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Save a Dying Plant

Why Do This?

Household plants are great for your home’s heath, but sometimes plants take a turn for the worse, and diagnosing the problem isn’t always easy! It could be too much sun (or not enough), a dry climate or just poor soil. If one of your plants is on its last leg, these quick tricks might save its life!

Difficulty:
Time: 30 minutes

How To:

Green Thumb Note: It can take as long as three months before you start seeing a noticeable change in your plant’s health, so be patient with your efforts!

  1. 1

    Trim dead leaves. Trim away all dead leaves with a small pair of scissors or pruning sheers. Note: Make sure you leave any small buds, even if they don’t look entirely healthy – these areas still have potential for new growth!

  2. 2

    Trim back dead branches and stems. When you trim the branches, start at the top and cut away a small amount at a time. With each trim, check the color of the center of the stem. Even if your stem appears dead, you may find it’s still alive and green in the center (as opposed to brown and brittle) when you get closer to the roots. Once you see some green, stop cutting! Within a month of trimming back the stem, new branches will hopefully sprout from the old ones.

  3. 3

    Consider repotting. When your plant was just a little guy, the pot you originally planted it in was probably just the right size. But, if your houseplant has grown, that pot might be too small! Wiggle your plant out of it’s current home. If the roots are wrapping around the interior of the pot or poking out of the root ball, it’s time to replant. Choose a pot that’s slightly larger than the root ball and make sure the pot has sufficient drainage holes on the bottom. Note: Follow the plants specific repotting needs, and keep in mind you may need to add more potting soil.

  4. 4

    Check your home’s humidity levels. Most plants like humid conditions. If you notice your plant’s soil is continuously dry (even just a day after you’ve watered) your home’s humidity levels may be too low. To fix this, place a shallow pan filled with gravel underneath your plant. Add a little water to the pan (make sure the water doesn’t go above the gravel). As the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity around your plant!

  5. 5

    Control the sunlight. If your plant is showing signs of too much sun (burned, yellowing leaves) or not enough sun (little to no flowering), you may need to change the amount of light your plant is getting on a daily basis. If you’ve recently trimmed back the stems (see step 2), you’ll want to give the plant about half of the recommended light for that plant type until it shows new growth. Try testing out different windows (or even different rooms) if one spot isn’t making your plant happy. Tip: A southern exposure will provide the most light for your plants.

  6. 6

    Add nutrients. Plants, like people, need proper nutrition to stay healthy. To give your plants a boost, reuse a few tea bags in your potting soil. If you don’t like the look of tea bags in your soil, empty the loose-leaf tea directly into the pot. Not a tea drinker? You can provide the same nutrients by adding a 1/2-inch layer of coffee grounds to the soil.

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