Last year, I embarked on many new endeavors, such as navigating life in a global pandemic, working at a new park, moving to a new state, and beginning to learn how to play the bagpipes.

Yet, perhaps the most challenging new endeavor I began last year was the adoption of and the caring for of houseplants.

Ever since I moved into my first apartment last year, I have been working on improving my home décor. I do not want my apartment to look like the stereotypical apartment of another twenty something, straight, white guy. I want it to look cozy, warm, and inviting. Nothing radiates this aesthetic more in my mind than houseplants.

As of right now, I have two houseplants, which I have named Tuca and Bertie, and I want to get more. But it has been a struggle to keep Tuca and Bertie alive.

Therefore, given that I have a lot of plant parent friends, consider this my formal request for help with caring for my houseplants.

I’ve had Bertie the succulent since last summer. Bertie is first houseplant I’ve ever owned, and I picked her because I was under the assumption that you couldn’t kill succulents. It turns out though, you can kill succulents. This winter Bertie shriveled up and almost died. Thankfully, I was able to determine that she just needed fresh potting soil and after repotting she made a full recovery.

Bertie the Succulent

But, just two months later, Bertie is shriveling up again and I’m unsure what to do to save her. Given what I’ve gleaned online about succulent care, I have three main concerns.

Concern #1 is that I’ve just been using regular potting soil, instead of a specially formulated succulent potting soil. Everything I’ve seen on succulent care says that I should use a succulent potting mix. However, do I really need spend extra money on this special potting mix when I have a perfectly good bag of regular potting mix? Is it really worth it?

Concern #2 is that I’m starting to think that she needs a bigger pot. But, how does one know that it is time to give your plant a new pot? Bertie’s root system doesn’t seem that big and it seems like the perfect size for the pot it is in, but again, how does one really know when it is time for a new pot?

Concern #3 is that Bertie is getting too much sunlight. Given that I don’t have curtains or blinds in my apartment**, Bertie is always getting sunlight. Should I be worried that too much sunlight is causing Bertie to shrivel? I moved her to a window that get a little less sun but what is the right amount of sun for a succulent?

I got my other houseplant, Tuca, in April and already I’m worried she’s not doing the best, as even though I remember to water her somewhat regularly, some of her leaves have fallen off. (The other leaves appear healthy though.)


My main concern in regard to Tuca’s health is that the pot that I thought would be the perfect home for her doesn’t have a drainage hole. Should I be concerned about this? Everything I have read online says I should be, as this will lead to root rot.

On TikTok, I’ve seen people use special ceramic drill bits add drainage holes to cheap pots like mine. But, at $11 on Amazon, I have decided that they aren’t worth it unless some tells me otherwise *** Do I need to buy these bits and give Tuca’s pot a drainage hole?

So, this is where I am at right now with my house plants and my concerns about them. Any plant care tips, tricks, and advice that you think might be helpful to them would be greatly appreciated!

*I’ve never actually watched the show Tuca and Bertie, but for some reason I decided Bertie was the perfect name for my succulent.
** Curtains are the possible next addition to my home décor, but I still haven’t decided if I need them or not as one of the things I love about my apartment is how much natural light it gets.
*** This is an odd thing for me to think as usually I am always willing to buy a tool, given that every tool bought is an investment.

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