Plant Rescue 101

syngonium podophyllum, common houseplant

Syngonium Podophyllum, or Goose Foot Plant, is an easy houseplant to look after.

Houseplants can stand a fair bit of neglect, and those in our homes over the winter grow in far from ideal conditions: the air is desert-dry, unlike their native homes in tropical or Mediterranean climates. Dust settles on their leaves, hot and cold blasts of air assault them. And we can just plain get too busy to water them. Tough species –the philodendron family, dracaenas, or succulents like Jade plant–can survive droughts fairly well. But when you encounter a dead-looking plant (that looked fine a couple of days ago) and feel a stab of guilt, that plant has reached its tipping point. It’s severely dehydrated, can no longer sustain its leaf structures, and wilts dramatically.  Office plants are particularly vulnerable.

Fear not, as many plants can be revived from an apparently lifeless state with some immediate Houseplant TLC.
Things you’ll need:

  • A large tub or very deep saucer.
  • A plant mister. (you should always have one on hand, they are cheap at the discount store)
  • A large, preferably clear plastic bag.
  • A rubber band.

1. Spray your plant with mister ferociously, on all leaf surfaces.
2. Water from the top, as well as the bottom, by standing it in the tub or deep saucer with water filled to at least half way up the pot sides.
3. Alternatively, plunge entire plant into a water-filled bucket, holding it down. Bubbles will come up to the surface. Keep it under water till all the bubbles stop. (It’s fun to pretend you are the bad guy in a movie while you do this—but instead of drowning a victim you are bringing one back to life.Win-win)
4. Once your leaves are wet, (well, not your leaves) and the root ball is fully soaked, put your potted plant into the large plastic bag. Gather the top of the bag and close it almost fully, wrapping the rubber band around it. You are basically making a plastic bag sphincter. Leave enough of a space open at the neck, so you can blow into the hole to inflate the bag like a balloon (a wonderful, steamy carbon-dioxide filled balloon). When inflated, wrap the rubber band tightly around the bag top to keep the air inside.
5. Your plant is now in its own intensive care unit. Place it in bright, indirect light, no direct sunlight. Now, all you have to do is wait, and hope that the patient recovers. Many do! Once your plant has recovered, you can put it back into its regular spot, to live another day.

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