How to Keep Your Houseplant Alive with Just 5 Tips

If you have more than a few plants like me then you’re familiar with that one little stubborn houseplant that refuses to thrive no matter what you do to care for it.

Go ahead…

Says it’s name!

The leaves are always turning a weird, unhealthy color.

It keeps pest infestations no matter how much you try to get rid of the pests.

It just won’t grow no matter how much love and time you give to it.

Everyday you walk past that one houseplant like,

“You better not die” …

… and

“I don’t want any trouble out of you today.”

But as stubborn as it is, you still hold on to that shabby little indoor plant grasping on to the hope that you can nurse it back to health and achieve a WIN.

I’m going to show you how to keep your plant healthy.

Like all plant lovers, sometimes you lose the plant care battle but you’ve also felt the tremendous excitement when that new leaf starts to grow after all your hard work.

<happy dance>

But what if you really don’t have a clue as to what your indoor plant needs to thrive?

You don’t really have a green thumb but know you don’t want the little guy to die.

If you aren’t quite sure if your houseplant is healthy then keep reading.

Here are the 7 most common reasons for an unhealthy plant.

1. Too much or too little fertilizer

2. Too much or too little water

3. Lack of air circulation to the plant’s roots

4. Temperature

5. Poor air quality in the home

6. Pest infestations

7. Sunlight

5 ways to tell if the plant is ALIVE and healthy.

1. Examine the Foliage

plant foliage, leaves, plant health

Yellow or brown leaves are always a sign of plant stress.

When at your local plant nursery, choose plants that have lots of new growth.

Unless you just like a challenge….

and anxiety,

and stress,

ummm…..and excitement so you intentionally choose the worst looking indoor plants in the clearance section.

I really do applaud you !

Foliage is also directly affected by the amount of sunlight it gets.

  • Dull foliage usually means the plant needs more sunlight.
  • Browning leaves can be a sign the plant is getting too much direct sun and will benefit from a more shady area or place with filtered sunlight.
  • Brown or black leaves can also indicate root rot.

2. Does my plant have aerial roots and/or a healthy root system?

Roots, heathy plant, indoor plant, rootball

Aerial roots are roots that grow above the soil and assist the plant in obtaining the necessary water and nutrients it needs to thrive.

Not all plants produce aerial roots. They are often found on climbing vines such as pothos, epiphytes (like orchids), and hemiepiphytes (like strangler figs and banyan trees).

When considering purchasing a new indoor plant, pick it up and see if the roots are coming out of the drainage holes of the bottom of the pot. If so it is indeed root bound and healthy.

Repot in your favorite planter.

Use a soil mixture with excellent drainage.

Consider adding perlite, sand or lava rocks to improve drainage and avoid excess water buildup.

What if my plant has root rot?

Remove all roots that show signs of rotting and dip the remaining healthy roots in a rooting hormone.

Remove any excess rooting hormone before potting. This will encourage the plant to produce healthy new roots and healthy foliage.

3. Does my plant have a pest infestation?

fungas gnats, pest, indoor plant, houseplant, infestation

The most common indoor pests are:

Aphids (Scale)

Thrips

Whiteflies

Mealy Bugs

Spider Mites

Now I DO NOT LIKE BUGS ok and I will toss that sucker out if the pest problem is anything more than minuscule.

But if you’re not going to freak out and really want to save your indoor plant then it’s important to identify and control plant pests as quickly as possible.

When you see signs of pests, quarantine the infected plant to avoid pests spreading to other plants in your home.

If you are fighting tiny gnats or mold then the plant is most likely in soil that is holding too much moisture.

Pest Remedies

I’m a fan of organic remedies to get rid of pests so I’d recommend spraying the infested areas of the plant with warm, soapy water (dawn soap is a gentle but effective brand).

Wait 5 minutes before washing the soapy water mixture off.

Place a mixture of apple cider vinegar in a cup near your infested plant. This works well as a natural and effective gnat trap.

Check and refresh the cup of vinegar daily until you no longer see fungus gnats.

Neem oil is an effective indoor and gardening pest control solution as well. It makes it impossible for pests to grow and lay eggs.

HERE are a few other effective remedies to rid your houseplant of pests if using soapy water is not strong enough.

It is also important to note that some remedies are better than others depending on the type of pests your treating.

Watering Tips:

The best way to avoid overwatering your houseplant is to water only when the first 1-2 inches of soil are dry. Stick your finger in the soil to determine.

Succulents tend to thrive on the dryer side meaning you may want the soil to dry out completely before giving it another drink.

Other indoor houseplants benefits from more frequent watering but be sure that your soil compost has enough drainage that any extra water comes out from the bottom of the pot.

Fertilizer

Fertilizing indoor plants can be a bit tricky so here are a 2 general tips to ensure you use fertilizer properly.

1. Only fertilize once every 4 weeks between the spring and summer months

2. Always read the fertilizing instructions on the bottle or bag to ensure you are diluting as recommended.

4. Is my plant getting enough sun?

plant room, sunlight, indoor plants houseplants, plant decor

Another way to determine your plant’s health is by how much sun it gets.

Some plants thrive in long hours of direct sunlight such as desert rose, cacti varieties and succulents while other plant leaves turn brown if exposed to too much sunlight.

Peace lilies, philodendrons, african violets and zz plants benefits from moderate or indirect sunlight.

There are also indoor plant varieties that thrive in full shade.

Its best to find out exactly what type of plant you have and research what type of sunlight the plant prefers for optimal health.

5. Temperature and Air Quality

Many plants are affected by the air quality in your home. If your house has drier heat or air, consider moving the plant to an area that is close to the door or that is not near a vent.

Also consider the plant’s natural climate. Does your cactus thrive in very hot and humid conditions? If so does it get similar conditions in your home?

You should create an indoor climate as close to the plant’s natural environment as possible to ensure a healthy plant.

Now you know 5 ways to determine if your houseplant is ALIVE and healthy.

“Plant please don’t die on me.”

Signed,

Plants, Peace, Positivity.

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