A container plant inside of your home, apartment, or business area can add a lot of lush greenery and beautiful coloring to the space. However, if you notice that your plant is starting to die off with unappealing hues and rot, then you need to come to the rescue to get that once-had beauty back.
Here are 8 reasons your container plants keep dying:
- Too much sun
- Too little sun
- Overdoing the fertilizer
- Spider mites
- Fungal infection
- The container isn’t big enough
If you notice your container plant is only looking sub-par these days, you need to find the root of the problem (no pun intended). We’re going to breakdown the different reasons why your container plant might be dying and how you can fix it; although we will also let you know when it’s unfortunately too late.
8 Reasons Your Container Plants Keep Dying and How to Fix It
You know immediately when your plant isn’t healthy. It just doesn’t look right: too yellow, too limp, or brown on the edges. If your plant suddenly looks like it’s on its last leg, then you need to find out what is causing the problem.
It’s important to note that container plants can look perfectly fine the next day, only to look like it’s spiraling out of control the next. Let’s look into what might be wrong, how you’ll know, and what you can do to fix it.
1. You are Overwatering Your Plant
This is easy to do, especially knowing that a container plant needs more water than a plant found in the backyard soil. So is overwatering actually causing the downfall of your container plant? It’s certainly possible. And incredibly common.
The easiest way to tell that you are overwatering your plant is by checking out the leaves. If your plant is being overly hydrated, it will show yellow leaves and a fungus growing at its base. You may also notice that the soil is incredibly moist, even hours after watering your container plant. It may even be a little bit – or very – stinky.
Although you may be concerned about your plant, this is likely something that can be mended.
- Dry them out a bit in a warm place.If you’re dealing with cacti or another type of succulent, you can leave them under the sun, and they’ll be dried up and happy in no time. However, other plants aren’t so keen about being dry. If your issue is overwatering, all you need to do is let the plant dry up a little bit. They shouldn’t be so dry that you go in the opposite direction, which will lead them to death as well.
- Aerate the soil.Poke some deep holes (a chopstick works great) into the soil, near the roots. This allows for water to flow and dry out some of that excess water.
- Repot in nice, dry soil.You may have to dump out that stinky soil, trim any roots that look waterlogged and start over. Once your plant is in new soil, water just a bit. Keep a close eye for a few days and be careful not to overdo or underdo the watering.
Your container plant should be on the verge of drying, but not completely. Once you notice that the soil is becoming overly dry, it’s time to water them again. But remember: you don’t want too much water to cause the problem over again.
One of the best ways to ensure your plant is not being overwatered is to allow for proper drainage. Youcan drain your container plants by adding holes at the bottom of the container (make sure there’s something underneath to catch the water) or adding a layer of lava or rocks that will absorb the water.
2. You are not Watering Your Plants Enough
Knowing how overwatering can damage your plant may be frightening enough to go in the opposite direction. However, this is one of the most common problems- especially for container plants that need the right amount of water.
It’s easy to tell when your plant has not had enough water. If you see that the leaves are beginning to fall off of your plant or have a droopy appearance, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting the right amount of water.
The best way to describe the ‘perfect watering method’ is to allow for even moisture throughout the soil. You should also never water soil that hasn’t been completely dried out yet. This can cause an overwatering issue, which we described as being detrimental to the plant’s health.
There are two great ways to ensure there’s proper watering being provided to your container plants:
- Pour some water into the pot, directly in the center. Let it sink in completely before adding some more. You will continue to do this method until you can visibly see that the entirety of the soil is moist. Yes, this may take a little time and effort on your behalf, but it is necessary for a healthy and strong container plant.
- If your container has holes in the bottom for drainage, you have the option of adding water until you notice at least a half an inch has collected in the product beneath the plant (such as a pan, bowl, or sink). You will let the plant soak in this water for at least a half a day before moving.
At the end of the day, to avoid drying out your container plant you should never pour water in the container and leave it alone. If you simply pour into a closed container with no drainage, you will realize that the water has not dispersed and most of the soil is dry. This is why it’s imperative to go in small bouts until all of the soil moist.
There’s also a buzz word in the gardening world known as ‘icing’ This is where you simply add ice cubes to the soil in hopes that it will melt and provide your container plant with water throughout the day. However, this method simply does not work and should be avoided at all costs.
3. Your Plant Is Getting Too Much Sun
It’s no secret that plants like sunlight, but some plants don’t like it an excessive amount. In fact, some plants like ferns can easily be burnt up from the sun, even if it’s not as intense and coming through a window.
The biggest indicator of a plant getting far too much sun is blanched leaves. If you want to help this type of plant, remove it from the sunlight for most of the day. You might also want to try an artificial, less intense light source that will keep the plant happy without overly damaging it with high-intensity sun rays.
Before you put a plant out into full-sun or a window with direct sunlight, check to see what kind of light your plant tolerates. Look it up and save yourself the trouble. Many plants love indirect sunlight and don’t to be in a burning-hot spot.
4. Your Plant Is Getting Too Little Sun
On the other hand, your container plant can also end up with too little sunlight. This will leave the plant unsatisfied, causing the plant to drop leaves left and right. If you have a sun-loving plant, you have to ensure it is getting the proper amount of sunlight. Place it in direct sunlight for several hours of the day.
Again, check to find out what kind of sunlight (and how much) your plant needs before you decide where it will live.
5. You Are Overdoing the Fertilizer
One of the biggest concerns when having a container plant is the fact that they won’t be naturally fertilized like a regular outdoor plant. Knowing that fertilizer is an important part of a container plant’s health, it can be challenging to know what the ‘right amount is.’
Most of the time, you won’t need to use too much fertilizer to keep a container plant happy. However, there’s always the chance that a container plant won’t respond well to what you’re giving it, and it may become damaged due to too much fertilizer.
The best way to tell that your plant has far too much fertilizer in its system is soft leaves, leaves that feel like they are made of a cloth-like material, and leaf tips that are beginning to turn a brownish color.
If you notice these symptoms in your container plant, it’s most likely an over-fertilization issue. Here are ways to solve or prevent chemical burn from overfertilization:
- Buy a potting soil that already contains natural fertilizer for your plant. That way you won’t have to worry about adding any extra fertilizer to keep your plants happy.
- Always make sure you’re following the directions on the fertilizer packet. This is crucial! Don’t think you know what’s best for your plant. Fertilizers are specifically designed to keep a houseplant happy, so make sure you’re using what they tell you. In fact, if you’re having doubts about the dosage, you should actually consider using less.
- Make sure that you’re onlybuying fertilizer that is marked for container plant use. There’s a lot of fertilizers on the market, and you don’t want to give your plant the wrong goods. Double-check to ensure it’s the right stuff for your specific plant.
- If you can, try andfind a fertilizer that allows for solid or time-release functions. This will keep your houseplant fed with the right fertilizer at the right time, rather than a liquid fertilizer which can actually cause your plant to burn up over time.
- You don’t actually need fertilizer until your houseplant needs it. You can tell that a container plant needs fertilization if you see that it’s not growing, the leaves are becoming pale with intensely green veins, or the newer leaves are growing in smaller than the ones before it. Any of these symptoms means the container plant needs fertilizer (but not too much).
- A plant that grows quickly and sheds excessively will need more fertilizer than other house plants. This should always be considered when trying to decide exactly how much fertilizer is right for your plant.
6. A Problem with Spider Mites
It’s unfortunate, but your precious plants are considered tasty food to a number of animals and insects. That being said, it’s no secret that even the container plant inside of your home might succumb to a type of insect infestation. One of the most prominent issues for a container plant is spider mites.
The biggest symptoms of spider bites are small webs found around the leaves of the plant. These webs will be filled with small spider mites. The webs can be found on just a few of the plants, or it can become an infestation of webs rather quickly,
Spider mites cause damage to the plant because they feed directly onto the leaves. This will eventually cause the leaves to die, leaving you with an unappealing container plant that will need to be removed and thrown away.
But how can you combat the spider mites?
The best way to ensure your container plant is cured of spider mites is to place the houseplant in the sink and wash it with insecticidal soap. After it has been thoroughly washed, you will want to keep it away from other plants to avoid the movement of the spider mites. You should also spray down your plant with water at least once or twice a day, as a spider mite only enjoy a dry plant.
7. Fungal Infection
Yes, your houseplant can become infected with a fungal infection. This is likely due to the fact that there is way too much humidity or hydration in the air for the plant to handle, leaving it with a moisture buildup that it can’t handle.
The most prominent sign of a fungal infection in a container plant is a substance that resembles powder all over the leaves of your plant. This is a fungal disease, and if not treated, it will eventually lead to the death of your entire plant.
To stop a fungal infection in its tracks, the best thing to do is to completely remove all of the infected parts found on the plant. This will include leaves, stems, etc. Remove them and throw them away immediately. Repotting is also an excellent idea.
Decide whether or not the area your houseplant is located is good or not. If it is an area that likes overall circulation and has far too much heat, humidity, or moisture, then you need to relocate it to another location. Find a spot that is fairly cool (not cold) and has the right amount of circulation to avoid a buildup of harsh weather conditions that can destroy your container plant.
8. Your Container Isn’t Big Enough
Nobody likes to try and squeeze into a tight space, and your houseplant is no different. Why should it have to suffer? It needs the proper amount of space to thrive in its environment, so ensuring you’re allowing the right container size for the plant you have chosen is key to a successful houseplant.
The easiest way to tell if your plant is too cramped in its pot is to simply look at it. If the plant is growing out of the sides in every direction and it looks as if it’s been ‘shoved’ into the smaller container, it’s likely way too small for the plant to be comfortable.
The easiest way to combat a snug area for your houseplant is to ensure you’re allowing for the proper size. You don’t want it to be too large, but the plant should fit perfectly inside of the container without hanging off of the sides or looking like it’s ‘drowning’ in all of the space.
Always make sure you repot a plant that was bought in a plastic pot. Plants that are sold in plastic pots are already too big for the initial pot they were given. You need to make sure that you are giving your new plant a new homeright away to avoid potential problems.
As an added bonus for your plant, you should also replace the soil every now and then. Soil can get old and moldy over time, so when you’re thinking about the health of your plant, replacing the soil should be a consideration.
Container Garden Basics
Container gardening is a favorite of many people, especially those living places where an inground garden just isn’t possible. They’re relatively easy to care for and look really beautiful.
While most container plants will be found indoors, it’s also possible that someone creates an entire container garden outdoors.
Advantages of Container Gardening
Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, your container garden comes with built-in benefits:
- Container plants are ideal for beginners because they are far easier to take care of from an ordinary garden. Also, if your container plant dies, you won’t have to worry about removing it from the soil and planting new ground/dirty/soil and seeds. This makes it a lot easier to ‘try again’ with a new container plant.
- As we talked about, a plant can actually grow fungus. The good news about having a container plant with fungus is the fungus won’t spread to other nearby plants, which means you can take care of the issue in a quick and easy way.
- Saving seeds from your container plant is far easier than trying to find them from the ground. This means you can actually have more container plants in the future, or use the seeds to try your green thumb at an actual outdoors garden.
- Container plants are completely portable. This means you will never have to worry about leaving your precious plants behind, should you decide to move to a new home or office space.
- It’s far easier to personalize yourgarden space, with the availability of so many different container colors and designs, whether it’s just a single plant on your desk or a few hanging around in your backyard. You can opt for something that’s completely unique to your style, giving your creativity an added boost wherever you’re at.
- You won’t have to worry about wild animals or pets coming to your garden and either trampling through it or trying to nibble on it. The container plant is more protected, which means they are likely to last longer-should they be taken care of the proper way.
- They are a great option for introducing children to gardening. Since the container plants are confined and far easier to take care of, your kids are able to easily help with things like planting, harvesting seeds, and watering. If you choose an edible plant, you can increase their diet as they pick a fruit from the vine and eat it naturally.
The Disadvantages of Container Gardening
While there are many benefits to having a container plant, there are also a few things you need to be aware of before purchasing. The disadvantages of a container plant include the following:
- The size of your garden is limited to the containers you have. This means you are limited unless you decide to try your hand at an outdoor garden in the ground.
- They need more frequent watering. The upkeep of a container plant is fairly simple compared to outdoor gardens, but the major concern is how quickly they can dry out.
- They have more fertilizing needs.Because of their neediness when it comes to hydration, the frequently-watered container plant could lead to reduced nutrients. This means that the container plant will likely require fertilizer in order to survive and grow healthy and strong.
- Containers and all of the extras can get expensive. With the need for fertilizer and extras, a container plant may cost more than a traditional outdoor garden. This is due to the fact that they will need a container (the larger the container, the pricier it can be), plenty of water, fertilizer, and depending on the plant, special soil as well.
If you have the time available to water a plant regularly and don’t mind shelling out a few bucks for fertilizer, it might be a good choice. It’s also a great idea for those in smaller spaces or those who don’t have backyards.
On the other hand, if you want a lavish garden that’s loaded with tasty and beautiful plants, you might want to take the plunge and have a real outdoor garden. Remember that container plants are limited to their container, while the great outdoors offers limitless possibilities when it comes to gardening.
Is Your Plant Salvageable?
If you see that your plant is looking pretty shabby, you can consider two options: trying to save it or throwing it out. So how can you know when your plant is actually salvageable, or when it is time to throw in the towel and call it a day?
It may come as a surprise to you, but most of the time, your container plant can be saved.
Plants are able to regrow themselves, even after mass amounts of trauma. Also, there are a lot of species of plants that go completely dormant through some seasons; so they may have the appearance of dying off when they are really just ‘hibernating’ until their ideal season returns.
Sometimes a plant that looks unhealthy isn’t actually dying, or incapable of being saved. Some things you can consider when deciding whether or not to save your plant include the following:
- Trim off the dead partsand try again. This will get rid of the extra ‘weight’ that is bringing down the plant. After trimming the dead parts off, give your plant the love it needs- such as the right amount of water, sunlight, and fertilization- and see what happens.
- Check its pulse (so to speak).
- Poinsettias as well as amaryllises will go dormant and may appear to be dead for quite a while. However, these types of container plants will actually return to life when they are ready.
- Cyclamens can be dormant for around 6 weeks at a time. You should keep this plant in a very cool area while it is dormant so it can return to life far more easier.
- When it may be too late, if you notice that your plant is completely brown throughout- not just on the leaves, or your waterlogged plant is rotted beyond a simple repotting, you may have to discard your plant altogether.
- In the future, talk to your local gardening storeabout the easiest plants to have indoors. They will be able to shed some insight on what the best container plants are and how you can care for them with ease.
Having a container plant is easier than trying to tend to an outdoor garden, but the plants still require care. A houseplant should be watered regularly (but not too much) and needs adequate fertilizer and sunlight in order to survive.
Knowing what’s wrong with your container plant can help you to bring it back to health, ultimately leaving you with a beautiful plant in your small space.
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