The Urban Jungle Guide for Notorious Plant Killers
Get a Green Thumb
With our Guide on How to Keep Your Houseplant Babies Alive …
By Tayla Powell
You may have grand plans for a botanical paradise of a home – but your brown thumb says otherwise. Whether you have a kitchen shelf of withering herbs or a sad, dying houseplant that's clinging onto life, there’s a way to fix it. Luckily a brown thumb doesn’t have to stay brown as looking after your plants is a learned skill. There’s still time to turn it into a green thumb.
There are many benefits to having a greenery filled space, as we discussed in our Urban Jungle: Why Your Space Needs More Plants article. So we’ve compiled an Urban Jungle Guide that even the most notorious plant killer can take on board:
Don’t Over Water
This is perhaps the golden rule of plant survival. And also the most common reason why our plants aren’t thriving like they should be. We may think we’re giving our plant what they need by constantly drowning it, but we’re actually doing more harm than good. It can start to rot the roots of the plants and you’re literally killing them with kindness.
“Plants like showers, not baths.”
Now there may be some plant species that like a good soak so always read the care label very carefully and do your research. But most plants will adhere to that rule. The best time to water is when the soil has dried out slightly and an easy test for this is simply sticking your finger an inch into the soil near the edge of the pot. If it feels dry, it’s time for a water. That way you’re making sure it’s not just the surface of the soil that’s dry to the touch.
You’ll start to see patterns so it’s a great way of assessing how often your plants need watered and you can devise a watering schedule to keep you on track. It’s meal planning for plants.
Spritz, Spritz, Spritz
While watering the plants keeps the roots and stem strong, the leaves could use some loving too. To maintain good humidity levels, the leaves could do with a good spritz of water every couple days.
If you’ve fallen in love with a pretty plant pot that doesn’t have drainage holes, then I’m afraid you’ll have to say goodbye. Good drainage is another essential for a plant’s health as it prevents over watering.
If you water your plants with a saucer under the pot, then you’ll need to drain away that excess water within 30 minutes. The plants don’t like sitting in water- remember showers not baths. An easy way to water plants is to do it in your sink or bath to let the excess water drain away, with minimum fuss or mess.
In addition to your holey plant pot, you’ll need a handful of rocks or pebbles thrown into the bottom to keep the excess water away from the roots.
Light or No Light
Here is maybe another thing that we assume all plants need. And we’d be wrong again. Different species of plants require different levels of light, ranging from:
Direct sunlight: Southern and Western light
Partial sunlight Northern and Eastern light
This is another reason why research into your species and what they like is essential. Place your sun worshiping plants by big windows where they can soak up all the natural light. Be sure to rotate them though, as they will lean towards the light and you’ll end up with a wonky plant if you don’t.
If you’ve unknowingly placed a plant in the wrong spot, there’s ways you can tell from their leaves. If they’re looking pale then the plant is crying out for more sun and needs to be moved to a brighter area. If the leaves are turning brown, that means a shade loving plant has been placed in the sunlight and isn't coping. It’s as close as a plant can get to talking to you.
Don’t Move Your Plants Too Often
In continuation from the previous point, when moving plants around to different spots, it should be done gradually or else they can go into a state of shock. They are living creatures after all. Transition them to more or less light slowly and patiently and they will thank you for it.
You’ll have to fight the urge to constantly rearrange your foliage display too. Unless a move is essential, it’s best to keep them where they are. If they’re happy, they like to stay in the one spot.
Pick Your Plant Species Strategically
If you don’t have to time to dedicate to tending to your urban jungle or you’ve tried everything above and you have no hope left. Just pick and stick to the hardy plant species.
Some species that are nearly impossible to kill (note nearly impossible) are:
These varieties are a great place to starting building your green thumb and your confidence before moving onto other house plants.
All the notorious Plant Killers will be Plant Parents before you know it.