How To Make Sure Your House Plants Don’t Die On You (Again)

Be an all-star plant parent.

If you’ve been on literally any kind of social media in the last year, you’ve probably wanted or bought a houseplant. They’re pretty to look at, they make you feel like a functioning adult human, and they do a bunch of other handy shit like cleanse the air and lower anxiety and whatever.

But if you, like me, have been a terrible plant parent in the past and had to turn your wheelie bin into some kind of weird plant cemetery, then I got you. Here’s some stuff on how to not do that.

Plant For Your Space

I reckon the most important thing to do is buy the right potted bro for your house. If you live in a super dark house, buying a bunch of tropical ferns probably won’t end well. Similarly, if you live in a beautiful light filled home, a mother in laws tongue or Zanzibar gem will burn and die a fiery death.

Hot tip: if you want to avoid the guy at Bunnings talking down to you, check out this handy quiz for lights and house plants.

Bugs Life

Ever had to tearfully throw out all of your plants because your home became infested with tiny gnats? They’re these tiny little assholes that lay billions of eggs in damp soil and ruin relationships. Online, the solution for them seems to be only placing a glass of apple cider vinegar next to them and watering with dish soap, but I call bullshit and say repot every single house plant in the building and blast them with a generic bug killer for a few weeks. I tried a few homemade natural repellents like chilli and garlic and stuff in water but managed to murder everything that came into contact with it. No bloody bueno.


Being the loving and caring person that I am, I think I’ve killed about eight or nine pot plants, plus a handful of succulents, by watering them every day like any good mother would. I also went a bit too tender and devoted to one particular fern (RIP) that grew mushrooms in its pot.

SO! It turns out plants weirdly don’t like to be treated with adoration or become a stand-in for the fact that you can’t have a cat under your rental agreement. Instead, they prefer to be watered in the same way they would in the wild. The rule of thumb is generally to only water most house plants when their soil is dry, which you can stick your finger in (wink) to find out. A pretty funky trick is to pop a couple of ice cubes around, but not touching, your new besties so they get just a bit of water super slowly, and chuck your leftover cuppas in there too.


Repotting can be a pain in the ass. I have repotted many a screaming fern to its slow death, and really the trick is just to try and get the soil out in one piece. Give the bottom a squeeze, take it out in one weird cube of dirt, plant intact. Repotting from a fancy pot to an even fancier pot? Loosen the soil with a mini shovel and gently lift it out, roots intact. Plant – hacked.

I believe in you, you can do this. Father Bunnings will be proud.