How to bring a plant back to life

How to bring a plant back to life

Table of Contents

No matter how much we try to avoid it, dying plants are a necessary and inevitable part of every gardener’s and plant parent’s experience. No matter how attentive we might be, we still might find ourselves faced with dehydrated plants about to die or rotted roots that seem impossible to salvage.

If this is your current situation and you find yourself turning to Google to ask, ‘can a dead plant be revived?’, then worry no more. This article will tell you everything you need to know about the causes and signs of dying plants and how to bring a plant back to life.

dried out plants

Why can a plant die?

In order to revive a dying plant, it’s integral we understand what might have killed it in the first place. There are many contributing factors to why your plant might be sick and appear to have dying leaves.

However, the most common cause normally has to do with how much water your shrub is getting. The sudden dying of plants is often due to overwatering or underwatering your chosen shrub.

Overwatering can wash away essential nutrients that a plant needs to grow, as well as causing root rot – a condition that occurs when shrubs are left too long soaking in wet, poorly drained soil. Meanwhile, underwatering leaves the soil too parched, creating dried out plants that are brown and sometimes fatally dehydrated.  

Similarly, access to either too much or not enough sunlight can cause irrevocable wilting and ultimately kill your plant.

Another common issue resulting in dying greenery is exposure to chemicals. Your plant might be dying because it was exposed to something as innocuous as a housecleaning product, the toxins of which can overpower the plant and kill it. If you think your plant is sick, recall if you used any strong chemicals around it recently that could be responsible for this.

Physical damage can also be enough to kill an otherwise healthy shrub. Something heavy falling on it or having the bark scraped off can be enough to fatally injure your favorite greenery.

Finally, diseases and pests, though rarely the sole cause of death, can gravely impact a plant’s health. Be sure to frequently monitor your shrub and check for any possible bug or disease infestations.

How long does it take for a plant to die?

Unfortunately, how long it will take for a bush to die largely depends on not only the species but what it’s dying from. For example, through either over- or under-watering, your plant can die quite quickly as most plants can’t survive more than a few weeks without water.

How to know if your plant is dying

While some plants might appear dying, a quick investigation can show them to still be healthy and salvageable if handled correctly.

The quickest way to know if your plant is on the way out is to check its stems. A shrub in good health will have stems that are firm but pliable and a green ring on the inside of them.  Stems that are either brittle or squidgy signal that the plant is sick.

From here, you can check how serious the illness is by completing the same process, this time with the shrub’s roots. The same rules apply: roots should be malleable and firm and not too mushy or brittle in order for the plant to still be alive.

If this is the case, good news! You have a chance of saving your shrub!

What to do when your plant is dying?

Now you know how to spot a dying shrub, the question remains: ‘can you save a dying plant?’

Yes, if you catch it early enough and tend to it properly, it is entirely possible to regenerate a dying vine and help it to recover to its full, verdant strength. Here’s how:

For those that look dead but still have good roots, simply cut away the rotten stems a third at a time until you only have living stems attached to the root ball. Trimming back excess leaves also takes the pressure off roots to support extra foliage. It also can be a good idea to repot these roots in a new, nutrient-rich soil and container.

If light exposure was the issue, simply move your pot to a place of more or less sunlight. Dry, brittle-leaved greenery with light or dark patches on them need to be moved a little further out of the sun while small, pale, stunted leaves signal that they are dying because they are not getting enough light. Moving your pot around to find the optimal position is an easy way to fix this.

Plants are hungry creatures that require certain nutrients to thrive. Be sure to feed your shrub according to its needs and appetite with nutrient-rich compost and soil.

Wiping down its leaves with a cloth can save your shrub from death for several reasons. Firstly, it gets rid of a dust layer that could be preventing your plant from getting the sun it needs. Secondly, it can also help get rid of and deter any bugs or insects.

These method for bringing a plant back to life can also be used to revive dying bushes outside. Again, check the soil surrounding the bush to see if it’s too dry or not dry enough and then alter your watering routine first and then. Prune and trim as needed, and be sure to add fertilizer or compost for a nutritional boost.

Can you repot a dying plant?

Yes, a failing shrub can be repotted with some success. What’s important to remember here is that, when repotting a dying species, you always want to use a pot that is wider than the last one and fill it with high-quality soil.

How to save dying flowers

After receiving a beautiful bouquet from 1800Flowers, SendFlowers, or FromYouFlowers, or perhaps enjoying your latest floral installment from subscription delivery services such as MonthlyClubsand BloomsyBox, nothing is so disappointing as coming home to find them dying.

Again there are many simple things you can do to prevent this, from keeping any bouquets in the fridge, to adding a little sugar or bleach solution into the vase water. A full list of instructions for caring for dying flowers is here.

So, now you know how to prevent, spot, and treat a dying shrub, the only thing left to do is find the perfect one that will be worth fighting for. Do this at, where their exceptional range of shrubs and greenery will have every kind of plant parent feeling immensely proud.

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