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Common Houseplant Problems and How to Solve Them

Does your indoor plant look weak or sickly lately? Is it wilting, changing leaf colour, drying up, or outgrowing its pot? 

If so, don't beat yourself up about it. The truth is, everyone who has ever attempted to take care of plants has experienced one or more plant problems.

Thankfully, most indoor plant problems are totally reversible and preventable. Best of all, we're going to teach you exactly what to do about common houseplant issues in the following guide. Diagnose symptoms, solve the root cause, and nurse your plant back to health with these indoor plant tips.

1. Not Understanding Your Indoor Plant

The first thing you need to know is that each plant has very unique needs/care instructions. For example, your monstera needs water every 1-2 weeks while your aloe only needs watering every 3 weeks.

You see, while houseplants can survive in your house, they're each designed to thrive in a specific, natural environment. Some are adapted for life in the desert while others grow near swamps.

For each of your plants to thrive in your house, it's important to simulate the conditions of their natural habitats. For this reason, each plant in your subscription box comes with its own, specific care instructions. Before addressing any of the problems on this list, make sure you understand and follow these instructions.

2. Incorrect Watering

As you know, any plant that doesn't get enough water will dry out and eventually die. Most flowers, for instance, will start to weaken if they don't get water at least once a week.

But it's easy enough to get into a weekly watering routine. Thus, most of us don't have a problem giving our houseplants plenty of water. 

On the other hand, overwatering is a much more common mistake. As mentioned, a lot of plants (especially succulents) need water only once every few weeks.

Overwatering these plants will lead to root rot and, ultimately, death. To prevent this, you need to know the exact watering instructions for each plant. If you need to, set up reminder notifications on your phone for plants that need water infrequently.

3. Incorrect Soil

Using the correct soil types for each plant also helps them get the right amount of water. In other words, standard potting soil is not appropriate for all types of plants.

This soil is designed to hold in moisture for a very long time. This makes it a good choice for plants that need constant moisture, like flowers and forest plants.

But plants that come from harsher environments, like the desert or the mountains, need other potting materials to survive. Some need rocks in the soil for their roots to grow around.

Others thrive best in gravel, sand, or a soil-sand mixture. These potting materials let any excess water drain out of the pot so it doesn't rot the roots. Research your plant's specific care needs for more information.

4. Root Rot

If you believe your plant is in the wrong soil and/or has root rot from overwatering, you need to re-pot it. Here's how to do it.

Be extremely careful in removing the entire plant along with all the soil from the pot together. The soil should be mostly dry when you do this. 

Next, gently shake/tap all the soil out of the roots of the plant and rinse the roots with water. With sharp scissors, cut off any shriveled, unhealthy-looking roots.

In the new pot, put some of the correct potting material at the bottom. With one hand, hold the plant in place in the pot, letting the roots dangle down. Using a trowel in your other hand, fill in the pot with potting material around the roots.

Lastly, water the plant.

5. The Pot Is Too Small

A plant can't grow properly if its roots are too crowded. Most of the time, if your plant is outgrowing its pot, you should re-pot it in a larger one. 

The re-potting instructions for this are mostly the same as those for root rot. However, if root rot/incorrect soil is not an issue, you don't have to remove any soil from the roots.

Just take all the soil with the roots and place them all together onto a layer of soil in the new pot. Then fill in the space around the sides.

Alternatively, certain plants, like peppermint, fill all available space regardless of how big the pot is. When plants like these outgrow their pot, simply remove and discard the excess growth.

6. Incorrect Sunlight Exposure

Each plant needs the right amount of sunlight to survive. The correct amount varies by plant. 

Generally speaking, flowers need a lot of direct sunlight. Most other plants are fine in indirect sunlight.

Also, direct afternoon sunlight is too harsh for most plants. Wilting, yellow leaves are a sign that the plant is getting too much sunlight.

7. Plant Pests

Pests like aphids usually only appear if they were already on the plant when you got it. If you do see such pests, keep the plant quarantined away from your other plants. Also, check your other plants for pests and treat them if necessary.

To treat infested plants, you will need to research the specific pest that's infesting them. For each type of pest, there are garden-safe insecticide products you can try as well as natural solutions.

Remember These Indoor Plant Tips

If you want to keep your indoor plants green and healthy, don't forget about these helpful tips. Keep this page bookmarked for reference and use this guide to solve/prevent indoor plant problems.

That said, though, indoor plant care is something that's best learned through experience. To get started, head to our homepage and sign up to receive a new, fresh plant each month. Or, if you need more information first, please contact us here with your questions.