5 Easy Hacks to Save Your House Plants That Gardeners Swear By
When things are looking a little dry, here's how to hydrate your house plants.
In HomeAdvisor's most recent survey of 1,000 home gardeners, this sad truth came to light: On average, those surveyed failed to keep 35 percent of their plants alive. The death rate was twice as high for beginners as it was for those with a green thumb—so at least there's hope for us newbies. In the meantime, we've put together some easy household plant hacks to keep your container plants living longer and your potted soil from drying out, according to gardening enthusiasts and professionals.
Crushed-up pistachio shells can help keep your plants alive.
"My family and I love pistachios so we have a lot of pistachio shells at home. We use these shells to help keep our potting soil from drying out," says Craig Miller, an academician with Academia Labs and home gardener in Austin, Texas. "What I do is crush the shells and then soak them in water overnight. This process allows the shell to absorb water as much as it can."
According to Rural Sprout, what you do next is as simple as this: Line the bottom of your potted plants to prevent them from becoming waterlogged. Nuts, right?
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Save the water used to boil eggs for your houseplants.
Making eggs for breakfast? Hang on to the water that's leftover in your pot; it's now super rich in calcium. "Allow the water to reach room temperature before using it as a nutrient-rich beverage for your houseplants," shares Robin Antill, director at Leisure Buildings. No eggs? No problem. The water from boiling vegetables also includes nutrients that can be used as a homemade fertilizer for your houseplants, he adds.
Use a humidifier to provide plants with moisture.
If you've got a humidifier stored away in the basement, here's a good use for it. "A humidifier is a great tool that provides much needed moisture to humid-loving plants, such as this Baby Rubber Plant," advises Alfred Palomares, Vice President of Merchandising and Resident Plant Dad at 1-800-Flowers.com. "If you invest in a self-timed humidifier, this will also help hydrate your plants on a set schedule, especially once you know how often they need to be watered." (For example, in the case of the Baby Rubber Plant, he says, that's about once a week.)
"A humidifier is also good to use during the colder seasons where heating systems are pulling moisture out of the air," Palomares adds.
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One of the best ways to revive a dying plant is to repot it.
The size of your pot could be to blame for a plant that's on its way out. It's common for plants to outgrow their pot, causing their roots to become cramped and tangled together—which makes it difficult for them to absorb the nutrients and the water that they need, explains Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love. "Repotting the plant into a larger pot will give the roots more room, and it will also help you see if there is any root rot, which could also be contributing to the problem," he says.
To help your plants stay healthy, get your hands dirty—literally.
Perhaps the simplest way to save your houseplants comes from Karen Musgrave of Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, New York. Ready for this one? "We suggest sticking your finger about an inch down into the soil," she says. "If the soil feels moist, don't water. If it feels dry, water. If you're not sure, check again in a few days."
Musgrave, who says overwatering is the number one killer of houseplants, also shares this tip for hanging baskets: "When they are dry and in need of water, I bring them into the bathroom where I water them and let them drying in the shower stall before hanging them up again."
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