The tricky thing about houseplant relationships is constantly being on the receiving end of the silent treatment, and knowing how to tell what’s wrong requires you to be in tune with their subtle visual cues. Geez, passive-aggressive much? Oh well, we love them just the same.
Is your houseplant throwing a fit, but you can’t quite put your finger on what’s wrong? It could be a matter of sunlight or water levels”¦ or maybe it’s just not that into you? To spare you the guesswork and figure out if your relationship is salvageable, we’ve laid out some common red flags that indicate something’s amiss with your botanical kin. Do any of these signs sound familiar? It might be time to evaluate the situation and make some changes.
Even the most easygoing, low-maintenance plants like pothos can give you grief if they aren’t getting their needs met. One of the most common signs of plant distress is yellowing leaves, and while some varieties like the golden pothos have natural yellow tint to their leaves, once they start losing all their green and start going limp, there’s definitely some trouble brewing beneath the surface.
The issue with yellowing leaves is that it can indicate a number of problems, so you have to think critically about your plantcare habits. If you’ve been watering infrequently, or watering small amounts often to avoid water build-up, your houseplant may be suffering from underwatering. Water your plant thoroughly, but let the top few inches of soil dry out before watering again, and see if that helps the cause.
Alternately, if you’ve been watering it plenty, then your plant may have waterlogged roots, which can lead to rotting. This is arguably worse than underwatering, because while a mild case of mold can often be treated, moderate-to-severe cases can often mean your houseplant is doomed for failure.
New Leaves Not Opening
Plants like maranta and monstera sprout new leaves that are all rolled up, and then slowly they unroll as they mature. But sometimes, these little leaf roll ups never unroll, and they just wither and break off. Total bummer! This is more likely to happen during winter, and the reason is usually related to sunlight and temperature levels. While it’s certainly not out of the ordinary for plants to have slowed growth in the winter, if it looks like it’s really struggling, or if its growth is markedly slower during the spring or summer, it’s time to take matters into your own hands!
Maranta and monstera need bright, indirect sunlight, and won’t perform well if they get too little, or too much light. This can make them a bit difficult to please at times! Try moving your houseplant to different areas in the house near bright windows to see if you can find that sweet spot where the light is just right. If we’re going through a particularly cloudy spell and you’re worried you just aren’t getting enough light in your house, you could always invest in a little UV lamp for some supplementary light.
Also check to see if there are any drafts circulating around where you’ve set up your plants. Cold drafts and hot drafts can both be uncomfortable for a houseplant, so if your windows don’t have a great seal on them, you might want to try placing your houseplant a little farther away.
Sudden Growth Spurt, But Weak, Spindly Limbs
While you’d think a sudden growth spurt would indicate good health, if that growth is resulting in weak, sad looking limbs, then you’ve got a little problem. This can often happen with succulents like echeveria””a swirly, low-growing variety that typically spreads outward rather than upward. If your echeveria is suddenly growing quite tall, and its leaves are pointing downward and creating a shape that looks more like a Christmas tree, this is a sign of stretching!
Stretching occurs when not enough sunlight is reaching the leaves, so your houseplant will grow higher in search of some sun. Place it in a sunnier spot, or use a grow light to fix the issue. If, in the event that the stretching is too severe and your little green buddy is looking unstable, you can always try to propagate a new plant from a cutting and start over. Sometimes wiping the slate clean and starting fresh is worth it!
A Full-On Flop
One of our favourite air purifying houseplants is the peace lily, and while it’s generally pretty low-maintenance, sometimes it can suddenly throw a bit of a diva fit if it isn’t comfortable. Browning leaves and floppy stems can be indicative of a few issues, but if you’re certain it’s receiving enough water and sunlight, then the issue might be with the content of the water.
Check the bottom of your pot’s drainage holes. Is there white, crumbly deposits built up around the holes? This is a sign of mineral build up from tap water! There are a lot of additives and naturally occurring deposits in tap water that can mess with soil quality, so there are a few ways to repair this damage and prevent it from recurring.
Bottled water has been filtered and is much more pure than tap water, so pouring that through the soil should actually help to flush out the mineral deposits, because the minerals will naturally cling to the pure water and pour out. But, if you don’t really feel like using bottled water on a regular basis, you can also try leaving out a jug of water for several days, and the mineral content will slowly evaporate.
Do you have any other issues you’ve been noticing in your houseplants and are having trouble figuring out how to tell what’s wrong? Give us a call at the greenhouse! Our team is awesome at troubleshooting these kinds of things. (I guess you could say we’re houseplant relationship experts!)