5 Organic Solutions for Plants in Distress

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Stressed plant

Presented by Jenny Peterson for Kellogg Garden Organics


There are any number of factors that cause plants to protest their living conditions — some of which we gardeners have control over and some we don’t.

Whether the foliage is wilted, discolored, has brown tips or a burned appearance, our plants always give us signals when they get stressed out. It’s up to us to read the signals and come to their aid.

The good news is that there is usually an organic solution for your distressed plants, and some are even free!

Check out these 5 organic solutions to keep your plants happy and healthy

Wilted plant.

1. Plant in the right location

This means that if your plant is a sun worshipper, don’t plant it in the shade. And if your plant likes to hide out in the shadows, beware of forcing it to perform in bright light.

Read the plant tag to know how much sun your plant needs, and plant accordingly. Signs to look for: leggy stems, failure to bloom, burned leaves, stunted growth.


Watering can

2. Water properly

Watering more deeply and less frequently is the best way to keep your plants happy. Simply sprinkling water daily on the soil surface is not adequate to address most plants’ needs, and overwatering quickly leads to rot.

Know how much water your plants like and get on a consistent watering schedule to ensure they get it. Signs to look for: brown leaf tips, wilting, stems rotting at the base.


Compost pile3. Amend the soil

Healthy soil is the hallmark of organic gardening because plants simply will not thrive in soil that lacks nutrients. Organic fertilizers and soil amendments build up healthy soil over time, slowly releasing nutrients for the plant to consistently use.

One of the best soil amendments is compost from your own pile, so be sure to continue adding to your pile, or start one if you haven’t already. Signs to look for: pale leaves, green veins with yellow foliage, stunted growth.


Stressed plant

4. Protect from the wind

A little breeze or occasional strong wind is expected, but consistent windy conditions take their toll on young and mature plants alike. If your property is in the way of windy weather patterns, consider planting a windbreak with trees and large shrubs.

Cover young plants with garden fabric or plant covers to give them a bit of added protection, or plant taller plants nearby as a shield. Signs to look for: ragged leaves, dried leaf margins.


Brown tip on plant leaf

5. Fertilize correctly

There’s a myth going around that if a little bit of fertilizer is good, then a lot of fertilizer must be even better. Nothing could be further from the truth, as over-fertilizing can seriously damage plant health. Organic fertilizers are rarely the culprit, however, because they slowly release nutrients over time rather than in one big rush. 

Always read the package directions and apply accordingly, and consider switching from synthetic to organic fertilizers. Signs to look for: fertilizer crust on the surface of the soil, yellowing or wilting of lower leaves, brown leaf tips and edges, leaf drop, stunted growth.

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