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How not to kill your plant

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

Art by Geena San Diego

Your room shouldn’t be a dark, water-less cave where plants go to die, and it doesn’t have to be. Not as long as you know how to care for them.

No two plants are the same, which is why you should always read the tag or description that comes with yours. You will most likely be able to find a description and instructions for how to care for it. If your plant doesn’t come with instructions, I highly recommend looking up the type of plant you have online and how to care for it. Although there are basic guidelines for caring for a plant, without instructions specific to your plant, it is still very easy to kill it.

A necessity for plants to grow is sunlight. Sunlight is important because it is the reason photosynthesis works. It allows the plant to grow and thrive even when it's just sitting in a pot on a window sill. Windows and sunny rooms in your house are considered to be the best spots to grow plants, due to the amount of sunlight available and the likelihood of your plant being in the sun for the majority of the day. If you do not have access to a sunny spot in your house another option is to get an electric light to help your plants grow, also known as a grow light. Grow lights are a great option if your room is conveniently under a giant oak tree, however they are generally on the pricier side of things, some of them costing over two hundred dollars. A cheaper option is to purchase just the grow light bulb, which you can buy at Home Depot for $10. A benefit of this option is that you can screw it into any lamp you already own such as your desk lamp. Grow lights work by providing your plant with roughly the same amount of light as it would get in a window sill and projects a small amount of heat.

A fact commonly known for taking care of plants is that they can’t live without water, even so, under and over watering your plants is one of the easiest ways to kill them. Unless it comes with instructions saying otherwise, a good rule to follow when watering is that you should only water your plants if the first inch of soil is dry. Overwatering leads to stunted growth and the death of roots. As a solution, many people resort to self-watering pots, which can be bought at stores such as Urban Outfitters, MoMA Design Store, and Target.

Self-watering pots are a great option if you play a sport, have extracurriculars, or are just very busy and have trouble remembering to water your plants. Depending on the brand, all of these pots function a little differently. How they work is that you fill a “reservoir” part of the pot with water and over the course of the next couple weeks that water begins to seep through the pot into the base of the plant. Whether the water seeps in through small holes in the pot or soaks into sponge-like fabric, it all depends on the brand. If you are working after school, have bookclub three days a week, or just are overwhelmed with homework, self-watering plants are highly recommended.

How To Not Kill Your Succulent

In the past five years, succulents rocketed in popularity. Verified Market Research estimated that in 2019, the Succulent Plant Market was valued at 3.18 Billion US dollars, and by 2027 that value is predicted to grow by over 16% percent. The University of Illinois stated that in 2017 succulents accounted for 15% of plant sales. One of the main reasons succulents grew in demand is because of their reputations for being reliable and not needing to be watered often. However, as many people keeping succulents as bedroom decor have learned, they can be much more complicated and difficult to keep alive than we have been led to believe.

Succulents are dependable in a variety of temperatures and are strongly attracted to sunlight. Therefore, these plants should be grown in sunny rooms or windows, but it is vital to keep in mind that newly planted succulents can scorch in the sun, so you should gradually introduce them to the light. One of the most important tips to remember when caring for succulents is that they will always grow towards the light. It is beneficial to rotate your plants every once in a while, helping them to grow straight up.

How To Not Kill Your Flower

As with many plants, how you tend to flowers depends strictly on the type and where it is being grown. Flowers grown indoors have very different caring regulations than wild flowers or flowers grown outside. For instance, the amount of watering, light exposure and preferred temperatures for flowering houseplants can be drastically different than flowering plants found in community gardens or backyards.

Most flowering plants need a substantial amount of sunlight. However, when indoor flowers are placed in direct sunlight (meaning nothing between the plant and the sun) it can shorten the flower’s blooming period and possibly kill it. Due to this fact, windows are considered to be the best place to grow flowers indoors.

So, whether you just bought a houseplant for the New Year, or your succulent has been on life support since September, it is always helpful to research and review the basics - your plant will thank you.

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