Plant 411: Got Plant Problems?


Lots of people have questions on their plants and how to preserve life upon having technical difficulties. We have gathered some information from "The Garden Helper" and listed some possible causes below.

  • Leaf edges brown and dried: Temperature is too high... Move plant to cooler area Lack of sufficient humidity... Set plant on a shallow, pebble filled tray of water

  • Browning of leaf tips or on leaf margins: Lack of sufficient humidity... Set plant on a shallow, pebble filled tray of water Fertilizer burn... Leaching or repotting your plant with fresh soil may be needed Poor water quality (chlorine, fluoride, salts, etc.)... Allow water to set for 24 hours before using Lack of, or incorrect components of fertilizer... Always follow the directions! Spray damage from insecticides, oil, leaf-glossing materials... Wash foliage with clean water and a soft cloth Incorrect soil pH... Test and adjust soil pH, or repot your plant Iron deficiency may result when soil pH is too high (alkaline) Magnesium deficiency may result when soil pH is too low (acidic) Pollutants in the air... Fumes from gases, chemicals etc.

  • Rapid defoliation: Rapid changes in temperature or light... Was plant moved to a new location? Overwatering possible... Check for root damage or rot Underwatering... Provide enough water to support full foliage Exposure to hot or cold drafts

  • Gradual defoliation (lower leaves become yellow and fall): Overwatering possible... Check for root damage or rot Underwatering... Provide enough water to support full foliage Insufficient light... Move plant to a brighter location Lack of, or incorrect components of fertilizer

  • Leaves drop continuously or new leaves on tip are small and curled: Pollutants in the air... (fumes from gases, chemicals etc.) Spray or vapor damage from cleaning fluids Possibly aphid or mite damage

  • Spotted foliage: Overwatering possible... Check for root damage or rot Sunburn... Too much direct sun Cold water on foliage... Use room temperature water for watering or misting Fungal infection... Especially possible if plants are in very humid, wet conditions Pollutants in the air... Fumes from gases, chemicals etc.

  • Foliage is pale and weak looking: Insufficient light... Move plant to a brighter location Underwatering... Provide enough water to support full foliage Lack of sufficient humidity... Set plant on a shallow, pebble filled tray of water Lack of, or incorrect components of fertilizer

  • New foliage is small, pale, and spindly: Insufficient light... Move plant to a brighter location Lack of, or incorrect components of fertilizer Underwatering... Provide enough water to support full foliage

  • Leaves yellowed between veins (veins remain green): Incorrect soil pH... Test and adjust soil pH, or repot your plant Iron deficiency may result when soil pH is too high (alkaline) Magnesium deficiency may result when soil pH is too low (acidic)

  • Failure of plant to flower: Insufficient light... Move plant to a brighter location Underwatering... Provide enough water to support full foliage Fertilizer burn... Leaching or repotting your plant with fresh soil may be needed

  • Flower buds drop before opening: Temperature fluctuations Exposure to hot or cold drafts Lack of sufficient humidity... Set plant on a shallow, pebble filled tray of water

  • Silver or red blotches on foliage: Sunburn... Too much direct sun

  • New growth wilted, or burned: Fertilizer burn... Leaching or repotting your plant with fresh soil may be needed Exposure to hot or cold drafts Underwatering... Provide enough water to support full foliage Sunburn... Too much direct sun Temperature is too high... Move plant to cooler area Freeze or frost damage.

  • Entire plant wilted: Underwatering... Provide enough water to support full foliage Overwatering possible... Check for root damage or rot Fertilizer burn... Leaching or repotting your plant with fresh soil may be needed Exposure to cold temperatures

  • Stunted plants: Fertilizer burn... Leaching or repotting your plant with fresh soil may be needed Underwatering... Provide enough water to support full foliage Overwatering possible... Check for root damage or rot

  • Tiny white spots on leaves: Primarily caused by spider mites.

  • Cotton like masses on leaves and stems (Round or oval shaped bumps covered in cotton): Mealy bugs

  • Sticky spots on foliage: Primarily caused by aphids

  • Small brown bumps on stems or foliage: Scale insects

  • Fuzzy, grey mould that covers flowers, leaves and stems: Botrytis blight (A fungal disease generally caused by dead leaves and spent flowers being left on the plant) Excess humidity Poor ventilation.

  • General drooping of the entire plant: Crown, stem or root rot (usually caused by overwatering, especially during the winter months when plants are dormant and do not need much moisture.)

  • Brown or yellow leaf spots: Fungi which usually develops when water is allowed to remain on the leaves. Cold water can also be a cause of spotting. Use room temperature water for misting and watering, and make sure the foliage dries before night.

  • Mildew: Powdery mildew is an airborne fungal disease. (African violets and Begonias are particularly succeptible.)

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