How To Save A Dying Plant: 10 Easy Steps
Updated: Sep 4, 2019
Just like any living thing, plants can get sick.
Environmental stresses, adverse weather conditions, insects, disease and other facts can cause plants to become unhealthy. If your plant looks like it is abandoning you, take a few weeks to try these solutions before giving up!
1. Get Ready To Identify The Problem
If your plant has turned brown, droopy or lost some leaves, don’t give up on it just yet. There is still hope: start by inspecting your plant, and make an effort to identify the problem.
2. Check The Roots
Checking your plant's roots regularly is an essential care step.
Roots should be white, sturdy and spread enough to hold the soil in the shape of the pot.
To make sure the root system of your plant stays healthy, remove the plant from its pot and cut away any circled or tangled root.
3. Search For Bugs
Mealybugs, Spider Mites, Aphids, Fungus gnats... These are only some of the most common houseplant pests. These insects can make your houseplant look sad and unhealthy.
Regularly inspect your plant for pests. You can remove them by spraying the plant with an insecticide soap.
4. Adjust Watering
It can be tricky to tell exactly how much water your plant needs. A great hack is to stick a pencil into the dirt and pull it back out. Unless your plant likes to stay moist, clean will mean it's time to water, while soil on the pencil means the plant is okay for now.
Generally, it's better to water a plant less often, but when you do, soak it thoroughly. The wet-dry cycle encourages stronger roots and prevents root rot.
Your plant should be watered well during the growing season, but less water is needed when the plant is dormant, which typically happens in the winter. Learn about your particular plant with time and experience to give it the best care.
When watering your plant, always use lukewarm water: cold water may chill the roots.
5. Check The Drainage
A poorly drained pot can accumulate water at the bottom, which causes the root rot.
Make sure to always choose a pot with proper drainage holes, and well-draining soil.
6. Take Care Of The Leaves
Firstly, never forget to prune your plant. Dead leaves should be regularly removed to encourage a bushier and healthier plant. Moreover, pinching off brown or yellow leaves will encourage new growth.
Dust and dirt on the leaves might reduce the absorption of light and attract diseases and insects; for this reason, a great habit is to wipe the leaves routinely with a soft cotton cloth. It sounds like a minor issue, but if neglected, it can affect your plant's overall health. Use lukewarm water and mild liquid soap to clean the top and undersides of the leaves.
7. Make Sure To Fertilize Properly
Plant lovers often forget that plants need healthy food too. Fertilizing plants regularly is extremely important, since they have no other source to get the nutrients they need to thrive. Lack of fertilizer will lead to pale leaves and slow growth.
If you forgot to feed your plant and you see your green friend slowly giving up, let three empty eggshells sit overnight in a couple of cups of water (multiply the amounts as needed). Then, the next day, use the eggshell water when it’s time to water the plants.
Always feed your plant following the product’s instructions: don’t overdo it, as too much fertilizer can kill your plant. Fertilizers contain salts, which can obstruct the flow of water into the roots. If you have overfed your plant, flush the plant a few times to wash away any excess salts from the soil.
8. Add Some Humidity
The majority of plants like humidity, while home environments are generally dry, even more in the winter. You can consider buying an indoor humidity monitor or a moisture sensor to help you managing humidity levels.
Low humidity increases heat stress on plants, so you might have to give your houseplant a little extra moisture. If buying a home humidifier is not an option, you can use a humidity tray. Place the pot on a tray of pebbles and add some water. The water will slowly evaporate, adding moisture to the plant.
You can also place the plant in a well-lit bathroom, or cluster your houseplants together; this will raise the humidity levels around them.
9. Move Your Plant
If you have tried everything, but your plant is still having issues, you might need to change its environment.
Firstly, it's important not to abruptly move the plant into a new environment, as this can stress it even more. Start by making small changes, and observe how your plant reacts.
Wrong light exposure is a major reason why indoor plants die. If your plant looks lean and pale, try moving the plant to a brighter area and see if it has a positive effect on future growth. On the other hand, if your plant develops faded scorched spots, you'll need to choose a shadier spot and cut off dead and damaged leaves.
Also, your plant should never be too close to air conditioning vents or high-speed fans. Avoid placing the plants near fireplace, radiators and hot or cold air vents.
Make sure your plant is not exposed to cold drafts and leaves are not touching cold windows. Chilled wind can freeze plants: always keep the windows closed on cold nights.
10. Repot The Plant
The last step you can try is repotting your plant with fresh soil.
Repotting is a stressful procedure for plants, and shouldn't be done too often, but can bring your plant back to life if the situation looks desperate.
Find a new container that has more room for the roots to grow: usually, 1.5 times the actual size works fine. Make sure to remove any damaged roots before repotting, and check for bugs, or you will end up carrying the gnats into the new soil.
When repotting, make sure to use the right soil for your plant.