Most anyone who has ever owned a plant has probably killed plant. There...we said it! When you're new at caring for a living thing like a plant, it's almost impossible to avoid experiencing the common challenges that one can run into along the way. So, you can rest assured that if you have experienced a tragic plant outcome (may that plant rest in peace), you're definitely not alone and you shouldn't feel intimated to try again. At Welltended, we believe strongly that with practice, by following quality instructions, and listening to your plant, you can avoid many of these classic pitfalls.
Plants are wonderfully communicative, and if you pay attention, you can intervene before many tragic outcomes. Below, we have provided about the classic pitfalls that people encounter with plant care, including the signs of distress and some tips that will help you correct the issue. If you'd like more input and help, you can contact our team anytime at [email protected] for further support!
The most common mistake that we see — hands down — with our customers tending to their houseplants is over-watering. If there is one thing that you take away from this post, we want it to be: please do not over-water your plant! While we love and want to care for our houseplants, caring is not reflected in the amount of water we give our plant.
Signs: Wet soil that never dries, causing rotting roots and yellowing leaves. This typically happens when water has moistened the medium that your plant is sitting in so much that it can’t ever fully dry. Plants may start turning brown, start leaning considerably, or look generally unwell.
Solution: Follow the watering guides that came with your plant, and use your finger to touch and feel the moisture level of the soil. You'll quickly get used to the various moisture levels that your plant experiences. Root rot is one of the biggest issues that plants can experience, so the best chances of saving your plant are if you catch it early.
2. Under-Watering, or Surface watering
In an effort to prevent over-watering, it’s easy to over compensate and end up under-watering the plant — only watering enough to wet the surface soil. While not so terrible in the short-term, repeated under-watering prevents water from reaching deeper roots. So, you should be cautious of giving the plant enough water to reach the roots, but then letting the soil dry appropriately in between waterings (pending the specific type of plant).
Signs: Wilting stems and leaves.
Solution: Follow your plant’s watering guide, and water until you see the soil is evenly saturated throughout the potting medium. Again, touching the soil is a great way to confirm that the water is evenly distributed.
3. Too little light
It can be easy to misjudge how much light a window is providing your plant. Luckily, we’ve written on this topic before to help our customers understand how to assess the light in their home or office space. Generally, light exposure is thought of as direct and bright (the surface on which your plants sit may feel warm or hot during the day), indirect and bright (they’re sitting near a window or light source, but sun rays don’t directly beat down on the area), or low light (you can read a book in the space, but there’s little brightness or shadows created from the sun).
Signs: Your houseplant grows very slowly, even in spring and summer months; its stems elongated (like a succulent that grows up and not out); its leaves turn a lighter green and begin to drop.
Solution: Move your plant to a brighter spot.
4. Too much light
At the same time, too much light for certain plants is also not ideal. Be cautious when selecting a plant to choose one that fits your space’s exposure, or use our quiz so that we can help you do so!
Signs: Leaves are burning, possibly with brownish burn spots, and becoming yellow.
Solution: Move your plant away from the window to a less directly lit space. Experiment with how much light it needs to flourish.
Similar to over-watering, it is easy to give your plant too much fertilizer, because what could be wrong with some extra nutrients? Well, it turns out that extra nutrients can harm the roots and leaves of your houseplant.
Signs: Fertilizer burn on the leaves.
Solution: Decrease concentration of fertilizer and reduce the frequency of the doses.
Much less common than over-fertilizing, under-fertilizing only occurs if you haven’t fed your plant in over 6 months. While the soil that your Welltended plant comes in will include the proper food for your plant for the first several months, it’s important to add in new nutrients after several months, to keep your plant looking its best.
Signs: Slow stunted growth with no new shoots or flowers.
Solution: Feed your plant with low dose of fertilizer.
7. Disease (eek!)
While rare, sometimes plants get sick, just like humans do. Whether it’s from insects, fungi, or bacteria; it’s important to recognize that something is wrong and contact us at Welltended immediately for assistance! Many times, we can help to revive your plant; or, if you experience the tragic, untimely death of your plant, we’ll offer a pep talk and everything you need to replenish your urban jungle! We often see pests on plants that aren't maintained well, like from home improvement stores. At Welltended, we take great care to avoid pest issues.
Signs: Abnormal growth on your plant (could be some white fuzz, or even clearly seen insects that shouldn't be there).
Solution: Contact us! There are many possible disease culprits and we will help guide you through it, offering a suggestion on how to remove the pest. While there’s no guarantee when it comes to pest control, we’ll be there to help you along the way. Welltended offers a 30-day guarantee for our own plants, or we can help set you up with a replenishment kit!
8. Not Re-potting
If you’re taking wonderful care of your plant friend, then it will reward you with lush new growth. Like a snail shedding its shell, eventually your plant will run out of room and need a new pot. Typically, this will only happen once every year or two, and you’ll often see roots emerging as a clear sign that you plant needs a new pot.
Signs: No growth, roots coming out of the soil.
Solution: Re-pot your plant! Look out for an upcoming Welltended care guide explaining how to re-pot your plant.
9. Not grooming them
Some plants can make quite a mess. They lose stems, as well as drop leaves and flowers — and this can be totally normal and is nothing to fear. It’s important to keep your plant tidy, to avoid pests and keep it looking dapper.
Signs Stunted growth; the plant can’t grow if old stems, flowers and leaves are in the way!
Solution: Remove dead branches and leaves as well as pinch off dead flowers.
10. Moving them around too much
In nature, plants enjoy a rooted lifestyle and do not appreciate being hassled by movement (much like me on the weekends). In your house it’s best to mimic nature and leave your plant be, as much as possible, once you’ve found its perfect spot.
Signs: Slow growth and yellowing of leaves.
Solution: Avoid moving the plant about
We hope this helps! Our team is standing by if you have any questions at all about your plant. Call or text us at 312-500-5998, or shoot us an email to [email protected]