Updated: May 3, 2018
A few people have come to me in the past couple weeks telling me about how their plant isn't responding well to the suggested care tips given by the farm in which they purchased the plant. This is a very common problem so don't stress if you are having the same experience! Often enough, plants have trouble transitioning between locations. For example, if your aloe vera was once in a greenhouse with filtered light, it probably won't handle direct sunlight in your home very well. It is similar to humans. If we go to the beach for a day without protection on our skin, we will get sun burn. That is why it's always important to appropriately transition your plant!
Let's look at the difference between the green house environment and home environment:
Light: Direct sunlight is filtered with sheer fabric lining the roof (some green houses do not have this). The plants are receiving equal portions of sunlight directly above so they are able to grow straight up.
Water: Soil is kept moist because of the constant sunlight and rapid photosynthesis.
Pots: Plants are commonly placed in plastic pots with drainage holes at the bottom. These holes are used for water drainage but are also used for aeration at the bottom of the soil.
Light: There is a drastic different between the green house light and your home light. If you have your plant on the window sill, only one part of it is receiving sunlight. It is also likely that your plant is receiving too much sun if you immediately place it in direct sunlight.
Water: Depending on how much light your plant is receiving, it could become dehydrated or be over-watered. My advice, don't follow the recommended watering schedule at first, ease your way into it.
Pots: People tend to buy decorative pots without aeration holes for their plants or place them in jars without drainage (I am guilty of this). This harms the roots because they are receiving no oxygen and water is trapped in the soil, which could then cause root rot.
How can you transition your plants from green house to home?
• If the recommendation is bright light, slowly introduce your plant to direct sunlight. If you immediately place it in bright light, it can get sun burn. Try putting it in indirect sunlight by the window for the first few days. Then, eventually put it on the windowsill and keep track of how it reacts. If the leaves begin to turn brown or translucent, put it back in indirect light and let it recover.
• When I get a new plant, I research a lot about it. Don't just immediately follow the suggested watering, research how much water others give. Some plants require moist soil and others only need water once a week (excluding cacti and aloe vera). It's more important to know your plant than follow a strict watering schedule.
• ALWAYS use pots with holes at the bottom. As plant owners, we owe it to our plants to provide them the best environment as well as great drainage and aeration for their roots.
Not all plants have extreme reactions to the transition, particularly succulents. Succulents and cacti are really the exceptions for this post because they love bright light! But plants like aloe vera and leafy plants are sensitive to these transitions. After getting my aloe vera, I immediately placed it in bright light like suggested and the leaves turned brown. All I needed to do was place it in indirect light and the leaves healed and are back to green! Our plants are more resilient than we think so don't give up on them!