How to NOT Kill Your Houseplants

plantI've heard it so many times. "I have a black thumb!" "I kill every plant I get!" I love growing plants indoors. I just need that green in my life. But my record with house plants is far from perfect. I get it -- it's just too easy to kill some plants, and then you feel like a terrible failure.

But it's not as hard as it seems to keep a houseplant alive. A lot of it just comes down to keeping good habits and paying attention to your plants. Here's a few suggestions that have helped me.


1. Choose your plants based on your environment. Where do you want your plant -- in a bright space filled with direct light, or a darker window that gets almost no direct light? You can grow plants in either location, but different plants like different kinds of light. 

2. Choose an easy-care plant. Talk with the nursery or store owner and ask for a plant that's "impossible to kill." Use those specific words. No plant is impossible to kill, but they'll know you really mean EASY.

3. Set up a watering schedule. Set up recurring calendar alerts to remind you to water your plant. (Find out how often you should water your plant -- some of them need lots, others hardly any.)

4. Be careful not to over-water. Don't leave your plant in a lot of standing water. Make sure the pot drains well. And if the leaves start turning yellow, that tells you that the plant is getting too much water.

5. Feed your plants food. Find out at the plant shop what kinds of plant food they recommend, and how often. Compost isn't always ideal for house plants, so be careful with that. Apply sparingly and get deeply into the soil -- some plant food can fry the plant's leaves.

6. Find out what other care your plants need. For example, I have ferns. Mine are hardy, but they need to be misted with water every few days.

7. Trim off the dead leaves. A few brown leaves every once in a while is normal and doesn't mean your plant is dying. Just trim them off -- it doesn't hurt the plant!

8. You may be able to save a "sick" plant. For example, one of my plants came down with black spots -- it was a fungus. I dumped out all the soil and re-potted the plant in a better-drained pot. I also trimmed off all the affected parts of the plant. It actually worked!

9. Watch the temperature. I left the window partially open on a frigid night and it killed one of my plants. Sadness.

10. Forgive yourself if you fail. It's a major tragedy when a pet dies. But it's not as big a deal if a plant dies on you. Just empty the pot and start over. Learn from what went wrong and start again. It's okay!

Do you have a green thumb or do you kill everything?


Image via Adriana Velez

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