Keeping Your Plants Alive: A Simple Guide


I put a little shout out to ALL of my faithful followers a few weeks back and got tonnes (wink wink) of replies on a myriad of perplexing gardening issues and topics. Im really quite overwhelmed with the amazing responses!! Truly! He he.

One that struck a cord with me was basically the advice I could offer to keep a plant from dying.

Great Question!!

Im not going to lie. I have garden beds full of death and painful distant memories of what could have been.

Roses, Dahlias, ferns and a Weeping Mulberry to name a few. All dead. I even fear there are plants dying out there as we speak.

The question to ask and as have you; Why oh Why? How can we stop our beloved plants from dying?

Whether they are potted up indoors and trending on Instagram or planted out in landscaped bliss, after extensive research and a bit of practise here it basically comes down to a flow chart.

I know. A flow chart!!

Now I like the system of a flowcharts here in the Paddock because it means I can technically rule stuff out as I move on through it and unless I get right down to the bottom line (because lets not lie, I may have totally neglected my long suffering plant), it means I havent failed.

I am here to pronounce loud and clear that we are not gardening failures here. No, no nope, nope, NO! We are learners and the flow chart is a way to remind us, ever so gently that we may have just missed something along the way. Tiny as it may be.

So after a bit of research and with some general knowledge, I have devised this flow chart for all of us all to follow which WILL (hopefully) enable us to figure out and to eliminate potential problems that may be causing us to doubt our green thumbs and to ultimately save our plant from dying.

So as not to make this post too longwinded, because there is a little bit of information to part with from this end to make sense of it all. Im going to break it up over a few posts and whilst the info can probably be applied to most plants, the focus here is going to be leaning towards indoor plants.

All indoor plants need food, water and light to survive. Like plants in the outdoors, they all have differing needs and conditions. The trick is to match your plants to the condition of the room.
Firstly Id also like to point out that Indoor plants are just that because they are inside your house. They are actually really most likely originally from a tropical rainforest somewhere and now lovingly grow in their indoor environment, adapting away because the conditions are similar and plants are really good like that.
They do however just need those three main ingredients. Water, light and Food.

When you begin to figure out what your plant likes, with a few other elements in between you will certainly become an indoor plant growing pro.
The first thing is water.


Thats right straight from the top of the chart you can see that its all about the water and just moist is just right!

The trick to know if you are watering enough is to simply dip your finger into the soil and if it feels moist then it should be ok. If the soil is on the dry side then you need to water. Simple!
Some plants might just need a mist spray, others like mine hanging in the kitchen window just need a 1/4 cup full every 4-5 days. If the plant is in a warmer spot in the house it is likely to dry out quicker so it may need to be watered perhaps every second or third day. The soil in the pots for indoor plants should be allowed to go slightly dry between drinks. I believe this allows for much healthier and numerous root systems and to allow the plant to adapt much better to the indoors.
When watering, check that all the water drains away and do lot leave water to sit in the dish below.

Which leads to the next step in the flow chart. Are you watering too much?

If your watering habits are the equivalent to a tropical monsoon then STOP right now.
Remember back to the first step in the flowchart. Just moist is just right. Checking the soil everyday for a few weeks will give you the best information on how much you need water your plants, and generally its not a lot.

Plants do not like wet feet for much of the time they are sitting in their pots. Soil gets waterlogged, it can get smelly and messy and it will stress out your plant. Pests love stressed out plants!!
Now you have the water situation sorted but still your plant is not looking very happy. Its time to follow that flow chart onto the next step and to have a look into some lighting issues.

All plants need light too survive, and some plants need more then others.

Choose plants for indoors that can thrive in the amount of light that can provided. We can do this by checking the tag upon purchase or by asking a local nursery worker for advice about what light conditions are ideal.

The most likely problem with a plant thats not thriving, especially with indoor plants is that the plant is too shaded and needs a brighter spot in the room. You might see that lower leaves may be turning yellow and or new shoots that are growing are leaning towards the light. (That is a great guide to tell you where to move your plants to.) Experiment with the position until you find the perfect spot. The interior designer in you will love this rearranging business. Note that as a general rule, a bright spot, out of direct sunlight should suffice for most plants.
If you have spent a good week or two shuffling and repositioning your precious plant, but it still looks as though something is still a bit NQR, The next part of the flow chart to examine and rule out, and for me the most annoying of all is checking for pests and disease.

They get me everythime in the garden. My nemesis!! Being an amateur and just starting out in this indoor plant business, I havent had a lot of issues with bugs or disease, however I did find some Mealy Bugs on my Maiden Hair Fern on the front porch not too long ago.

They are weird little creatures and look like puffs of cottonwool stuck on the ends of the fronds. Have you seen them? Anyway, I googled away on the internet, as you do hoping to find a method to get rid of them.

I wanted the least chemical one I could find of course and came up with a concoction of detergent and water spray. Well!! It did get rid of the bugs but I think the thickness of the liquid was much too much for the precious leaves and basically after three days all the fronds wilted and died. Whoopsie!!

Thankfully the fern is as tough as nails and has come back, and in future I will probably refer to the Yates webpage next time. Seriously it is really helpful and they have great advice on pest sprays and even a person at the ready to ask all of your gardening questions. Obviously they will promote their own brand, and they have plenty of 'natural' based products, however, once you know what you need there are plenty of other and cheaper products out there. It will give you a base to research similar things on the internet or in good gardening books.

Also note, if its only tiny infestations of bugs on your plants, you can actually just clean or pick the buggers off yourself, saving yourself from even having to bother about sprays.

The moral of the story here is obviously not to make up concoctions and kill your plants! Research and ask the pros! Im all for 'natural' remedies. Heck I even stuck garlic cloves in the soil around the Maidenhair Fern to ward off the buggers.

Mealy Bugs, Thrips, Aphids, Fungus and Scale are just some the culprits for indoor plants and are very easily managed if you pick up on them early. Check your plants regularly and treat as required.

Also note that if the plants needs for WATER and LIGHT are also managed correctly, the plant will BE healthy and pests and fungal diseases will probably not even eventuate at all.

Hopefully this information has been helpful today and your journey on through the flowchart, eliminating potential problems has come to an end and your plants make a full recovery.

If not, then please do come back tomorrow so I can offload the remainder of handy and helpful hints.

Pin the flowchart to your gardening boards and if you think this post is helpful, Share, share away.

Have you any good tips for caring for Indoor Plants? Id love to hear about them.
Have I missed anything?

Thanks for visiting today.

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  1. Thank you for sharing. Great tips! I am horrible at keeping plants alive so this is useful information. :)

  2. I am a serial plant killer from way back so these tips are going to come in very useful. Bookmarking for spring!

  3. I am lousy at watering my plants. Indoor and outdoor. It has been raining for a couple of days, so the outdoor plants should be fine. Ofcourse, the rain is bringing out the slugs. It never ends, does it ;-)

    1. It Never, ever ends in the garden!!! But somehow in the chaos and ah-hem dare I say it, laziness, good always triumphs and you remember why you do it all over again....sounds like you need to go squishing slugs or feed them some beer!

  4. I don't have one plant indoors. I don't know if there is a spare spot I could even put one! I am sure I could find one though. When my sister and I lived together years ago we had a back porch full of them, and I remember those pesky mealy bugs. I wouldn't mind a back porch like that again. Maybe i could replicate it somewhat on my back deck. Hmmm. You've given me food for thought.


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