Are we loving our plants to death?

Dear John
Happy Birthday
Please don’t kill this one.


This is a common note we find ourselves writing on gift tags when sending plants out to their unsuspecting recipients. When shopping for our own plants we also tend to have similar thoughts and questions “is this one hard to kill?”, “If I can’t keep this alive, I am definitely not ready for children”. The pressure is real but so is the addiction so we need to start openly discussing these issues.

indoor plant careThe super-easy to care for Peace Lily hanging out amongst some iconic Melbourne graffiti.

While there is probably a rather large list of reasons a plant may not make it…. the cat ate it, I thought is was artificial, plants can get sunburnt? A big one is too much love aka over watering. Symptoms of over watering can resemble those of under watering so it’s an easy mistake to make but at times unforgiving. If only plants were like Tamagotchis*, you could hit reset and once again you are living the responsible parental dream. 

Here are a few tips to assist you, these have been tried and tested by us. Our plants have responded well but some plants are rebels and can’t be helped, just do your best and don’t blame yourself.

  • Plants can drown, just like humans. Roots do take up the water but they also need to breathe the air. If you water your plant, ensure the planter or pot is well drained. You don’t want your darling sitting in a puddle of soggy soil, instead well draining soil with some air pockets is best. You can use Pearlite to assist with this and will find it at your local nursery or my favourite - Bunnings. But beware, you will walk in with your mind set on Pearlite and come out with a ladder, some good looking Ryobi tools and the determination to build a house.
  • If your plant has decided it doesn’t want to grow anymore and is constantly throwing it’s yellow leaves all over your clean floor then you may have spoilt your plant with too much water. Check its backside and make sure the above point isn’t the culprit.
  • As mentioned, over and under watering can resemble the same symptoms. Under watering can cause leaves to turn brown and wilt, but so can over watering. Awesome, we are all doomed! We have found this to be helpful with most of our indoor plants: Under watering equals dry and crispy leaves. Over watering equals limp and soft leaves.

With all of that said, there are many reasons a plant can be unhappy but if you are actively trying to keep your plants alive then you deserve a pat on the back. Keep up the good work and don’t be too hard on yourself for losing anything along the way. Sanity included.

*A handheld Digital Pet that was a fad through the 90’s.