We’ve all been there. You brought a perky new plant home, full of hope and possibility, but despite your best efforts, she’s looking like she’s seen better days. 


You are not alone.


We’re here for you! Plants are more communicative than you’d think. Each symptom is a clue to help us get to the root of the issue. So what does that look like?


Here are some of the symptoms and what they may mean:


Brown, crispy leaves?

She’s thirsty! Give her some water. 

If you’re not under-watering, there may not be enough humidity.

Is your plant next to a heating or cooling unit? This can dry out the air.

Consider placing your plant near a humidifier.


Yellowing leaves?

She has had enough water! You can relax!

But if your water is good, consider pests.


Mushy roots?

You’ve most likely been over-watering, leading to root rot. 

But all is not lost. Try replanting in fresh soil with good drainage or propagating so you don’t lose the plant completely.


Curling or wilting leaves?

If the soil is dry, your plant is thirsty.

If the soil is wet, your plant is getting over-watered and should be checked for root rot. 

If the light and water is good, consider pests. 


Leggy plant with small leaves?

She’s not getting enough light! Move your plant to a brighter spot.

If your plant is getting enough light but still pushing out small leaves, consider training it to a pole or trellis. The climbing support encourages larger foliage.


Burned leaves?

She’s getting too much light! Move your plant to a less bright spot.


Baby leaves dying before maturity?

Your plant is probably under-watered and/or receiving too much light.

If your light and water is good, consider pests. 


WHAT DO I DO?


First of all, take a deep breath. It can be overwhelming, but you’re going to be okay. Now that you’ve identified the symptoms, take a look at these steps:


For over-watered plants:

Remove soil from roots and check for rot. Using sterilized shears, cut off any mushy, dark brown or black roots, as well as any dying leaves.

Consider Water Therapy if the damage is too much to be repotted:

  • After removing rotted roots and leaves, rinse roots with room temperature water until you’ve gotten as much soil off of them as possible.
  • Place in room temperature water in a transparent vase, submerging the roots but not the foliage.
  • Keep your plant in a slightly brighter spot than what it would normally need.

When new roots are growing out of the cut roots at about half an inch, your plant can be repotted!

NOTE: Make sure your container has drainage holes and is resting on a saucer or in a decorative pot. Filling the bottom of pots with rocks does not work well enough for most plants. Check out our post on pots with drainage holes.


For under-watered plants:

Water thoroughly until water comes out the drainage holes. 

Start watering in the mornings only so the plant isn’t sitting in water overnight. 

Be sure to have the plant on a saucer or in a decorative pot so that the water that has drained out can be soaked back up by the plant. But don’t let the plant sit in the water for too long! If there is still water in the saucer or cachepot after an hour, remove the excess water.

Pro-tip: I like to water severely under-watered plants from the top and bottom. I’ll give them a little from the top, then give them a lot to soak up from the saucer. 


For pests:

Different pests require different methods.


Signs of pests:

  • Webbing
  • Spotted or speckled leaves
  • Misshapen leaves
  • Leaves looking cupped or pinched
  • Little white dots moving around

What to do for most pests:

Give your plant a shower! Rinse it thoroughly.

If pests are in the soil, remove your plant from the soil and rinse roots thoroughly as well.

Do not reuse that soil, and be sure to sterilize your pot before using it again. 

Kill visible pests by wiping them off with rubbing alcohol.

Spray with your choice of repellent early in the morning or in the evening—you don’t want the plant sitting in bright light right after spraying or you risk burning the leaves. I like to use neem oil mixed with a little bit of gentle dish soap and water. 

Continue every seven days until the pest problem stops. Then do routine pest prevention every 10-14 days by spraying them with your repellant of choice.


For too much or too little light:

Easy! Move to a brighter or less bright spot. 


For not enough humidity:

Many houseplants (especially philodendrons, begonias, shingling plants, and monsteras) thrive with a humidity level of 60% or higher. 

Misting your plants with water is a common misconception. It doesn’t raise the ambient humidity levels enough to make a difference unless you are misting 100+ times a day, which we simply do not have the time for!

Put your plant next to a humidifier. If that’s not enough, consider a humidity tray or a terrarium. A terrarium can be as simple as a transparent plastic bin with a lid.


We hope this is everything you need to nurse your plant back to health.


And if you have any questions or need additional help, just ask! You can contact us here. We’re here to help you and your plants thrive!

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