Your plants have problems. It happens. Everybody who owns a house plant has experienced at least one of these common plant problems at some point.
Lucky for you, plants are pretty good at showing you when things aren't going well. If you pay close attention - to a leaf drooping, some color changes, and a few bugs here and there - you'll be able to identify the problem and nip it in the bud.
Some of these problems can be fixed or prevented by using natural fertilizers and knowing the best spots in your house for specific plants. For example, look at the best plants for your bathroom; if you're not a bathroom plant person, look at plants best suited for your kitchen.
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13 Common Indoor Plant Problems
1. Sunburned Leaves
If you notice crisp brown leaves, especially the tips, it's most likely that your plant has been burnt from too much direct sunlight.
Crisp, brown leaves
Move your plant to a shadier spot or provide shade through sheer curtains or blinds.
Remove the affected leaves.
I call overwatering "too much love." Unfortunately, most people fall into this trap; the top soil is dry, so the plant must need water, right? Wrong!
Or, you haven't watered your plant in a few days; surely it's thirsty? That's not always the case.
Wilting and brown spots on leaves
Attracting various pests
Make sure your pot has drainage holes
Empty any excess water from the drip tray
Use a moisture meter and only water your plant when necessary
3. Brown Leaves
Just as overwatering can harm your plant, keeping it too dry can lead to various problems. It might be hard for a plant to recover from a drought fully, so pay attention.
Wilting, drooping leaves
Immediately soak the plant with water to ensure all the roots get enough moisture.
Consistent watering schedule
Mist your plants every few days
If your plant is a very light green, has leaves that are far apart, and starts leaning toward its light source, it's called stretching.
The plant grows awkwardly tall or long
Spindly stems reaching toward the light
Move to a brighter spot that gets more light
Rotate your plants; so all sides get an equal amount of sunlight
Purchase a plant light
5. Weak Growth
The two most common factors for weak growth are incorrect lighting and a damaged root system from overwatering.
Plant stops growing
Grows at a very slow rate
Move to a spot that gets good lighting
Use a moisture meter to establish the correct watering schedule
6. Root Rot
The number one cause of root rot is overwatering and improper drainage.
If your plant's roots are soft and black and look slimy, that's usually from root rot.
The plant looks wilted, worn, soft
Discoloration on leaves (usually yellow)
Attracts bugs and gnats
Gently rinse off roots
Cut out infected roots
Repot the plant with fresh potting mix and a pot with enough draining holes.
7. Leaf Spots
As the name suggests, you'll notice tiny black, brown, yellow, or tan spots on your plant's leaves.
Distortion and discoloration
Remove infected leaves
Increase air circulation in your house
Do not get water on the leaves
This is one of the most common insects on the undersides of leaves or at the tip of the plant.
They are tiny, soft-bodied insects that tend to be more prevalent in the spring and summer when temperatures are warmer, and plants are actively growing.
Stunted plant growth
Remove the insects with a mixture of neem oil and water
9. Fungus Gnats
Fungus Gnats feed on plant roots and decaying organic material in the soil, like damaged or dead foliage.
Overall unhealthy look
Spray the plant with soap and water
Get yellow sticky traps from the store
Cut up potatoes and place the pieces in the soil - the gnats will be drawn to them
10. Spider Mites
These guys are very hard to see. Grab a piece of white paper and shake a leaf onto it - if you see red and brown dots crawling on the sheet of paper - that's spider mites. Their webbing causes damage to foliage and stems.
Distorted yellow foliage
Wipe the leaves with dish soap
Wipe the leaves with rubbing alcohol and rinse with water after a few hours
These gnat-like insects are soft-bodied and like to feed on the sap in plants or leaves.
Yellow/ white leaves
These light tan/ dark brown insects are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. They pierce the plant with their mandible and suck up the juices.
The plant becomes distorted and discolored
Prune and cut down away affected areas of the plant
Wipe with insecticidal soap
Spray with neem oil
13. Powdery Mildew
This one is easy to identify. If you see white powdery fungal growth on foliage, you know it's powdery mildew.
Affects plant growth
Spray (1 tablespoon) baking soda and (½ teaspoon) non-detergent soap, mixed with a gallon of water, on the affected areas
Increase airflow around the affected plant
Remove the severely infected foliage
How To Prevent Plant Problems
If you read through the abovementioned solutions again, you'll find that there are a few general guidelines for keeping your plants happy:
Keep plants dust-free
Use a microfiber cloth or dust wand to clean the leaves off gently. You can also use a damp washcloth to wipe the leaves, stems, and pot.
Use Neem oil
Spray your plant evenly and ensure the leaves' undersides are coated.
Make sure your plant gets enough light.
Familiarise yourself with your plant's light needs and find the perfect spot for it.
Depending on your specific plant's care requirements, ensure you're giving it the right amount of water at the right time.
The Bottom Line
If you've experienced any of these problems - welcome to the club. You're not a bad plant parent; these problems are extremely common. However, caring for your indoor plants doesn't need to be a massive task. If you spend 10 minutes daily checking up on your plants, you'll quickly catch any looming problems and nip them in the bud. Happy planting!