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7 Questions to Ask Yourself When Diagnosing Problems With Your Houseplant

Written by Paige Vandiver

When those delightful plants that bring so much joy and color to your space are looking unhappy, there are some common questions you can ask yourself when investigating how to bring them back to life.

1 – Do You Know Your Plant?

Getting to know your plant is the first step in getting to the bottom of any issues. Keep the label that comes with each of your houseplants to make it easy to identify and diagnose problems, should any arise. It will also help you to develop a routine to water, fertilize, and care for your plant.

If you would like to learn more about a certain plant and how to make it grow well in the Dayton area, come visit the friendly and knowledgeable staff here at Stockslagers, and allow us to point you in the right direction.

2 – Are You Over-watering?

This is the first question and one of the most common problems for houseplants. Over-watering your plants can cause root rot, which will eventually kill your plant.

What to watch for:  If your plant becomes yellow or discolored, wilted, spongy (especially with succulents), or has leaf spots then you might be overwatering. 

What to do: Try giving your plant more time to dry out between watering. Do a finger test by placing a finger 1-2 inches into the soil and only water if the soil is dry. Ensure you have a pot with a drainage hole so that the soil does not retain too much moisture.

3 – Are You Giving Your Plant Enough Water?

Although over-watering is more common, under-watering can also cause issues for your houseplants. 

What to watch for: If your plant is wilting or the leaves are browning, watch out for underwatering.

What to do: Try changing your watering routine to match the requirements for watering your specific plant type. Remember that misting your plant is not the same as deeply watering it and watering your plants all at once, while efficient, is probably not the best choice if you have a variety of different kinds of plants with different hydration needs.

4 – Are Your Plants Getting Not Enough or Too Much Sunlight?

Where you place your plants in the house makes a big difference on whether they are getting the appropriate amount of sunshine.

What to watch for: If your plants are spindly (also known as “leggy”) or not flowering they may not be getting enough light. If you are seeing brown spots on their leaves, they may be getting too much direct sunlight.
What to do: If your plants are spindly, that means they are searching for light. Move them to a sunny window sill. If the leaves are getting burnt, move them to a place where they get indirect sunlight and make sure the leaves aren’t touching the glass of the window.

5 – Does Your Plant Like the Temperature and Humidity?

Many plants are sensitive to low temperature and do not like the dry air that is caused by indoor heating and air units. 

What to watch for: If the leaves of your plant are brown and wilting, there may not be enough moisture in the air.

What to do: If you suspect your plant is sensitive to cold temperatures, make sure it doesn’t sit near a cold window. Ensure plants that require a more humid environment such as ferns don’t sit near a heating or air vent and set up a schedule to mist those plants.

6 – Is Your Plant Growing in the Right Soil and Pot?

Some plants – especially succulents and other tropical plants – require soil that drains easily and does not retain a lot of moisture that can cause root rot.

What to watch for: If your plants are showing signs of root rot including discoloration, wilting or spongy leaves, then you’ll want to ensure you are using a soil right for your plant.

What to do: Ensure you have the right soil mix for your particular plant. Also make sure your pot has a drainage hole and that your plant has not become root bound. If your plant is more root than soil, it should be placed in a bigger pot.

7 – Does Your Plant Have A Disease or Insect Problem?

Even though your plant is indoors, insects and diseases can still affect them.

What to watch for: If you notice notching, curling or webbing of the leaves, then check your plant for insects. If you notice fuzzy or discolored spots on the leaves, then your plant may have a fungus or disease.

What to do: Visit the experts at Stockslagers for advice on treating specific insects or diseases.

Knowledgeable Plant Experts in the Miami Valley

We’re here to help you get to the bottom of any issues with your houseplants to ensure they are healthy and happy – which is also our wish for you in the New Year! Happy New Year from all of us at Stockslagers Greenhouse & Garden Center!

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