7 + 7 Reasons Your Plants are Dying (& How You can Save Them)

by SQUARELY Team on February 18, 2024

Sometimes even healthy-looking plants can die all of a sudden and without any warnings. It can seem like your plants love to die - especially if you’re new to indoor gardening.

Houseplant in the sun

Are you one of those people that claim to have a natural talent for killing their houseplants?

The good news is that a simple and easy solution can save you time and money (on buying new plants). So read along; now is the time to learn from your mistakes and why your houseplants are dying.

Believe it or not, most plant species are reasonably predictable, and there are a number of common factors on why houseplants die. Here are the top 7 common reasons why your plants are dying and how you can save them.


1: Too Much Water

Overwatering can seem impossible; however, it is one of the most common mistakes plant owners make. Only very few plant species can handle daily watering in a regular pot, and for that reason, you should never water your plants until they need it.

Instead of watering the plants too often, try to look for signs of thirst in your plants - this could include drooping leaves that tell you that they need more water. The old advice about letting the soil dry out between watering can also be a pretty good rule of thumb, and always be sure to dispose excess water.


2: Too Little Water

It is easy to forget to water your plant regularly - especially during the summer holiday when the plants need it the most due to growth. As mentioned earlier, look for dropping or wilting leaves, or include a watering schedule in your everyday life. Another solution to the watering issues is to use planters with a self-watering system.

Watering plant in self-watering container

SQUARELY COPENHAGEN has an effective hidden self-watering system integrated into all their planters. The system will regulate the watering through a capillary mat, and your houseplant will only drink the water it needs. The system will make your plants thrive and bloom with minimal effort - even when you are away on holiday.


3: Forgot to Repot

It can be frustrating to see your beloved plant fail for no reason after a few years of growth. Most often, this is due to the lack of repotting as the plant is no longer getting any nutrition from the soil.

Most plants outgrow their pots within one or two years, and most often, you can see roots growing out of the drain holes. Nevertheless, don’t be afraid to check the roots of your houseplants. If you suspect that you need to repot your plant, tip it out of the plant box and examine the roots and soil.

This method will give you a good idea about the health of the roots and whether it is time to repot your plant into a bigger plant box. Keep in mind that you should never repot a blooming plant.

Self-watering planter


4: Extreme Temperatures

Your plants are like you; they like the same temperature as you do, and if you are comfortable, they are as well. If your plant is close to a window, be aware that the weather outside will affect the life of that plant.

Be careful about drafty windows as the seasons change from very hot in the summer to cold in the winter will have an impact on your plants' health. Furthermore, air conditioning or a heater can dry out most plants - so be sure to check if you need to use a mister to increase the humidity.


5: Ignoring Insects

If your plants are dying, look closely for signs of insects under the leaves and in the soil. The harmful insects often come into your home from plants that have been outside or newly purchased plants.

Some of the most common damaging insects for houseplants include gnats, aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies, and they can be challenging to spot. If you leave your plant untreated, the insects can kill and damage your plant.

Acting quickly is the best way to get around it. First, isolate the plant to prevent the insects from spreading. Then, follow this guide by the Home & Garden Information Center on how to gain control over the insects.


6: Poor Drainage

Poor drainage is closely related to the overwatering issue, and it can be difficult to distinguish between them. Nevertheless, pots with poor drainage are one of the most common reasons why plants die.

Even though the soil is dry at the top, the pots without drain can easily retain water in the bottom, resulting in root rot. The better the drainage, the fewer mistakes you can make with the frequency of your watering. Simply put, your plant will be a lot more forgiving and grow a lot easier.

Wide self-watering planter


7: Fertiliser Issues

Houseplants need a solid foundation to thrive. As plants grow, they need occasional fertilizer to help them sustain overall health and get their nutrients to survive. They get hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen from the water and air, but they still need potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus to optimize growth, health, and bloom production.

All plants have different needs; however, most plants benefit from regular fertilizing during their active growth during spring and summer. To prevent under and over-fertilization, you should always try to follow the recommended dosage on the labels and for your specific plant.

Let's look at some of the more advanced reasons your plants are dying - and how you can avoid them.


8: Improper Light Conditions

Just like water and nutrients, light is crucial for plant health. Insufficient light can cause plants to become leggy, lose color, or even stop growing altogether. Conversely, too much direct sunlight can scorch leaves or cause them to wilt. Evaluate the lighting conditions in your home and consider moving plants to areas where they'll receive the appropriate amount of light for their species.


9: Soil Quality and Composition

The soil provides essential nutrients and stability for plant roots. Poor-quality soil or soil that's too compacted can suffocate roots and hinder water absorption.

Consider repotting your plants using high-quality potting mix tailored to their specific needs. Additionally, incorporating organic matter like compost can improve soil structure and fertility.


10: Disease and Pathogens

Plants can fall victim to various diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Symptoms may include wilting, yellowing leaves, or unusual growths.

To prevent the spread of disease, practice good hygiene by sterilizing gardening tools and avoiding overcrowding plants. If you suspect a disease, promptly remove affected foliage and treat with appropriate fungicides or bactericides.


11: Environmental Stress

Environmental factors such as air pollution, drafts, or nearby electronic devices can stress plants and compromise their health.

Minimize exposure to pollutants and maintain consistent environmental conditions within your home. Consider using humidifiers or placing plants away from air vents to mitigate stress.


12: Lack of Humidity

Many indoor environments have low humidity levels, which can adversely affect certain plant species, especially tropical ones.

Increase humidity around your plants by misting them regularly, placing trays of water nearby, or investing in a humidifier. Grouping plants together can also create a microclimate with higher humidity.


13: Root Bound Plants

Over time, plants can become root bound when their roots outgrow their containers, leading to stunted growth and nutrient deficiencies.

Regularly check the root systems of your plants and repot them into larger containers as needed. Gently tease out any circling roots before repotting to encourage healthy root growth.


14: Chemical Exposure

Household cleaners, aerosol sprays, and even airborne pollutants can harm plants if they come into contact with foliage or soil.

Keep plants away from areas where chemicals are used, and avoid smoking indoors, as tobacco smoke can also damage plants. If chemical exposure occurs, gently rinse foliage with water to remove residues.

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