ZZ Plant

How To (NOT) Kill Your Houseplants 101

I don’t consider myself a houseplant whisperer, however, have been lucky enough to keep the few that I have alive. I have much more confidence in my abilities when it comes to outdoor gardening. This didn’t happen overnight, as I’ve killed my fair share of plants along the way. Growing up, we had a few indoor plants and I can remember thinking ‘why do we have these and what’s with all the hype?” Well, having indoor plants can actually improve air quality, boost your immune system, improve mental health, increase productivity and increase the humidity in your home.

Over the past year, I’ve stuck by these principles to help my indoor plants thrive. My parents (particularly my dad, who is a Riparian Ecologist) would be so proud..

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  • Do your research. This is essential, regardless if your plants are indoors or outdoors. Don’t stroll down to your local nursery and buy a plant before you have done your homework. Research the types of plants you are interested in. What kind of light do they need? How much water do they require? Do you have pets and are these plants toxic to pets? Knowing the basic needs of your plant will help immensely in the long run.

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  • Set a watering routine. Put an alarm in your phone or set aside day(s) of the week to water, according to their needs. Stick to it. Keep a spray bottle where its easily visible to help remind you and spritz their leaves throughout the week, if needed. Some environments such as bathrooms will help retain more moisture, therefore, less spraying. Keep an eye on the dryness of the soil and their leaves to determine if more or less water is required.

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  • Rotate. Think about it this way; if you stood in the sun the same way for months on end, you would get fried too. Plants also grow towards the light, so if left in the same position for too long the plant will adapt accordingly. Rotate your plants 90 degrees, especially the ones next to a window, every week or two.

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  • Pay attention to them. Yes, plants need love too. Don’t just water and walk away. Get to know what their “normal” looks like and feels like. Is it continuing to grow or has it become stagnant? Trim away any dead foliage as it could be taking energy and nutrients away from the plant. Take a damp washcloth and clean off any dust that could be limiting the amount of light the plant can uptake.

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  • Lastly, don’t overwhelm your plants. If a plant isn’t thriving, don’t panic. But also, don’t decide to move it to another room, rotate it, increase or decrease the amount of water and fertilize it all at once. This could be too much, causing your plant to freak. Plus, if it still isn’t doing well, you may not know which strategy didn’t work. Think of it like baking; if you change one ingredient and don’t end up liking the outcome, you know what caused to fail. However if you try an entirely new recipe and think it tastes like garbage, you will probably throw in the towel and go back to your “oldie but goodie” recipe instead. If the plant is struggling, adjust ONE factor at a time to see what it needs.

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This has been a slow, trial and error process. I’ve picked many of my indoor plant-loving friend’s brains in addition to perusing through our local Green Acres nursery, asking questions, showing photos of the space I’m planning for my plant to live. Thanks again for stopping by!