There are two types of people. Those with green thumbs and those without. Truthfully there are probably more kinds of people than that, but those are the two types we’re going to talk about right now. The people who know how to take of houseplants and the people who don’t.
We’ve all been to houses packed with thriving greenery. Potted plants abound. Healthy stems outstretch their arms with joy. While others struggle to keep a plant for longer than a month or two before it withers, turns brown, and dies. Many of them eventually give up on keeping a houseplant at all.
If you fall into the latter category, this is the article for you. It will teach you all the things you should and shouldn’t do to your houseplants so that hopefully, just hopefully, you can turn the take the information and learn to treat them right. Who knows? Maybe it will turn out you have a green thumb after all.
1. Giving Your Plants Too Much Water
Giving your plants too much water is a little like being an overbearing mother. Sure, we all love Mom, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need a break once in a while. Your houseplant can only handle so much water. Give it any more and it could get root rot and die. Exactly how much water it needs depends on a number of circumstances. The temperature, soil, and the variety of houseplant are all important factors. A cactus, for instance, needs significantly less water than a spider plant.
Research your houseplant and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
2. Letting Your Houseplants Get Too Hot
Turning up the heat is a good thing if you’re searing a steak But it’s not such a great idea when you’re trying to raise a houseplant. Too much heat can kill your houseplant. Avoid keeping your plants next to heat sources such as fireplaces and heat vents. If you keep your plant in front of a window you may also want to move it during the hottest hours of the day, unless your plant is a variety with a particular affinity for high temperatures.
3. Keeping Your Plants In The Dark
Most plants need light. Dark corners, cave-like hallways, and spaces without natural light are not usually the best fit for houseplants. If you feel you simply must keep your plant in such a location for decor reasons, be sure to move it somewhere it can enjoy the warm light of the sun on its leaves once in a while.
4. Watering Them With Something Other Than Water
Theodore Roethke famously wrote feeding his geranium gin, bobby pins, cigars, and beer. In real life, pouring your leftover drinks into a potted plant is a bad idea. Alcohol can kill your plants. So can anything with too much acid or sugar. Just plain water is the best food for your plant.
5. Starving Your Plants
Okay. We know we told you overwatering your plants is a bad thing. This is true. But not giving your houseplants enough water isn’t good either. Water is what feeds your plants and plants can’t survive without food any more than people can. If the edges of your plant’s leaves are turning brown, it’s usually a sign you need to water your plants more often.
6. Not Giving Your Plants Room To Grow
You know that feeling when you look around and suddenly realize you’ve outgrown your space? Well, plants go through that experience too. You’ve probably noticed stems and leaves of your plant keep getting bigger. Guess what? That’s happening underneath the plant, too. That itty bitty pot you brought your baby plant home in isn’t likely to last it for the rest of its life. Its roots will become cramped and it will eventually run out of enough soil and die. Be sure to upgrade your plants digs as it grows.
7. Letting Pets Near Your Plants
We all love our pets. And sometimes pets love our plants. But plants rarely love them back. Although an occasional nibble on their leaves probably won’t kill them, digging and pet urine can. Train your pets to admire your houseplants from a distance.
8. Letting Your Plants Get Too Cold
We know. Heat is expensive. And it’s much cheaper to snuggle up with a blanket than leave your heat set to 71 degrees all the time. It may even be tempting to turn the heat off altogether when you go to work or leave for a vacation. But this can leave your plants out in the cold. A little nippy is probably just fine, but if the temperature dips towards freezing, your plants could die. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to avoid keeping your plant in front of an exterior door or anywhere it could catch a draft.
9. Not Keeping Your Plants Free Of Insects
There many species of insects that can’t get enough of your houseplants. Some, like Fungus Gnats, are annoying, but relatively harmless. Others, like Aphids and Spider Mites, literally suck the life out of your precious plants.
If bugs to take a shine to your plant, you can kill them by dipping a Q-tip into a bit of isopropyl alcohol and dabbing it on the leaves and stems of your plant. The alcohol will kill the bugs instantly. Next, transfer your plant into a new pot with fresh, bug-free soil.
As it turns out, there might not be such a thing as a green thumb after all. There’s simply a thing called know how. And now that you know to take care of your houseplants, they’re going to be a whole lot happier.