Author Archive: Lisa Shields

6 COMMON REASONS WHY YOUR INDOOR PLANTS DIE AND HOW TO SAVE THEM

Do your indoor plants often die only a few weeks after you bring them home? If so I can help you save them. I’m an interior plantscaper. If you’ve never heard of the term “plantscaper” think interior designer but with plants. 

Some of my clients have trouble keeping their plants alive (the ones they got before hiring me). When I inspect their dying plants I can usually tell what the problem is and it’s the same every time … Below are 6 common reasons why your indoor plants die.

1. YOU DON’T OWN A MOISTURE METER

You can buy a moisture meter here from Amazon. This one-time small investment will save you time and money in the future. I tell my clients with plants to buy one and show them how to use it. 

WHY YOU NEED A MOISTURE METER

The amount of light, temperature, and moisture vary in every home and in every room. This makes it impossible to give every plant the same watering schedule. Plants will need more water in the summer when it’s hot and dry, and less water in the winter when it’s cold and dark. 

soil moisture meter
Soil Moisture Meter

Plants often die from overwatering. Roots that sit in wetness will rot, especially roots that are small. A moisture meter will tell you how wet or dry the soil is. Plants like the Sansevieria aka.“snake” plant have super small roots and often die from overwatering. The snake likes to dry out completely before being watered and the only way to know for sure is by using a moisture meter. Even if the top of the soil feels dry the plant could still be wet at the bottom or in the middle. 

HOW TO USE THE MOISTURE METER

indoor snake house plant
Sansevieria aka. “Snake” plant

When checking to see if a plants soil is wet or dry you need to stick the moisture meter in several spots, not one. The reason being is that the soil could be unevenly watered, meaning some parts could be dry and other parts wet. Be careful not to jab the meter in the middle of the roots or stalk because you could damage the plant. 

2. WATERING WHENEVER YOU REMEMBER

My clients often tell me that they water their plants whenever they remember to. This is not good. Plants like consistency. One way to remember is to set an alarm on your phones or iCal every Sunday. The alarm should say “check plants with moisture meter.” If you forget to water your plants their health might pass a point of no return. Tending to plants has proven to be therapeutic. Checking leaves for pests, cleaning the dust off, and misting is a tranquil task. Being focused on your plant’s wellbeing will in turn remind you to slow down and do the same for yourself. You can purchase a portable hand pump pressure mister here or a regular glass bottle sprayer here.

Plant mister
Plant mister

3. GIVING YOUR PLANT TOO MUCH LIGHT

Not all plants are the same. In fact very few indoor plants tolerate DIRECT light. Placing a plant next to a window so sunlight beams down on the leaves will in effect roast the plant. You can tell if your plant is being burnt if the leaves loose their color, stiffness, or turn brown. It’s essential to research every plant you buy because they all have different needs. Most do well in bright indirect light. Others, like the ZZ plant or snake prefer medium to low light and will start to flop if they get too much sun. If you take the time to research you could have your plant forever. 

ZZ plant
ZZ Plant

4. TAKING THE PLANTS OUT OF THEIR ORIGINAL PLASTIC CONTAINER

When people buy plants they often think they need to take them out of the plastic planters they come in. This is a mistake. Plants are happy in these planters and should stay in them until the roots start bursting out aka. become “pot-bound” or “root bound.” If you re-pot you have created a scenario where the plant could be overwatered. So it’s best to drop the plant in a pot without taking it out of the planter. To hide the plastic black pot and negative space you can top-dress with moss and fill the sides with paper

Fiddle leaf fig tree with mood moss
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree With Moss Top Dressing
Black Plastic Plant Container

5. NO DRAINAGE

Keeping the plant in the original plastic container will also help with drainage. You should always place a plastic saucer drip tray at the bottom of the pot otherwise moisture could seep through and damage the floor. Having proper drainage prevents overwatering and root rot. The fiddle leap fig tree’s cause of mortality is almost always due to overwatering. Water needs to saturate the soil and pass through. No indoor plant roots should ever sit in water. 

Plastic saucer drip tray
Plastic Saucer Drip Tray

6. Watering with very cold water

Watering with very cold water can sometimes shock a plant. It’s best to always use room temperature water. If you have a green thumb and your plants all still die, you might have bad water and you should get it checked.

Boom. Hopefully I’ve helped prevent any future deaths. Everything in life needs to be nurtured. Practicing this kind of focused nurturing will help you do so in other areas of your life.

NASA’s Chosen Plants for Purifying Indoor Air

The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) researched plants’ abilities to eliminate air pollutants, presumably to determine how to decorate a space station and help the air stay oxygenated and fresh.

NASA recommends placing 15 to 18 of your choices from their researched plants in an 1800 square foot or 167 square meter dwelling or office. Obviously, less are required for smaller spaces. Just make sure the plants are as large as possible for their types.

These plants can help reduce all sorts of serious air pollutants, even benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, as well as microbial pathogens. Living in low pollution areas still leaves you with chemicals released from particle boards and fiberglass insulation materials. The plants reduce air toxins and carbon dioxide while increasing oxygen levels and humidity.

NASA’s choices are:

* English ivy (Hedera helix) * Spider plant (Chlorphytum comosum)
* Golden pothos (Epipemnum aureum)
* Peace lily (Spathiphyllum Mauna Loa)
* Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
* Bamboo or reed palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
* Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
* Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens oxycardium)
* Selloum philodendron (Philodendrum selloum)
* Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendrum domesticum)
* Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
* Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragrans Massangeana)
* Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena deremensis Janet Craig
* Warneck dracaena (Dreacaena dermenisis Waneckii)
* Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)

Aloe Vera plants received honorable mention as air cleaners. You could use the gooey gel from inside a leaf to treat minor burns.

A couple of these plants are poisonous if eaten. So consider that if you have pets or toddlers. Most of them are low maintenance, but a couple of them have their quirks. In addition to basic maintenance, being nice to plants and playing classical or quality new age music does increase their life force.

For more information on these plants, with pictures to help you identify them, go here (http://www.toptipspot.com/tips/health/howto/air-cleaning-plants.php).

Introduction

Hello, my name is Lisa Shields. I am a professional organizer and interior stylist. I also specialize in interior plant styling. Adding plants to a home is a game changer. Not only does it add life and color but it will purify your indoor air…

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