The Q&A Archives: Dead Looking Houseplants

Question: My mother-in-law gave me two fern looking plants. They're almost dead. She doesn't remember what they are the only thing she knows is you have to mist the plant with water. Help me bring them back.

Answer: Without knowing specifically what your plants are, I can only provide some general pointers on care. Plants in containers can't send their roots out through the soil to seek nutrients or water the way plants in the ground can. Therefore, you need to monitor the soil moisture as well as provide nutrients in the form of fertilizer. Use a fertilizer formulated specifically for houseplants and follow the instructions exactly. Don't be tempted to overapply, as this may burn the roots and kill the plant. Monitor soil moisture so that it doesn't dry out too much or stay excessively wet or soggy. Plant roots don't like to sit in overly wet soil as they can rot. Most ferns like bright light but no direct sunshine. If plants have been in the same soil for several years without fertilizer, they may need repotting into fresh soil. Ferns also like humidity, which is why they are often misted. I hope this info helps!

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