there are a few things you NEED (other than plants, of course):
- Soil and soil amendments
- Watering can
- Pesticide or pest prevention spray
Soil and soil amendments:
It is hard to cheap out here, but the most inexpensive way I’ve found to make a healthy soil mix is to buy a decent houseplant or cactus mix from any old store or garden centre and amend it with perlite and orchid bark. Perlite is relatively inexpensive and easy to find, orchid bark slightly less so but it is still easy enough to find at a decent price. For some plants you can get away with just using perlite. You can also amend the soil that your plant has come in – so long as it still has plenty of nutrients. Soil only needs to be discarded if a plant has rot or there are pests. Even old soil can be brought back to life with the right fertilizers.
I have never found a huge difference in fertilizers. Organic fertilizers can cost more and often you need to use more of them, while chemical fertilizers tend to be a strong concentrate that can go a long way. I personally use an inexpensive chemical fertilizer and cut the amount the directions say to use in half to help prevent fertilizer burn. Nicer fertilizers can have real benefits, but they aren’t essential if you are worried about the price point.
Your first course of action here is to try and find something second hand – or to just re-purpose an old jug from around the house. If you struggle to find something useful, then even a plastic watering can from dollerama will last you decades. I do find, however, that when push comes to shove you can use an old glass or reuse an old jar – just try to pour slowly so that you don’t uproot your plants. I also have re-used a water filtering jug and use that to water my plants (just don’t keep it in the fridge). This can help with hard water build up in your soil. These jugs aren’t essential, but if you have one laying around or find one at the thrift store they are great.
Pests are almost inevitable. For that reason, it is super important that you treat your plants regularly with some kind of pest preventing solution. I bought one large bottle of houseplant pesticide concentrate and I water it down in an old, repurposed spray bottle. I find this to be way less expensive, and less wasteful, than constantly repurchasing spray treatments. Neem oil is another popular way to prevent pests, but I find in my area it can be hard to find and quite pricey – so do whatever works best for you where you live.
You will most definitely need something to keep your plants in. The cheapest is to just keep them in their nursery pots but that isn’t always the most attractive in your home. I do like to save nursery pots and reuse them if I have to repot a plant or plant something I’ve propagated, but I tend to keep them in cachepots that I have found second hand. Terracotta pots are also very inexpensive and last for decades it seems. Whatever you find, you don’t have to buy the expensive decorative pots for your plants to look beautiful.