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How to kill house plants

Portage, WI(Zone 5a)

OK, I'm sure I forgot something - but here is my list of the main reasons that house plants die - in order of occurrence:

1. Too much water
2. Wrong soil mix
3. Bugs
4. Too little light
5. Too little humidity
6. Too much "mothering"
7. Too much food.

What does your experience say? Gene

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

Mine says that if you get #2 right (you're using a top quality soil that allows you to water properly); #1 is going to be virtually a non-issue; #3, and let me add diseases to the bug issue, will also be much less likely because a plant's natural defenses are a byproduct of its metabolism - good health is a plant's first line of defense against predation and disease; #5 is almost always a contributing or secondary factor to root health. A compromised root system cannot efficiently move water, so in most cases the primary limitation is poor root heath - almost always caused by a poor soil and over-watering; #6, over-watering, is difficult when using a soil that allows you to water w/o concern for compromising root health/function; #7, too much food, is difficult if you use a soil that allows you to flush accumulating salts from the soil each time you water. Even if you're using a fertilizer whose ratio is badly skewed, the flushing is like pushing a reset button every time you water.

I think that 90% of the issues growers for which growers come seeking resolution for are directly related to that little triangle formed by soil choice, watering habits, and the EC/TDS of the soil (how much salt accumulates). Get the soil right and ALL the other issues are unlikely to become a factor - except light and ambient temperatures.


Saugerties, NY(Zone 5a)

I agree with # 1, my motto has always been less is more, I'd rather have to water them more than have them rot a slow death from over watering. And I've always wondered WHY do they make pots with no drainage holes, makes no sense to me...Good post

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

A good post about which to muse.

If growers have a problem with #1, they need to look to #2 for the answer/resolution. A soil that drains properly and is well-aerated enough to offer your plants even a chance at reaching their genetic potential will be very hard to over-water - even if you work at it. If you CAN over-water a soil, it's a good bet it wasn't a good choice to begin with. You should be able to water to the point where the soil is completely saturated and water is freely flowing from the drain hole - every time you water. If you can't, calling a soil 'good' is probably assigning a value greater than its worth.

Most growers have difficulty growing certain plants because their choices and habits put a large % of the plants they grow at/near the limits of what they are programmed to tolerate. Once they discover there is a replicable sweet spot that allows them to treat almost all plants nearly alike and grow them all well, they're over the hump.


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