Calling all serial plant killers: how to bring your malnourished house-plants back from the brink of death

The most professionally approved methods of reviving your dying houseplants so you can be a green-friend guru

Dying plats
Whether they’re brown or mouldy, you have neglected your green friends and it’s time to change
credit: Shutterstock

If you’re a serial plant killer and you’re ready to change your ways, look no further. Let’s be real, there is no feeling more self gratifying than bringing a new leafy companion into your living space. Social media’s love of zen living spaces has tricked us into thinking greenery is the secret to becoming an interior design guru. Back from the garden centre and full of the inspirations of life, we believe we will nurture our new babies to be their most vibrant forms. In the same way that we make these promises to ourselves, we often fail spectacularly: cue the forlorn gaze upon a rather limp, sallow and underwhelming sprog that we love a great deal less then we did when it was new and, well, alive.


But do not be disheartened! There is hope for them (and you, maybe) yet. At this parole hearing, we are going to scramble through the ways that you can revive your houseplants as a weak attempt of redeeming your own self worth. For goodness sake, pay attention. 

What the self-proclaimed internet professionals say:

1. Put that plant on a diet! 

(Do not overwater)

According to Good Earth, this is the number one culprit for killing our plants. It seems that in our initial bid to keep things green, we end up, in fact, making them yellow, limp and a bit mouldy. Hang your head in shame! If the soil is damp and there is excess water in the plant pot, you’re going to need to repot it in dryer soil and trim off any swollen and angry looking roots. Get down to your local park and get digging. Experts also recommend ‘misting’ your plants instead of pouring water directly over them to avoid first-degree murder. So just empty out that bottle of £5 bathroom cleaner you never use and poor some watery goodness in that!


2. Understand their wants and needs from your relationship!

(Needs less/ more sun)

Plants are complex little beings, a lot like us humans: some of us basque in the sun smothered in SPF5 (we know, it’s a cop out – but that tan?!) where others cower in pasty white SP50 underneath a pile of beach towels. You wouldn’t throw a baby in a swimming pool and expect it to swim (we hope) so why would you put a plant in direct sun and expect it to survive? The solution, folks, is just to google the type of plant you have, and see what the best environment is for it to thrive. Many plants are great for indoor keep because they don’t need direct sunlight, but that doesn’t mean you chuck them in a dark cold corner either. That’s called neglect.


3. Don’t be needy, let them go!

(Needs a bigger pot)

Sometimes you just have to accept that these plants need room to grow; shame on you for not letting them. If the leaves are getting crispy and fall off when touched, check the roots aren’t growing densely around the soil. If they are, then get a bigger pot. Not too big though because that will make them die too. You know, just bigger. 


4. Trim those leafy boys!

The oldest trick in the book. Cut off any dying or withered leaves and stems to allow room for regrowth. Kind of like cutting off the dead ends of your hair that you’ve had to botch-chop with kitchen scissors for the last year. Nobody knows why it works, but it does..  I bet your Grandma’s told you to do it a dozen times. 


5. Communication, communication, communication! 

(have a chinwag with your plants)

Failing all of the above, just talk to your plants’ spirits. Very reliable internet sources advise this and the plants seem to love it. It’s a druid thing. Google it.