Plant care concepts – Limiting factors It’s rainy season and we hope your plants are loving it as much as ours. A lot of plants in our collection are blooming and many others are in very active growing phases. It’s a great time to enjoy the fruits (or flowers and leaves) of the hard work we put into caring for our plants. The change in season is also a great time to re-assess your plant care goals and think about how to take your plants to the next level. Even if your plants are doing well, could they be doing even better? This month let’s take a break from the ‘hands-on’ plant care tips and delve into a more conceptual approach.
There is a lot of information, including in this blog, regarding basic plant care and most plant enthusiasts have a plant care routine that is intended to ensure that plants get the correct light, water, fertilizer, pest control, etc. It’s great to have a routine in place, but it’s very easy to get into the habit of repeating the same mechanical processes without really looking at what is working, what isn’t and what we can do to improve each of our plant specimens. The concept of limiting factors is a good way to break away from old routines and really look more closely at how you can achieve better results for your plants.
A limiting factor is an environmental condition that limits the growth or health of your plant. As you can imagine, there are many limiting factors for your plant’s health. However, usually only one or two key points are the principal limiting factors for your plants at any given time. For instance, you may have a fertilizing program in place that is less than ideal, but this may not be the limiting factor for your plants if they aren’t getting enough light. In fact, in this case it’s entirely possible that adding more fertilizer might have no affect at all on your plant until your plant gets adequate light.
Ultimately, you will want to implement a process such as the following:
1) Set goals for your plant – do you want more flowers? faster, thicker leaf growth? improved plant health generally? 2) determine the principal limiting factors that need to be addressed to achieve your goals 3) Implement changes to address the limiting factors 4) Re-assess whether the changes you implemented have worked. 5) Go back to step 2 and repeat.
When analyzing what the limiting factors are, it’s a good idea to start with the basics first. Soil, lighting, watering, and pest control are the foundations for plant health, and typically are the initial limiting factors affecting plant health. Once you think that you have all the basics covered, then and only then should you consider other potential issues, like fertilizers, additional nutrient supplementation and exotic plant care potions, etc. Search the internet for plant care guides to see what issues are typical for your plants. Usually the common limiting factors are listed for each plant species i.e. ‘does not like bright light’, ‘susceptible to mealy bugs’, ‘prefers high humidity’, ‘requires distilled water’, and so on.
The concept of limiting factors is a great way to challenge yourself to learn more about caring for your plants. Constantly questioning how you can improve your plants will force you to research more about your plants and plant care generally. It’s humbling when you realize how much there is learn. We hope you will enjoy the journey as much as we have.