10 Reasons Why Your Plants Are Dying And How To Save Them
Updated: Sep 3, 2019
Do you have a talent for killing houseplants?
Caring for plants needs time and effort — it's true. But have you tried everything you can to keep them alive? Read this list and start learning from your mistakes!
1. You forgot to read care instructions
Rule number one: never ignore care requirements.
Usually, plants come with a tag containing instructions that, when followed precisely, will avoid them to die.
Every plant is different and has different needs. If you have doubts, search it on Google, take a look at blogs and forums, and you will find plenty of information about your plant.
2. You are not giving the plant the right amount of water
When it comes to water, people often think that the more, the better.
The truth is that every plant has different watering needs — which can vary based on the season, the amount of light and temperature.
Some plants like to dry out completely; others need to be kept moist. The best solution is to buy a humidity sensor to understand the moisture level of your plant. You can also stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep to feel whether it’s dry or moist.
Overwatering and excess water at the bottom of the pot can cause root rot, which can kill your plant. Always give your plant a pot with a drainage hole, water it in the sink thoroughly, making sure it drains from the hole at the bottom. Then, let it drain completely before replacing it back.
Underwatering can be just as dangerous as overwatering.
Always check the care instructions to learn how much water your plant needs. Some plants will talk to you — leaves will droop when thirsty and will perk right back up again once its thirst is quenched.
3. The plant is receiving the wrong amount of light
All plants need light at varying degrees.
Most of the times, your plant will tell you if it's not getting the right amount of light.
If they are getting too much light, leaves could get "sunburned": they will change color or turn brown.
On the other hand, if you notice your plant bending toward the light, or producing very small, pale leaves, it means that light is not sufficient.
4. The plant is exposed to extreme temperatures
Most houseplants like the same temperature we like. If you’re comfortable, they are too.
The safest temperature is a mild 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit—not too hot, not too cold.
If you place your houseplant close to a window, keep in mind that the weather outside will affect your plant’s life—with seasonal changes it could go from very hot in the summer to freezing cold in the winter. Make sure not to place your plant next to any drafty windows.
Also, the heater and air conditioning could cause your plant to dry out: use a mister or make a humidity tray to increase the humidity of your home environment.
5. You are not “pinching” old leaves and flowers
The majority of flowering plants require you to “pinch off” old blooms and leaves to encourage new growth.
When blooms and leaves turn brown, it means that they are dying. Pinch them off by holding the stem with one hand and using your other hand or gardening shears to pluck the entire bloom off.
6. You forgot to repot the plant
Most houseplants outgrow their pot within one to two years, so it’s important to place them into a larger one with fresh soil.
When your plant is root bound and needs to be repotted, you may see roots growing out of the drain holes. You also might notice that the roots have grown into a mass around the soil, or the plant will not easily lift from the pot.
Keep in mind that you should never repot your plant when it's blooming.
7. Your plant is hungry
Every plant needs six macro-nutrients to survive.
They get carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen from air and water, but they also need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for optimal health and growth and bloom production.
On every fertilizer label, you can notice three numbers, such as 20-20-20.
These numbers may vary depending on the fertilizer and show you what proportion of each macro-nutrient the fertilizer contains. The first number is always nitrogen, the second is phosphorus, and the third is potassium.
Each plant has different feeding needs.
Using a balanced houseplant food (which can be purchased at any nursery or online) on a regular basis will ensure your plant is getting the nutrients it needs.
Be sure to follow the specific feed requirement of your plant, as over-fertilizing can kill it. Some plants, such as orchids, require fertilizers specifically formulated for their needs.
8. You chose the wrong soil
Each plant has different needs when it comes to the type of soil it requires.
You can mix your own soil at home, or buy a high-quality, organic soil.
What's important is that the soil you mix or buy is designed for your plant’s needs.
Some plants do best in thick, dense soil, while other plants, such as cacti, need fast-draining soil with high sand and peat content, to prevent root rot.
9. You are ignoring insects
Some of the most common damaging insects for houseplants include gnats, aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies.
Take a closer look underneath your plant leaves and in the soil.
Gnats usually gather underneath the foliage, and then they invade the soil. They suck fluids from it, causing leaves to yellow and droop.
Pests could kill your plant if left untreated, so if bugs are damaging your plants, use a natural remedy to eliminate them as soon as possible.
Spray some Neem Oil or sprinkle some Silicon Dioxide (also known as diatomaceous earth - a type of powder) for 7 days, so that there is a light layer on the leaves and the soil. The bugs will walk through it and die shortly after contact.
10. You are moving the plant too much
Plants become accustomed to their spot in your home and don’t like to be moved around too much.
If a plant is thriving under certain temperatures and light conditions, moving it could make it difficult to adjust to its new environment.
Typically, you’ll want to find a good place for your houseplant and keep it there.