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October 01, 2021 3 min read

Have you ever brought home or ordered the most stunning specimen houseplant  and found it the perfect spot in your plant collection. You've done your research, you know it likes to dry out a little (hello..I'm looking at you Alocasia Curprea and Green Velvet)or maybe your new plant likes even, constantly moist soil (Calathea Orbifiolia, I see you) and for the first few weeks your vigilant. You check your new houseplant daily or more to make sure it's happy and doesn't need watering or anything else.

Skip forward another week and you're feeling confident that you've kept your new plant baby alive and thriving. Plant parenthood comes naturally to you, you've got the hang of this indoor-plant-jungle-thingy and life is good. So good in fact, you actually have a life - see ya 2020! Helloo 2021...oh, wait. So life is still pretty much Netflix, Zoom calls and waiting for food delivery but you know, it gets busy languishing in your own private lockdown Groundhog Day and you get forgetful about the plant watering schedule. Life is one big blurrr...

Until one morning you realise you haven't checked your indoor plants for a while and they're all looking rather sad. Under-watered? Dusty? Dead? When was the last time you watered? Who can remember!

What I've found helpful is to have a few 'canary' plants in your collection. What is a canary plant I hear you cry? Glad you asked. A canary plant is a plant as the name would suggest is a plant that is both useful for signalling imminent danger (ie dehydration)  and is somewhat disposable, awful as that may seem.

Ok, so I made up the term 'canary plant' (yes, it's even trademarked*)  as the canary in the coal mine analogy seemed to fit. Now if you're a compulsive plant care nerd who has memorised your entire collections watering needs, well, hats off to you and you need not read any further.

However, if you're someone who loves your houseplant collection but sometimes loses track of when you last watered your indoor plants I have a little plant care hack which I have found useful.

Enter the Canary plant. These are houseplants that have moderate watering needs, show clear signs of water deficiency and ideally, are incredibly resilient to a little neglect. The canary plant is the plant in your collection which becomes your early warning signal for when you've neglected to water your plants. These plants will have a visual cue that clearly shows you they are in need of some water. These cues range from subtle like curling leaves to the more dramatic total collapse of foliage.

Some of my favourite canary plants are Devil's Ivy, Satin Pothos almost any pothos for that matter, although Marble Queen won't tolerate neglect as easily as a good ol' Devil's Ivy.

Philodendron cordatum is another great 'canary plant' which like members of the pothos family will curl its leaves when it needs water and generally bounces back easily from a little neglect. Or maybe you have already witnessed the dramatic wilting antics of an under-watered Fittonia A.K.A. the nerve plant? While all these plants will bounce back as if nothing has happened once watered thoroughly, they will eventually show signs of neglect such as browning leaf tips and leaf drop if you neglect them too often. 

So like the poor little canaries of yesteryear, choosing 'disposable' plants that aren't too hard to come by is your best bet for avoiding houseplant heartbreak.

Alternatively, with every plant gift purchasewe send you a unique QR code for 6 months free access to the Gregg App which reminds you when to water your entire houseplant collection!