5 ingenious tricks to keep your houseplants alive this winter

It's not only essential to step up our self-care game in the winter (moisturize, moisturize!) -- but it's probably a good time to step up our plant game as well.

Freezing temperatures make it difficult for plants to get water -- resulting in wilting and death -- while frost damages roots and bitter winds and salt damage make it almost impossible for plants to flourish. In turn, these environmental factors leave us with one good option: houseplants.

But their dying can only be blamed on one person, and one person only (hint: you).  

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Smart ways to keep your plants alive
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Smart ways to keep your plants alive

1. Some plants work better with others 

According to research, certain plants work better with others and foster a better growing environment. Folklore says that basil grows best when grown with tomatoes, chives with roses and mint next to cabbage. It's called "companion planting" -- and it's written about in this book by Dale Mayer

Source: Reader's Digest

BUY IT

2. Recycle those coffee grounds 

Instead of tossing those coffee grounds right in the trash, there's another purpose for them: fertilizer. Composting those grounds helps add nitrates to your plants and helps keep the soil's moisture in tact. However, no more than 1/2 an inch of grounds should be added.

Source: HomeGuides 

3. Use toothpicks to ward off pets

Sometimes, cats may confuse your potted plant with their litter box. Or, sometimes, your dog likes to take a bite of the soil. But toothpicks can be essential to keeping these plants alive. Simply create a border with these toothpicks to ward off those pets.

It also works if unwanted animals keep getting into your potted plants outdoors! 

Source: Boredom Therapy 

4. Add a shot of club soda

From removing stains to making fluffier pancakes, there seems to be nothing that club soda can't do: including keeping your plants alive. Packed with phosphate, the fizzy drink can help promote plants' growth. A study outside of the University of Colorado Boulder proved this: plants given carbonated water grew 170 percent of their original heights. 

Source: LifeHacker

5. Eggshell water also does wonders

While fizzy water may be the key to livelier plants, this homemade concoction can ensure all your beloved houseplants are receiving the right nutrients. If you notice that they seem a little bit lackluster, try this simple mixture and let the eggshells soak overnight.

Source: Brit+Co

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While houseplants are a great way to distract us from the torture that is winter, keeping them alive is a whole different ball game. How can we make sure they get enough sun? What nutrients do they need? Why do they keep dying so quickly?

We've done the research, but now it's up to you to keep those plants living and breathing. Scroll through above to learn the tricks of the trade to keeping your houseplants alive. 

RELATED: Kitchen hacks to learn ASAP

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11 kitchen hacks that'll make you stop dreading doing the dishes
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11 kitchen hacks that'll make you stop dreading doing the dishes

RUSTY KNIVES

Rust on a knife is a little bit like a bad hair day: It'll make you want to throw the whole thing out and start over (AKA give yourself a 2007 Britney shave), but all the cutlery needs is a little tender love and care. Load each knife up with an at-home paste of baking soda and water, and scrub it with steel wool.

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DIRTY BAKING SHEETS

This hack is similar to cleaning a rusty knife. Sprinkle baking soda on the sheet, add a layer of hydrogen peroxide, add more baking soda, and let the whole thing sit for up to two hours. When you wipe it away with a coarse sponge or rag, the sheet will look good as new.

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CAST IRON PAN

Turns out, potatoes are good for a lot more than eating. When you add halved taters to a salted cast iron pan and scrub in a circular motion with the flat side down, the potatoes will clean the pan. To then season it, rinse the pan with water, pat it dry, and pour a small amount of oil into the skillet. Spread it evenly, and place the pan into a 400-degree oven for one hour.

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GLASSWARE

If that strip of aluminum foil you're about to throw out doesn't have a lick of food on it, repurpose it as a sponge. Crumple the stuff up, add a drop of dish soap too it, and scrub Pyrex dishes with baked-on food.

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STAINED CUTTING BOARDS

Everything white yellows without the proper care: teeth, sheets, cutting boards. Luckily, the latter is super easy (and cheap!) to fix. Run your faucet until your sink fills with about an inch of water, then pour in a cup of bleach. Lay cutting boards in the sink, and let them soak for an hour. When the time's up, carefully drain the sink and rinse your good-as-new boards.

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CLOGGED CHEESE GRATER

Here's yet another use for a potato that doesn't have anything to do with French fries. When you've got dried cheese clogging the holes of your grater, try rubbing a potato down the blade. It'll push the cheese out, making the whole device easier to clean.

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WATER STAINED SILVER

If you have hard water, you know the headache of water-stained cutlery. Let your utensils soak in a cup of white vinegar for 10 seconds. The stains will come off with a quick wipe down.

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FOOD-COVERED BAKING DISH

It's impossible not to feel like you're in a dishwasher commercial when you get ready to clean a dish with baked-on food. You can skip the witty banter with your housemate, and just reach for a dryer sheet. With warm water, it'll release all those crumbs in a few hours.

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DIRTY BLENDER

So you made a smoothie and Instagrammed it. Bravo. Now comes the part where you risk life and limb to clean the blender by sticking your hand dangerously close to that spinning blade. Take the safe route and just fill the dirty vessel with soap and water, then blend it. It'll remove all the leftover smoothie and rinse clean.

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IRREGULARLY SHAPED BOTTLES

If you don't have a bottlebrush lying around, fill that weird jar with a little water, uncooked rice, and a small amount of dish soap. Cover it, and as you shake, the rice will scrub residue from all sides.

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STAINED COFFEE MUGS

You can't expect your favorite mug to stay looking pristine when you fill it with brown liquid every day. The easiest way to clean it is by sprinkling baking soda in the whole thing, filling it with warm water, and letting it sit for 15 minutes. When you wipe it clean, the stains will be gone.

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