Why do store-bought plants die so quickly?


You will find many homeowners posting images of their shriveled and dead store-bought plants on social media platforms and might have been experiencing the same with your store-bought plants. So, what makes these plants too delicate, and how can you keep them fresh and alive for long?

Store-bought plans may die easily due to a lack of favorable conditions and necessities such as water, good soil, air, and the inability to meet their unique needs specific to the species. It may also be due to the plant feeling transplant shock. The plant struggles from the sudden change in settings from the perfect conditions in the store’s greenhouses, which causes it to continue to decline.

Read on more to know tips and actions you can do to help and foster a good growing environment for your store-bought plants.

Reasons why store bought plants die quickly

Unlike what most people think, these plants are not a scam, but they have a low survival rate in your home.

Within the stores, they have been grown in the perfect conditions to make them look their healthiest and prettiest before being placed on the shelves to be bought.

In order to make them thrive, you have to meet those conditions again or above it to keep your plant well.

The store bought plants needs are being unmet

Simple things like its water intake, proper watering measures, its needed daily sunlight, and the specific soil needs must be looked into when taking on the responsibility of getting a plant.

As for their specific needs, they vary among different species, and you should conduct your research on the unique requirements of the plant you are growing. This will give you a basic understanding of how to keep the plant thriving in your home.

Check whether the plant needs direct or low light and whether you should keep the soil dry or moist after each watering.

Once you get your house plant’s name, you can conduct a simple search on Google to get more information on the favorable conditions for its growth.

Common store bought and ‘hardier’ plants that you can get to buying

Now, if you personally feel like being too overwhelmed with all this information and are now double guessing yourself if you really want a store-bought plant, especially for indoor purposes, you might want to look into getting these hardier plants that are less likely to keel over in your hands when you skip over some of their needs by mistake and such.

Plants like succulents, cacti, spider plants, and many more are covered in this article that I wrote on Best houseplants to have beginners talk at length about this and the care needed for these plants. Feel free to check them here.

While all is well and good for those just thinking of buying store-bought plants, the following section will be for those who already have their store-bought plants, have done all that they can to ensure them thriving but can still see a decline in their plants’ growth.

You might want to look into the possibility of a transport shock.

Transport Shock of store bought plants

The store-bought plants have been accustomed to their initial pots, and they have adapted to certain light conditions, watering schedules, and the environment of the store’s greenhouses or nurseries. When there is a move to shift from the conditions that they were thriving in into something different, transport shock happens.

Transport shock happens when a drastic shift from the plant or a transporting/transplanting problem occurs in the plant.

When the plant that you brought fails to have a proper root system in their new transplanted site, there will be a decline in health and possible dying of the plant.

Below are the factors related to transport transplant are as follows (source):

  • Stresses may have been felt by the plant when it was moved from one site to the other
  • Injuries that it has acquired during the transit from the store to your homes
  • The possibility of improper planting and transplanting techniques
  • There may be poor cultural practices present

It is particularly hard for trees or shrubs bought from stores and may even have to have a 3 to 5 year covering period from being transplanted from their pot and into your garden’s grounds.

How best to acclimatize store bought plants from transport shock?

Consider the actions below to help your plant from dying off due to transport shock; This spans processes that include transferring the plant into a garden bed, the garden itself, and transferring the plant into another pot.

How to help the plant acclimatize?Type of store bought plant transferWhat does it do to help the plant?
Choose a protected area to acclimatize the plant.Pot to gardening bedWithin the span of a week, set your plant into a protected area when the frost has passed (take it indoors, however, if there is a frost forecast). Water the plant when its soil dries up but refrain from fertilizing it.
Make the plant stay outdoors longer with each passing day and ensure that they receive the same amount of sunlight exposure as possible in a gardening bed.
Transferring the plant into another potPot to potChoosing a proper plant pot for your plant and taking into consideration effectivity instead of just aesthetic (which often lack proper drainage mechanisms), as well as its drainage holes, will allow leeway for water to escape and prevent soil oversaturation.
Remove the containers that they come withPot to pot
or
pot to ground
Before transporting your plant to the ground, always remove the containers, binding, and things that hold them. This process will help prevent girdling, which is when the roots grow next to or around the plant or tree and effectively cutting its ability to look for nutrients and water in the soil.
Prune out dead roots during the transport processPot to pot
or
pot to ground
Upon removing the plant from its container for the transplanting process, carefully check the roots and cut off the dead ones.
If they would have stayed with the plant, they could be entryways for plant root problems. Also, if planting it into the ground and a planting hole, make sure to spread out the roots well.

Light is also essential for the growth and development of your house plants. When it comes to light, the direct sunlight is way brighter than the room’s lighting, and it may be hard to realize this with your eyes.

To prevent this, you will need to pick the leafy house plants as they adapt to low light conditions and survive in your darkroom with ease.

How to tell when my store-bought plants are dying

If your plant lacks the requisite conditions for its survival, then it will start turning pale or shed its leaves. Eventually, it will wilt.

A sign of your houseplants dying would be the tips of the leaves turning brown and at some point start to soften.

After some time, the plant will die especially when you don’t correct their conditions.

Tips for preventing store-bought plants from dying

Though you have bought these plants and look healthy while they were in the stores initially, the possibility of it dying off is high if you expect it to thrive while not doing your part in making it thrive.

Below are some tips on ensuring that your store bought plant gets to thrive and bloom in your homes.

Divide the store bought Plants

Most supermarkets pack the herb plants too closely such that they struggle for space, food, and nutrients. Therefore, the plants are healthy but are packaged in a way that requires you to handle them carefully to ensure their survival.

You should divide these plants to increase their chances of survival, and since they will be continuously looking for their nutrients, there won’t be high competition.

Divide the plant into three and plant them in three different pots. Keep them at the previous height and firm the soil gently.

Also, avoid overwatering the plants and place them in a sunny environment with the right conditions for their survival.

Proper Watering must be done for store bought plants

Store-bought plants are delicate and have been adapted to a regular watering schedule in the supermarket, and if you fail to water them, their roots will dry up.

Improper watering can mean less water or too much water, resulting in the death of the plants.

You can also see when you have overwatered your plant to possible death by looking into the symptoms: growth stops, the leaves turn yellow, and the plant wilts.

All these and how to save your plants in this situation are covered by this article I wrote on overwatering plants. Feel free to look into that here.

Also, if the soil underneath the plant is too moist and has poor drainage, it will lead to the rotting of the plant’s roots. This problem is solvable by removing the dead plants.

Also, ensure you allow the soil to dry after each watering session and avoid watering the plant unless the soil is dry when touched.

Store bought plants should have their soil evenly watered

To ensure proper airflow within the soil and roots, you will need to water the soil evenly. It will also help prevent the build-ups of chlorine, bacteria in the soil.

To avoid the build-up of chlorine and bacteria in soil in your store-bought plants, water the soil from the top slowly and in an even manner.

Alternatively, if your pot has a drainage hole, then fill a bowl with water and place the pot in it. Leave the plant for one hour to suck the water before you discard the remaining contents.

Look into sufficient fertilizers for store bought plants

The ecosystem has its natural ways of recycling the nutrients after the decay of twigs and dead leaves. Since the houseplant will lose its leaves, you can replace the lost nutrients using some fertilizers.

However, most homeowners exaggerate their usage and use excess fertilizer, damaging the leaves.

Store-bought plants can also die from fertilizers after the evaporation of water, which leaves solid salts behind.

Even after watering it, the over-fertilized plant will still wilt, and the leaves also soften. Alternatively, the tips of these leaves could change to brown color, and when this occurs, it’s time to reduce the number of fertilizers.

Most store-bought plants have enough fertilizer or organic manure, and you won’t need to add the fertilizers.

Bottomline on why do store-bought plants die so quickly?

Unlike our ancestors, who used to live in fields of greens and animals, our modern life has dictated that some of us live in urban cities with refrigerators, cubicles, computer screens, and noisy streets.

We try to reduce the urbanity and shades of concrete by growing indoor plants or buying store-bought ones and fostering their growth.

Their existence in our homes brings beauty and a great sense of well-being, which we, in turn, should also give to them by looking into what helps them stay healthy. Hopefully, the steps above will help you do that for your plants.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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