Dying plants: 5 great ways to revive them

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It’s very disappointing to see a beautiful plant begin to wilt for no apparent reason. Perhaps you start to think it’s your fault – maybe you just can’t properly take care of plants and shouldn’t get more. But do not despair! Sometimes plant species have very specific needs that you need to research beforehand. Most of the times you can revive seemingly dying plants! Of course, the best course of action is to research everything there is to know about caring for a specific species of plant, as needs can vary greatly. Even so, here are 4 common ways to bring back life into your sad plant:

Beware of the sun! Or perhaps don’t forget about it…

You need to be careful with the placement of your plant. Not many plants like direct sunlight or total shade, but since there are some plants that do, make sure you research thoroughly beforehand.  However, in some cases, plants dislike direct sunlight that is actively burning their leaves. You can see burn-like spots on dying plants that are brown on the afflicted parts. The opposite can happen, though. Your plant might need more sun and it is suffering because it can’t photosynthesize.  Leaves may turn yellow and die rapidly because of this. For both cases you only have to move the plant to a semi-shade area.

Overwatering or perhaps underwatering

It’s obvious when a plant needs more water – the soil is really dry, the leaves are drooping low and any bloom is beginning to die.  Some plants like smaller amounts of water given multiple times a week and others prefer a thorough bath once a week. If your plant is really on the brink of death because you haven’t watered it recently, you may want to try putting it under running water from a faucet. Let the soil absorb the water well and then put it in its preferred spot. You can even apply that directly to roots in the case of orchids.

Overwatering is a bit more complicated. A lot of people make this mistake and kill a plant really quickly. Plants usually come back from an episode of underwatering way better than they do from overwatering. The problem with overwatering is that it comes together with root rot. Once that has set in (you can usually observe rapid death at the base of the plant and the stem – they become soft, squishy and brown), it’s very difficult to make it come back life.

You can try changing the soil and save some of the root system (while it’s out, try cutting off some of the dead roots).  If you’ve put too much water on a plant by mistake, you can toss out the extra water from the saucer immediately and then put the plant in a warm spot, under bright sun if possible. The water will evaporate faster that way and you have higher chances of having done little harm to your plant.

Get rid of pests and various insects

Indoor plants usually don’t have many problems with pests, but it can happen to them as well. For outside plants, you might want to strategically get certain bugs to help against pests (like ladybugs) or plant pest-resistant flowers. Most of the times you have no choice but to apply insecticides to save dying plants. Symptoms are obvious: the plant has been invaded by strange pests, leaves are being eaten or there are tiny insects in the top layer of the soil.

The last situation is very annoying if it happens with indoor plants, because they usually turn into little flies that terrorize your other plants as well.  Repotting is recommended and you can also use  insecticides or a DYI water plus diluted soap solution against them. Be persistent, otherwise dying plants won’t make it.

Move your dying plants away from drafts of air

This is obviously not the case for outdoor plants. Some sensitive indoor plants react strongly to drafts of air and begin to die rapidly. When everything else is perfect, you might want to be careful with this kind of thing. Azaleas are notorious for being sensitive to air drafts. I think I’ve killed 3 already by putting them in the wrong spots, not realizing there was an air draft.  If you figure out the problem quick enough the dying plants will survive, otherwise it’s most likely dead.

Adjust the temperature accordingly

Most plants like temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius.  Nowadays the weather is getting more and more unpredictable and I’ve personally observed interesting changes in individual plants.  Kalanchoes seem to be indestructible and my peace lily withstood temperatures of 5 to 8 Celsius (most of them die at under 10C). So some of them might adjust to changing temperatures, but others might not. So try to take dying plants inside – they will appreciate room temperatures.

However, some plants with bulbs might not be dead, despite appearing so! Imperial lilies and hyacinths appear dead over winter, but if kept safe from moulds and pests, the bulbs will bring forth new plants for the season! That is the normal cycle for these plants, so be patient with them.

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