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Here’s Help for Common Houseplant Problems

Lucy Mercer
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Houseplant Problems | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Houseplants add beauty to our lives and learning to give them the care they need is part of bringing living, breathing plants into our indoor spaces.

Because home and office environments vary in light, temperature and humidity, finding the balance that works for your houseplant is the key to indoor gardening happiness.

Generally speaking, houseplants flourish with temperatures in the range of 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and prefer humidity between 50 and 70 percent. This is cooler and more humid than the average home.

To increase the humidity around your houseplants, place small rocks in the plant saucer, add water and place the pot on top of the rocks. This will offset dry indoor air. Keep a mister nearby to give tropical plants a refreshing spritz. 

 

Houseplant Problems | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Tip: Wipe down plant foliage with a soft cloth to keep your plants looking fresh.

Check the tag that came with your houseplant to see what kind of light it needs. If bright light is required, your home’s available light may need to be supplemented with grow lights to give your houseplants what they need.

Common Houseplant Problems & Solutions

  1. Are the leaves yellow? It could be that your plant is overwatered. Make sure your plant has adequate drainage and back off on the watering regimen. Use pruning snips to trim away decaying foliage.
  2. Are the leaves curling? Your plant is thirsty. Give it water and check frequently for signs of dehydration. You can tell when a plant needs water by sticking your finger into the soil. If it feels dry, then it’s time to water.
  3. Are there unwelcome visitors on your plant? Webs and white stuff are the clue to pest problems.

Houseplant Problems | The Home Depot's Garden Club

CHECK & TREAT FOR Common HOUSEPLANT PESTS:

Look at the foliage: do you see tiny bumps? Scale are hard-shelled insects that look like tiny bumps on your plants. Sometimes you see a black, sooty mold where they’ve fed.

To treat scale:
1. If there are just a few insects, scrape them off with a wet paper towel. 
2. If you have an infestation, wipe off the bugs with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Then rinse the plant thoroughly with lukewarm water.

Do you see cottony spots? Mealybugs are tiny pests with soft bodies that look like cottony spots on plants. They suck plant juices, causing leaves and buds to drop.

Do you see tiny webs? If you see tiny webs on your plants, suspect spider mites. Sometimes the mites hide under or on leaves. They can kill your plants or leave them wilted and deformed.

TREAT MEALYBUGS AND SPIDER MITES: 

Use a damp sponge to wipe them off or spray your plants with water in the sink or shower to knock them off. If pests return, spray with an insecticidal soap or neem oil, following label directions.

Houseplants Problems | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Sometimes, a fresh start is what’s needed to bring a plant back to health. To repot a plant, choose a new pot that’s a couple inches larger than the existing one. And be sure it has at least one drainage hole on the bottom.

Gently tilt the plant in its old pot, grab near the base and give it a tug. Scrape off the old soil and with a garden knife or scissors, make cuts in the roots to encourage new growth.

Place fresh soilless potting mix in the new container, place the plant inside and fill in with additional soil. Thoroughly water and place out of direct sun for about a week while the plant adjusts to its new environment. 

More on Houseplants:

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