Why is my plant dying?

Oh no! we all know the reason you’re here, your beloved indoor plant has begun looking sad with a bleak outlook. But don’t begin planing its funeral just yet as there is always a chance to revive that plant back to its glory days and growing happy and healthy again if it’s not too late.

There can be a multitude of reasons why your plant could look like its dying so we’ve found the most common reasons that cause this and how to combat it below.

4 common reasons:

Overwatering/root-rot

One of the most common problems for a plant going downhill is over-watering, which in turn can lead to root-rot. This normally happens when the plant is getting water before it has had time to dry out or if the soil has poor drainage leaving it soggy and wet. Identifying root-rot is easy if you remove the plant from the pot. Healthy roots are normally white and firm while roots that are suffering from root-rot will be black and mushy and may even break off when you touch them. You can find more information on root-rot here.

It’s important to repot the plant immediately, being sure to use a potting soil that is well draining and a pot that has drainage holes. When watering, always allow the plant to drain completely before putting it back into the cover pot or saucer. Before watering again, allow the soil to dry out slightly, commonly when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry.

Lighting

Another reason that your plant could be dying is if it’s not receiving enough light. All plants require light to grow and thrive and if they aren’t receiving the amount of light they need to grow you will start noticing problems. The signs you should look out for are your plant becoming long and leggy reaching for light, leaves that are looking floppy, pale leaves, stunted growth and sometimes even yellowing leaves.

Solving this problem is easy. Move your plant to a new spot that better suits its light requirements. Now you have an excuse to buy a new plant that can tolerate that lower lighting requirement. If the plant is only leaning towards the light, you can rotate it weekly to help keep it stand straight.

Low lighting isn’t the only thing to look out for. Plants that are placed in a spot that receives some direct sunlight could be suffering too. If your plant is getting too much light you will notice the leaves having singed tips, burn spots or leaves that may even fall off. Simply move your plant back or move to a spot that doesn’t receive as much light or full sun.

Pests

One of the most annoying things that can cause your plant to be looking sad is pests. If your plant has wilting, spotted or yellowing leaves, losing leaves, distorted leaves or just generally looking dehydrated and you know its not a watering problem then have a closer look at the underside of the leaves. You may even notice some webbing on the underside of the leaves or where the leaves join to the stem. The common houseplant pests that you should look out for are aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, scale, thrips and fungus gnats.

There are a few ways for getting rid of pests, that being naturally or with organic solutions. The natural way that is popular is rinsing the plant down with water or making up a soapy solution. Mix up 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and half tablespoon dishwashing detergent in a litre of water. Wipe down the leaves and spray the solution on, making sure to get the underside of the leaves and in the leaf joints. Some organic oils that you can use are Neem Oil, Eucalyptus Oil and Rosemary Oil. You can read more about those oils here. Another organic method that you can use is Garden Safes Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer.

Fertilizing

Plants need nutrients to thrive. Fertilizing your plant will help give it the nutrients it requires for optimum growth but you’ve got to be sure that you don’t give your plant too much fertilizer. Signs of an over-fertilized plant can include yellowing leaves, wilting leaves, browning leaf margins and tips, leaves falling off, slow growth and black/brown soft rotting roots.

If you’ve over-fertilized your plant, don’t worry it can be saved. If you’ve used fertilizer pellets, try to scoop up as much of the fertilizer as you can. If you’ve used a liquid fertilizer, the only thing you can do is flush the soil with water. Before doing so, check the top of the soil for a white crust. Remove the white crust (if there is one) before you flush the plant with water. Remove any of the damaged or dead foliage so the plant can focus its energy on new growth.

To prevent over-fertilizing from happening again, only use half the recommended amount listed on the fertilizer. It’s best to research what kind of fertilizer the type of plant you’re wanting to fertilize needs as different plants may require different fertilizers and/or formulations.


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