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First Aid for Houseplants

Try these easy "first aid" techniques before tossing them in your compost.

First Aid for Houseplants

Growing houseplants can feel like tricky business to beginners and experienced gardeners alike. Learning your plant's likes and dislikes requires some observation and time. Until you get the routine of maintenance down, you may experience some hiccups. But don't give up just yet! Plants can be resilient when you show them a little love. Try these easy "first aid" techniques before tossing them in your compost.

If you have a plant at home that has seen better days, the first thing you’ll want to do is identify the problem. Consider your watering pattern, the light they are receiving, the temperature in that space, and the humidity of the surrounding area. Give your plant a physical and check for any signs of insects or disease.

The ins and outs of watering your houseplants is often the most challenging part to learn. But here is a good rule to live by- always check the soil for moisture before watering your plants. Most plants (with some exceptions) like to be watered once their soil has had a chance to dry out. It’s important that plants don’t have “wet feet”. It is equally important that when plants are watered, their soil is thoroughly saturated. You want to see the water running out of the pot’s drainage holes. If you’re watering too little, your plant may wilt or look dull in color. If you’re overwatering, your plant may wilt or have yellowing leaves or leaves with brown edges.

Another condition to consider if your houseplant is looking sad, is the light it is receiving. Most plants will benefit from bright but indirect light. The happy spot for many is in a west or east facing window, extending up to 5’ from the window; provided that the hot afternoon sun isn’t shinning directly on the plant’s leaves. Plants that are in too much light may show sun scald, or wilt and shrivel. Plants who need more light may grow leggy, or appear to be stretching for the light.

Temperature and humidity may have an impact on your plant’s health as well. Consider how hot or cool the area surrounding your plant may be. Houseplants don’t like to sit by really hot windows, or be exposed to draughts of cool air. Problem areas for temperature are windowsills, near AC or heating ducts, by cold or hot windows. Also remember that running your AC and heater dry out the air in your house. It may be helpful to mist your plants once or twice a week. Proper temperature and humidity can prevent poor health as well as some pest issues.

If your houseplant appears to be infected with a disease or insect issue, you will want to treat it promptly. The best way to determine which pesticide to use is to bring a sample to your local nursery for diagnosis. Diseases and their appropriate pesticide can be very specific, so seeking out advice in this situation is very helpful.

Making sure that your houseplants are properly watered, receiving the right amount of light, and are pest free, are the first steps to keeping your plant healthy. But if your plant is still struggling, try using these “last ditch efforts” to breathe some life back into it.

  • Repot your houseplant. Give it some fresh potting soil and more room to grow in.
  • Use root stimulator. This liquid feed will give your plants the nutrients it requires as wellas rooting hormones which can help any plant bounce back.
  • Just put it outside. So long as it’s not the dead of winter, houseplants thrive outsideduring our warm, humid growing season.Just be sure to keep it in a shady and coolspot, like under your covered patio

Try using these first aid tips one by one so that you can isolate the problem that you are having with your plant. And once you get it right, your houseplant is going to thank you!

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