Growing your own plants, especially from seed, is highly rewarding! As human beings, we take great satisfaction in creating and cultivating new life. Science has given farmers the ability to manipulate the DNA of a grape to make it seedless, and modify bananas to be twice their natural size.
Those of us who aren’t working on a large scale operation though, well, we’d just like to know how to keep plants alive! It's incredibly disappointing when you put weeks and months of time and attention into growing something special like a Bonsai tree, then you start to notice wilting, discoloration, and some seriously crispy leaves.
Whether it's a Bonsai tree or an indoor herb garden, at some point it's going to outgrow its pot. Even if it doesn’t, the weight of water and roots can weigh down and compress soil over time. You could have a well aerated soil that allows moisture to pass through, but no creature on earth can escape the force of gravity.
One sure way to know whether or not your plant needs a bigger pot, is to check whether or not the roots are visible. A mature Bonsai will obviously start to become visible as you shape them, but while they’re young, they definitely shouldn’t be piled on top of one another.
Once a root ball is visible, transplant into the appropriate sized pot; don’t forget to prune away any weak or rotting roots. Your plant might wilt a little more a day or two after repotting, this is normal, so don’t panic!
After adding more soil and allowing the roots to regain their footing, you should see an improvement within about a week.
You meant well, but your soil is still wet after a few days and you’re starting to get the feeling things aren’t getting better.
Overwatering is probably one of the most common reasons people end up killing their plants, and once it starts to die, you have limited time to rescue the roots. First, remove the plant from the pot and examine the rootball. If you see mold or rotting offsets, carefully cut them away; if you’ve ever struggled with planting seedlings, mold from overwatering is a sure killer. Allow it to air out for 15 to 20 minutes, then repot with new, semi-dry soil. The new dirt should help to absorb the excess water, and the healthy roots can safely grow without struggle.
Remember, there’s a fifty fifty chance your plant will survive if you do end up drowning it, and seedling sprouts are even less likely to make it. So take it easy! Planting is exciting, but it does require patience, extra water won’t make your Bonsai tree grow faster.
Sadly, it's not uncommon for the sun to get the best of us; even when we apply sunscreen at the beach, our epidermis can be burned after too many hours in the water. When you live close to the equator in areas like Texas for example, moving a plant indoors isn’t always enough to protect it.
Sometimes we put a plant in the window hoping to give it a few hours of extra rays; it's Sunday, you’re just watching football at home anyway, right? The work week starts again and you lose track of time. Suddenly it's Thursday, and you are horrified once you realize you just left your organic herbs, grown from seed, in direct sunlight for 4 straight days.
Move your pot into a shaded area of your home and water as needed. If the soil is concrete hard, give it a good soak. Give it a few minutes of sunlight each day, slowly increasing the time until your plant is able to endure it's normally scheduled sunlight exposure.
You’ll have to monitor your plant closely for the next few days, and give it some sunlight; after all, it does need to go through the photosynthesis process to survive. If you see any leaves that appear to be too far gone, go ahead and trim them.
It's understandable to want to take immediate action once you realize your plant is on its last leg, this is your baby after all! However, in an overzealous attempt to rescue your flowers, Bonsai tree, or herb garden, you just might end up killing it yourself.
Take some time to assess the overall condition first, and don’t try to change everything at once. Your plant is already upset, altering too many variables in the environment too quickly will likely make it worse.
At the end of the day, you can’t beat yourself up. It's a learning experience, and even the best farmers lose their crops once in awhile!