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Are you a serial plant killer? Do new houseplants quake in fear of your heavy hand or constant neglect?
The good news is that it may not entirely be your fault. It’s very difficult for plants to survive and thrive indoors, but there are some things you can do to extend their lives. Here are some quick tips to make you the hero, not the villain.
Watering. Starting at the very basics – plants need watering, and just watering them when you remember to doesn’t quite cut it. How often you need to water them, however, is variable; it depends on things like your location and the type of plant. But if you’re looking for a rule of (green) thumb, many plants like to be left to go very slightly dry to the touch before being watered again. You can also stick a finger in the soil – if it’s dry for the first couple of centimetres, it probably needs watering.Un-watering (drainage). A few holes in the bottom of the pot often isn’t enough. You need to add rocks or drainage material at the bottom so the water has a place to go rather than just rotting your roots. Plants like wet feet and dry ankles.
Stability. You can’t just move a plant around like a piece of furniture. They like to set up shop and stay there for a while. A little stability is key. Get them in a good spot and leave them there unless you absolutely have to move them.
Good lighting. Different plants prefer different levels of lighting. When you buy them, they even usually have a little tag attached that lets you know whether they want full sun, partial sun or shade. Plants also need darkness to survive, mind – at least a couple hours every night.
Humidity. Humidity can be as important as watering for a lot of indoor plants. It depends on the natural conditions and the type of plant, but usually your leaves could do with a spray every couple of days. Water poured directly onto the soil often only helps strengthen the roots and stems, not the pretty bits.
Pruning/deadheading. It’s a good idea to remove dying flowers, leaves or stems. Some plants even specifically require this – for example, spider plants need the ‘baby spiders’ pruned off and put into water until they root.
Every plant is different. Unless you know the exact type of plant you’re dealing with, and understand the conditions you have in your home, it’s bound to be a trial and error process keeping them alive.
But if you’re attentive and take onboard these quick tips, you’ll be well on the way to drastically cutting down your mass plant murder numbers. Good luck!
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