How To: Keep Your Houseplants Alive (Without a Human Sacrifice)

Tuesday 21 May 2019

How To: Keep Your Houseplants Alive (Without a Human Sacrifice)

By Jon Paul Roberts

Are you having trouble keeping your house plants happy? Are they giving you nothing but heartache and hurt? Lift up your head and wash off your mascara. Here, take my Kleenex. There’s no need to cry. It can be HARD keeping plants alive. They can look like their happy and healthy one day and the next, their withering and dying while they curse you for treating them poorly. The truth is, even if your plant isn’t asking you for a human sacrifice as food, raising plants can be difficult.

Currently, I am the owner of ten house plants. Some of which are not in the best shape (I’m looking at you wilting Palm on the mantelpiece). However, most of them are thriving. They add a great vibe to my living spaces and make the air feel so much fresher. Plus, there’s something nice about being surrounded by natural things as the world seemingly falls to rack and ruin around you…

In fact, there are so many pros to houseplants. Not only do they purify the air but they can provide calming scents (like from a Eucalyptus). The act of caring for the plants can also provide routine and responsibility which can be grounding and gives you a ritual to partake in each week. In return, you can often feel a sense of pride watching a plant thrive and you’ll be the envy of all your friends who can’t seem to keep one alive no matter what they do!

I should also say upfront; I am not a gardener. I hold no credentials. I am merely a parent to ten thriving little plants that bring me joy and serenity. I have learnt these tricks through some trial and error, research, and advice from a few green-fingered-friends. So, in this handy guide there are seven hints and tips (that stop just short of human sacrifice) to keep your house plants alive. Hopefully your space will become somewhere that’s green and thriving if you…

  1. Give Your Plant a Haircut: It might not be worth cutting a person’s head off but it may be worth cutting off certain parts of your plant.

Pruning is an essential part to maintaining houseplants. Not only can you maintain the plants heath by removing the dead or infected parts of the plant but you can also train the plant to grow in a certain way. House plants can often get in their own way. They can grow in ways that block the light and air flow from reaching all parts of the plant. It can be useful to thin out thicker parts of the canopy so all of it can get a bit of love. By thinning out the plant you can help it to reach its potential and grow it a fuller-looking plant.

  1. Know When to Water: Your plant might not sing a jazzy number when it’s a bit thirsty so you need to be proactive.

A common reason plants can die a slow and painful death is overwatering. The little things can drown in too much water. Some plants enjoy moist soil, but most would rather have the soil dry out for a day or two before they get some water. Make sure you pay attention to label that comes with your plant and see what it advises in terms of how frequently you should water it. But, if you’re not sure, a good way to test it is to just drive right into the soil with your finger and if the soil is entirely dry then go grab your watering can and get to it!

  1. Give it the Right Light: Make sure they’re ready for their close up!

Finding the right light is essential and your plant is no different. Too much light can be a pretty bad thing for certain plants. Again, the best place to check is the label that comes with your plant when you buy it. That will tell you where your plant will thrive. So just have a little sweet understanding and treat it with care.

  1. Keep Cool and Carry On: I do declare, it’s mighty hot in here.

Heat can be a real killer. Avoid putting your plants too close to any radiators or any source of heat (even in a window that gets a lot of sun) or they can really suffer. In fact, when a plant gets too hot it can be diagnosed with ‘Heat Stress’. Symptoms of Heat Stress include: wilting, browning, soil drying very quickly, the leaves might yellow, and the plant asking if you’re willing to kill the nice lady that lives next door to feed it*.

*Only in certain situations.

  1. Feed It (Seymour): Because if you feed it all night long it can grow up, big and strong.

Your houseplants will grow mostly through the spring and summer so it’s important to feed them every two or three weeks during this period. If you haven’t got an abusive dentist to hand then you could try a store bought fertilizer.

Or, if you’re more thrifty you can use eggshell water. Yes, eggshell water! Save up any eggshells you use until you have around 20 or so. Boil them with in water for about five minutes. Then, leave them to settle for about eight hours (or overnight) then use it like you would any other fertilizer.  It’s a cheap alternative and uses things you would normally just throw away.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid (To Ask for Help): It’s a sign of strength!

Unless your plant appeared from outer space, it’s likely that garden centre or flower shop you bought it from will know a thing or two about raising plants. When you buy the plant ask if they have any advice or tips they think might be useful. You can describe what your house or flat is like to see if that plant will be right for your space. You could tell them what you want the plant for (cleaner air, aesthetic, etc.) and they’ll let you know if it’s right for you. If you make the right choice, with a little advice, you could have a plant that will last for years and give you plenty of fresh air and happiness.

  1. Do not (DO NOT) feed your plant human blood:Unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Now, let me stress this: no one WANTS to kill people to feed them to their plants. HOWEVER, sometimes there’s simply no alternative. If you find that there is no other way to please your plant then… well, that’s up to you.

Little Shop of Horrors is on at Storyhouse until 2 June – book tickets here.

This article was written by one of our Young Content Creators, an initiative ran in conjunction with Young Storyhouse to provide budding content creators paid opportunities to showcase their unique voices within Storyhouse’s digital channels.

Young Content Creators are supported by Film Hub North, awarding funds from The National Lottery.