How to Solve the Most Common Houseplant Problems

How to Solve the Most Common Houseplant Problems

Is your Pothos Ivy no longer lively? Does your Peace Lily look stressed out? If you’re looking for ways to fix the most common houseplant problems (including droopy Dieffenbachias), read on.

If your houseplant has lost its spunk, there can be several possible reasons for the conundrum. The most common houseplant problems have to do with water and light, too much or too little, or caused by pests and disease.

Environmental Conditions

Not enough light- A Christmas Cactus that won’t bloom may not be getting enough light. A houseplant that grows tall and spindly instead of full and lush may need more light. Move the plant to a brighter spot. A spot near a south-facing window is ideal.

Too much light- If leaf edges look brown or scorched the plant may be receiving too much light. Orchid leaves with black splotches may indicate a sunburn. Move the houseplant farther from the window or to a shadier location.

Not enough water- The correct amount of moisture is an essential factor in keeping your plant healthy. A houseplant that doesn’t receive enough water will start to wither and wilt. Add water as needed.

Too much water- Overwatering is one of the most common houseplant problems and a top reason why a houseplant may fail. Too much moisture will drown the roots. Let the potting medium dry out a little before watering again.

Room temperature- Most houseplants are descendants of wild tropical plants which thrive in warm, humid environments. Dry, indoor air can affect a houseplant’s health as well as too cool room temperatures. Solve dry indoor air issues with a room humidifier or with water-filled pebble trays. Or use a mister to add moisture to the air surrounding your plants.

common houseplant problems

Bugs and Pests

Spider mites- These tiny arachnids are hard to see but can be easily identified by small brown or yellow specks on leaves or fine, spider-like webs formed on leaves and stems. A tell-tale sign of spider mites is yellowish, misshapen foliage. If you suspect that your plant has spider mites, hold a sheet of white paper under the leaves and gently shake the plant. If your plant has spider mites, small black specks will appear on the paper. Eliminate spider mites with insecticidal oil or horticultural oil. In addition, a strong spray of water will knock the offenders from the plant.

Mealybugs- Mealybugs leave small masses that look like pieces of white cotton on the stems and the underside of leaves. If you find mealybugs on your houseplant separate the plant to prevent further infestation. Remove all white residue that you see. Mix a solution of: 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water plus a squirt of liquid dish soap and wash the plant. Wait a few days and apply the solution again.

Scale- The scale bug harms houseplants by sucking the sap from the foliage, depriving the plant of required nutrients. Scale bugs are flat and oval-shaped with a brownish shell covering (scale). These suckers are typically on the underside of leaves. Ways to eliminate scale include:

  • Dab each bug with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Neem oil

For more information on common houseplant pests, visit here.

Common Diseases

Powder white mildew is a common disease that can occur on houseplants.

Powdery Mildew- You can detect this unsightly mildew by the white powdery growth found on leaves and stems. Prune away any mildewed foliage and minimize re-occurrence by increasing air flow around the plant.

Root Rot- Root rot can occur when a houseplant:

  • Has consistently received too much water
  • Is growing in too large a container, or
  • The container does not drain properly

To find out if your plant has root rot, tilt the plant, remove it from the pot and examine the roots. Save plants with a small area of rot by clipping out the rotted section, otherwise, toss out the plant.

Grey Mold- Grey mold appears as a white growth on flowers and leaves and then gradually turns to a dark grey. Flowers may have brownish-grey flecks. Soft, brown spots may appear on foliage. Trim and discard all infected leaves and stems. And ensure good air circulation around the plant.

Whether the problem is disease, pests or the environment, you can cure most common houseplant problems with these helpful solutions and tips.

For more indoor gardening tips, click here.

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Discover what the most common houseplant problems are, learn how to identify them and fix them with our guide!
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