Help! I Can’t Keep my Houseplants Alive!

Here’s how I finally broke the cycle of killing all of my houseplants, once and for all. And I’m pretty sure, no matter how many houseplants have died in your watch, you’ll like this method too.

It’s no secret that stay at home Covid life has spurred interest in houseplants. There are even entire posts dedicated to IKEA plant hacks! When we moved into a beautiful traditional home, almost 17 years ago, the houseplants that had been part of our decor for at least ten years before at three other homes, soon died. After buying more plants to replace the dead ones, those too quickly joined the compost pile of dead plants. I overwatered, and I underwatered. I didn’t have the right kind of light… you name it, and everything died.

I soon gave up, as a busy mom with four boys underfoot, and just decided that houseplants were an easy thing to cross off my list. Didn’t I have enough creatures to take care of?

Around the same time, my littlest guy developed an obsession, likely motivated by Instagram, for succulents. We went to the nursery together, and talked in-depth with the gardeners at the store, and bought a special succulent soil mix… and yet, these plants died from overwatering.

Now, my son has given up on plants too.

Now, as the boys are older, and I am beginning to redecorate, I have even painted my beloved kitchen table.

But how could a subject more plants to death? How can I re-invest in plants, when I have such a horrible, horrible track record? How can I bring myself to do this again?!

Still, I am beginning to long for the beauty of plants.

And, I found a way! I have discovered a secret: it’s so simple. Propagation.

I can, and I bet you can too, root anything in a glass jar. From basil stems to trailing ivy, I can create pretty bouquets of greens in vases. Soon I will have roots trailing in the jar. Once the roots develop, I never take the time to move them into soil, because — of my track record of killing plants. Once dirt enters the scene, things fall apart and the plant dies.

So, what if we just keep them in the vases all the time? What if I treated the propagated plant as a house plant? Yes, this works, and you can find propagation walls all over the internet. And, if your wine bottle supply isn’t enough, you can even find beautiful propagation vases in any size and shape to buy.

You can propogate vines, leaves, geranium stems, basil, rosemary — the posibilities are endless. You can get cuttings from your friends, from your garden — and maybe, I haven’t asked this yet — the nursery could even sell you some!

Go big with your cuttings, to create impact.

The question and drama of overwatering and underwatering is virtually eliminated. As long as the roots are in water, the plants are fine. Depending upon the size of your bottle, you could skip watering for weeks at a time.

Propagated plants do not seem to be particular about how much, or how little sunlight the room is getting. Actually, less light is even better, as it keeps the vase from developing algae blooms.

Whenever you feel like it, you can change out the water. But here’s a little tip. Adding a capful or two of hydrogen peroxide to your propagation water brings fresh oxygen into the mix, and kills any algae blooms that are brewing under the surface.

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