"See, there's a big difference between mostly dead, and all dead. Now, mostly dead: he's slightly alive. All dead: well, with all dead, there's usually only one thing that you can do."
                                                        -Miracle Max

As gardeners, we have all experienced plants coming back from mostly dead-- Then there are plants that are all dead that can be brought back, unnaturally.


Last fall, I took home a variegated lemon tree from work. Citrus is usually easy to keep alive in the basment over winter, right? Well, I took lousy care of it and it died. Some time in early June, I played the death march for it and hauled it out of the basement and set it next to the compost pile. Since then, it has oddly flourished. Clearly, it was slightly alive. I bet you have a story like this... So many plants get pitched when they are still slightly alive!


Some time later, I pulled 2 mostly dead, six foot tall, spiraled Arborvitaes out of the garbage with the intention of keeping them "alive" artificially for years to come with a thick coat of bright blue paint. They suck up spray paint like  Sham-Wows but the paint really helps keep them from falling apart. They aren't quite done yet, I'm ashamed to say, I have 2 more cans waiting to be applied sitting on the dining room table. I still need to get a couple bags of pea gravel in the pots to raise them up a little and keep them upright, too. It's a work in process, but all my hard work is keeping them from being all dead, in my own special way.

With all dead, there's usually only one thing you can do- Compost it!

Related Articles

To read the complete article, join now!

With FGplus, you'll get exclusive:

  • Content from the editors of Fine Gardening
  • Answers to your gardening questions from our experts
  • Access to beind the scenes videos at America's best gardens and gardening shows
  • Digital access to a library pf Fine Gardening special issues and two bonus CookFresh issues from Fine Cooking - a value of over $65

Plus, you will be automatically entered into monthly givaways from ouir friends and partners

Already an FGplus subscriber? Log In