Let's admit it—we've probably all killed at least one plant or another in our care. Let's talk about five plants that I've killed and the lessons learnt.
I don't think I've ever met anyone who hasn't killed a plant. Ever since I got plant fever in October 2018, I've killed my fair share of plants. It's always hard: it's a mix of guilt, shame, and even relief—guilt from not trying harder with the plant, shame from not being able to take care of the plant well, but also relief from knowing that I don't have to stress over it anymore.
In any case, more often than not, having plants die under your care is normal. It's how we learn and improve at loving and taking care of our plant babies!
Here are the five plants I struggled with and killed in the past. For some, I've learnt how to better take care of them and will happily be sharing tips! However, for the others, they remain a challenge up till this day (sadly!).
Fiddle Leaf Fig (Figgers)
I'm always envious when I see beautiful photos of a Figgers. I've brutally killed one and haven't had the courage to give it another shot. Looking back, I now realise I went wrong in so many ways.
1. Light. I saw photos of how it could survive in a dark corner and thought I could do the same. How wrong I was – this plant can actually thrive in full sun so definitely do not put it in your windowless toilet, or somewhere that is far away from a window. Stick it right by the window and it will thank you with new, lush beautiful leaves.
2. Water. I waited till the surface of the soil was dry before watering but did not check if it was dry below the surface. It probably wasn't; soon brown spots were showing on the leaves and as the pot was slightly porous, parts of it changed colour from being soaked through. Figgers was drowning, 100%. Always make sure that your plant is in well-draining and aerated soil. Root rot is nobody's friend.
Always make sure that your plant is in well-draining and aerated soil. Root rot is nobody's friend.
3. Roots. Unfortunately, the pot that I got was a tad too small for the existing rootball. Stupidly, I decided I would cut the roots back so that it could fit in the pot. Another big no-no! Always get a pot that is 1-2 inches bigger than the current root ball. Put yourself in its shoes: can you imagine squeezing your size 8 fit into a size 7 pair of shoes? Yeah, I didn't think so...
There was no way Figgers was going to survive in the hostile environment that I placed him in. Not surprisingly, I had to chuck him out only about 2-3 months after.
Prickly Pear Cactus (Pricks)
Warning: This is a very sad story. When I first bought Pricks, I was so pleased with my buy and couldn't wait to show her off. So I placed her on my bookshelf that is about 3 metres from my north-facing window. She looked so beautiful, quirky and elegant. Weeks later, I saw that new pads were growing – I was ecstatic! Until I quickly realised that the new pads were etiolated from the lack of direct sunlight. I tried snipping off those etiolated pads, but new ones just kept growing out. Somewhere along the way, I surrendered the plant to nature. Those pads continued to grow and grow and grow; and the weight eventually caused the whole pad to bend and fold over.
Pricks no longer looked elegant nor beautiful. Instead, she just looked unhealthy and sad. I decided to throw her out eventually too. The key takeaway? Don't ever buy cacti if you do not have direct sunlight in your home. They don't do well in anything less than direct sunlight.
Angel's Wing (Angie)
Angie was my one of my first few plant. Although Angel's Wings are known to be fairly hardy plants, my inexperience with plants pretty much pushed her to the limit. Being new to plants, I've heard horror stories about overwatering. I was adamant that it would be better to underwater, rather than overwater.
Little did I know that Angel's Wings are fairly thirsty plants. Long story short: Angel couldn't tolerate her soil drying out so much that she started to droop and the edges of her leaves started to turn brown.
I also realised that I wasn't rotating her frequently enough so in a bid to soak more light, the leaves that were facing the window also started to angle almost 90 degrees to the floor. It was quite a strange sight—some leaves were facing the ceiling and some were facing the floor.
Research plants before buying them to understand what their needs are, and make sure that the spot you have for it meets those needs.
Lessons learnt – always research the plants before buying them to understand what the needs are and always rotate your plants so the leaves stay fairly upright and aesthetically pleasant!
Watermelon Peperomia (Pepper)
Pepper's death was a complete accident. Since I did not have the right pot for him and have not found him a spot indoors, I decided to leave him on the a/c compressor outside so that he could get stronger sunlight and grow better while I thought about where I could place him. Guess what – one day a storm came, blew him away and Pepper fell all the way down (I live on the 30th storey).
So here's a top tip: If you're ever going to put your plant outside, make sure that your plant will never be blown away by ensuring that either the pot or plant has sufficient weight to keep it grounded!
Raindrop Peperomia (Teardrop)
Did you know you should water Peperomias sparingly? Most types don't like water very much and prefer to dry out a fair bit in between watering. And did you know you should keep the foliage dry for some species, such as the raindrop peperomia? Their leaves are susceptible to Rhizoctonia sp. which causes mushy, dark-brown spots.
Well, I didn't know all of the above, so you can imagine how that went down. (No surprises it was Teardrop who went down...)
Lesson #1: Always make sure that your peperomia is thirsty before watering it thoroughly.
Lesson #2: When watering, try to avoid the foliage. Instead, always water directly into the soil.
What are some of the plants that you've killed? We would love to hear your stories and learn from your experience. As always, happy planting!