This Is Why Your Plants Keep Dying

It's okay, you're human.

6 Habits That Are Secretly Killing Your Plants
Photographed by Ian Van Veen Shaughnessy.

If we're being totally honest, being a plant parent is tough work. Not only do you have to choose the right pots for your greens (and figure out how to turn them into a design moment), but you also have to keep them alive for longer than you can say, "flower power." 

But no matter how many times a day you water or rotate 'em, your greenery always shrivels up and dies almost instantaneously. It's okay, you're not alone. 

Truth is, caring for a plant is easier said than done. Sure, plants are living things that require some serious TLC but, unlike a newborn baby or brand-new pet, they have no way of communicating when they've had too much water or not enough sunlight. And if you don't know how to properly care for your plants, how will you ever keep them alive? Exactly. 

That's where Erin Marino comes in. As the director of brand marketing at The Sill, Marino knows a thing or two about caring for green babies. To help you become the best parent you can be, she's sharing six lesser-known habits that are secretly killing your plants. That way, you can actually enjoy your foliage for a long, long time.

6 Habits That Are Secretly Killing Your Plants
Photographed by Anna Powell.

1. You're Using Too Much Water

Yes, there is such a thing as overwatering your plants. When you water too often, the H20 occupies all their air pockets, making it impossible for them to breathe by taking oxygen in their roots. Seems pretty obvious, right? Not quite. In fact, Marino says this is one of the biggest mistakes she sees with The Sill's customers.

"I've found most overwatering mistakes are due to plant owners sticking to a set schedule when watering their plants," she shares.

While it's great that you want to feed your greens as often as possible, just do it when they need it.

"For most plants, only water when the potting mix is completely dry," Marino says. "That can vary based on factors like season, temperature, and plant variety."

6 Habits That Are Secretly Killing Your Plants
Photographed by Maria Del Rio.

2. You're Using Cold Water

While we're on the topic of water, let's talk about the temperature of your H2O. We know what you're thinking: "Any type of water will suffice. After all, it's just water." However, the temperature is more important than you think.

"Never use cold water, which can shock your plant," Marino says. 

Instead, strike a happy medium with some tepid or room temperature H2O. Trust us, your greens will thank you.

6 Habits That Are Secretly Killing Your Plants
Photographed by Heidi's Bridge.

3. You're Not Dusting

ICYMI, plants are a lot more than pretty, Instagrammable accessories.

Many people incorporate plants in their homes to reduce stress, promote a good night's sleep, and improve air circulation. So how can you expect your greens to perform these horticultural miracles if they're covered in dust?

"They're air cleaners and dust collectors, but they need their leaf pores (stomata) unclogged to breathe," she shares.

Of course, that doesn't mean you have to dust your plants every single day. For best results, Marino recommends wiping them down with a moist paper towel every few months.

6 Habits That Are Secretly Killing Your Plants
Photographed by Winnie Au.

4. You're Cranking Up The AC 

Who doesn't love central air conditioning or a warm, cozy room in the middle of winter? Your greenery, for starters. 

"Extreme changes in temperature can also negatively impact a plant's health. Keep plants away from both cold drafts (a.k.a.open windows and air conditioners), and hot air such as heating systems, fireplaces, and stoves," says Marino.

A few degrees difference is nothing to lose sleep over; however, it's important to keep your home's temperature as consistent as possible. Marino says that, like humans, plants thrive around 70-degrees Fahrenheit.

But of course, your greens will forgive you if you turn on the AC during a scorching, triple-digit heatwave. 

6 Habits That Are Secretly Killing Your Plants
Photographed by Philip Ficks.

5. Your Plants Aren't Getting Enough Sunlight

It's time to shine a light on your greens — literally. Similar to water, sunlight is key for your plants' wellbeing, and not exposing 'em to enough can have some serious repercussions.  

"Light is food for plants, and it's vital to having them live a long life," Marino says. "Never leave a plant in a space without a window for an extended period of time — unless it's next to a grow light."

So how much light do your plants need? Well, it depends. Every plant differs, so it's always a good idea to ask a pro how much light a certain varietal needs before adding it to your space. 

6 Habits That Are Secretly Killing Your Plants
Photographed by Jenna Peffley.

6. You're Not Trimming The Dead Ends 

Just because your plant has a shriveled up leaf or two doesn't mean it's gone for good. Sometimes, all it needs is a little trim. 

"Don't let dead or dying foliage linger on your plant for too long," Marino says. "It's better to snip off that unhappy leaf or two to make space for new, healthy growth." 

When it comes to caring for your greenery, it's out with the old and in with the new. You wouldn't think twice about snipping off a split end from your hair, so why should plants be any different? 

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