Many houseplant problems come down to one of two things: watering your plants too often or not watering them often enough. Since it's sometimes impossible to tell which issue is to blame, many well-meaning plant parents have accidentally turned into serial plant killers. Fortunately, there's a tool that prevents both root rot and dehydration—and you likely already have it at home.

According to Apartment Therapy, paper coffee filters are a houseplant owner's secret weapon. Regular flower pots have holes in the bottom that allow excess water to drain out, but they aren't always effective. Soil can flow out with the water or form large clumps that block the openings.

Lining your planter with a coffee filter encourages more even water distribution. When moisture reaches the bottom of the pot, much of it will be absorbed by the paper. The liner also catches any dirt runoff that would otherwise leak through the holes. So if you water your plant too much, you won't have to worry about the water washing away the soil or oversaturating it and causing root rot, which can spell death for your plant.

Coffee filters can be useful in under-watering situations as well. Paper filters retain moisture for a while, and though it isn't enough to promote rot, it can act as a kind of water reserve when your plant is starting to get parched.

If you've been scared to take on the responsibilities of plant ownership—or you're currently struggling with your indoor garden—a cheap coffee filter could soothe your worries. But it's not a cure-all for every problem that could be inhibiting your green thumb. Here are some helpful trouble-shooting tips for keeping houseplants alive.

[h/t Apartment Therapy]