We have all been there. We become confident in our ability to care for our houseplants; we collect and collect and maybe gain some praise [from] friends and family for our green thumb. Then we look around and notice a plant has dropped a leaf – or two. Maybe your leaves just keep yellowing. You check the soil; you treat for pests. You try to combat any rot. You might give it more, or less, light and humidity. You have done everything, and yet, your houseplant dies. Times like this I have to remind myself that everyone kills plants from time to time, and that everyone gets a yellow leaf.
I have kept houseplants for years now, and the vast majority of them seem to thrive, but everyone, even me, has killed a cactus. While every dead houseplant in your home can be a learning experience, sometimes it can also be better to just move on, nobody is perfect.
Most recently, I put a slowly dying Calathea Medallion out on my deck to die. It is down to a couple yellowing leaves and I have lost all hope of reviving it. Part of me is relieved – this plant was more of a stress than a joy and I don’t have to worry any more. The other part of me is disappointed I couldn’t save it – a blow to my planty confidence.
I learned from this though – I learned that for this plant consistent humidity is more important than high humidity. I learned to resist repotting any Calathea unless absolutely necessary. And I learned to keep this plant far away from any drafts or vents – keep it well off the floor.
Other house plants I’ve killed – a few cacti, a Philodendron Hope, a Stromanthe Triostar, a Red Maranta, a Hoya Cornosa Compacta, a Birds Nest Fern, a String of Pearls, and every succulent I have ever owned.
Causes of death? I have lost plants to thrips, aphids, root rot, and underwatering. While it is embarrassing to admit such loss, it also re-affirms that every plant parent makes mistakes, and is just learning as they go. I learned, for instance, that I should not own succulents.
Plant ownership is a constant learning experience – for everyone. Trial and error is one of the best ways to improve your indoor gardening and imperfection is inevitable. Besides – if you do lose a plant, it just means that you have some space to buy a new one!