Have you ever had a house plant? The vibe of beautiful green plants thriving in your house is truly indescribable. They keep your home fresh, making you feel closer to nature.
Imagine buying a pretty house plant from a shop or a nursery, just to see it die in a few days or weeks. A depressing thought, right?
However, it’s a realistic one if you neglect your plants, forget to water and feed them, and don’t pay attention to their sunlight needs.
If you already have withering plants at home, it’s time to ask yourself two crucial questions: Why is my house plant dying, and how to save a dying house plant?
This blog post will help you discover the answer to these questions.
Why Is My House Plant Dying
The following factors may be why your house plants are dying:
- Getting insufficient or excess water
- Having no space to grow
- Being overexposed to sunlight
- Not getting enough sunlight
- Falling prey to plant diseases
- Withering up due to dryness
- Having too much or too less fertilizer
But how do you figure out where the problem lies? What preventive measures should you take? How do you reverse the effect of the causes mentioned above?
Let’s look at each reason in detail to find out.
Water is the basic requirement of every plant, indoors or outdoors.
However, some people tend to go overboard when watering their indoor plants, thinking they will grow better and faster. This could not be further from the truth.
Each plant requires a specific amount of water; going beyond those limits can damage its roots. This is because the roots don’t get enough oxygen if they remain in water for long periods!
Damage to house plants from overwatering happens in three situations: When you water more frequently than required, your pot does not have drainage holes to let out excess water, or the soil is not well-draining enough.
But how do you know that your house plant is dying from excess water? Here are some signs you should look out for.
- Leaves turn droopy and yellow or brown. They may also develop dark spots.
- The soil stays moist too long after watering
- There are signs of fungus in the soil
- The roots show signs of rotting. Rotten roots feel slimy and fall apart when you touch them.
- The stems turn mushy and weak
What should you do if your plant shows signs of being overwatered? The solution is simple. Firstly, make sure there is no excess water in the pot.
Then comes the time to trim and prune the damaged foliage and roots, so they don’t affect the rest of the plant. You can also wipe the leaf blades with alcohol between each snip to clear the rot and diseases.
After that, replace the soil or allow it to dry properly. Some house plants that don’t need much water, like cacti and other succulents, should be given a break of a few days from watering.
Lastly, you must determine your plant’s specific water requirements and start watering it accordingly.
Remember that no plant should have its roots submerged in water. Hence, your pot should have proper drainage holes in the bottom or a layer of something that can absorb the excess water (like lava rocks or terracotta shards).
Another simple way to avoid overwatering your house plants is to water them according to their needs. If you don’t know the specific water requirements of your house plant, always wait until the surface of the soil turns dry before watering again.
Getting Insufficient Water
We’ve talked about overwatering; now, let’s hop over to the other end of the spectrum – under-watering.
This usually happens when you water your indoor plant less frequently than required. Some house plants need you to thoroughly water them once a week, while others like cacti are more suited to a bi-weekly watering arrangement.
Houseplants may also turn dry if the environment is not humid enough to maintain moisture or the water quality is not suitable.
The signs that your house plant is dying of thirst are mentioned below.
- The leaves turn dry, crispy, brown, and floppy, and eventually fall off.
- House plant leaves start curling up at the tips when the soil gets bone dry and stops absorbing water after some time.
- The soil starts to crack and pull away from the edges of the pot.
Plants dying of thirst can be saved by saturating the soil until it’s evenly moist and letting it dry before watering it again.
You can saturate the soil by slowly pouring water onto the top until half an inch of water has drained through the pot and collected in the sink or the bowl.
Allow the plant to soak in that water for at least 15 to 30 minutes, and then let it dry properly.
The brown damaged leaves or tips should be cut off to promote healthy growth. Also, you should get a plant mister and spray your plant a little daily.
Check if the water you use contains minerals unsuitable for house plants, like chlorine, salts, fluoride, etc.
If so, fill a jug of water and leave it uncovered overnight to let the mineral evaporate, or start using distilled water.
Make sure you know how frequently your plants need water in a day, and also find out how much water you should provide them in one go. Set a watering routine based on your plant’s watering requirements.
Being Overexposed To Sunlight
Different kinds of houseplants thrive in different amounts of sunlight. Some require full sun to thrive, while others grow well in partial sun.
Some cannot tolerate the direct sunlight you get in most US states, while others appreciate a moderate amount of indirect sunlight.
If your indoor house plant prefers low light conditions, overexposing them to sunlight may cause them to die. Hence, look out for the following indicators of overexposure to sunlight.
- The leaves become dry, brittle, and blanched. You may notice light or dark patches on them.
- The edges of the leaves turn brown and crispy
How to save a dying plant is simple if sunlight is the issue. You can move the plant to an area in your home that does not get direct sun or use curtains to diffuse sunlight. Also, don’t forget to trim sunburnt leaves.
The best practice is to get a house plant that can adjust to your home’s natural and artificial light conditions. For example, you can get low-light plants like cathalea and ferns if your house does not receive enough natural light.
Not Receiving Enough Sunlight
Most house plants respond well to medium or bright indirect light. For example, the fiddle-leaf fig is a plant that loves the sun and dies quickly if kept in low light conditions.
Hence, it is essential to find out the sunlight preferences of your house plant. Here are the signs your house plant is not receiving the amount of sunlight it needs:
- The foliage turns small, yellow, and pale
- Leaves start dropping
- The plant looks stretched out and spindly
Moving your plant to a sunnier area in your home can help you save a dying house plant in such cases. However, instead of suddenly exposing it to direct sunlight, make the transition gradually so that the plant has time to adjust to the change.
If you live in an area that does not get much natural light (like you might find in some states in the US), try creating a favorable environment for your house plant using artificial light.
Although artificial lights cannot replace the benefits of natural light, they can still help your house plant survive.
Moreover, people living in low-light conditions should get low-light houseplants adapted to thrive in the darkness. Some examples of these house plants are snake plants and pothos.
Too Much Fertilizer
Everyone needs to eat, and this applies to plants, too. Just like overeating can cause sickness and even death in humans, plants can endure the same fate.
Leaves are responsible for producing food for plants. However, plants shed their leaves over time. Hence, they need something to compensate for the nutrient loss. Fertilizers full of nutrients can help them grow better.
However, some people feed their plants more fertilizer than required, thinking that a boost of nutrients will cause them to grow faster and bigger.
But what happens when you feed a plant very frequently or with a large dose of nutrients at a time?
The water from the soil evaporates, leaving excessive solids behind that restrict the soil from absorbing required water in the future.
As a result, the soil does not have enough water for the roots to absorb, and the plant has to use its reserve water. The extra salty pressure on the roots burns out the plant.
The following are the signs of an overfed plant.
- The plant develops burned crispy edges
- The leaves turn brown or black, starting from the tips
- A plant will go through an unnecessary growth boost and become leggy (long but with fewer leaves) if exposed to excess nutrients.
- You will notice a build-up of excess nutrients in the soil.
- The roots become weak, and eventually, the plant starts falling apart.
So, how do you save a dying plant from the effects of over-fertilization? The recommended solution is to repot the plant into fresh soil or remove the part of the soil that has visible salt build-up.
You can also overflow the soil with warm water to wash away excess minerals through drainage holes.
To avoid the problem of over-fertilizing, learn about how much fertilizer your plant requires. You can also use all-natural fertilizers that do not affect the soil’s fertility.
The roots of the plants that have enough space to grow can stretch out to find nutrients in the soil. But indoor house plants that grow in a pot cannot survive once the nutrients in the pot soil finish.
Hence, you need to add fertilizer to your house plant’s soil to prevent it from dying. So, what are the signs that your plants need fertilizer?
The leaves become small and brown because the plant doesn’t have enough energy to produce large and healthy leaves.
Remember not to add too much fertilizer to an already dying plant because it may cause a plant shock or burn. Start by adding a little fertilizer to the soil and gradually increase as needed.
A struggling plant might not come back to life even if you add fertilizer to the soil. Fertilizer is not an antibiotic, after all!
Fertilizer packs come with labels and instructions. Read them to find out how frequently you should fertilize house plants and how much fertilizer you should use at once.
It’s even better to repot your plant with fresh soil and fertilized plant.
Falling prey to plant diseases
Plant diseases and insects are evident reasons why house plants die. Mealy bugs or white spots on your plant mean it is going through a disease or pest infestation. Some common plant-related diseases and pests are as follows:
Brown and yellow spots on leaves indicate a leaf spot disease on house plants. Your plant gets attacked by fungus or bacteria if your pot is contaminated. The spots differ in shape, color, and size.
First, remove the infected leaves. Then, mix a tablespoon or two of baking soda and a teaspoon of mineral oil in a water bottle. Spray the mixture on the plant at reasonable intervals.
Spider mites are tiny dust-like creatures that reside on the side of the leaves or near the plant’s stem.
They make very fine webs and feed on the plant’s sap, depriving it of energy. Droopy and discolored leaves and stunted growth indicate spider mite infestation.
Distance the infected plant from other healthy plants. Then get an insect control spray mixed with water and soak the foliage and soil of the plant in the mixture. Repeat several times until the infestations clear.
A natural way to treat infestations is to wipe the leaves with warm water or neem oil.
Your google-search to the question of ‘Why is my houseplant dying’ must be over now. Just remember that house plants are sensitive creatures and might die quickly if their specific needs are unmet.
How to save a dying plant becomes evident if you figure out the problem in time. Most house plants in the USA due to being overwatered or insufficiently watered. Other reasons for the decline of house plants are as follows: being overexposed or underexposed to sunlight and excess or inadequate fertilizer. Also, plant diseases and pest infestations can suck the life out of your house plants.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.