How To Use A Chopstick To Get Healthier Houseplants

Plants need light, water … and chopsticks? You might not associate this particular utensil with your houseplants, but according to experienced indoor gardeners, it comes in very handy.

Because houseplants live in containers — for obvious reasons — their growing roots eventually hit the sides of their pot. It’s natural for the potting soil to compact around the plant’s roots, due to repeated waterings. And while this in itself doesn’t cause major harm to the plant, it’s important to remember that the potting soil provides oxygen as well as nutrients to the plant. So when the soil compacts, the oxygen has less space to circulate, and it can lead to an unhappy, drooping plant with yellowing leaves.

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Anyway, back to how chopsticks can lead to healther houseplants … according to Apartment Therapy, they are the perfect size and shape for some aeration action. That sounds like a fancy gardening word, but it’s not; it’s simply about improving oxygen circulation by sticking something as deep down into the soil as possible — in this case, a chopstick.

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Here’s what to do.

Push the stick gently down into the soil until you can’t go any further, applying pressure if necessary to reach the bottom of the pot. It’s totally fine if you push through and snap a few of the roots — they’ll grow back stronger. Do this several times, across the entire surface area of the soil. Finish the process by watering your plant. Enjoy the whooshing noise as water soaks into the soil thanks to the lovely new holes.

It’s a good idea to repeat the process a few times a month to help improve your plant’s overall health. It only takes a few minutes, and you’ll be rewarded with greener, happier leaves! Oh, and don’t worry if you don’t have a chopstick: Anything that’s a similar shape and size, like a No. 2 pencil, does the trick just as well.