9 ways you might be killing your houseplant

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The world is made up of two types of people: those who can cultivate and care for houseplants and those who would have trouble keeping a plastic plant alive. But when it comes to plants, there is no "can't," there is only "eh, too lazy to bother." Now that we've shamed you, read on if you want to keep that floppy fern on your desk alive!

9 ways you might be killing your houseplant
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9 ways you might be killing your houseplant

1. You're Emotionally Distant from Your Plant

And by that, we mean: You don't know your plant that well. You know how you google a new love interest or friend? Do the same with your plant! Research plants before you purchase them -- get a sense of their emotional baggage -- so you know how to properly care for them (and therefore not kill them).

See Why Houseplants Are Actually Super Good for You

Photo credit: Annie Schlechter/Martha Stewart

2. It's Sun-Starved

Perhaps you live in an apartment with only one window -- which faces another apartment building. Then you bought a plant that likes to suntan. That pretty little beach babe will quickly shrivel and write its will. If you own a shady home, get yourself a plant that enjoys the shade, like the low-key philodendron. Do you know how much sun your plant needs?

See Some Shade-Loving Plants for the Unenlightened Home

Photo credit: Johnny Miller/Martha Stewart

3. Mom, You're Hovering!

Gosh, leave it alone! Most plants will be okay with periodic attention -- overwatering will lead to root rot. Notice a smell coming from your plant? You may be literally drowning it in attention. So don't be a stage mom! Let your plant find itself. 

Want to Be a Stage Mom? Make a Plant Stage. (It's Called a Terrarium.)

Photo credit: Martha Stewart

4. Honey, Are You Hungry?

Fertilizing your plants will help them grow, yes; but plant feed, much like steroids, is best in small doses. Your plant doesn't need to win the Tour de France -- it just needs to live. 

See How to Properly Feed Your Houseplant

Photo credit: Martha Stewart

5. It's Just Filthy

Even plants need a day at the spa. No need for massages  -- just a light shower will do. Keep your plants fresh, and they'll put on a happy face. And it's easy: Just put your plants in the shower and run them under cool water.  

How to Bathe Your Houseplants

Photo credit: Martha Stewart

6. Its Room Is Too Small

You may not be able to move into a larger home (alas), but sometimes, they need to. Check your plant for tightly-packed roots -- if they're clambering out of drainage holes, the kid needs a new room. Sometimes, we outgrow our clothing -- so do they! In addition, mineral residues from water can accumulate in its pot, so even if the plant isn't particularly fast-growing, it should still be periodically repotted with fresh soil. 

See How to Repot Your Plant

Photo credit: Martha Stewart

7. The Air Is Way Too Dry

If the tips of your plant are browning, sometimes it just means the air in your home is too dry -- there isn't enough water in the air. Ferns especially thrive in a humid climate. If you must keep your fern in a dry room, try placing a tray of pebbles with water underneath the plant to create humidity. Even plants complain about the humidity. Plants -- they're just like us!

How to Control Humidity in Your Home

Photo credit: Martha Stewart

8. You're Hot and You're Cold

Your plant should stay in a relatively small temperature range -- control the temperature in your home to make sure you're not submitting your plant to extreme temperature changes. The best way to control the climate? Don't move the plant. Each room in your home is essentially its own microclimate -- Find the microclimate that suits the plant, and keep it there. 

See the Select Few Plants that Can Survive Extreme Temperatures

Photo credit: Martha Stewart

9. You're a Neglectful Parent

You missed its soccer game, you never pack a lunch, and last year for its birthday you only gave it mineral water. Listen, if you can't water a plant very frequently (maybe you travel a lot or there's no water in your house?), just get yourself a low-maintenance plant like a small desert succulent. Succulents have evolved to survive in the desert, one of the world's most harsh climates. So there's no need to pamper it. The san sevaria is a grand-looking succulent that's literally impossible to kill (okay, nearly impossible).

See How to Make a Succulent Terrarium

Photo credit: Martha Stewart


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