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How you can rescue a dying pot plant

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Got a pot plant you forgot about? Or maybe you went away for the weekend and in your absence there was a heatwave?

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There’s a special kind of guilt associated with letting one of your plants wither away.

Whilst your greenery may be on its last legs the good news is that’s probably not beyond rescuing.

1. Hydrate

The first step is immediate resuscitation. This normally involves a good drink – for the plant, not you. Fill a bucket or basin (or the bath if necessary) and completely submerge your potted plant.

You will need to to do this for two reasons. The first is to provide hydration, but the second is about reviving the potting mix. Once dried out, potting mix shrinks and forms cracks within it.

These can be where the water will run out without soaking into the pot, if it’s not soaked and revived in this way.


2. Prune

The next thing to do is cut back. Leaves that have browned off or tips that have wilted should be removed neatly with secateurs. Old flowers should be trimmed off too.

This has two outcomes. Not only does the plant look a lot better, but pruning also stimulates growth so it will soon be sprouting new leaves and possibly flowers too.


3. Fertilise

Feed your plant. Liquid seaweed fertiliser applied at 1/3 strength every third water will gently encourage your pot plant back into full strength.

Don’t overdo it with full strength, however, as you need to start feeding gradually after so much stress.


4. Bug-off and polish

It’s not uncommon for pot plants to be attacked by insects whilst stressed. Check them for scale (which look like raised freckles) or mealy bug, which looks like cotton wool and lurks in leaf junctions.

Both can be removed manually by wiping the leaves down with a paper towel and white oil. A cotton bud dipped in white oil can be useful in hard-to-get places. After you’ve done this, the added bonus is that your indoor plants will have a lustrous shine.


5. See the light

Lastly, remember to give your indoor plant plenty of light so it can thrive.

Strangely, plants don’t do well in cupboards, garages or living under the stairs, so bring your indoor plant out into the light and try and avoid draughts from fans and air-conditioners as these will further desiccate their leaves.


All photos courtesy of Getty.

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