Learning how to save a dying houseplant from the clearance shelf is not just rewarding. It can also be a great way to get plants for cheap! I’m using a philodendron xanadu as an example to show you how to bring a sick plant from the clearance aisle back to life.
How to save a dying houseplant from the clearance shelf
I’m not a nursery snob. I buy plants at big-box nurseries! My first choice is to support local small business nurseries—and to be honest, they usually have the best selection. I can always find what I’m looking for.
But sometimes plant gems pop up at the big box stores. Plants you usually don’t see there. And they are usually pretty cheap, so you have to snag them. I don’t blame you! It’s where I got my gorgeous curly lipstick plant.
Only a few weeks after that find, I breezed through the garden center at my local Lowes when I was there to pick up something else. And I noticed a philodendron xanadu on the clearance “distressed plants” shelf.
Sometimes you can’t find a really great plant this way. I’ve wanted a xanadu for a while, but the price was always too high at my local nurseries. So I snagged this big boy when I saw he was only $12!
Saving a philodendron xanadu houseplant
Unfortunately, since it was only $12, it wasn’t in the world’s best shape. I could see major potential, though, so I brought it home. These are the steps I took to rehab my philodendron xanadu, but these steps can generally be applied to most houseplant rehabs. Here’s what I did.
Step 1: Cut off dead or dying growth
It looks like my plant had suffered from a lack of water, a bit of a sunburn, or both. Many of the leaves were dry and had brittle brown areas on them. Some were hanging off, barely rooted in the soil.
The first thing I did was use a pair of clean scissors to cut off all of the dead, dying, or obviously damaged growth. I was pretty ruthless doing this. Trust me, I know it can be really hard to cut leaves off of plants, but if the leaf has damage, it’s best to just chop. This will help the plant redirect its energy to producing healthy new growth.
While doing this, I also scooped up as much of the debris from the pot as I could. There were a lot of dead leaves on top of the soil, as well as large bark chunks and whatnot. I wanted to get a good look at the actual plant.
Step 2: Remove the plant from its pot to inspect the roots
Inspecting the root system is a really important part of rehabbing any sick plant. If there is something going wrong at the root level, you need to fix it or the plant will never get better. If there is any rot, cut those parts off and let the roots dry out for an hour or so.
My roots actually looked really good, so I simply knocked the majority of the plant’s original soil off. As I did this, I noticed that there were quite a few baby plants sprouting, many of which had healthy root systems as well.
I decided to break three off of the main plant to pot up separately, but I kept most of the plant intact. I also trimmed some of the roots that were very long.
Step 3: Pot with fresh soil
Once I was satisfied with the root trimming, I chose an appropriately sized pot for the root ball and planted the xanadu using fresh soil. I then gave it a good thorough watering and set it in a shady spot on my deck. Watering also cleans off the leaves, which are usually dusty and gross after being neglected for so long!
(If you are trying to save a plant that has been overwatered, after you trim the roots and repot it with fresh soil, let it sit for a day or two before you water it.)
Avoid fertilizing really unhealthy plants. Fertilizer shouldn’t be used to treat an unhealthy plant to make it healthier unless you’re fairly certain that whatever the issue is can be addressed with the fertilizer you’re using.
In many cases, sick plants are due to neglect, improper lighting, and or too much love (i.e., too much water!), so fertilizer can’t help. I am so happy I was able to get this plant and break off three baby xanadus, all for only $12!
I will update this post as the plant produces more new growth. I’m hoping it will be as big, healthy, and bushy as the $60 xanadus I drool over at my local nursery!