If your plant is dropping, browning or just looking rather lacklustre, we are here to help with some pro tips on how to revive plants.
In this plant care clinic, we’ll take you step-by-step through some common ailments that plague our plants. Starting with diagnosis, we’ll delve into looking at treatment and then preventing future occurrences. By the end of this handy guide, you’ll be a pro plant doctor and be able to bring plants back to life in no time!
Check your plant is alive
It sounds obvious, but even plants that look like they’re borderline dying can still be saved! That goes for even the brownest, driest, droopiest plants.
To revive plants, check their stems and roots. This is the first thing you should do. Look for any green parts or roots that show signs of life. Anything that isn’t either completely dry or total mush passes as ‘alive’. If you’ve found some life, hurray! Your plant just needs a little TLC.
Give your plant a trim
In order to revive plants to their vibrant former self, you’ll need to get rid of all of the brown dead foliage and roots. This is best done in spring, as it gives your plant a good chance of survival. For more information on this, make sure to check out our blog on Our 5 Best Spring Season Indoor Plant Care Tips.
To trim your plant, cut off all of the dead leaves and stems back to a healthy node. This allows new shoots to grow from the stem and gives your plant the chance to focus its energy on the areas that are still alive.
However, do not over-trim.
We’ve all been there. We got to the hairdressers and a trim somehow turns into a bob. But don’t do this to your plant! If you find that all the stems are dead but the roots are still alive, trim it back so that there is still approx 5cm left. You can’t bring plants back to life if they have no stem.
Diagnosis & Treatment
There are four main factors that can cause a plant to look sad. The amount of water it has, light intensity, nutrition and pests. Here, we'll cover how to diagnose what's wrong with your plant and the most effective treatments.
Overwatering is one of the main killers of plants. We tend to kill them with kindness and try to care for them a little too much. Symptoms are yellowing and droopy leaves. Constantly moist soil is also a bit of a giveaway.
To revive plants that have been overwatered, snip away all of the yellow leaves and stop watering. Let the soil dry out completely before you water them again.
Make sure your pots have proper drainage holes and your soil has some aerating materials, such as perlite or coconut husk. This will help the water pass through the plant faster.
The best mixture is one part peat-free compost, one part perlite and one part composted bark/coconut husk. Always check to see what soil conditions your plant likes first, as this will determine the ratio.
Droopy and brown crispy leaves are common symptoms of a thirsty plant. Luckily, it’s super easy to revive plants suffering from this.
To bring plants back to life that are dehydrated, rehydrate your plant in regular small amounts. Make sure you don’t overwater, as this can lead to overwatering.
Maintain a regular watering schedule. Ensure that your plants’ soil isn’t over draining the water. For example, soil that has too much sand or stones can pass water too quickly, and lead to dehydration.
Top tip: It’s worth checking if your plant prefers humid environments. Tropical plants need higher humidity levels, and they develop brown/yellow streaks in their leaves if they get too dry. Try moving your plant to a more humid spot or use a misting spray each morning to increase humidity.
Just like for us, too much sunlight can be bad for our sweet little shrubs! Scorched plants can develop brown crispy leaves or even bleached and dull-looking leaves.
To bring plants back to life when they get too much sun, simply move them away from the window and further into the room.
Each plant is unique and has different light requirements, so it’s best to check this when you first get your plant. Most of the time, plants love bright indirect light away from the window. Keeping them near frosted glass windows is also great, as most of the powerful rays are deflected.
Too little fertiliser:
Nutrient deficiencies can have lots of symptoms, but the main ones are lack of blooms, stunted growth and discoloured leaves.
Adding fertiliser to the soil, albeit liquid or compost, is the most practical way to fertilise a plant. Just pop to your local garden centre and grab some good ol’ organic plant feed.
Feed your plants once a month when they’re actively growing. This is typically from Spring to Autumn but always double-check whether your plant has specific requirements.
Too much fertiliser:
As the motto goes, too much of a good thing can sometimes be bad. Check for signs of yellowy-brown leaves. Sometimes there can also be a crusty layer of fertiliser on top of the soil.
Remove excess fertiliser by flushing your plant with lots of water. If your plant's condition doesn’t get better, repot the plant in some fresh soil.
Fertilise only when the plant is actively growing. This is typically from early spring and late autumn. Try to avoid fertilising during very hot weather, as this can scorch your plants' roots - and cause a lot more damage!
Well, pests don’t get their name from being helpful. Some are very easy to spot, some are rather tricky. The main symptoms to look out for are holes in the leaves, spots, webbed-like matter and stunted growth.
If your plant has aphids or other surface pests, hose your plant down with a powerful water stream. If it’s really bad or comes back, remove infected/damaged parts and use an insect repellent. Keep your infested plants away from any other houseplants to prevent cross-contamination.
Wet soil and humid environments are a pest haven. It’s essential to trim plants and remove debris regularly as this also attracts pests. When buying new plants, check for pests and keep them isolated from your other plants from the get-go.
Have more questions?
How do I know if I need to repot my plant?
The main signs that your plant needs repotting are if its roots start poking out the bottom of the pot. If the roots start poking out the soil, or if they start to coil and become root bound, it’s time to upgrade their home. Other symptoms include water draining through too quickly, which means the root to soil ratio is too high.
When is it too late to revive plants?
The main signs are either mushy stems and roots or brittleness of the stem and roots. If there is still a firmness to the stem or roots, then you are still in with a chance of saving your sad-looking shrub!
Can you revive plants with diseases?
Disease symptoms can show up as brown leaves and wilting. However, each plant is different so you’ll need to treat them on a case by case basis. It is still possible to revive plants that have a disease, and your first point of call should be increasing air circulation, cutting away all of the infected parts and repotting.
How long does it take to bring plants back to life?
Some plants bounce back more quickly than others. Typically, once you have identified and treated the cause, it can take up to a month or two for you to start seeing growth again. Patience is key, but nature always prevails!
And that’s a wrap!
Now that you’re more clued up on how to bring plants back to life, go and inspect your sad-looking plants and give them some good old TLC. The most important thing is to identify the correct cause so that you can provide the right treatment. More often than not, you’ll have to go through some trial and error, but eventually, you’ll find the cause. Good luck and bon voyage!