Plant expert shares simple tip to tell if your houseplant is beyond reviving

Find out if your plant can be brought back to life, or if it really is goodbye

In the excitement of going back to 'normal', many of us will find our plants in need of some extra TLC. If you've returned from a staycation to find your indoor jungle looking alarmingly yellow, brown and wilting, don't panic.

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You may be wondering if is this the end for your beloved plants, but Richard Cheshire, plant expert at Patch Plants (opens in new tab) has a simple tip to check if a plant can be revived.

houseplant pot on white surface

(Image credit: Anther + Moss)

There might still be hope. First of all, Richard suggests checking the bark to indicate whether your plant can be saved.

If your plant has a woody trunk or stalk, gently scratch its surface to reveal underneath. Should you see light green underneath the brown bark, there is still some life in it. Instead, if it is dry and brown, it may be too late.

If your plant has yellow leaves and you've been hoping they'll turn green again with some extra care, Richard says it's actually best to remove them. The same, of course, goes for dry leaves.

Cutting them off will allow your plant to focus all its energy on healthy growth. Also, if the plant has healthy roots, pruning it back will help it pick itself back up.

aloe vera plant with chrome yellow pot on white table

(Image credit: Patch Plants)

Some plants might look completely dead when all they need is some water. For example, the aloe vera seems lifeless when it is dry, but it will quickly look full of life after a drink.

With an aloe vera, it's best to water it lightly over a couple of days rather than watering it heavily. Trying to make up for the plant’s missed drinks is most likely going to drown the plant. Regular, small amounts are better than flooding the soil.

Richard also warns against giving your plants too much feed as part of a rescue mission. An already stressed plant would be overwhelmed by a sudden blast of nutrients. Instead, treat it with fertiliser after its full recovery.

Check out our free garden ideas to improve your outdoor space if it's your garden that's looking lacklustre. We also have plenty more budget garden ideas whether you've got a small balcony or large lawn.

indoor plants in white square pots

(Image credit: Anther + Moss)

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Be patient. Rescue projects will need some time to spring back to life. This is especially true in the winter months when a plant might be dormant and not grow much.

Rest assured, the wait will be worth it. There are few things more satisfying than seeing a seemingly dead plant burst back to life.

Millie Hurst
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She first joined the team at the start of 2021. Previously, she worked in women’s lifestyle and homes news, writing about everything from budget kitchen makeovers and gardening tips to homeware dupes and cleaning hacks. Millie can often be found looking up trending terms, spotting news stories our readers need to know about and finding ways to decorate her rented flat.