Have you often wondered why your houseplants die? Have you ever wondered how to turn a black thumb into a green thumb? Have you often said, I love plants but I can’t keep them because I’m always killing them? Heck, I even kill fake plants.
If so, I have the solution to your problem.
You see, many years ago, I was a serial plant killer. I killed my plants with my overabundance of love, aka: too much water and the wrong type of lighting.
Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you make a purchase through these links. You don’t pay any extra but the commissions help us provide free information on the website.
Here are 8 easy steps to achieve the green thumb you always wanted:
Stop overwatering your houseplants.
Did you know most plants would rather dry out then be constantly wet? Think about yourself for a moment. How would you feel walking around all day and all night in wet clothes? I’m sure you’d find that annoying. Well, most plants like to change their clothes as well and put on a fresh dry pair.
It’s better to underwater your plants then to overwater them.
If your plants are small, the best way to water them would be to fill a bowl with some lovely fresh water and place the pot in the water bowl and let your plant drink up what they need. Plants aren’t like dogs. they’ll take only what they need.
Pay attention and listen to your houseplants
If you pay close enough attention, you’ll realize your plants will tell you what it is they’re exactly needing.
A good example to this would be my beloved and favorite plant in my collection – the polka dot plant. My polka dot plant is pretty much a drama queen. If she gets dried out, she’ll droop. If my polka dot plant was a woman, she’d be putting the top of her hand against her forehead in a dramatic fashion before falling gracefully to the ground.
When a polka dot plant needs water, she will wilt, droop and look like she’s in emergent care for you to perform CPR and call plant 9-1-1.
Give them a good bath every so often
Leaves grow through a process called photosynthisis. In order for your plants to thrive, not only to they need water and sunshine (natural or artificial), but they need their leaves wiped down to keep them free from dust and other pollutents.
If you look at your plants and they’re covered with dust; how exactly is the light supposed to hit the leaves? Once a month chose one plant from your collection and wipe down the leaves with either rain, spring, or distilled water.
Just Say NO to tap water
Most houseplants have an intolerance for tap water. It’s the same as most humans having an intollerance for dairy. Think about where your houseplants orriginate from (and I’m not talking Home Depot, Lowes or Walmart). I’m talking about the rainforest, or where they grow in nature.
What types of water do those plants drink to nourish their bodies? That’s right; rainwater.
Rainwater for the most part is chemical-free (especially if it falls in areas that are not filled with pollutants). If catching rainwater is difficult, the next best option would be to give your plants a drink of distilled or spring water.
There are some theroies that if you put tap water on the counter overnight, it will rid itself of harmful chemicals; however, letting the water sit out can increase some of the harmful chemicals.
Some plants leaves will start to turn brown and crispy along the edges if they’re served tap water. This many not happen overnight, but it will.
Give them light
All plants require light of some sort. The key to being a good plant parent is knowing what type of light your plants need. Contrary to popular belief, not all plants require or need direct sunlight for 12 hours a day. By putting plants that require difussed light or partial shade in a sunny window that gets direct light, you can burn your plants leaves, ultimatly killing them.
If you have less than adequate lighting in your house and you truly want to keep houseplants, you’ll want to invest in some grow lights. Grow lights come in different sizes and differnt price points.
My home is a cave. We have the worst lighting, and that’s the reason we use grow lights. As a matter of fact, we currently have 5 sets going from 6 am until 6 pm at night. I use the Abbicen Grow Light Clip-on Indoor Plant Grow Light with Flexible 360 Degree Gooseneck $20.99 on Amazon (Affiliate link).
Repotting them too soon
This is a pretty controversial topic amongst the houshold plant community. Some will say you should never repot your plants once you receive them and you should keep them in their nursery pots until the roots are busting out of the pot.
Here me now. If you want to repot your plants, then repot your plants.
One of the main reasons for repotting your plants after you bring them home is to make sure there are no bugs in the soil chowing down on your plants roots.
Some may say the soil isn’t healthy for your plants, but since most of the plants you’re buying were probably propagated in the soil you bought them in.
Learn what their needs are and accomodate them
Research your plant’s needs before putting them in a spot in your house you think they’ll look great. As mentioned above, if you put a plant that requires 12 hours of indirect sunlight in a spot in your house that doesn’t have adequate lighting, your plant won’t be happy and they’ll have a hissy fit.
Plant hissy fits’s come in many ways.
- Wilting leaves
- Leaves turning crunchy and brown along the edges
- Not producing off-shoots
- Yellow and wilting lower leaves (can be caused by over-fertilization
- Very slow or lack of growth
Stop putting your houseplants in pots without drainage holes
By putting your plants in pots without drainage holes is like putting yourself in a box without air holes. Roots not only need oxygen to breath, but the drainage holes allows for excess water to drain out of the pot which helps your plant dry out quicker.
Think about this. Your roots, like our lungs need oxygen to survive and keep all of our organs functioning properly. Well, the same thing happens when plants don’ t have enough oxygen. Without a way for oxygen to flow through the root structure of your houseplants in essence you’re suffocating your plant, aiding in the growth of root rot and you’ll ultimatly kill it.
If you have a beautiful pot that doesn’t have a draingae hole and you really want to use it, you have two options.
- Drill a hole in it using a diamond cut drill bit. We use the DEWALT Tile Drill Bit, Diamond Tip, 1/2-Inch. You can get this from Amazon for $14.65 (Affiliate link).
- Keep your houseplant in its nursery pot, then place it in the pot with no holes. I do this with some of my larger plants. Just be advised when your plant outgrows its nursery pot, you’re going to have to put it in a larger pot with a drainage hole.
There you have 8 reasons why your houseplants die and how to prevent it. I hope this gave you some insight on some of the possibilities your houseplants die, and what you can do to prevent it.
Please remember, this is not to make you feel like a plant parent failure, we all fail at times when it comes to taking care of our houseplants. Just remember, with every failure, we come closer to success.
Are any of these tips new to you? Share in a comment below.