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Subject: How do you keep potted houseplants alive? rss

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Martin Kulp
United States
San Pedro
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I bought potted ivies, several palms for the patio, small potted bushes, catnip, ficus, and so on. Every single one of them is dying. I've experimented with watering once a week, once every other day, and various others for months. It seemed like they were drying up in this heat wave, so I tried watering them more often. I try more sun, less sun. I try following the instructions for each plant.

It doesn't seem to matter what I do. A houseplant comes near me, and it will be dead in less than three months.

Then I go to the local sushi joint and see the same types of plants, and they are just lush and vibrant and green. On a patio just like mine. My ex-neighbor's entire backyard (a narrow, shady space between two apts) is full of the same kinds of plants, and is also jungle-like.

Does anyone have any tips, advice, links, or books for learning this apparently occult art? How can this be so difficult?
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Bradley Hendricks
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I keep all my plants green and healthy with this one weird trick.

I buy artificial ones.
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Billy McBoatface
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You don't have a green thumb.

I seem to be able to pretty easily keep houseplants alive. They grow like crazy for me. There is no trick, I don't even try very hard. They just keep on growing.
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Billy the Hut
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My trick has two steps; if a plant dies I don't buy that kind again, if a plant does well in my care I get more of that kind.
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Key Locks
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My wife keeps quite a few houseplants and does very well with them. I don't know what her secret is, and I've never thought to ask. I just let her do her thing. Whenever her mother comes to visit, she always expresses jealousy at how well our plants are doing and that hers are always dying. I'll ask her if she has any tips and report back later.
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Mark Hamzy
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My favorite indoor plant is Zamioculcas zamiifolia (aka ZZ plant). Not much watering is needed. They prefer warm environments. And I place them next to bright window.

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Rudy
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hamzy wrote:
Not much watering is needed.


I have a snake plant that I rarely water and it does just fine.

Not my pic.
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Lance
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I own catcuses. (cactusi?)

Water them once a week, if that. Leave in sun and keep out of the cold.

Tadah!
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Key Locks
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UndeadViking wrote:
I own catcuses. (cactusi?)

Cacti. Cactuses is also acceptable, according to Webster.
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Andy Andersen
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Talk to your neighbor.
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Richard Hedke
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Potted plants will live an average of 2-3 weeks longer than a bouquet of cut flowers in my home. Plants die indoors, it is their fate. I have come to accept this and once you do too your life will be happier and more productive.
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jeff
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I'm really good with plants (I think I get this from my mom). I can confidently say the solution to your problem is... way to varied to sum up in an easy reply. Here is the best I can do quickly.

Some plants can be easily underwatered some can be easily overwatered. Some like full summer sun, others hate it. Some prefere to be outside in the summer some hate it.

Water... In general though the best tip I can give is make sure the pot and soil has very good drainage. Water over the sink until it is vey well saturated, and comes out of the bottom of the pot. Allow to drip out. When done dripping put somewhere. Do not allow to completely dry out so the soil is hard, but do not keep the soil moist it will rot the roots. Water again when it's starting to dry. Maybe once a week depending.

As for sun... put plants in an area with indirect sun. If it is not doing well or is growing at an angle towards more full sun, put it in a sunnier area. A plant that is living but is not green and lush may want more sun, one that is dying back and browning probably wants less.

Potting... every plant that is doing well, the roots will grow and fill the pot. This is called rootbound. The plant needs to be taken out of the pot the root ball broken up and cut back. Then placed in a pot with fresh soil. If you want a bigger plant put it in a bigger pot, the same size, back in the same pot. Even though the plant you just bought from where ever is new to you, it might have been in that pot a long time and need repotting. If you grab it by the stems/trunk/sections right above the soil and gently pull up, and the whole thing as a ball starts to come out of the pot, re-pot it.

Fertilizer...one word "miracle grow"

Buy from a good greenhouse/dealer/plant guy, and ask questions on how best to care for it. An experienced person can buy plants from Home Depot/Walmart/Target etc. for cheap and make it work by repotting and extra care. But a rookie needs to learn a little to make that work out a large percent of the time.

Keep trying and pay attention don't give up.

After you learn plants try Bonsai and then you will see how easy house plants are.

Edit: I forgot trimming... keep them trimmed a plant that gets long/tall will also get thin. If you want a plant that is full and lush near the pot you have to keep is short. Of course for some types this is impossible and that is why trimming has to be taken case by case.
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The neutral evil villain known as
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hammiesink wrote:
I bought potted ivies, several palms for the patio, small potted bushes, catnip, ficus, and so on.


Ficus is latin for quick death.
in my house at least...
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I don't.

Black thumb of plant death - includes lawn.
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I don't know anymore, as my wife killed all of our indoor houseplants after we got married.
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Pieter
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Start a Sushi bar.

If that is impracticable, just remember that plants need little more than some water and lots of light. If plants don't grow, it is probably a lack of light.
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Peter Dahlstrom
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OK... how are they dying? Are they turning brown / black / yellow, are they shrivelling up, drooping, dropping all their leaves, are the leaves brown & dry at the edges?


Quick thoughts:

Water them until water comes out the bottom onto the drainage dish. If the soil was dry when you did it, go away for 10 minutes or more, come back & repeat. That's how I know I've watered them enough.

Many plants droop when they need water. When I first get a plant, I watch for that, and that tells me how often to water it.

Ficuses don't like to be moved. They'll drop a bunch of leaves right off, but keep at it & they'll regrow them.
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Key Locks
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UPDATE: I asked my wife what her secret was. She said she didn't have any. Sorry.
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Melissa
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Get a pothos or a spider plant.

Otherwise, move plants to a different house. Those are the only viable options for me. I've even killed a cactus. I'm not a gardener.
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Billy McBoatface
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Leezer wrote:
UPDATE: I asked my wife what her secret was. She said she didn't have any. Sorry.
If she had a secret, and knew you were going to post it on the internet, would she really tell you?
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Key Locks
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wmshub wrote:
Leezer wrote:
UPDATE: I asked my wife what her secret was. She said she didn't have any. Sorry.
If she had a secret, and knew you were going to post it on the internet, would she really tell you?

I didn't tell her I was going to post it on the internet.
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Matt Riddle
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sing to it?

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Kurt
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I keep potted house plants alive by leaving them in the store.

(Or rely on spider plants and those spindly palm tree things that seem to have a higher tolerance for neglect.)
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