|Top Ten Ways to Kill Your Plants|
To help you along your journey toward becoming a plant expert (expert plant killer, ah-hem...), we have developed a list of tips you can use to either kill your plants or to avoid their demise. Remember, these are general tips. Most plants have their own special requirements that you can abuse to commit plant-icide.
OVERWATERING: Roots need air as well as water. Keeping the soil soaked at all times means certain death for most plants. Waterlogging kills by preventing vital air getting to the roots and by encouraging root rotting diseases. More plants die through overwatering than any other single cause. Often this starts with an overly dry plant that looks like it needs a drink. Success at killing a plant is achieved when it is watered, then watered again and again.
To avoid death, a loving caretaker will water well once, removing the excess runoff after an hour or so. S(he) will then give the plant ample time to recover on its own.
UNDERWATERING: Conversely, not watering at all will also kill a plant just as well. Walk by the plant and totally ignore any signs of wilt or lackluster appearance. If you are lucky, you will lower the plants natural resistance enough to allow insects to infest it which will hasten the effect. See Step 6 below.
If you are serious about learning how to keep plants alive, you will water according to the plant's needs. This might mean you will do a bit of research. If you do, you will find out that many plants like to be kept on the dry side and some like to be quite wet. But most plants want to be kept Evenly Moist. This means, you water when the soils approaches dryness, but not bone dry. If you put yoru finger into the soil an inch down or so you will have a pretty good idea how moist the soil is. Follow the directions for your plant and go from there.
To keep your tired plant alive over winter, water it slightly less and decrease or suspend feedings until the weather warms, natural light increases and the active growth period begins. Also make certain there are no drafts as this can be fatal. If plants are close to a door, choose a new winter location away from chilly temperatures. Also, avoid placing plants near a hot air vent as this can overly dry out the plant.
An avid gardener will salvage these plants and rejuvenate them during the summer and get them to rebloom again. If you are unsure whether the plant can regrow, ask the source.
The astute plant keeper will increase air humidity by using a humidifier, grouping plants on humidity trays or placing them in a humid area such as the kitchen or bathroom. Giving them a tepid shower early in the day on a weekly basis also helps.
To bring your plant back to health, choose a pot that is the same size or slightly larger than the root ball. Repot in the spring of the year when the plant is beginning its growth cycle. Use the proper mix for your type of plant. Avoid using unsterilized garden soil. Allow for drainage by using a container with a drainage hole or a layer of drainage material in the bottom.
The smart hobbyist will learn about the plant before choosing it and will bring home only the plants that are right for his or her conditions. Ask your florist or Garden Center plant expert for help in selecting the plants that are right for you.
Once you graduate from killing to growing plants, you will be delighted at the number of exotic and unique plants that will grow nicely in interior conditions. This book also features an excellent troubleshooting section as well as ideas for placement, containers, and interior lighting for plants. If you are a true plant killer, this is a perfect guide for what NOT to do to kill. Think of it as an instruction guide in the reverse!
Plant newbies and experts alike can learn a lot by asking the source. Go back to the place where you got the plant and find out from them what's ailing it. If that fails, go to Tip #9. Another good source for care information is this website. Click on Plant Profiles for info on specific plants and here for general plant care info.