The good news is you can learn how to get rid of gnats in plants with a few household products and keep them at bay with a few simple changes to your environment. “That’s like saying, ‘Wait for your teenager to faint before you feed them.’ That’s stressing the plant. But you don’t want to abuse anything, so don’t do it. This should help you figure out the best spot for your plant, based on how much sun it needs, but the direction of the light is another useful measure. Horticulturist Tovah Martin recommends that plant newbies consider starting out with a class of plants that she terms “indestructibles” — plants like the spider plant, the ZZ plant, and yes, the dracaena. “Anything that is alive can be killed,” Martin says. Hopefully, you’ll be on your way to raising plants that, if not thrive, at least survive.This post was originally published in May 2016 and updated in September 2020 to refresh the content and update dead links, as well as align it with current Lifehacker style guidelines. Fertilizer and Pests Putting a lot of fertilizer in your plants will create impressive growth, but too much will require you to repot them, and it will definitely attract a lot of insects in the summertime. East windows are perfect for most low to medium light requirements that smaller, table-top plants prefer. Get our newsletter in your inbox twice a week. Who among us has brought home a healthy plant, perhaps a tropical split-leaf monstera or a fuzzy, opalescent succulent, only to soon stand guilty of planticide? Spiders come in a number of different sizes. They get at how much energy you are willing to invest in your houseplants. Some plants require “low light,” but what exactly does that mean? Above: Before planting, I had to tear out the existing dead plants in the window box and remove the dry dirt. In fact, here’s an entire flowchart to help you pick the right plants based on your lighting environment. I envy my green-thumbed friends who seem to have an intuitive sense for how to help plants thrive. Is it humid in your place? One of the jugs is a vinegar gallon. Drooping leaves. Indoor plants clean the air, make our spaces look great, and could also boost productivity. Do you travel a lot? That means nutrition, hydration, a supportive home environment, and intuiting its needs. As a basic rule, a medium soil is good for plants in full sun, because the soil holds water. These simple tips will keep yours thriving with the right balance of air, water, food, and light. comments. A general rule of thumb is that many plants like to go slightly dry to the touch before being watered again. It’s not foolproof, but if you’re bad with plants, an app is probably more reliable than relying on your own memory. Speaking of drainage, most plants need it, and when they don’t get enough, they suffer root rot. But friend, you are! Spider mites are so small that a magnifying glass is needed to see them. EU leaders agree to deeper cuts to greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Pay attention to hot or cold spots in your home, though: right under a vent or near a blazing hot window, for example. Chemical-Free Ways to Kill a Shrub that Keeps Growing Back We asked our frugal readers if they had any inexepensive, natural methods for removing a shrub that does not require the hard work of digging out the roots. Here are some symptoms unique to both conditions, based on info from HomeGuides and Jain, an irrigation company. In addition to comprehensive “plant profiles,” Dave’s Garden’s Plant Files database includes thousands of user-submitted photos and reviews that will tell you what your plant’s leaf color and blooms should look like when they’re healthy. Plants are aesthetically pleasing and can transform a living space, to be sure, but they’re not simply decoration. Yellowed leaves. Tired of killing your potted tomato plants? The conditions may be variable, but luckily, Martin tells Vox, “The solution is the same. If you have a flowery plant and notice that the flower buds are falling from the plant or if their leaves are wilting, this may be due to low humidity. You’ll have to keep a close eye on kitty for these to work, but it can’t hurt to try. You’ll be happy to know that with a little planning and some strategies designed to keep kitty away, you can have your plants and cat, too. Nonorganic soil, on the other hand, contains enough fertilizer for a single season. I am a plant killer. Step one for keeping a plant alive? The side of your plant that’s directly against the window will, of course, get the most sun, but what many plant parents forget is that this can translate into either overgrowth on one side, causing the plant to topple over, or into a half-fried plant. Not all plants are made for terrariums, though, so be sure to do your homework first. Air plants don't kill trees. “So take a minute to check and see if they need a little drink.”. I love indoor plants, I really do– but you would never know it by looking at my track record with them. Nope. How to Prevent Bugs From Killing My Bell Pepper Plants. I didn’t until I killed one. It’s that you don’t know what type of ‘plant person’ you are.”. For containers, just use a regular potting mix. You can too, with a few lessons from the pros. There is tremendous power in understanding. You can find low-cost spray bottles online(link to Amazon) or at a local hardware store. Did you know a cactus could droop? After you bring your plant home, you’ll likely want to repot it in a container that resonates with your personal style. That’s the solution.”, Martin cites an oft-repeated myth about watering. study published in the Journal of Arboriculture (PDF), suggests a few simple rules of (green) thumb, ideal pH levels for some common houseplants. This is the classic cat “training” technique. Tip #4 - Plant some prickly or thorny plants around the bushes and trees you want to keep safe. Use behaviour modification techniques. You might also consider terrariums for certain plants to keep them moist and humid, adds Martin, particularly if you travel for work. To keep your plants safe, hang them from the ceiling, place them on a high shelf in a sunny space, or try using a plant stand. Studies have shown that indoor plants boost productivity, purify the air, and bust stress. Too much watering. “I don’t say that they become a part of your plant family for nothing,” says Hilton Carter, noted plantfluencer and author of Wild at Home. Most plants thrive in the 6.0-7.0 range, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. “Never, never wait for it to wilt,” she says. The good news is, you can Do not despair! The plan confirms Europe’s status as a global leader on climate change. - I have many plants in my home, and use half-gallon and gallon jugs to dissipate chlorine for a few days. Common Snake Plant Problems Snake Plants are very easy to grow, making them a favorite houseplant for many, including those that aren’t extremely adept at keeping plants alive. A place for aquatic flora and fauna enthusiasts! Stephie Grob Plante is a writer whose work has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, Playboy, the Atlantic, The Verge, The Goods and elsewhere. Vox answers your most important questions and gives you clear information to help make sense of an increasingly chaotic world. Sugar helps, too: A 2004 study published in the Journal of Arboriculture (PDF) found that feeding plants sugar can help reduce shock: This finding indicates that the growth pattern of trees may be altered in favor of enhanced root formation by treating them during or immediately after transplanting with sugar, potentially offering a system for reducing tree mortalities due to transplant shock. When you transplant, add some sugar water to the mix, be careful with the roots, and you should be in the clear. She last wrote about the rise of homeopathy for The Highlight. For example, Vera (iOS) is an app that will help you create a schedule for the care and watering of your plants. Soggy soil that isn’t escaping through the container’s drainage holes? The folks, like me, who ran out to buy a dozen succulents once word got around at how easy they are to take care of. Reading Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save in the year of the plague. A hole at the bottom of your container may not be enough, either—the water needs a place to go, like over rocks or through a drainage tray. The leaves, however, could really use a spritz or two of water every day or two. Which makes it all the more frustrating — and/or gutting, depending on your personality type — when a houseplant’s health fails. It’s possible to revive a dying houseplant and bring it back from the brink of death. Ants can be an issue if they’re nesting in your pots and containers, or if they’re farming aphids on your plants, protecting them from harm. Every plant requires a different care regimen — running the gamut from every-other-day maintenance to once-monthly check-ins — and the answers to those Plant Person Questions can point you to which plants are right for your lifestyle. 165k members in the PlantedTank community. I’ve read the near-1,000 page novel Cryptonomicon at least 4 times since 2003, and each time I still get so engrossed that my house plants die. How low is too low? Soil weight: Soil is typically classified by how dense it is: light, medium, or heavy. “If the plant is putting out new growth, is flowering or is growing well and looks strong, then it is doing well. Find out how to tackle ants that are nesting in pots or farming aphids on potted plants. The Supreme Court rejects Texas’s undemocratic election lawsuit, Trump attacked the decision on Twitter, calling it "an embarrassment.". Wrong Type of Soil Soil is soil, right? Keep worm castings and What’s less straightforward, and what can be downright daunting, is how to prevent a houseplant’s seemingly preordained demise before it’s too late. “You take your dog for a long walk in the woods. So how do you know if you’re watering a plant too little or too much? Author of Get Money: Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford. It’s absolutely possible to not assassinate your houseplants! On the flip side, your plant might be sunlight adverse and prefer shade. How to have a baby, even if you’re worried you can’t afford it, The best things to eat and drink to fight wintertime dread, The fight over Joe Biden tapping Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary, explained, The FDA has authorized the first Covid-19 vaccine in the US. When you choose a place in your home for plants to live, pay attention to three main factors: lighting, temperature, and humidity. Air plants (Tillandsia) are easy to care for indoors. Some plants, like most ferns, thrive in really humid environments (like your bathroom) and need at least some humidity to survive. Whether you have a question to ask or a planted tank to … Press J to jump to the feed. This way, you can pick up on early signs of suffering. “It’s not dead until the stem is completely dried out,” says Carter. Help keep Vox free for all by making a contribution today. Netflix’s new musical The Prom won’t solve small-town bigotry. Research what healthy roots look like (light and fibrous!) You, too, can keep a plant alive indoors. And in fact, your yellowed, drooping, dried plant friend might not be as dead as you fear. I mark the jugs "water" & "Miracle Gro". Who has kept a dearly departed air plant on a windowsill months after its expiration as a painful reminder of the crime? Want to grow piles of organic tomatoes instead? Finally, really good advice on how to stop killing your houseplants, A doctor on 9 things that could go wrong with the new vaccines. If you’re going to invest the funds, be sure you can invest the time, too. Here are the ideal pH levels for some common houseplants. Heavy soils are typically used for outdoor plants, gardens, and trees. Learn what balance to strike in the watering department by studying up on your plant and by familiarizing yourself with what healthy soil looks and feels like. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today, from as little as $3. Do you get much of it (yay! As their organic materials break down, they release nutrients. And while you’re at it, take an inventory of what your living space brings to the table. I'm shaking my head in wonder at the "I don't care what experts say, they're killing my trees." “When they bend toward the light source, that’s your cue to move them closer and rotate their containers.”. If your plant is wilting, it might need more space for its roots to spread out. An areca palm might look cool and match your rug, but you should bring one home only if the two of you are a good fit for each other. But don’t increase your home’s humidity just to save your plants. That poor once-green victim of your forgetfulness or your under-watering or your overwatering or whatever weird confluence of events? If As for temperature, most plants do well at temperatures between 65-75 degrees, which is generally how cool most of us keep our homes. RIP, aloe vera, you will be missed. Don’t push it.” However, they say plants that are growing under fluorescent light or have been sitting in the soil at stores could probably use a dose of fertilizer, and they recommend using a water soluble type with a ratio of 20-20-20, which is suitable for most houseplants. “There’s always, always a chance to turn it around.”. Step 1 Purchase a safe garden and fruit insect killer. Organic versus nonorganic: As HomeGuides explains, organic potting mixes provide nutrients for plants over time. Overdry soil? (Maybe just me.) For those of us just trying to keep our potted green friends alive, Proven Winners suggests a few simple rules of (green) thumb. newsletter. Here’s how. Don’t fret – they are actually quite simple once you get the hang of things. The great thing about the modern age in which we live is that you don’t need to guess. Many people, he adds, are too quick to throw out plants they mistakenly believe are dead, when in fact they simply need help. Following that initial homecoming, there will come a time when you will need to repot your plant so that it can grow bigger and avoid issues like root rot, says Carter. Do you spend 60 hours a week at work? The sun is much less intense in this orientation. If you want to learn more about how to care for succulent plants indoors, check out my full snake plant care article and my guide to growing succulents indoors. “[Indestructibles] are plants that can take a lot of abuse, a lot of forgetfulness. You check the soil to see if it’s dry. She picked 200 for her book The Indestructible Houseplant that, she writes, “tend to tolerate sub-par conditions and less-than-perfect gardeners.” If you Google “set it and forget houseplant,” which I did, you’ll find a slew of articles boasting plants “that are almost impossible to kill.” But there’s a caveat. 3. Seriously, this happened. Some cats will just get sneakier and make mischief when you are not home, but some … These types of questions aren’t a whole lot different from what to ask yourself before bringing home a dog (at least, we hope you ask yourself these questions). Container potting soil should be light and fluffy. Plants that prefer less light will likely turn brown if they are placed in direct sun-- so be sure to keep an eye out for this during your watering sessions. What they lack in verbal skills, however, they make up for in body language. But…. Heavy soils are typically used for outdoor plants, gardens, and trees. I have a knack for killing succulents. Discoloration is often a sign of overwatering. A string of ill-fated plant purchases might even make you wonder if you’re fit to take care of houseplants at all. Look up the requirements for your specific greenery using a search tool like Garden.org’s Plants Database. If you overwatered your plant, you’ll have to remove it from the soil to bring it back to life. For Carter, it all comes back to the pet analogy. Reading up on how much water your particular plant friend needs will point you in the direction of another plant-specific necessity: sunlight. North windows limit wise choices to a small selection of house plants. I too use aluminum foil to keep my cat from going in my floor plants. Because let’s face it, plants can be expensive (sometimes really expensive). And now that you’ve brought it indoors, it needs you. I've sadly thrown out scores of withered houseplants and almost resigned…. “Plants are living things. Handle the root ball gently when transplanting and bring up as many of the roots as possible. How can I keep ants out of pots? I recently read the cleverly palindromic Seveneves and had my … The base of the plant stem feels soft and mushy, Yellow leaves throughout the plant that fall off, The edges of the leaves are crispy and brown, Strong, well-defined shadow, then you’re swimming in, Weak shadow but you can still make out the silhouette, you’re working with, Faint shadow without much definition, it’s a. ), It’s a shame that real plants can’t talk like that. A financial contribution to Vox will help us continue providing free explanatory journalism to the millions who are relying on us. While simple, this technique only works if you are home most of the time and can keep a personal eye on your plants. Press question mark to learn the rest of the It’s All About Placement Where you place your plants is an important part of the strategy for keeping your cat away from your plants. You’re going to need to prune those yellowed and dried leaves, and Carter recommends that you wipe your leaves down regularly to boot. ), or do you live in a spooky house straight out of a gothic horror story, all heavy drapes and zero sun (no judgment)? You’ve got to rotate them too, says Carter. High humidity can cause mold growth, damage to your home’s structures, and more. Sign up for the Not entirely unlike a dog or a cat, your houseplant depends on you for its care. I did this with my hands until I found a garden tool (which I learned is called a Dandelion Weeder and can be purchased for $19 from Garden Tool Company) buried a few inches deep in the dirt I was moving. “If the soil crumbles apart, that’s good,” writes Martin in Indestructible Houseplant. Get Money: Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford. Finally, humidity is a factor when watering a plant, too. Here are 5 common mistakes to avoid so you can achieve success. There’s a lot more that goes into picking the right soil, but for the sake of simply keeping your plant alive, these basic rules should work. While it is not uncommon to see plants wilting and dying in the summer heat, there are a couple of ways to preserve the plants' health before it's too late. And if you’re enjoying an ongoing conversation with your plants — rotating them, wiping down their leaves, checking their soil, etc. Look for a bag that says “Soilless potting mix.”, Some plants, like orchids, need an especially good amount of drainage, so they have. Plant killers are intimately familiar with that “oh shit” moment, when we finally realize something isn’t right in yonder ceramic pot. As we’ve written about here, seed starting mix, potting soil, and garden soil are each quite different.. Picking the right soil can get complicated, especially if you’re into gardening and raising fruiting plants. Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of gnats, and keep house plants indoors. Dried leaves. Soil matters, so don’t just go to the garden store and grab a bag of whatever. How to Keep Cats Out of My Garden Soil It’s no secret — cats are unpredictable and extremely territorial, so keeping cats out of garden areas can be a bit tricky. It doesn’t have to be this way. Some plants are hardier than others, but if you’re anything like me, the only plant that survives under your thumb is an artificial one. Finally, it helps to know how to read your plants to begin with. They aren’t props.”, Carter suggests that folks in the market for a plant figure out what kind of “plant person” they are before bringing one home. You should absolutely read about it. It’s pretty easy (and heartbreaking) to spot a sick houseplant. This book empowered me. Start in a quality organic potting soil like Gardner & Bloome, Happy Frog, Ecoscraps, or something like that. Remember this: It’s alive! versus what unhealthy roots look like (kind of a gloopy mess). If you’ve underwatered your plant, the solution is easy: water that thing! (Audrey II, it must be noted, is a bloodthirsty alien intent on world domination. But it’ll have fun trying. Most good dog parents check their dogs when they get home to make sure they don’t have ticks.”, There are plant enthusiasts, too, who bring in “good bugs” for their plants, like plant YouTuber Summer Rayne Owens. HomeGuides offers step-by-step instructions for saving it, but the instructions boil down to cutting off the soft, rotten roots of the plant and repotting it in a pot with proper drainage. The world’s problems overwhelmed me. If your moisture-loving plant is in a dry environment, spritz it with water every couple of days to make sure it’s getting the humidity it needs. And the folks who, again like me, almost instantly found a way to let their easy-going succulents down. The best part about bringing your plants home is choosing which spot to warmly welcome your plant. It can be confusing, though. Have a spray bottle of water handy, and give your cat a spritz when they get near your plants. Keep it simple man...I'm in the middle of my first grow and I've had almost no issues so far. There are a host of factors that play into how best (and how often) to serve your houseplant. The plant is drooping, and it looks a little yellowish brown. Humidity: For the most part, the water that is applied to the surface of your soil is only helping strengthen the roots and stems. “If you’re a busy person, you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you’re purchasing ferns that need to be watered every three days,” says Carter. They mark their territory by depositing pheromones from scent glands (urinating or otherwise), and will continue to visit as long as their scent remains. pH balance: The mix will usually tell you how acidic or alkaline the soil is on a scale from 0-14 (7 is neutral). The insects/fungus that they give cover to … When we hear ‘spiders’ it makes us go uncomfortable, as most of us don’t like to have them around in our homes. Do you crank the heat in winter and/or blast the AC in summer (and, it bears repeating, is your house haunted)? In most cases, house plants are the culprit. Habitual plant abusers, here’s where we go wrong. There's power in understanding. Not enough watering. Says Carter, “Dust creates a filter between the sunlight and the leaf tissue,” and that barrier keeps the leaf from effectively absorbing the sun’s rays. Is it dry? Otherwise all my plants would be dead.”. When you take them home from the store and immediately shovel them into a new pot, in a new location, with even a slightly different temperature and lighting situation, they can experience transplant shock. Assign your most sun-loving plants to your most generous windows, and don’t be afraid to relocate them from time to time to keep them nourished and happy. That way, your plants can climb the supports instead of crawling along the ground, where they are more susceptible to disease. The rest of us can use these steps to troubleshoot the problem. In general, flowering plants, like african violets or orchids struggle to survive in any north facing window. This one’s for my black-thumbed brethren. Lighting should be an obvious one—the requirements are right there on the plant’s tag. Make sure that water has someplace to run off to. Light soil works well for hanging plants or plants in indirect sunlight or shade. A stressed plant is a plant that’s going to be victim to problems.”, It’s absolutely possible to be overzealous and overwater, a practice akin to helicopter parenting, says Carter. If you overwatered your plant, you’ll have to remove it from the soil to bring it back to life. The problem is, it’s also a sign of underwatering. Are you pretty forgetful? Spider mites can kill your plants if you do not get rid of them. The problem is that there exists a lot of bad habits and advice about how to keep succulents. You can grow Plants that Repel Spiders for a chemical-free approach to get rid of them! “I think when you get enough plants you’re basically creating this little ecosystem in your home,” Owens told the New Yorker. MyCityPlants suggests conducting a noon light test to figure it out: At noon — when the sun is brightest — stand in the spot where you want your plant to live. Here are some of the most approachable and useful ways to keep these pests off your precious medicine: Grow companion plants : Adding some variety to your cannabis grow with companion plants that act as natural repellents is a healthy way of keeping predators at bay. If you can’t get the hang of it, tech can help. Adding too much can kill your plants, and as the New York Times notes, if the plant is thriving, it’s best not to bother. Light soil works well for hanging plants or plants in indirect sunlight or shade. The biggie is sunlight. Contributing writer, Lifehacker. The easiest way to pick up on your houseplants’ cues and become attuned to their needs is to, simply put, enjoy them. 3. By worrying together, we can prevent much of this from happening. If you examine the plant a little more closely, you should notice some subtle differences that tell you whether it’s drowning or thirsty. All you have to do is not kill it. — you’ll notice any unwelcome bugs that might infiltrate Plant Town before a full-on invasion hits. You could also use a digital sensor to tell you when the soil is dry. Getting rid of fungus gnats doesn’t mean you have to rid your home of potted plants. “When I lecture, audience members sit with their pens poised, hoping I will advise them to water every Tuesday or the like,” writes Martin in Indestructible Houseplant. Following all these tips will hopefully lead to a long and wonderful life for each of your plants. Creeping juniper, purple berberis and juniper all have thorny or prickly foliage that would be very difficult -- and very painful -- to get HomeGuides offers step-by-step instructions for saving it, but the they boil down to cutting off the soft, rotten roots of the plant and repotting it in a pot with proper drainage. Google your plant, go to the library, ask your local plant shopkeeper, DM your favorite plantfluencer, and equip yourself with knowledge. To keep your pepper plants from falling over, support them by tying them to stakes, cages, trellises, or ropes. You also probably need to repot it anyway, because often the container your plant comes in doesn’t have drainage holes, which give excess water an escape route. Houseplants don’t necessarily come equipped with a one-size-fits-all how-to. Once, my husband (then boyfriend) sent me 30 succulents to share with friends when we were dating long-distance. And it’s no wonder why: Healthy houseplants mean healthy humans. “You’re looking at your plants all the time because they’re so beautiful and you’re loving them,” says Martin. Dusting isn’t just for keeping your home clean. “Because if you do, then you’re going to end up killing these plants over and over again, and you’re going to consider yourself a ‘bad plant person,’ or someone who has a ‘brown thumb.’ But that’s not really the case. (Or is that brownish yellow?) A few times per year, use a wet cloth and lightly wipe down the leaves of your plants on both sides. Don’t go there.” She shares Carter’s earlier point: “Think of them as your pets.”, For anyone unfamiliar with the musical Little Shop of Horrors, a very rare Audrey II plant sings, “Feed me, Seymour!” in a resonant baritone when it’s hungry, which at a certain point in the narrative is always. More susceptible to disease out how to prevent bugs from killing my Bell plants... 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