A list of effective strategies that will teach you how to not kill plants.
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It wasn’t until I was throwing my 10th plant in the bin that I finally decided I was going to learn how to not kill plants. And I was going to approach it the way I’d approach any goal: with careful study.
And it paid off (as the strategy always did for me).
This post contains the strategies I used to finally move away from my involuntary killing spree and actually have real plants that are green and thriving instead of slowly withering into a lonely wrinkled mess on my floor. If you’re suffering from a black thumb like me, then keep reading.
I’m sure you’ll find something that can work for you.
Side Note: If you’re a total beginner but want to learn how to garden (especially for food), you need to take Ron Finley’s Masterclass.
Start with the right plant.
If you’ve never successfully looked after a plant before, then start small. Don’t go all out and buy twenty different plants from the shop just because they look colourful or cute or easy enough to look after.
Plants, just like pets, require care and if you don’t give them the care they require, they die.
So, get one plant that’s got roots and already settled in a pot complete with leaves and all. You don’t want to start with seeds because they take a long time to grow and your confidence probably won’t be able to take the waiting.
And choose that plant wisely. Don’t just get the first plant that catches your eye.
I believe in setting yourself up for success so if you’ve never had a plant before (or you’ve had a few but they’re all dead and gone now thanks to the hostile environment that is your house), then choose one most suited to your characteristics.
If you tend to forget that your plants are alive or that you have plants in the first place, get one that thrives on neglect. Yes, there are plants that prefer minimal watering and no sunlight. Perfect if your black thumb comes from the fact that you just never remember if you’ve watered your plants or not.
On the other hand, if you swing the exact opposite way and can’t seem to stop yourself from watering your plants everyday because the poor dear looks parched, then get one that loves water. So, stay away from the succulents, please. Unless you want to see one literally melt in front of you. I’ve seen one. And it’s not pretty.
Start with the right conditions.
As I said, different plants need different conditions to thrive. It’s one of the more important things you need to know if you want to not kill plants.
Different plants need watering at different times. They need different soil compositions as well as varying degrees of sunlight.
I could go on but basically, there’s not a single size that fits all of them, which is why I think you should start with the easiest plants to look after, the plants you cannot kill – unless, of course, you actively try and kill them.
As I previously wrote, it’s also a lot easier to keep them alive when they come already properly rooted in pots as opposed to when I have to start from seeds. Maybe it’s a psychological thing, but I actually suspect that it’s because when plants come in pots, they already have the right soil composition.
Also, you’ll normally get instructions on how to care for them – how much sunlight, water, feed etc they require.
When you start with the right conditions, it’s a lot easier to keep plants alive.
Start with the right tools.
Again, set yourself up for success so if you always forget to water your plants but you want one that needs consistent watering, get some watering globes.
You’ll probably also need to feed your plant (again, depends on the kind of plant you have). And if you can’t feed your plant then you need to make arrangements to make sure that said plant gets fed. Something like the Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food Spikes could do the trick for you.
Of course, the right tools depend on the plant. Again, we’re back to the “no one size fits all” scenario so it’s probably easier if you just start with the right information.
Let’s go to tip #4.
Start with the right information.
Yep, this should really be number 1, shouldn’t it?
Anyway, really, you should start your quest for a green, healthy, thriving plant with getting the right information. If you want an organic garden indoors, for example, because you don’t have enough space then you need to know exactly what you need. Take a class. Read some guides.
Are you already feeling a bit anxious?
I was, when I first started looking into things. I consoled myself with the knowledge that I have a son and I’ve managed to keep him alive so surely, I can figure out what to do with a plant?
And to be honest, having a green thumb or black thumb doesn’t really matter. In fact, I suspect they’re just really terms we bandy about but don’t actually exist. Some people just know more about plants, some people slightly less.
In other words, if you’re armed with the right information, you’d also be able to make sure that the right conditions exist for the right plant and not end up killing it.
Final thoughts on how to not kill plants
Here are a few more concrete tips to help you not kill plants:
- Pencil it in. If you can never remember if you’ve already watered your plants, make sure to put it in your calendar. The one on your phone will do. Or try Todoist, my favourite app ever.
- Compost (sans the smell). Healthy plants usually need feeding and compost can provide them with more of nutrients they need.
- Find the right fit. Keep looking for the plant that will fit you and your lifestyle. It’s like finding The One. Sometimes, you end up kissing a few frogs before you meet your prince. Or, in this case, before you stop killing your plant. (Hmmm, I might need to look for a better analogy.)
- Get the info you need. I cannot stress this enough. You need the right information even if you go for plants you can’t kill, you still need to know what they need.
For example, the Snake Plant hardly needs tending but I still managed to kill not one but two of them. How? I stuck both in a bathroom close to the bath, thinking the steam would be good for them.
Unfortunately, they were so close that I managed to swamp them with bath water, which included oil and magnesium bath salts. *sigh*