Are You Tired of Killing Your Houseplants?
Does your heart ever swell with excitement when you see gorgeous photos of luscious indoor greenery? All of that beautifully sculpted indoor flora is the result of hardworking plant mamas and papas.
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I on the other hand, am horrible with plants. My home is where plants come to die. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have an innate love connection with them like some people. Truth be told, although indoor plants are a staple in the bohemian-inspired interiors I enjoy, I have absolutely no desire to create a greenhouse in my small home. All of those different kinds of plants jutting out from every corner messes with my mind and gives me the illusion of clutter.
Even still, I love to see touches of nature in a home. This is especially so when harsh Chicagoland winters hit and everyone is stuck indoors. I appreciate the air purifying benefits that plants provide.
Over the years I’ve slowly tested out ways to incorporate houseplants in my home without killing them, or turning our home into a veritable jungle. Below is a list of tips that I’ve compiled during that process.
Here's How to Stop Killing Your Houseplants
1. Buy Faux Plants
No surprise here! With one side of my home receiving little to no sunlight, my options for houseplants are limited. So I try to invest in real-looking plants. The upside is that they don’t require water. Just a light dusting from time to time.
2. Mix Faux Plants with Real Ones
Most often the reason why my plants don’t survive is because I forget to water them. I learned however, that when I mixed real and faux flowers in the same vessel, I was more likely to see when I needed to give attention to the real one.
Case in point, there was “something” wrong with this ZZ plant below. Notice the yellow leaf waayy in the back. Because it was mixed in with the always gorgeous looking faux plant, I noticed immediately that something was off and addressed it.
3. Keep Plants Easily Accessible
I have a friend with an enormous wall of greenery setting in her front window. Each time I visit her I think, how on earth is she able to get around all those plants? How does she water them all, and how does she manage to keep the area around them so spotless? Then my brain just overloads and I am suddenly thankful that it’s not my house. For the record, she’s a neat freak. Proof that oodles and oodles of plants can work beautifully in the homes of people who really, really love them.
For oddballs like me though, ALL of those plants would be on the brink of death simply because it looks like too much work. What works for me is having no more than one plant per room- if that. And as strange as it may sound, I keep my plants in places where I am likely to have a glass of water nearby. That includes, the bathroom, the kitchen and the dining room. Just keep it simple and nobody dies, is my motto.
4. Select Durable Plants
For plant newbies like me, I recommend selecting plants that are virtually indestructible. Keep in mind that some houseplants, while safe for air purification can be toxic to pets, severe allergy sufferers and small children if ingested or handled. So be sure to do your research before buying your own plants. Three popular houseplants that I use in my home are:
Pothos (Philodendron), the perfect non-demanding houseplant for beginners. Of course they do require watering like most other plants. But you’ll only need water them 1) when the soil has become dry and, 2) if you see the leaves are drooping, which simply means the plant is thirsty. Keeping the soil wet all the time however, will cause rotting roots. So let the soil dry out in between watering. Pothos thrive in shady or semi shady areas of your home. Too much sunlight though will certainly shorten their lifespan. A small Pothos will only set you back about $2 bucks. Not bad.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia, also affectionately known as the ZZ plant, literally thrives from neglect. In fact, if the leaves turn yellow it means you’re watering it too much. Overwatering and direct sunlight will actually kill the ZZ. This stunning plant is SO green and waxy it actually looks fake. It is a tropical perennial plant native to eastern Africa, from Kenya south to northeastern South Africa. So it prefers parched soil. Care for it much like you would a cactus.
- The Red Emerald is also a Philodendron like the Pothos, but the leaves are gi-normous (as can be seen in the photo below). What makes this plant so attractive are the wine-tinted stalks and large glossy leaves. The Red Emerald is the strongest plant I’ve ever seen! I’ve “killed” mine at least 10 times. LOL! But it can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ as they say. I received mine as a gift many years ago. So I was floored to learn that a 4-6” starter Red Emerald fetches upwards of $40-60 dollars. Yikes! I was able to find a few reasonably priced starters on Etsy, which you can view here.
5. Use Plants that Compliment Your Decor
This is reverse psychology at its best. Before selecting a plant, think of how it will look in your home. Don’t understand what I mean? Retailers like West Elm and Crate and Barrel are experts and styling rooms with indoor plants that compliment them perfectly. Take a moment to examine one of their product catalogs and you will immediately understand the concept. The idea behind this tip is that chances are, you will be more likely to care for a plant if you see it as an important part of your room decor.
True confession: I’ve been known to give away plants that I thought were “ugly” for my home. Yes, I am a plant snob. I can deal with ugly houses, cars, feet and humans. But ugly plants? I just can’t… Ha! So no spider or creeping figs plants for me. I typically reach for plants with uniformity, or ones with large stately smooth fronds. Keep in mind that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So what is unattractive to me may be beautiful to you.
6. Keep Plant Food Nearby
In the event that you’ve purchased a plant that requires fertilizing during Spring and Summer months, you’ll need a method of remembering to keep up with that demand. I recommend placing a few houseplant food spikes inside a ziplock bag, and attaching it discreetly to the backside of your planter. Then set a reminder in your cell phone calendar for feedings.
7. Propagate Perpetually
You’ve tried all of the above suggestions and the whole indoor plant thing is still not working for you. Now what? If all else fails you can simply propagate. Without getting too technical, this means that you grow new plants using stem(s) from an existing plant. Of course, not every plant can be propagated the same way, so this will require more research on your part.
The Pothos mentioned above, however, can be propagated by cutting a small piece of stem from an existing Pothos plant and placing it in water. There it will grow it’s own roots. It can remain that way for years. No dirt required. Trust me this works. I have a 3 year-old propagated Pothos sitting in a clear glass vase on my desk now. Being able to see the roots through the clear glass is quite entertaining.
Just know that if you go this route, the water will periodically need to be refreshed and the vase cleaned due to unsightly rings that form on the inside of the vase. This is the most pain-free way to nurture a house plant. You can also purchase plant propagation kits at the store. I’ve linked a few below.
These are the seven tips I use to keep my houseplants thriving. If I can do it, surely you can! Please tell me:
Are you a houseplant lover?
Would you like to try your hand at cultivating live greenery in your home?