Plants can bring a room to life— but only if you take good care of them. Luckily, it's not hard if you arm yourself with the right information.
Here are all the ways that you're accidentally killing your plants — and how you can help them live long, healthy lives instead.
- You're not reading up on your specific plant to see what it needs.
Look up how to care for your plant. Allison Joyce/Getty Images
You might be the kind of person who talks to your plants — and that's cool, but they can't use words to tell you what they need.
If you inherit a beloved houseplant from your great aunt— you might have to do a little research and take some photos of the leaves to figure out what it is. You can find tons of info on a huge variety of plants at Folia.
But when you buy plants from a store, they usually come with a little spike that tells you the name of the plant — as well as care instructions. Read it and keep it somewhere safe for later.
- You're not watering them enough.
All plants need water. Shutterstock
Some plants like drier soil — especially a succulent, like a cactus. But even though we mentally associate cacti with deserts, they still need some water on a regular schedule, according to the Cactus and Succulent Society of San Jose.
Non-cacti have different water needs as well, and it's your job to find out what those are and stick to them. The only plants that don't need any water at all are artificial ones.
* You're watering them too much.
It's not hard to over-water a plant. Christopher Craig/Flickr
You know how your fingers get all pruny if you stay in a tub or pool too long? Think about that when you consider watering your houseplants.
It's easy to over-water them if they don't have good drainage. This can happen because the pot they're in doesn't have adequate holes in the bottom to let excess water run out — or because you put an ugly plastic plant pot inside a larger decorative plant pot, and the water is pooling up. Either way, you get the same result — a drowned plant that might be suffering from root rot.
* You're not making sure they get the proper amount of sunlight for their needs.
Plants need different levels of sunlight — do your research to find out what your plant needs.Photographee.eu/Shutterstock
Some plants require full sunlight — and others require partial sunlight, or even prefer shade. It's up to you to find out what your specific plants need — and place them in your home or office accordingly.
If you live or work in a place that doesn't get a lot of natural light, consider using indoor plant lights. They can make a huge difference.
*You're not treating diseases and fungi quickly.
A diseased plant won't last very long. Shutterstock
Plants grown indoors or outdoors will change over their lifetimes — and not just because sometimes they're in bloom, and other times they're not. Leaves can change — and fall off — and the plant can still be healthy.
But other times, plant changes are indicators of disease or fungal infection. Weird yellow or white spots suddenly appearing on leaves, sudden shriveling, or a formerly green plant taking on a yellow tinge can all be indicators that something is wrong.
As soon as you notice a problem, don't put off treating it or it will only get worse. The Penn State Extension has a great guide to help you remedy many common disease and pest problems with your houseplants.
* You're not looking for any threatening insects.
Make sure to check your plants for bugs. Wikimedia Commons
Growing up, I was always a fan of spiders — but I know not everyone feels that way. Still, you should keep in mind that they eat a lot of the insects that cause harm to your houseplants — so you might want to grudgingly let them live in your home.
Aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites are just some of the insect pests that can cause harm to your houseplants — and Better Homes and Gardens has some good suggestions for different ways to treat each of them.
Don't throw your plant out; it can probably be saved, as long as you take immediate action.
* You let your pets have their way with your plants.
If your dog wants nature, take them on a walk. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Both pets and houseplants are great companions for completely different reasons — but they often don't mix. Some plants can even be toxic to your furry or feathered friends — check out this searchable list from the ASPCA for more specific information.
Even if the plant isn't poisonous to your pet, your pet can still do a lot of damage to your plants by eating them, peeing on them— or just playfully batting at them a little too roughly.
Of course, if you have the kind of cat who loves to shove things off of high shelves, your prized ceramic plant pots might also be in danger.
* You're keeping your plant in too small a pot.
Make sure the pot isn't too small for the plant. Liga Cerina/Shutterstock
When you try to squeeze your feet into shoes that are too small, it gets uncomfortable pretty quickly.
The same thing happens as your plants grow — their root systems get bigger and eventually take over the entire container that they're in. When that happens, they need a new, larger container — or else they start to become rootbound. This can harm or even kill your plants.
To fix the problem, you'll need to transplant your plant into a larger pot with more soil.
Snake plants are easy to care for. Shutterstock
You know your habits best — if you're the kind of person who spends very little time at home, perhaps a high-maintenance houseplant isn't a good choice right now.
If you travel a lot — or you just don't spend a lot of time at home — low-maintenance plants are probably your safest bet.
* You're neglecting your plants when you go out of town.
Plants take a lot of care. Shutterstock
If you have a trusted friend or relative who lives nearby, you can ask them to water your plants if you're going to be gone awhile. But sometimes that's not practical.
That's where a bathtub is handy — using this method, you won't need help from anyone else, as long as your bathroom gets a decent amount of sunlight or you can set up some grow lights while you're away.
Put the stopper in the drain, then set your plant pots — the kind with drainage holes in the bottom, so take the inner pots out of any solid-bottomed decorative pots — in the tub.
Next, fill the tub with a couple of inches of water. Good Housekeeping recommends putting dry cleaning bags gently over your plants to help keep the humidity in — but if your shower curtain is sheer enough to let light through, that might do the trick as well. Your plants will suck water up through the drainage holes and stay hydrated for the few days or week that you're gone.
If you'll be gone longer than a week, you still might want to get a friend to check your greenery.
* You're either not fertilizing or using the wrong soil.
Not all soil is made equal. Thomson Reuters
Plants need the right food to grow.
Different plants might need a more acidic soil or a less acidic soil. Think about your skincare needs, and how if you use the wrong thing, it makes you break out or start peeling. Plants can be a little like that, too — so check a database like Folia to find out the specific soil and fertilizer needs for your plants.
Source: Business Insider