Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

50 Ways to Kill Your Plants, Well Almost

I have been thinking about all the gardening mistakes I have made over the years. They are many and varied.  The ones earliest in my gardening career were some of the most outrageous.  But I continue to make mistakes as I try out new plant varieties or work under different environmental conditions in my yard as my landscaping ages.

As I was thinking about these things, a song started running through my mind: Paul Simon's 2006 release 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.  Then it hit me -There must be 50 Ways to Kill Your Flowers.  Now in the name of full disclosure and clarity, the term flower is being used to signify any plant.  Also, I have not committed every single crime on this list, though I have committed most of them. Some were committed by helpers, relatives, or colleagues. 

1. Abandon them

Forget about them in the backseat of your car for days

2. Beat them

Allow them to be pummeled with hail

3. Blind them

Shut them away in the dark where they can't photosynthesize

4-6. Bury them

Transplant them too deeply. Or bury with mulch or bark

7. Dehydrate them

Forget to water

8-10. Devour them

Bugs, birds, and mammals will all help themselves

11, 12. Drown them

Overwater them or plant without enough drainage

13, 14. Encircle them

Let them become totally rootbound or let the ties attached to planting stakes remain forever, encircling the trunk

15. Freeze them

Forget to cover them in a predicted cold snap

16-18. Infect them

Carry pathogens on dirty tools and infect with bacterial, fungal, or viral diseases

19-21. Poison them

Weed killer, excessive fertilizer or even a mixed (alcoholic) drink will do the trick

22. Scald them

Fail to protect sensitive plants with shade cloth so they develop sunscald

23. Scorch them

Wildfires can consume

24. Smother them

Let weeds overgrow and outcompete your plants

25. Starve them

Don't give them their needed Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium

26. Step on them

Can't believe how often this happens

27. Strangle them

Just watch how quickly bindweed will attack

28. Trash them

Mistake a dormant perennial for a dead plant and toss it

29, 30. Uproot them

Think seedlings are weeds and pull or forget where you put those bulbs

31. Whip them

Allow the wind to whip and batter your plants

After generating this list, I am amazed that I have any greenery left in my landscape at all.  Actually, some of these mistakes didn't kill the plant but did cause serious harm.  Many plants are quite resistant, others, not so much.  My list didn't quite make it to 50 ways, though.  If you can think of other ways that you have harmed plants, you can add them to the list via the Comments section.  Maybe we can make it to 50 together!

Devour by bird. photos by Karen Metz
Devour by bird. photos by Karen Metz

Sunscald citrus.
Sunscald citrus.

Frost. photo by Jennifer Baumbach
Frost. photo by Jennifer Baumbach

Posted on Monday, November 20, 2023 at 12:00 AM


Very interesting article with a touch of humor. Thanks for sharing

Posted by Ken Williams on November 25, 2023 at 10:25 AM

Shoot them in their flower face.

Posted by Mae on June 15, 2024 at 1:55 PM

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