My Grandad gave me my first cactus when I was about 11 or 12. I recall him telling me that houseplants like to live indoors near humans and are easy to care for. He told me as he handed me the prickly plant that he had owned it for five years and had never had any difficulties with it. I asked myself, is there anything in this world that kills houseplants?
I think I even said, “Cacti are impossible to kill,” as I gleefully grabbed my new plant companion from him. But he was mistaken. It perished soon after that. And I was embarrassed.
The truth is that caring for houseplants isn’t always easy, and things can go wrong even when you have the best intentions. Especially if you’re just getting started. However, even expert houseplant owners make the majority of the faults mentioned in this article on occasion. As corny as that may sound, it’s all part of learning and becoming an expert.
Perhaps you’ve arrived at this website because you’re convinced to have the typical black thumb, which can be inherited, caught, or cursed, and you’re frantic to find a solution.
First and foremost, the good news is that plants generally desire to live and do so pretty successfully without requiring any effort from you. The bad news is that they have a wide range of requirements, and we all grow in various situations. This means you can make any of the “mistakes” described in this essay, leading to disaster.
As you read through, attempt to identify which ones you’re prone to and study our suggested articles to improve your knowledge and skills. Meanwhile, this post dedicated to the world’s plant slayers features the 7 most popular ways to terminate your houseplants (and how not to do it).
Overwatering Your Plants
We understand. You’ve just gotten a new plant; perhaps you’ve already decided on a name! It’s exciting, and you already enjoy it. It practically goes without saying that you want to keep it happy and attractive.
Despite your best intentions, it’s all too easy to fuss your new plant to death; it’s not your fault, we know; you just want it to settle in and thrive! However, the most common cause of houseplant death is improper watering, with overwatering being the most common error.
Of course, as a responsible host, you don’t want your houseplants to go thirsty! But the difficulty is that you keep watering until the roots are drowned. The dirt is saturated, and if you tilt the pot over a glass, you may pour yourself a foul brown liquid. It’s bad for you and bad for the plant.
How to Fix it?
You must master the art of patience and allow time between waterings. Not only that, but you might not need to offer as much when it comes to water. Check to see if the drip tray (or whatever you’re using to protect the surface beneath the pot) is still full of liquid one hour after you’ve watered. If there is any excess water, pour it away.
The second most common cause of houseplant death is similarly water-related, but unlike the previous issue, it is the result of not watering enough. Also known as scuba diving.
This occurs mostly for one of two reasons. One, you’re the type of person who will openly claim to being unaware of the wilting plants around you. Screaming from thirst, they urgently try to provide you visible cues that they need water, but you don’t notice until all that’s left is a dusty crispy carcass.
The second type of individual is someone who is generally good with plants but has had a mishap. Perhaps the temperature has risen unexpectedly, or you’ve gone on vacation and the houseplant sitter has neglected your plants.
How to Fix it?
If you are the first sort of person (at this moment), you will simply not be able to care for your houseplants effectively in the long run. Don’t worry, you have a few options:
Houseplants should be treated as “objects.”
Watering should be treated as a “job” as part of your cleaning routine, just like vacuuming the carpet once a week. You’re not much of a housekeeper, are you? These days, you may even buy self-watering plant containers.
Only keep hardy plants.
Tough, drought-tolerant houseplants should be your first choice. Air Plants, Cacti, Sansevieria, and ZZ Plants are just a few examples of plants that will thrive with infrequent watering.
The best cure, of course, is to get obsessed with houseplants. This will allow you to better learn about and comprehend their needs.
If you are the second sort of person and the failure was unintentional. Take what you’ve learned and go on. We all make errors, and it’s not worth punishing yourself for them.
The majority of houseplants, like people, can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. Low temperatures and frost are not among them. Plants, like humans, do not want to lose parts of their fingers and toes due to frostbite.
So, why did you think it was a good idea to leave your houseplant outside or in that unheated conservatory when Winter arrived? Who knows if it was mere carelessness or some crazy science experiment to see “what might happen.” In any case, you’ve already murdered it.
Related: How Often To Fertilize Succulents?
How to Fix it?
If you’re cold, your houseplant is too. Always keep them somewhere that is at least the minimum temperature that they will tolerate.
Pests and Diseases
Pests stink. Literally. They also give houseplants a terrible and unjustified name by making them look dirty and filthy, teeming with bugs or mites. Seasoned houseplant owners are already aware that bugs are relatively infrequent.
On the other hand, pests and illness are the banes of many houseplant nightmares, wreaking havoc on the surrounding furnishings. They also weaken and, in some cases, kill our green-leaved pals.
This is the only cause of plant death listed on this page that is completely outside of your control. If the infestation takes hold or spreads to nearby plants, it may be too late to detect or address the problem.
You aren’t fully off the hook because illnesses and pests don’t destroy everything overnight (unless you have a slug or snail problem), so a negligence claim against you may still be valid!
How to Fix it?
Observe and notice your houseplants (if you’re already praising their beauty, this won’t be difficult), and you’ll be able to detect and remedy problems early on.
Too Much Sunlight
You learned in school that plants require sunlight to grow large and strong, so you reason that your sun-drenched heat trap can only be beneficial in the long run.
We have to give you credit for your good intentions, but remember the adage “too much of a good thing”? That’s exactly what occurred here. It’s fair to say your placement choices require improvement because you’ve just given your plant a fatal dose of sunburn that no amount of aftersun lotion will cure.
How to Fix it?
There is no doubt that all houseplants require some light. Some people have more than others. Even yet, only a few plants can withstand continuous, direct sunshine. Simply discover how much light your houseplant requires to thrive to avoid this problem.
Too Little Sunlight
It is unusual for a plant to die due to a lack of light. We could be talking months or perhaps years of leaves falling and very few new ones emerging until the tree dies. So, if you accomplish this great achievement, you will be awarded the medal for protracted houseplant abuse.
But you shouldn’t feel too bad about it. It is not always the low light that kills the plant. It is usually accompanied by one of the other errors discussed in this article. For example, if you see your plant isn’t doing well and aren’t sure what’s wrong, you may try to address the problem by giving it more water, which results in an overwatering death.
How to Fix it?
All plants require light and none like perpetual darkness. Give it the necessary light levels by researching your plant’s requirements.
I once read that your houseplant should be able to view the sky from where you’ve placed it on development. Squat down right next to your plant and look up towards the sky to put this to the test. It’s a positive indicator if you can view it from a window or an overhead skylight. If you can’t see any sky at all, you should probably consider transplanting your plant.
Related: How To Take Care Of A Yucca Plant
Too Much Fertilizer
It is quite difficult to cause mortality through underfeeding. Even if you never use fertilizer, as long as you repot once every couple of years, your plant will survive, so overfeeding has a much higher chance of causing damage.
However, this is one of those unpredictable, unusual things that should only happen by chance, such as a one-time overdose if you didn’t dilute the concentration and unintentionally put it into the soil fresh. As a result, number 7 on our list is too much fertilizer.
How to Fix it?
There isn’t a single reason to overfeed a houseplant unless you have malicious motives. Stop feeding and start caring by reading the back of the fertilizer container or box to determine how much you should be giving your plant.
Never double up or supply more than is necessary. Too much can alter the chemical composition of the growing medium, causing major issues for the plant.
When I initially began collecting houseplants, I attempted to set aside an hour or two on Sunday mornings to care for them. I’d spend this time watering everyone and inspecting the leaves for new growth, damage, or bugs.
Dedicating a specific time or day to your plants every week is a terrific approach to teach appropriate plant care and perhaps build a sort of mindfulness routine. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when we buy plants on the spur of the moment. Making a commitment to check on everyone once a week can go a long way toward keeping your plants alive and well.
You’re well on your way to being an expert on keeping houseplants alive now that you know how to kill them. Keep in mind that learning how to care for your houseplants is a process. Unfortunately, you will not become an expert in plants overnight, but that is part of the pleasure. You will gradually discover how much water and sunlight to offer your plants in order for them to grow under your care. So, let us go kill some plants! (I’m kidding.)