A guide to new plant parents

Your Guide To Growing


Welcome to the Altifarmer family! We’re thrilled you’ve chosen Pico.

This guide will help you learn a little more about planting, growing, and caring for your plants. It’s a good starting place especially for those who’ve never grown plants before.

Grow to Grow

Growing plants is simple, but understanding their needs and behavior can get tricky sometimes. That's because plants need an environment as close as possible to that in which they grow naturally. For example, plants that grow in deserts need strong light and very less water while plants that grow in tropical regions need humid and warm conditions. Every plant has different growing requirements. Any fluctuations in their growing conditions like irregular watering, poor lighting, overfeeding can contribute to common problems in plants halting their growth and development. However, proper care can definitely enhance their growth and extend their lives.

So, let's give our plants a perfect opportunity to grow to their full potential by providing them with the perfect amount of water, light, and nutrients.

Green thumb tip

  • Maintain a balanced moisture level in the soil by topping up water when low.
  • Keep the grow light minimum 1-2 inches above the plant.
  • A minimum of 8 hours of darkness is essential for most plants.
  • Remove dead leaves, if seen.
  • Check the underside of leaves for pests/ disease.
  • Prune your plant regularly to maintain proper growth.
  • If growth becomes stagnant, you could remove the plant from PICO and plant it in a normal pot.

Get Support

You may write to us with plant related queries at


Water helps your plants to supply essential nutrients from the soil to different parts of the plant. Watering your plant sounds simple yet many of us struggle with it as some plants need water once a week while some need watering daily.

A simple trick to know whether your plant needs watering or not is by touching down the soil. If it feels dry and hard, it likely needs watering and if it feels moist or wet, no watering is needed.

Here are some common know-hows which will help you tends the plants:


  • Wilting- The plant droops but the soil look moist.
  • Water-soaked spots & blisters- Plant cells soak in too much water and expand to the point of rupturing.
  • Yellow falling leaves- Leaves begin to turn yellow and drop both, new and old leaves.
  • Brown soft leaves- Leaves turn brown & soft without any stiffness.

Do not water frequently. Allow the soil to become dry on the surface before watering again. Use a welldrained oil.


  • Wilting- Plant droops and the soil is dry & hard.
  • Leaves curl downwards- Leaves curl downwards to prevent further water loss.
  • Dry dead leaf tips- Tips/edges dry out and turn brown. Eventually, the entire leaf turns brown & dies.
  • Slow & stunted growth- Less water leads to very very less supply of nutrients
  • Cure:
    Water at regular interval for normal pots or top up the self-watering when low. Use soil with good water retention capacity. Repeat watering when soil is dry to touch.

    Allow the soil to become dry on the surface before you water again. This method maintains a good balance of air and water in the soil


Light provides energy to your plants to produce their own food and ensures healthy growth. However, it is also difficult to determine how much light your plants need to thrive since some plants prefer shade over hot sun while some just enjoy a long sunbathe. A general rule of thumb for most of the plants is to provide at least 6 hours of direct sunlight or 12-16 hours of grow light per day. A minimum of 8 hours of darkness per day should be given to the plants as they need some time to rest.

Look for the following symptoms for any kind of suffering caused due to over or underlighting.


  • Wilting- Plant starts wilting as it loses water much more rapidly than it can absorb.
  • Leaf curling upwards- To prevent water loss by decreasing the surface area.
  • Leaf burning- It causes the top leaves, near to the grow light to burn out.
  • Burned leaf falling- Dry, crispy leaves start falling.

Move the plant farther from the window or move artificial light source away from the plants


  • Yellowing & dropping of leaves- The green color starts to fade and begin to turn yellow due to the breakdown of chlorophyll pigment (responsible for photosynthesis).
  • Elongated stem- Insufficient light causes the stem to elongate rapidly.
  • Stunted plant growth- Decreased photosynthesis rate affects plant growth.
  • Bending of the stem towards the light- Plant looks stretched as it starts growing towards the light.

Place the plant closer to a window or move artificial light source closer to the plants.


  • Provide reflected light with light-colored walls or mirror.
  • If your plants are getting too much light, place it in shade for under filtered light to prevent it from burning.
  • Shade the plant with another bigger plant


Plants growing in containers have a limited amount of soil from which to obtain nutrients. The supply of nutrients becomes depleted when the plant is actively growing. Thus, we need to fortify the soil to replenish them. You may add manure, compost, vermicast, or any other fertilizer once a month, or once a growing season depending on the plant and also on the type of fertilizer you are using. Most houseplants do not need fertilization in winters as they are not actively growing.

Look for the following signs to prevent your plants from nutrient stress caused due to overfeeding or underfeeding your plants.


  • Lower leaves wilting- Plants wilt as they cannot absorb water from the soil.
  • Dark green foliage- Plants grow rapidly with lots of dark green foliage.
  • Leaves burning- Leaves start turning brown at the margins and tips.
  • Salt layer- A crust of fertilizer forms on the soil surface.

Drain the fertilizer out of the soil by watering it thoroughly (only applicable for conventional pots). Gently remove the crust of fertilizer from the soil & repot the plant with a fresh potting mix. Do not fertilize it for at least 2-3 weeks


  • Leaves yellowing- Lower leaves lose color and may drop off.
  • Smaller younger leaves- New leaves are smaller than previous leaves.
  • Slow & stunted growth- Lack of nutrients causes stunted growth.
  • Purplish red spots- Some plants may show purplish red spots on the leaves.

For early recovery:
Add a small amount of fast release fertilizer to the soil.
For quick results: Perform foliar feeding as nutrients can be rapidly absorbed by the leaves


  • If plants are totally dormant, do not fertilize until growth starts.
  • Do not apply fertilizers to dry soil. Do not overfertlize.
  • Plants can die from too much feeding. Less is better better than more.

Common pests

Nearly no garden can escape from insects and this is inevitable. However, not all insects are harmful, some insects like butterflies and bees are crucial for pollination while some insects like ladybugs and lacewings feed on harmful pests. Pests get into a garden when they find an environment perfect for their growth and life cycle. High humidity, lack of predators, and poor air circulation are the main factors that attract pests indoors. Here are a few notorious pests that can cause damage to the plants.

Aphids are small sap-sucking insects, usually green or orange found on new growth. They cause cause discoloration of the leaves and plants to look distorted.

Mealybugs appear as small white cottony clumps in clusters on the stems and underside of leaves. Damage is similar to that caused by aphids.

Spider mites
Spider mites are extremely small, sap-sucking pests, proliferate in hot and dry conditions. You may find fine webbing on the underside of leaves, closely related to spiders.

Scale insects are small, brown discs with shell-like waxy covering commonly attached to the undersides of leaves and on the stems where they suck sap.

Here are some tips for controlling pests:

  • Use 6-7 drops of essential oil (eucalyptus, citronnella, peppermint, and lavender)
  • Spray diluted soap water (mix 1-2 tablespoons of liquid hand/dish soap in a liter of water) over the infested area which will effectively suffocate pests and break down their protective covering.
  • Make use of sticky traps to catch and vvmonitor pests.
  • Make your own pests trap by coating a yellow or blue colored card with vaseline or oil to attract pests.


  • Grow strong-smelling plants (mint, dill, garlic, and onions) in between your garden plants to repel pests.
  • Repeated application of remedy every week for a month may help to break their life cycle


Q.1 What kinds of plants can I grow in PICO?
PICO helps you grow most ornamental plants such as pilia and lavender, succulents, many edible herbs like basil and mint, and even some fruits and veggies like cherry tomato & chili pepper.

Q.2 How big can the plants in PICO get & does the height of light matter?
The telescopic lights can extend upto 8.5"/22cm. Plants always grow towards the light, some also cascade downwards like Rapunzel's hair.
By keeping the light about 3 inches above your plants as they grow, you will encourage your plants to grow strong and fuller. If you keep the lights very close to your plants, it can burn out your plant's foliage. If you raise the lights too quickly, your plants will reach too fast and start to look very thin and leggy.

Q.3 How to grow succulents in PICO?
Plants like succulents and cacti have very less water requirement and need a dry spell of several days. You can grow succulents or cacti in PICO by adding water only till the mid level.

Q.4 Do the lights have to be on all the time?
Plants need minimum 8-hours of darkness everyday. PICO needs to be plugged in for the grow lights to work. You may manually turn on the lights for 12-16 hours a day. Alternatively, the optional Pico-Timer automates this with a 16-hours ON and

Q.5 When to re-pot a plant from PICO?
Re-pot your plant when you spot roots growing through the side apertures or more roots than soil or slow growth or plant top-heavy and falling over more easily

Q.6 Is it normal for the soil to get wet quickly after adding water?
Yes, it’s completely normal. Water moves through the soil much more quickly when the soil is dry after a watering event.

Q.7 What kind of soil should I use for the PICO?
You can use soil from your yard; however, it is advisable to use potting soil that is lightweight and absorbent with good drainage. It consists of soil, cocopeat, perlite, and clay balls that retain moisture and ensures fast root growth