A plant that appears to be dead often has some life left in it and will almost mysteriously begin to grow again if given the proper care. For some plants, winters are a time when they can slow down their growth or even go completely dormant or such severely cold temperatures can send them into shock. Sometimes, plants that look dried and leaves papery may not necessarily be dead. You need to check the stems and roots for any sign of life in them. Here's in this blog “How to revive a dying plant?” we have discussed ten steps to help your plant revive, survive and flourish in this challenging season.
“Any signs of green on the stem mean there’s a chance you’ll be able to bring it back to life,” says Valentino.
Look for signs of life: When it comes to plants “dead” is a relative term. It may look like your plant is a goner, but when you take a closer look, that may not actually be the case. Just because your plant appears to be dry doesn't imply it can't be saved. Look for indications of vitality in the stems and roots. The roots should be greenish on the inside and the leaves should be flexible and strong. Don't give up on your plant simply because it has turned brown and lost some leaves. “Healthy roots should appear plump and be white to tan in colour with white tips,” says Jennifer Morganthaler.
Check your watering: If the top soil of your plant is very dry, compacted, and cracked, and the leaves are brittle, the plant is dehydrated and needs water. The tips of the leaves will begin to dry up and brown, and the leaves will eventually turn brown, die, and fall off. You do not have to flood the soil with water, only water enough so that the soil is damp. Allowing a plant to soak in water for a few hours will quickly recover it if it has been underwatered. With this strategy, many plants can transform from droopy and miserable to gorgeous, healthy, and cheerful in just one day. However, if your plant is suffering from too much water, the roots will start to rot and mould could grow. Find out how much water your plant needs, and adjust your routine. Most plants need less water throughout the winter months.
Trim dead parts: When you see the signs of a dying plant you need to start by trimming the dead leaves first. Then you need to do the same with dead stems till you see the green stems. New stems easily grow from the trimmed ones. If leaves are completely brown, they’re not coming back; you want to focus on new growth instead. To remove them, snip the dead leaves with a pair of plant shears or scissors, or gently pinch the dead leaves with your fingertips. Typically, dead leaves will come off the stem easily, but if you have to tug, use a pair of shears. Leave around 5 cm of stem above the earth if the stems are completely dead but the roots are still alive. New branches will develop from these old stems as your plant recovers.
Check if your plant needs extra humidity: “If the humidity is too low, the plant can show signs of shrivelling, develop mould, fungal infection, browning and wilting” says Morganthaler. If more humidity is needed, try misting your plants regularly or grouping them together to help increase humidity. In general, plants with thicker, waxier leaves tolerate dry air better, and that’s the situation in most of our homes. Houseplants have been acclimated for life indoors and don’t necessarily need very humid conditions, most won’t like sitting next to a heater or air vent, as this can be too dry for their liking. Ferns, for example, require humidity to thrive, something the normal living room may lack. This is a simple problem to tackle. Transfer your plant to a more humid spot away from the sun. The bathroom is a good place to put the plant if it's inside your house.
Provide additional nutrients: Feeding your plant is especially important during the growing seasons. You need to feed your plants at regular intervals with nutritious fertiliser. A malnourished plant will exhibit stunted growth, weak stems or discoloured and malformed leaves, so to revive a dying plant, you’ll need compost or fertiliser. “Most plants do best with a little fertiliser, usually once or twice a month, during the growing season,” says Christensen. One personal tip, use water-soluble fertilisers instead of putting the powdered one as water-soluble ones go deep down the root and work their magic where needed the most.
Repotting your plant: “Soil can become depleted of nutrients over time, so repotting every few years is always a good idea,” says Christensen. An overwatered plant will have drooping leaves and will have a wilted kind of a look to it. You may also see some brown-yellow leaves while the soil around the plant may seem wet. If you feel that your plant is dying due to overwatering then the best solution is to re-pot the plant in dry and fresh soil. Remove the plant from its container with care. It's time to get a bigger container if you observe that the roots are coiling around inside of the pot. A simple repotting can sometimes be all that is required to bring a dying plant back to life. A larger container with well-drained and healthy soil can work wonders for your plant and help it to thrive.
Pest control: You need to keep an eye on the signs of pests. Pests can ruin your healthy and beautiful plant. Folded leaves, curled up leaves, abnormal growth, deformed and brown-coloured leaves, at times discoloured leaves with holes and a white-looking substance deposited on the plant are signs of a big attack. Powdery mildew, root rot, and leaf spot are examples of diseases. Keep the plant isolated from the rest of your garden to prevent the pest or disease from spreading. In case your plant seems to be attacked by insects or pests you could do 2-3 things to keep it safe. To begin with, wipe your plant clean with a wet cloth, spray mild soap solution, spray neem oil or you could also buy pest control spray available in the market for plants.
Move your plant: Lighting is an important factor for the health of your houseplants, so you’ll need to make sure that your variety is getting the optimal amount. Once you know if your houseplant prefers full sun, partial sun, direct sunlight or indirect sunlight, then you can move it to a more suitable area of your home. “If your plant isn’t getting enough light, moving it somewhere can help,” says Christensen. There are plants that just need moderate to indirect sunlight. If in case your plant is getting too much sun then move it in shade. You can look for dry and brittle leaves or light and dark patches that will show that the plant is under stress. Similarly, if your plant is not getting enough light then move to a better light condition. Lighting is such a vital aspect in the health of your houseplants, you'll want to be sure that your plant is getting the right amount. A plant that hasn't received enough sunshine will have pale leaves and weak stems.
Wait at least a month: It can be easy to lose hope when it looks like your efforts aren’t paying off. It took a while to nearly kill your plant, and it’s going to take a while to nurse it back to health. The key is to be patient. Continue to care for your plant for a few weeks and then reassess. “Once you’ve taken steps to revive a dying plant, it can take up to a month before you start to see an improvement or new growth, so don’t give up on it too soon,” says Valentino. You may also need to do some troubleshooting before figuring out the exact problem and the subsequent solution, so the process may take longer than expected.
Compost it: If you've tried everything, even waiting at least a month, and your plant hasn't improved, it's probable it's time to let it go. Place your dead plant in a compost bin instead of throwing it away to generate nutrient-rich soil that can be used to fertilise future houseplants or garden. That means your dead plant can have new life and contribute to the health of your future plants while also helping the environment.