People everywhere are lamenting the fact that their plants are dying. No matter how hard they try. No matter the type of plant. No matter where they move the plant, indoors or outdoors, the plants just keep dying.
“I just don’t have a green thumb,” they say.
“I’m just no good with plants,” they cry.
Does this sound like you? You’re not alone.
Most people have trouble keeping plants alive because they don’t understand the basics of how to water their plant. Overwatering, underwatering, even the type of watering can all be issues, depending on the plant we’re talking about. It is quite often not a lack of sunlight and nutrients.
It’s the water!
The trick to caring lovingly for your plant is to know your specific plant and its need. Like people, all plants are different.
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Underwatering Is the Biggest Killer of Plants
The fastest way to kill your plant is to forget to water it. No matter the plant, it does indeed need some water. Even a hot sun, dry air loving succulent needs a few drops here and there.
To avoid casually forgetting to water that plant you spent money and time and energy on, the one you were determined to keep alive, set yourself a reminder.
- Have a plant watering calendar
- Set a timer on your phone
- Download a plant watering app on your phone
There are lots of ways to trigger your memory to water your plants on a regular schedule once you figure out which schedule your particular plant requires.
The key for most people is to begin to build an intuitive relationship with your plants. Once you’re in a routine, you will learn what your plant needs.
Overwatering Is Just as Bad for Killing Plants
You’ve remembered to water your plants, but they’re still dying. How can this be?
Over-watering houseplants can be just as harmful as no water at all. Too much water can cause root rot and damage your plant beyond repair. Like those succulents we discussed earlier, some plants just do not need much water.
Take the time to investigate your plant. Pay attention to where your plant was located when you bought it (inside or outside). And consider using a moisture meter for your plants, which will let you know if you need to ease back on the watering.
Signs your plant has been over-watered:
- Yellow, brown, or limp leaves
- Dropping old and new leaves
- Base of stem feels mushy
- A rotten odor
- Leaves have brown spots encircled by a yellow halo
- Fungus or mold is growing directly on top of soil
Again, knowing when and how much to water your plant becomes an intuitive skill after a while. You will learn to visit your plant regularly, checking on its growth and status. Over time, you will develop a green thumb that is responsive to these signs of over-watering and will be able to deal accordingly, stopping the watering process while the soil dries out, providing more drainage, and even getting aggressive and trimming back roots and leaves and re-potting in drier soil.
The Wrong Kind of Water Can Kill Plants, Too
But wait, there’s more. It’s not just a matter of over-watering or under-watering. Maybe your watering schedule is on track, you are intuiting your plants’ needs, and you still see telltale signs of suffering among your plants. What’s happening?
It could be the actual water itself is not good for your plants.
Hard water can cause dangerous levels of minerals in the soil, which can clog it. Water that is too soft, in contrast, if softened with sodium, can also contribute to a quick plant death. What to do?
If you find this issue of the wrong kind of water to be the case, it is time to understand your water with a quick water quality test.
Once you’ve determined that your water is not good for your plants, you can opt for either a water filter for your faucet or you can buy filtered water for your plants.
Water Isn’t Enough – Forgetting to Fertilize Can Contribute to Plant Death
Finally, it’s essential to understand that beyond water, you also need to feed your plants, especially plants that are growing inside and don’t have access to the outdoor elements, pollinators, and sunlight. They need help, which comes in the form of fertilizer.
High-quality indoor plant food can extend the life of your plant for years. Just like human beings perform better on a nutrient-rich diet and exposure to water and air, so too do plants. Provide your plant with more regular houseplant fertilizing and watch them thrive.
Be Gentle With Your Plants!
Remember to be gentle with yourself as you learn the ways of keeping houseplants alive, caring for plants, both indoors and outdoors. It is an acquired skill and one that anyone can get really good at with time and patience. The key is to not give up!
Watering your plants is just like watering yourself. The nice thing about this is that you may find the better you care for your plants, the better you find you will care for yourself. You’ve heard the quote about how humans are just complicated houseplants, after all.
So, get yourself some tools, some phone apps, and some confidence, and you will surely earn your green thumb in no time.
What has your experience been like with over-watering, under-watering, and fertilizing your houseplants? How do you remember to stay on track? What kinds of fun tips and tricks do you have for our community? Let me know in the comments below!