6 ways to not kill your plants if you’re a millennial who can’t keep anything alive

Millennials get a lot of stick in the media – if you’re to trust the headlines, this particular group of people have ruined everything from real estate agents to mayonnaise and cereal.

The majority of this negative press is arguably unwarranted, but there is one thing a lot of people aged 23-38 can agree on: It’s really quite hard to keep your houseplants alive.

Maybe they didn’t have the same gardening education as their parents or grandparents, or maybe it’s because they’re increasingly living in smaller homes and in cities where plants aren’t always as likely to thrive.

Whatever the reasons might be, there’s a whole group of people out there struggling with the seemingly simple task of not killing their plants.

There are a whole host of benefits to having an indoor shrubbery – plants can help create a feeling of happiness and wellbeing, not to mention how they improve the air quality. With these positives in mind, we asked horticulturist Jamie Butterworth for some easy tips millennials can follow to help their plants survive.

1. Choose your plants carefully

Cheese plants are particularly hardy (Thinkstock/PA)
Cheese plants are particularly hardy (Thinkstock/PA)

It might be tempting to pick whatever plant you like the look of best, but a little bit of research will go a long way – especially if you’re the kind of person who’s been unsuccessful in taking care of houseplants in the past.

“Don’t grow difficult or time consuming plants that demand a lot of tender loving care,” Butterworth advises. “There are many plants that thrive upon neglect, and these are the ones to opt for.”

He recommends trying out Aspidistra, Monstera (cheese plants) or cacti if you want to make your life a bit easier.

2. Check where the plants come from

Many types of cacti need a fair amount of sunlight to thrive (Thinkstock/PA)
Many types of cacti need a fair amount of sunlight to thrive (Thinkstock/PA)

This tip is all about using your common sense. “Plants that naturally grow in the desert, such as cacti, won’t want to be holed up in a shady bathroom,” Butterworth says. “And similarly, a shade loving plant won’t want to be next to a south-facing window.”

Again, it’s tempting to put the plant where you think it looks best in your house, but this could really increase your likelihood of killing it relatively quickly. If you’re set on one particular position, it might be better to think about buying a fake plant instead.

You should also try and avoid placing your beloved shrubs next to hot radiators or frequently used air conditioners, as this could also damage them.

3. Grow them where you can see them

Plants might seem incredibly easy to kill, but they’re not hugely complicated to understand. “Plants are great at letting you know when they’re not happy,” Butterworth explains. “By growing them somewhere obvious, you can take steps as soon as they look a bit peaky.”

4. Treat them mean to keep them keen

No, this isn’t a piece of terrible dating advice. Instead, Butterworth says: “Often it’s easy to ‘over love’ plants, giving them too much water or worrying unnecessarily.”

This is why, he adds, “the plants I grow at home are all resilient and tough, and only need attention every few weeks.” If this sounds like a good plan to you, he recommends investing in a Schefflera Arboricola, otherwise known as the Dwarf umbrella tree.

5. Grow something you can eat too

A bit of greenery in your home can be the perfect decoration, but it can also be multi-functional if you pick a plant that tastes good as well.

“You’re much more likely to take better care of a plant if you know you can also include it in a meal,” Butterworth says, and recommends trying to grow your own herbs, chillies or quick to harvest salad leaves.

6. Have fun

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A little view of my #plantshelfie 💕🌱✨🥰

A post shared by Plants & Bunnies (@sprinkledwithplants) on

It can get a bit depressing if you’re desperately trying to keep an ailing houseplant alive, but Butterworth urges you to enjoy the experience: “Gardening isn’t supposed to be about stressing out or worrying about plants, but rather enjoying their company.”

RHS Ambassador and horticulturist Jamie Butterworth’s new book 50 Plants You Can’t Kill (Mitchell Beazley) is out in May.

- Press Association

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