Potted plants are an excellent way to add color and liveliness to your home. However, these leafy green ornaments can be tricky to care for if you don’t have any experience. If you find your plants aren’t growing, here are seven possible reasons why.
Believe it or not, it is much more likely that you are overwatering your plants than underwatering. You will probably suspect either case of inappropriate watering if your plant begins to wilt, but you can tell overwatering from underwatering by the leaf color and texture.
Leaves will turn yellow (and perhaps fall off) and feel soft in the case of overwatering, whereas dry plants will appear brown and feel shriveled.
What to do
Your plants are most likely to benefit if you make sure excess water can drain. That way, any tendency to overwater will not lead to root rot. Fabric pots such as this 30-Gallon GeoPot are one way to accomplish proper drainage easily. Alternatively, make sure your plant’s pot is not merely decorative but also has drainage holes.
Your plant needs to be repotted
Your plant can suffer due to a too large or too small pot. The roots can become too densely crowded in a small pot, in which case the plant becomes “rootbound” and cannot absorb water.
However, you should also be careful not to dramatically increase the pot size because more soil leads to slower water drainage, and your plant might show signs of overwatering.
The light is too intense, or not intense enough
As Steve Rosenbaum, a gardener of over fifty years, recently told the New York Times, “plants are living light meters if you know how to read them…. If it’s stretching, it’s not getting enough light. If it’s scorching—too much.”
What exactly your plant needs to grow depends on its species, but your plant probably doesn’t need extremes on either side of the light spectrum but rather some happy medium.
Grow lights can also help. Other tips for low-light plants include using mirrors creatively or hanging plants if the window’s sunlight is out of reach.
There are not enough (or too much) nutrients in the soil
Unfortunately, while fertilizer can be a good thing, it is also possible to have too much of it. Under-fertilized soil tends to lead to pale-looking plants, while over-fertilizing can be harder to detect because it looks much like the symptoms of overwatering (wilting, yellow leaves).
Your plant is infected with pests or disease
The best way to detect pests or diseases as the cause of your plant’s stunted growth is to look carefully for any changes from day to day. There are many possible presentations, though a common one is pale leaves, similar to how plants react to poor soil.
Your plant has reached a natural growth plateau
Your plant may have grown as much as it is capable. If there are no signs of wilting or other suspicious changes in appearance and you’ve checked that your plant is not root-bound, you’ve probably eliminated enough possibilities to feel comfortable with your plant’s healthy growth.
Plants, even ones kept indoors, will enter dormant states from time to time. So maybe your plant is “hibernating” over the winter months. This hibernation is nothing to worry about and means that your plant is conserving its energy as nature intended.
One last note
Becoming a “plant parent” can be extremely rewarding. Whether you’re looking to spruce up your living space or find a new hobby following retirement, growing plants is fun for anyone.