Plant’s bring warmth and an aura of cosiness to any home, not to mention that they’ll instantly amp up the charm of your pad. The reasons to adopt a pet-plant are a-plenty and the payoffs totally make it worthwhile too. They’re high on happiness and low on maintenance. What you need to know about the leafy creatures is this: Like your most annoying but favourite friend—plants too have different temperaments and personalities. Once you’ve purchased your plant, you need to spend some one-on-one time with your new buddy and get to know each other. As soon as you give it some time and extra love, you’ve got some good times ahead, that’s for sure. Here are the basics you need to know to make sure you and your green-friend are in it for the long run.

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Sunlight

Just like you get it from your daily dose of roti, sabzi and dahi, plants get their nourishment and energy from the sun. Most plants need bright light, which they can get from being placed directly in front of a window. Remember that the lowest light is always directly next to the window or at a back-wall so don’t make that mistake and give your plant all the sun it needs.

Here’s a small test you can do to check whether your window is good enough:

At noon, place a sheet of white paper in the spot you want to place your plant. Then, spread your hand out one foot above the paper. If you see a well-defined shadow, yay! This means your plant will be getting bright light. If your shadow isn’t that clear but you can still make out that it’s a hand, you’ve got yourself a batch of medium light. If the shadow is hardly there—you’ve got yourself low light.

And remember, there is such a thing as too much light! If the sun is bright enough to burn your skin, it’s certainly bright enough to burn the delicate leaves, and so make sure your plant-baby is out of direct sunlight.

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Water

The worst thing you can do to your leafy-goddess is over-hydrating it. Here are a few simple tips to help you figure it out:

It’s not rocket-science and it’s totally kosher to go with your gut on this one. Most plants need to be watered when the first inch of soil has dried out, so don’t overthink it – just stick your pinky in the soil (closer to the rim of the pot and away from the plant) if it feels dry, it needs a drink.

To water, gently lift your plant’s foliage and pour water into the soil until a trickle appears from the drainage hole at the bottom. Let the plant soak in the water for 30 minutes and then empty the remaining water into the pot.

Check the water levels of your plant every 3-4 days. Don’t assume that your plant needs X amount of water on a set day. Temperature, changes in daylight and such can affect the amount of water your plant needs, so regularly check in with it to decipher how much hydration it’s going to need.

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Nutrients and Fertilisation

It’s not necessary that your plant will need additional nutrients and minerals. Most plants get their fill from the air, water, sunlight and their soil mix. As far as possible, try to keep additional supplements out of the way. If your plant is having a specific issue, only then must you feed them with the extras. In that case, you can visit a nursery and find the best supplements for your plant. Remember that simple problems, many a times have simple fixes.

If your plant is wilted: It needs water. Water it lightly a few days in a row and it should perk right back up. Whatever you do though, don’t overwater it!

If your plant has yellow leaves: your plant is stressed. This generally happens when we move plants or re-pot them, so give it a day or two to get accustomed to its new environment. If it continues to turn yellow, this is a sign of overall neglect. Remember, to give your friend all the attention it needs.

If your plant is tilting considerably: this means your plant is suffering from root rot. We’ll tell you in a bit how to fix that.

If your plant is smelly: This is trouble. If your plant is releasing a pungent smell, it’s definitely a sad sign. Over-watering your plant can cause it to rot. Cut away the parts of the plant that look like they’re rotting. If there aren’t any parts visible, this means the rotting is at the root. In this case, if you want to salvage your plant, you’re going to have to give it a root-trim. Contact your mali (gardener) or take it to the nursery if you’re not sure how to do it yourself.