All is not lost! Here’s what to do when you’re bad at taking care of plants – from smart, simple tricks to the most common causes of plants dying so that you can prevent them from happening again.
Find your light
A cactus thrives under bright light while zamioculcas can live with low light if they have to. Either way, knowing whether a plant likes low, medium or bight light is key to keeping them happy over winter. When the sun’s shining, put a sheet of white paper on the spot you want to place your plant and hold your hand about 30cm above it. A sharp shadow on the paper indicates bright light; if there’s a shadow of your hand but it’s soft and fuzzy, it indicates medium light; and if it’s hard to see the outline at all, that spot only receives low light, meaning only a limited number of plants will survive there.
Wash away the pain
Restore your dusty plants to their former glory because shiny, glossy leaves look nicer, right? But there’s another reason why it’s important to keep them clean. Plants breathe through little pores in their leaves called stomata. And just like the pores in your skin, they get blocked up easily. Okay, your plants won’t ever get pimples, but let the dust accumulate for long enough and they’ll start to suffocate, photosynthesize less efficiently and – tears running down our face – eventually die. So with one hand supporting the leaf from underneath, and the other wiping away from the stem with a wet cloth or sponge, give them a wipe every couple of weeks.
Point and spray
A survival strategy for anyone out there who has killed a plant from over-watering (and there are many: it’s how most indoor plants find their way to an early grave). While watering plants is essential to their happiness, misting them can be just as important. All plants benefit from some pointing-and-spraying, but indoor plants like it most, especially those that require humidity in addition to water – ferns and calatheas among them. And humidity levels in most homes tends to be quite low, especially in the colder months when the heating is turned up high.
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