Let me count the ways to kill a houseplant

Mon. Jan. 8, 2018

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Let me count the ways to kill a houseplant

Seriously, most of us can easily kill houseplants – it’s the WHY we don’t always know.

Mother-in-law tongue aka Snake Plant aka Sansevieria

For instance, in the above photo (taken at our studio), too many people are watering the plant!

This time of year I get a lot of questions about houseplants.  Why are the leaves brown, yellow or limp?  Why is my plant crunchy?

  • Poor light.  Either too little, too much or poor quality.  Your plant may need artificial light from the blue and red ends of the spectrum.  One soft/warm light and one cool/white light can usually provide what you need without buying expensive gro lights.  Florescent bulbs are best.
  • Overwatering. When a plant doesn’t look healthy, our first thought is to water it.  Not the right thought!  Most houseplants like to dry out between waterings.  Stick your finger in the soil, if it’s dry down to the first inch, go ahead and water.  Let the water run out the bottom and empty the saucer.  Number 3, faulty fertilizing methods.
  • Overfertilizing will burn your plant, less is better, always.  And don’t fertilize when your plant is not actively growing.  Take a peek at this site for more information. 
  • Planting in the wrong medium.  Plants need soil to anchor their roots, provide food and allow air to reach the roots.  Yes, they need to breath.  If you plant a container in your outdoor garden soil it will die, eventually.  Trust me, I’ve done this thinking that “gee, I’ve got all kinds of soil out in the garden, I’ll just use that”, doesn’t work.  Garden soil is too dense for indoor plants.  Cacti need different soil make-up completely.  Check your plant tag and if you’re not sure, ask!
  • Insufficient humidity.  Realistically we should strive for at least 30 percent humidity in our homes.  Group your plants together, they’ll share the humid air.  You can set them on a tray of gravel and water but don’t let the plants sit IN the water.

And another thing…. exposing our houseplants to extremes.  Things like heat registers and/or drafts from doors when it’s WAY too cold out!  (like 2018 so far!)