How Many Plants Have You Killed?

13 years ago

Hello Fellow House Plant Freaks,

I decided to start another "death count" thread as a follow up to a older, buried thread here on GW.

I will be honest and say that I've killed two plants in the past few months. One was a Dwarf Oyster Plant that would just not cooperate with me. A Dieffenbachia that was in a slow declining stage ever since i bought it home. Another one was a jade type succulent that had a slow, gradual death that eventually was destined to a sealed fate in the trash can.

I've come close to killing a few others. I seem to have bad luck when it comes to Dieffenbachia. Some rot away for unknown reasons or they just get wilted from not being watered enough. My Death Count would actually be four or five if i hadn't noticed one of my Dieffenbachias dried up like a brick in time.

Had a plant that was just inches away from death but bounced back? Or a plant that just seemed like it was destined to die the day you bought it home? If so, post it here and share your stories with others

- Pete

Comments (38)

  • larry_b
    13 years ago

    I plead the 5th. ;o)

  • tjsangel
    13 years ago

    I killed many plants when I first started out. That was 15 years ago. Ivy, Schefflera, Dracaena, succulents...Now I've only killed a handful. The most recent were a Dieffenbachia-they are difficult for me too. This was a Tiki that died on me in a matter of weeks. The other was an Agave from HD. When I repotted it had yellow mold growing in the soil, and a couple weeks later it bit the dust. A Senecio (string of bananas) couldnt get rid of the mealybugs that kept reappearing. I even killed a Pothos-sitting near a drafty window. There are learning experiences, sometimes I try again & sometimes I dont. The plant has to be tough to live here! What a great thread : )


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  • naturelover_mtl
    13 years ago

    By accident or on purpose? Since it's been so many years (and you'd think I should have enough experience by now with houseplants to keep them alive) the plant deaths in my house are premeditated. Sometimes I get bored of something, itÂs not growing the way I want or I just want to weed out some plants that arenÂt appealing to make room for more...sooooo I push some plants out the door. OHMIGOD! Did I say that out loud? (blush... :~)

    (I shouldÂve pleaded the 5th like Larry...too late now... My plant crimes are out in the open)
    Okay, sometimes I just give them away... So I'm not totally heartless...

    In the past, during my novice years, I killed my fair share of plants to gain the experience I have today. There are quite a few plants up in the Âgreenhouse in the sky that IÂm responsible for putting there. I hang my head in shame...

  • amany
    13 years ago

    Oh I dunno...

    There were some plants that I killed at the beginning of my plant hobby. Of those, there were many that I was able to take cuttings from and root successfully. The problem is that I would usually get bored with the little rooted cuttings and toss them. I would miss the bigger version and be dissatisfied with the cutting. This is why I say that plants have taught me a lot about patience over the past year and a half.

    I recently killed a chicken gizzard iresine. It was really pretty, but it needed water so often that I just resented the poor thing. I should have just given it away. I am definitely part of the underwatering club. I do a lot better with sux, diefs, peperomias and pothos than most plants. Although I just had a tiny dief that bit the dust. The air was dry and warm, so the spider mites thought it was a good time to come out and play.

    Last summer was rough on my plants. It was my first summer having house plants and I didn't realize how harsh the eastern sun would be in my apartment. I had some plants that suffered quite a few burns. Those that didn't grow out of it had to have pieces cut off and rooted. So far I'm hanging on to those cuttings. Patience, patience...

    I also had two AVs and a Columnea that had root mealies last year. I was so disturbed by them that I didn't even try to save them. If I had it to do over, I would have saved them. Knowing what I know now. Live and learn, I suppose.

    I'm a lot better now than I used to be. I've learned from each failure. Besides sometimes, despite your best efforts, you're just going to lose one.

  • greenthumbgardener
    13 years ago

    I took the maryland master gardener course in 1990, so I have helped many people to learn how to care for their plants, but none of this has rubbed-off on my wife. She can even kill an artificial plant! One year, I was so proud of her, because she kept a plant alive on the window sill for almost a whole year. Then one day a sudden storm made her close the window in a hurry. Alas, poor plant, I knew him well!

  • mr_subjunctive
    13 years ago

    Lately? Five and a half.

    One) a Begonia that I had had for over a year that was never able to communicate to me what it expected me to do for it. (Perhaps you've seen the best-selling book, Begonias are From Mars, Spathiphyllums are From Venus. No?)

    Two) and Three) Two Calathea ornatas that I knew better than to buy in the first place. Which was a good lesson to learn, actually: don't buy plants that need care you can't give.

    Four) and Five) Two Echeverias (Or Aeoniums? Haworthias?) that were sort of a combination gift/rescue. ("Oh! You got me a birthday present! You shouldn't have! [pause] So what are these? Dead plants? WTF?")

    Five 1/2) Looks like my Aspidistra is maybe on the way out. I thought I was letting it go dormant, and instead I was actually letting its soil get so dry and crumbly that the soil actually made SQUEAKY noises when I repotted. The plant and I are both resting: we'll see in a couple months how things worked out with that. It'd be a shame if it died; I'd had the plant for a year and a half, and it was doing really well this summer.

  • chazparas
    13 years ago

    I've killed more than a few rex begonia plants, they seem to taunt me upon arrival into the home! I can't keep pothos or heart leaf philos for anything, but I do great with most others! My aunt had a hortensia hydrangea for almost 6 months, it stayed in flower and was gorgeous. I was so jealous all mine in pots had died. Turned out it was a plastic plant my Grandfather had given her and she never took off the plastic sleeve! We all thought it was real! I wanted that plant and could not understand how she could keep it going for so long and I had no luck with them at the time.She even had it on a weekly watering schedule and used to move it to a bright location during the day and a cool location at night! We laughed about that for years!

  • james_ny
    13 years ago

    My picture is in a plant post office.

  • micke
    13 years ago

    I cannot keep Rubber Plants alive, I don't know why not, I do everything by the book, they just do not like me.
    2)Hawaiian Ti, did so well for about 6 months, then I moved it from it's spot to put the Christmas tree up, guess it must of got jealous or something, because even when I moved it back after Christmas, it still was pouting.
    3)Monstera, This one did well for the first few months, then, well I have this huge problem of OVERwatering, I think I rotted the roots or something:( It is still actually hanging on, somewhat. every day another leaf turns yellow. I figure by spring it will probably be a distant memory.
    I had a Wandering Jew that I just hated, I swear the thing mocked me every time I walked past, it had nice foliage at the soil and at the bottom of the strands, but in between? Dead. I hated that!! I stuck it in a corner and ignored it for about 2 weeks (It wasn't my fault if I didn't notice it needed water right?) Had a friend come by, and she loved it! I told her she saved it's life:)
    I am thinking, and I believe that is it, well so far....

  • soundgarden
    13 years ago

    It's funny, when DH and I drive through neighborhoods and I see potted plants on porches I always get excited and say "Hey! I've killed one of those!!!" No, I'm not a plant sadist - One of my biggest problems is that I tend to buy a bunch of little plants (cheaper) rather than one big plant (more expensive)and then I forget about the fact that they need attention on a more regular basis and then they suffer.

  • greenelbows1
    13 years ago

    I like James' comment that his picture is in the plant post office. As far as how many I've killed, I can't count that high (and I certainly don't keep records!) I always take too many cuttings, some of which are too small when I take them, and I've been at this for a lot of years. Also a lot of moves.

  • fred_grow
    13 years ago

    I don't keep count either but I went serial long ago. I'm on the Plant Polices "most wanted" along with James.

  • greenelbows1
    13 years ago

    The 'Louisiana Gardener' came today, and Dan Gill said something like 'If you're not killing plants you're not on the cutting edge.'

  • justaguy2
    13 years ago

    Never in my life have I killed a plant and I really don't understand how some of you can be so cavalier about having killed many.

    It's really not that hard to keep a plant alive for petes sake.

    I have never killed a plant - ever! Those who kill plants should start figuring out how to grow things already.

    Now, I have had a few suicidal plants that killed themselves in spite of my very caring and giving ways, but those don't count. I didn't kill them, they simply didn't have the will to live.

    (yes, it's humor) ;-)

  • mariateresa
    13 years ago

    About 14 years ago I used to kill most of my plants, mostly by overwatering. Three of them survived those dark ages and I love them: a dracaena fragrans, a compact dracaena and a cordyline.
    My latest addition to the dustbin was a Anthurium Andreanum. It had been looking ill for too long. I have an Aloe Varigata and a Crassula Pellucida that don't look very well either. I have repotted them. It's wait and see.
    Dieffenbachias, I can't keep for long. They end up being killed by scales. I don't even try anymore.
    My Ficus Benjamina came back from the dead once I realized it needed plenty of sun and some iron.
    My cordyline 'katrijin' after being repotted, began losing her leaves. I felt so frustrated that I ripped them off. To my surprise, some weeks later, new growth was coming from the ground and from the main stem. It keeps on growing.
    I am definitely better at taking care of my plants!

  • ara133
    13 years ago

    Over the years, I've killed several cacti with improper watering... and unfortunately lots of interesting tropical plants have died in my care.

    I only grow indoor plants, so all of these died inside. I've learned my major problem is low humidity!

    1) a coconut palm (brought back a sprouted coconut from FL) got spider mite and dried out,
    2) a really old favorite habanero 'bush' contracted the same spider mite and had to go,
    3) a selaginella died off,
    and also some spanish moss (I changed conditions in my terrarium which accidentally lessened the ventilation and killed off quite a few of the inhabitants).
    4) Two juniper bonsai...
    5) I can't keep a gardenia alive AT ALL
    6) cyclamen rotted
    7) norfolk island pine dried up
    8) loquat got spider mite, I think it was, and dried up
    9) apple trees got powdery mildew (house plants)

    1. citrus trees got scale (also house plants)

    The list could go on, unfortunately, as I've tried to grow quite a few plants that just aren't supposed to grow indoors, and especially in the northeast!

  • amiller
    13 years ago

    We recently moved. I accidentally killed my philodendron "pink princess" and my variegated pink lemon tree, sob! I forgot them in the backseat of my car over night when it was -2. UGH!! Now I have a sunroom where they would have thrived, but no tree philodendron was the lone survivor, sniff.

  • lhmkc
    13 years ago

    ok I confess to killing 3 tree philodendron before keeping one alive that is now trying for revengeit has now outgrown a 20" pot and eaching for my bed again I have no clue where to find its next pot
    We moved at the end of January and I thought I was so slick got all the plants and fish moved before the cold front lol what a joke that was
    my 6 ft long golden pothos was hung in the kitchen window the window leaked air and unknown to us there was no heat in the kitchen when the snow quit and I got back to the new house with a load of furniture my plant looked very wilty and was leaking brown fluid so I quick plugged in a space heater directed at it and a load or so leater realized my boyfriend had turned off the heat I had to cut off at least a 3 gallon bucket of mush but the plant is still hanging in (not in the kitchen)
    this same move left me a leafless money plant, a frost burn diffenbachia, dracena well loosing lots of leaves, one well maybe 2 leaf dying orchids(yeah thats right holding out hope they will still live) and 4 mushy aloes.
    I have an orchid cactus that contracted a bad case of mealy bugs that I cannot get rid of but is still growing strong go figure that one out.
    all time stay away from plants pepperomia, jade, heart leaf philo, ivys, oh yeah and trying to overwinter brugs and datura
    other than that I am great with plants lol

  • pirate_girl
    13 years ago

    Analogous to what someone said above, the past president of my local Indoor Gardening Society likes to say: if you haven't killed anything lately, you're not growing challenging enough plants.

    It's been a number of years now, that I've acquiesced to not growing things whose conditions I can't provide. That would include most orchids (have no cool nights to offer, have a seriously overheated apmt); ordinary Crassula ovata (Jades); they die for me no matter what (tho' I've got a small piece of C. hobbit or gollum propagated from a single leaf that's doing quite nicely, as long as I ignore it completely); Alocasia/Colocasia.

    Can't bloom AVs if my life depended on it, bloomed one once, but propagate them great, give them away to friends/ friends who bloom them w/ little effort. I think I killed 5 before the first one survived & bloomed for me.

    Frequent victim: Portulacaria afra, I've killed 4 or 5 at least. Had one last a whole year & then whosh, a goner. Got one now I've had since Oct., still going OK. The trick seems to be NEVER water it!!

  • james_ny
    13 years ago

    Pirate girl, have you ever tried growing a. violets under lights? I have about 10 semi minis at my office at work on wick watering with a florescent light stand and they bloom steadly. They bloom much more than the ones in my house in natural light and no wicks. I went with a timer [12 hrs on/off] and wicks as i go on business trips up to 2 weeks. They do best when i'm away.

  • pirate_girl
    13 years ago

    Hi James,

    That's funny, they do best while you're away, hahahaha (absence or neglect making the heart grow fonder?)

    No, I haven't, I don't use any light set-ups, tho' I sometimes wonder about installing one in the dark ledge above my kitchen sink. Am a bit intimidated about trying to do a lighting set-up myself.

  • mersiepoo
    13 years ago

    Do you mean this year? So far in the past 12 months, I've killed a green tea camellia, murdered a citrus (etrog) and offed some seedling aloe plants (yeah, how do you kill those things?) I have several citrus that are in critical condition, a jasmine that doesn't love me anymore, a passionflower that might make it back from deaths door, a papyrus that is just doing dandy and a madagascar jasmine that may live, but it's touch and go at the moment. The only thing that seems to be doing fine is my cyphromandra.

  • quinnfyre
    13 years ago

    If you mean died while in my care, a few. I had a maidenhair fern that just hated us, ivies that succumbed to mites, and a mystery fern that also hated me, after a point. I had an ivy die when I sprayed it for mites... fried. I will never use that stuff again.

    But all in all, surprisingly few. I mostly lost houseplants because I had to give them away.

    Now if you're talking about my garden... well, that's another story. Working 6-7 days a week just doesn't work well with gardening. Bah.

  • riptidefrog
    13 years ago

    Hmmm i cant even remember all the plants that have taken a dirt nap while inder my care. Im way better nowadays though.
    I do currently have a very young coffee plant i purchased from Walmart that is kinda twitchy. I think its due mostly to frost damage from the parking lot on the way to my car. The boston fern i bought at the same time is doing fantastic and is sending out all kinds of new fronds.
    I do have a story about a plant that i brough back from almost certain death.
    My sister gave me a pothos that was at deaths door. It was in a 10 inch pot and used to fill it entirely. when it got to me it was so dehydrated that the only part that responded to watering was one inch long stem with dead portions along about half of it . It had no leaves and 2 nodes which were burned out.
    I just put it in bright light and gave it small amounts of water. i didnt even trust the plant to survive a repotting to a smaller pot so i just monitored the soil carefully.
    Over weeks i watched as the stem slowly developed a bud at one of the burnt out nodes. But then it seemed to stop swelling and i thought it was going to be a goner.
    It ended up sprouting from a node inder the soil level and i nurtured that growth until i had a section about 3 feet long and then i pruned it and rooted them in water and replanted them in the same pot.
    When i left it (back at my mothers house) it was a healthy pot full of trailing pothos foilage. it took forever but was a great experience to save something that was right at deaths door.
    Sorry for the long story but i had to share. :)

  • Cena
    13 years ago

    Well, see, one has to identify one's growing conditions. Then one has to kill off all plants that one owns that don't fit the Growing Conditions. After the main KILL one has to be scrupulous to not purchase anything that might belong to the First Group of Easily Killed Plants Within This Era. One has to post a guard, eh? Or control those who have access to ones premises.

    Lordy, do they really want life time scores????! They would eliminate real growers,
    What? Surely they jest? Honestly, has no genus challanged them? Have they never moved?

    To Illustrate: I moved 6 miles and had to change my whole growing strategy. And pesticides, and fertilizer regime. Not to mention watering schedule. Really, has this questioning person never relocated?

    Honestly, growing in over 400 contaners, I demise a goodly 20 plants per year, easily. OMG, now they are after me. I can provide Larry's statistics, also. He has little die back, but chooses a rife-with-die-back-species.... I know where he live/////////////// ach!

    later, in another tone of voice entirely,
    I Love You Larry.
    Talk to you soon.

  • plantastic
    13 years ago

    Lots. In particular I will never buy another calathea. Also anything that needs to be kept moist (unless it can sit in a bowl of water).

  • africanvioletlvr
    13 years ago

    I have several Africna Violet's with I on purpose threw some away in order to try and stop it. Well, I gave it up and I'm enjoying my infected plants anyway. Some have a lot of meaning to me. I probably trashed 8 of them. I've also killed one of those thick leafed houseplants with the brightly colored flowers (wow, that could describe anything) and I just about murdered my mini rose. It's growing back now that it's outside though. I've also killed 2 Venus Flytraps. One was a big mistake on my part. I placed it outside for morning sunlight...and forgot. Came back several hours later and it was cooked sooo much, the whole plant was black.

  • dcleaver47
    13 years ago

    i killed a spider plant. i doubt anyone can beat that one. a *spider* plant. i'm so embarrassed.

  • larry_b
    13 years ago

    I am afraid I'm as guilty as anyone here when it comes to having some plants die on me. There has been a lot going on in my life recently and unfortunately many of my plants have suffered. I lost one of my favorite streptocarpuses and also one of my chimeral African violets that I've had for many years. I have a saying that many plants have given their lives for my education. When I started out growing plants I killed most of them out of ignorance. Unfortunately now when I kill a plant it's usually more out of neglect, which is more of an embarrassment. :o( Fortunately my African violets and gesneriads are pretty tough plants and take quite a bit of abuse before they succumb. Life looks like it is going to be a lot less eventful and return somewhat back to normal. I know, famous last words. lol But hopefully my plants will soon reap the benefits.


    PS - Yes, Cena does know where I live. She was nice enough to go out of her way to visit my wife and me one afternoon when she was in the area. We then showed her around our house that we affectionately refer to as the North Denver Conservatory. It is a great house for plants with its wonderful windows. Cena was quite gracious with her complements. I love you too Cena.

  • windeaux
    13 years ago

    How many? That's all you want to know?

    Well, scores -- probably HUNDREDS -- have died.

    I can't provide an exact figure, but I am profoundly sorry -- for my inexactitude AND for my horticurltural incompetance. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa . . .

  • watergal
    13 years ago

    I prefer to think about how many I have kept alive, and how many I have brought back from the brink of death. :)

    Working for an interior landscaping company, where you pitch a plant when it looks less than perfect, has certainly toughened me up a lot! I do rescue a few plants from work, but no room for them all (no room at work, either, or I'd try to convince the boss to let me do rehab on them there too).

  • eaglebug
    13 years ago

    I used to kill plants by over-watering and found a way to fix that problem. I have a plant that has to sit in water and every time I get the urge I just water it.

    I also have rooted many cuttings of Pothos in water but have never been able to get them to live in dirt afterward. So I just put them into an arrangement with river rocks in a glass vase and leave them in water forever.

    And Scheffleras hate me. My mother keeps trying to give me one and I can't explain to her that I think it gives me the evil eye every time I'm in the same room.

  • ara133
    13 years ago

    That is really funny, eaglebug - what is your plant that loves wet feet? :)

  • spiritualcipher
    13 years ago

    I killed a tropical plant i bought from Ikea last year when i bought it home and repotted it . I found out during the repot that is was a cutting (actually 3 cuttings) that had not even grown roots yet. It didnt survive the repot.

    I also once killed a very large pointsetta that i was given at a christmas party. nothing I did would save that plant.

  • ymaddox
    13 years ago

    i think i am in the process of killing a syngonium and most definately a ivy...considering bringing home the crash cart from work...CLEAR!!! In my own defense the ivy was trying to kick off when i brought it home :), through no mismanagement of my own is it about to bite the dust :P.

  • sheesh
    13 years ago

    I have many houseplants, but one that we received as a wedding present when we were married 39 years ago is still thriving! I'm not even sure of its real name, but we call it an elephant ear philodendron. Sometimes it's enormous, full of gorgeous, large leaves on long vines, and sometimes it gets a little leggy and droopy and completely potbound. I've given a piece of it to each of my children when they married as sort of a symbol of longevity, and of course, I've given chunks of it to many others over the years. When my husband was very ill two years ago and the plant didn't get watered for three weeks, it was a sad mess. A couple of good drinks later, though, it perked up (so did he) and now is in serious need of another repotting. Many plants have come and gone, but I hope this plant NEVER dies!

  • vic_nick
    13 years ago

    Hi all,

    I am 49 and have been keeping plants for the majority of my life. That is a long time to grow plants. Which means I have long since lost track of how many plants I have murdered. Unfortunately it's part of our wounderful plant hobby.


  • thistle5
    13 years ago

    Well, I wouldn't say I killed them, but rather, they expired in my care. But I've also rescued a few, grown some for a number of years, & passed on alot of great plants (I've moved frequently)...