Five Tips on How to Not Kill Your Houseplants

Kamil in the greenhouseDo you have a black thumb? Don’t worry because killing houseplants is a talent that many possess. Plants are living things, making them capable of being temperamental. But just because they are alive doesn’t mean they can cry or bark at you when they’re upset. Growing plants is really just about mastering body language and learning about the plant’s personal preferences. Growing a green thumb isn’t as hard as it seems; all it takes is some TLC and some 411. Here are some tips to avoid a crispy spider plant or a moldy barrel cactus:

  1. Don’t be lazy, do some research.

Before you even set foot into your local garden center or flower shop, look up what can grow in the conditions you have. Plants can tolerate many different environments, but that doesn’t mean that something from a tropical rainforest can survive on your window sill above a scorching radiator. Look for plants that can tolerate your growing situation. It is easier to pick the right plant for your current environment than it is to change the growing environment.

  1. Most plants can’t swim.

One of the most common culprits of houseplant murder is over watering. It is usually a common practice to let the soil surface dry out in between watering. This assures that you aren’t drowning your poor photosynthesizing friend.

  1. They can’t get up and drink out of the toilet bowl.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, under watering is another common factor in plant homicides. Even if your plant is ‘drought tolerant’ or a native to the Sahara, it still needs water to survive. Most plants need a dose of water at least once a week, but it’s best to assess your growing environment and your plant’s needs, before creating a watering schedule that fits the thirst of your pet plant.

  1. Plants can’t live in the dark.

Plants in the greenhouseEven though houseplants have a talent for brightening up dark corners and bringing life into a room, they need sunlight. The majority of plants can’t grow in the absence of light. There are plants, however, for all sorts of different light levels. Consider finding a plant that suits the light conditions you can provide for it. Be sure to remember that not all plants like to be in the blazing sun all the time.

  1. The key to perfection is inspection.

Every once in a while take a good look at your chlorophyll-filled buddy. Are there any signs of illness? Do you see any insects? Most pathogens can be defeated if they are caught early enough. Many times plants disintegrate almost entirely before someone notices their cry for help. Be observant and call the plant doctor (the UConn Home & Garden Center) in case of an emergency.