Want to learn how to save your dying house plant? Here’s Some Quick Answers to Common Houseplant Problems
We have over 30 houseplants in our home right now and a few at my Studio 29 Photography studio, and the first question people always ask is, “Ren, how do you keep them alive?” I did a poll on instagram and a lot of you had common houseplant problems that I am excited to quickly answer today.
The short answer is sunlight, water, and kind conversations with them. The long answer consists of monitoring the sunlight, the soil dampness, the “nutritional value” of the soil, pruning, and adding additional (LED) lighting depending on cloud coverage and the time of year.
Taking care of houseplants can be relatively easy depending on the type of plant you decide to purchase; but, remember, all houseplants may have their droopy days, so I am addressing the most common problems that people have encountered and asked me about in regards to keeping their houseplants happy and healthy. Today’s answers are fairly simple, but I am working on in-depth posts that will specifically be answering each of these Common Houseplant Problems for you! Sorry, I do not have any photos of these specific problems because luckily we have not encountered them.
This post contains affiliate links for the products we use to keep our houseplants alive. Thank you for your readership and thanks for supporting House Fur. Love you guys!
Problem: My houseplant Appears droopy & Soil is Dry & Crumbly.
Cause: Not enough watering.
Solution: Water plant thoroughly & give it a nice pep talk! You can do a deliberate full watering enough to see the water leaking from the drainage holes at the planters bottom. After that excessive watering, only water when the you feel that the soil is dry just underneath the top of the soil. To test the soil’s moisture simply dip your finger about 2 inches in the soil.
Problem: My Houseplant Has White Residue that Looks Like Cotton
Cause: Houseplants can acquire pests, and it sounds like you may have mealybugs.
Solution: Isolate your houseplant ASAP so that the pests do not spread to your other plants. Then you can scrape away the white residue and wash down the entire plant. You can use one part rubbing alcohol to three parts water to disinfect your plant. Keep your plant isolated for a few days and then wash it down again. Mealybug infestation can be really difficult to eliminate, but the sooner you catch it the more likely you can save your plant. You can also try using an organic and houseplant safe miticide.
Problem (for plants with flowers): My houseplant Isn’t Blooming
Cause: The most common problems for houseplants not blooming is not getting enough sunlight.
Solution: Move it into a well-lit area or purchase a plant light. We have ours in our sunporch in front of a south facing window. We supplement it’s light with a plant light during the winter when there is are fewer hours of daylight. Be sure to set a timer (no more that 4 hours at a time) to avoid burning on the foliage.
Problem: My Houseplant’s Leaves are Pale or “Burnt” Looking
Cause: There are a few possible causes; usually it could be too much direct sunlight OR burnt leaves can be a sign of insufficient watering or too low humidity levels in your home.
Solution: Houseplants with long leaves are especially susceptible to burning when they are exposed to too much direct sunlight. Sun damage first shows up as yellowing of the whole leaf, or small black scorched spotty areas on the leaves. Move your plant further away from the window or to a spot that doesn’t receive such harsh sunlight for more than 4 hours a day. If it is an issue of under watering, usually this will just appear as burning at the tips of the leaves.
Problem: My Houseplant is Collapsing & Looks Incredibly Droopy
Cause: Overwatering & not enough soil drainage OR too little water.
Solution: For overwatering: empty the saucer beneath the pot and let the soil drain. Remove plant from pot, add gravel to bottom of planter, add perlite to soil. If your plant is under-watered, their leaves will droop or the leaves might turn yellow.
Problem: My Houseplant Has Little Flies or Gnats
Cause: Overwatering, making the potting soil remain too moist or it is from decaying plant material at the base of the plant.
Solution: Fungus gnats are small flies that look like mosquitos and are really annoying! You can use an all natural pesticide or you can try using gnat sticky traps for houseplants. You can simply place the sticky yellow rectangles on their stakes and push the stakes into the soil surrounding the base of the plant. This should attract the gnats within a few days.