Common Plant Problems and How To Fix Them Part 1
When it comes to plants, we’re either immediately aware of their ailments or we’re living in bliss until it’s too late to help them. We’ve compiled the most common plant problems and the best fixes to arm you with confidence and a whole rolodex of solutions.
Yellow leaves, as with any plant problem, can come from an infinity of reasons. Some of the most common reasons are: The age of the leaves e.g. baby leaves will die off once they’ve fulfilled their purpose, or older leaves that have also finished their duties. Another reason for yellow leaves could be an imbalance in nutrients or water issues related to chlorosis. When a nutrient imbalance occurs your plant is asking you to either stop feeding it or feed it more.
Not all plants feed the same so you’ll have to eliminate the culprits by removing and adjusting feed. If your plant has never been repotted and it’s a type of plant that enjoys feed it will benefit from fresh soil and a balanced liquid feed to suit its needs. A balanced feed such as SB Plant Invigorator will do the job for most houseplants. On the flip side, plants like Sarracenia and Cacti don’t need additional feed as they are used to thriving in extreme soil conditions-- a repot with the adequate soil every 6-9 months will do the trick.
Chlorosis is the plant’s process of losing chlorophyll and the inability to produce it due to environmental factors. The treatment for chlorosis is similar to feed imbalance; however if chlorosis is brought on by the use of tap water further treatment such as a repot and root trim may be needed. Elongated use of tap water may cause chlorosis when salts and minerals build up on the root system and prevent the plant from properly absorbing nutrients. You can avoid this by watering your plants with rain water as often as possible or by checking the roots every six months to stay on top of potential buildup.
Brown Spots/Browning edges
Browning can be an unsightly occurrence; however most of the time it’s a quick fix. The top reasons for leaf browning are: Humidity issues, irregular watering, and root issues. As we will address root problems below, let's concentrate on watering and humidity. Irregular watering refers to the practice of putting watering off for too long or watering a bit too much at once. When watering issues occur, plants will communicate it by creating brown spots on the leaves. A brown spot surrounded by yellow means overwatering-- the solution then would be to water a little less or a little less often. Always allow your plants to drain off excess water and provide plenty of ventilation to help evaporation and avoid condensation, as this can cause water to pool on the leaves and create fungal problems.
Brown spots on their own are most likely from mechanical damage which resulted in a bruise and later dried up leaving behind a mark. This is harmless and the marked leaf can be removed or left to complete its life. Browning around the edges is almost entirely due to humidity. Humidity loving plants need to have a steady supply of moisture. A common mistake people make is putting plants in the bathroom thinking showers and baths will raise humidity levels-- this is helpful however the humidity is not constant and plants end up suffering further as plant parents assume they are okay.
We will discuss more issues in part 2 of Common Plant Problems and How To Fix Them. Now go forth and treat your plants to a good ol’ checkup. And remember: Plant parenthood is not about perfect plants, it’s about learning to grow the plant for you.