By Ellaine Kryss Hubilla

Some people find keeping plants healthy a challenge. It requires patience and a great sense of commitment. Here are some simple tips that can help your plant stay in tip top shape.

Get a plant. First things first: if you really want to grow a plant, regardless of your budget and skill level, get a plant, take care of it, and everything will follow. If it did not thrive, think of it as a learning experience. If it grows, then you’ll know that you are doing something right.

Pay attention. Pay attention to your plants as they grow. A lot of people tend to buy a plant just because it looks appealing, but only a few succeed in growing them. Research on what type of plant is best suitable to your environment before buying and once purchased, take note of little things such as your plant’s response to the amount of water and sunlight it gets every day.

Read. Try to learn about the plant you have. As plants in pots behave differently from those in their natural habitat, reading and learning about them will give you clues on what they need and how you should take care of them so they can thrive.

Reach out to people. In the age of social media, it is very easy to reach out to organizations or other hobbyists for help, encouragement, and camaraderie. Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it, and don’t forget to willingly share your knowledge when someone else needs it. Maximize the availability of technology to learn from people, because what they might share with you may extend the life of your plants. Plus, you might make new friends along the way.

Respect nature. Do not buy smuggled or poached plants. Poaching is a very big problem because there is a growing interest in rare plants. The demand for these plants will only urge poachers to illegally procure them, which may result in the extinction of the plant species. No one will ever enjoy this kind of hobby if there are no more plants in the wild.

Tips shared by Ron Apostol, an ornamental cactus collector. Read more about how Apostol is turning a hobby into a business in the March issue of Agriculture magazine.