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Why Houseplants Die?: 11 Reasons and Solutions

You know how it is – you see a gorgeous plant, and before you even realize it, your hand is reaching for the pot, and you’re excitedly bringing home a new green buddy.

But sometimes, the plant quickly loses its beauty and seems ready to leave this world. It means you’re doing something wrong. So let’s explore the reasons behind the death of our houseplants.

Why Do Houseplants Die?

1- You haven’t studied the characteristics of the houseplant

With so many different types of houseplants, their care needs can vary greatly.

So, the first thing you should do when planning to get a plant is to learn everything you can about it. It’s best to do this before buying, so you know if you can provide the 

2- The plant was initially not viable

Sometimes plants that look stunning on the store shelf are on their last legs, thanks to an excess of growth hormones, chemicals, and other things the producers use.

That’s why plants often die in the store if not bought in time or shortly after getting home, much to their new owner’s disappointment.

Organizing an adaptation period properly is essential to minimize the risk of losing the plant. This means placing it away from other plants and providing gentle care conditions.

Since you’ve already studied our new plant’s needs and know its watering preferences and lighting requirements, you choose a spot with minimal possible conditions for the plant.

Then, you watch it for a few weeks and check for potential diseases and pests. Once it adapts, it’ll let you know by slowly starting to grow.

3- You didn’t repot the plant

If you inspected the plant when buying it and were satisfied with its condition, send it to quarantine and then repot it afterward.

But if something is off, like if it’s overwatered and there’s suspicion that the roots might be rotting, it’s best to repot it immediately. It’s better than watching the plant suffer and die.

Regardless, changing the soil is necessary since the plant won’t be able to grow and develop in the transported soil. It’s only suitable for transportation, not for living.

So, you carefully free the roots without causing damage and plant them in a new pot.

The method of repotting with added fresh soil would be gentler, but there’s a risk that the difference between the two substrates (new and transport) will disrupt the moisture distribution during watering.

4- You Picked The Wrong Soil For My Houseplant

Buying a universal substrate and planting all your plants in it is a mistake. Some will indeed live happily in it, while for others, it’s unsuitable.

For example, succulents need lightweight, loose, and somewhat nutrient-poor soil that won’t hold water (they’ll likely rot in heavy, moisture-retaining soil).

On the other hand, azaleas prefer acidic substrate based on peat moss. And epiphytic orchids don’t need anything but bark and sphagnum moss. So first, you should study the plant’s requirements.

5- You chose too big of a pot for my plant

You might think, what’s wrong with that? The bigger the pot, the more room for the roots. But that’s not the case. Most plants will refuse to grow and bloom until they’ve occupied all the soil space and can die.

It happens because if there’s too much space, the plant can’t drink all the water absorbed by the soil after watering. This means the pot will always be wet, and root rot can start in these conditions, leading to the plant’s death.

So, pick a pot about an inch (2-3 cm) larger than the previous one and of the right shape. If the plant has a taproot system, it needs a deep container.

Choose a wide and shallow pot with a shallow root system, as excessive depth can cause root rot. And don’t forget to make drainage holes in the bottom.

6- You water all my plants at the same time

Watering plants on Tuesdays and Fridays isn’t the right approach. They all require different watering schedules.

For instance, a spider plant will appreciate frequent watering, but a ZZ plant (Zamioculcas) won’t survive since it’s a succulent.

Moreover, the rate at which the substrate dries depends on air humidity, lighting levels, and the time of year.

So it’s essential to water your plant only when it truly needs it, not just when you have a spare moment.

And one more thing about watering: distribute the water around the plant’s edge or pour it into the tray.

If you always pour it in the same spot (usually the nearest to the edge of the window sill), one side of the root system will drink while the other might dry out.

7- The humidity level in your home is not suitable for indoor plant 

It’s one thing if the humidity is too low. In that case, the plant probably won’t grow and develop, and it’ll start to dry out its leaves, but at least it won’t die.

On the other hand, it’s much more dangerous when a plant that doesn’t need high humidity is exposed to it.

For example, if you can’t resist spraying your plants even when they don’t need it, you should expect them to rot or develop fungal diseases.

Rotting often begins when water accumulates: leaves attach to a green rosette’s stem or center. Spraying can also harm plants with fuzzy leaves since they don’t dry out well.

So, it’s better to use gentler methods to humidify the air for these plants. For example, you can place the pot on a tray filled with wet expanded clay or sphagnum moss (without letting the bottom touch the water) or use a humidifier in the room.

8- You chose the wrong lighting

All plants have different preferences when it comes to light. It depends on their natural habitat. Some prefer shade and will burn, fade, and grow poorly in direct sunlight. Others love the sun and thrive in it.

But that doesn’t mean you can confidently place them on a south-facing windowsill and forget about them.

Even the most sun-loving plants can’t handle the intense spring and summer midday sun and will “burn” and suffer from sunburn. So, providing some shade is essential during the hottest part of the day.

9- You didn’t watch out for pests and diseases

It’s essential to check your plants regularly and, if you notice anything suspicious, immediately take action: use special products (insecticides for insects, fungicides for diseases) widely available in stores.

And, of course, move the affected plant away from the others to prevent the spread of disease to your entire collection.

10- You didn’t give the plant a rest period

Not all plants need a dormant period, but some do. Usually, this involves lowering the temperature, reducing watering, and stopping fertilizing altogether.

If you continue to care for the plant in the winter as you do in the summer, it can weaken or even kill it.

For example, excessive watering during cold months can rot the root system. So, remember that only tropical plants can be kept without a rest period. The rest need some comfortable downtime.

11- The plant suffered from temperature fluctuations

Like all living things, plants need a stable temperature to thrive. So, don’t place them in drafty areas or abruptly move them to a room with a significantly different temperature.

If a radiator heats one side of the plant while the leaves on the other side touch cold glass and the windowsill underneath is freezing, that’s not ideal either.

Also, remember that ventilating your home is essential but can be dangerous for your plants. So, when opening a window in cold weather, move the pots away from the windowsill.

Following these simple rules will help keep your beloved plants safe. And if you care for them with kindness, attention, and love, everything will work out.

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