When a person is sick, you typically check their temperature, make sure they are hydrated and clean their surrounding areas. It’s a common procedure. This rings true for plants as well. If you know what to look for you can help your plant be its healthiest.
Recognizing symptoms in people is easy. As humans, we know what to watch out for. If you’re new to plants and gardening, then you might not be as familiar with plant symptoms. We’re here to help! Here are some symptoms to check on whether your plant is well or not.
If people are losing color in their skin, it is considered a red flag. The same goes for plants. When a plant’s leaves turn brown or yellow, there is something that isn’t quite right. A healthy pant should look and feel its best.
If you notice yellowing on your plant’s leaves then this could be signs of overwatering, low humidity, poor soil drainage, low temperatures or pot-bound roots. To narrow down this list of causes, assess your plant’s situation and environment.
Has the air changed suddenly around your plant? Is your plant in a drafty area or near a heater, or maybe something else has changed in the environment that your plant is reacting negatively to?
If none of these ring true for your plant, then check to see if the pot your plant is in has adequate drainage, and the plant isn’t rootbound. If a plant is rootbound, the plant has outgrown its pot, and the roots take up the entire space. Once you know the cause of the symptoms, then you will be able to apply proper care.
If you notice brown leaf tips, these could be signs of too much fertilizer or pesticides, dry soil, low temperature, hot air, accumulated salts or root rot. Once again, you will need to assess the situation to determine exactly what you are dealing with. Once you have, most of these are easy to deal with.
Most house plants only need to be fertilized once a month. Do a quick Google search on the plant you are caring for to figure out how often your plant needs to be fertilized. Once you have that information, you can create a schedule to follow. Stick to it, and your plant will be thriving in no time.
If you’re good on the fertilizer area of plant care, you may want to try increasing the humidity around the plant. Put plants suffering from brown leaves in a tray lined with pebbles that are filled with water. The plant should stand above the waterline of the pebbles. This set up will also allow you to flush any excess minerals, like salts, out of the soil.
Keeping a close eye on your plants at all times can help you prevent a problem from getting out of hand. If you notice that your plant’s leaves haven’t changed colors entirely, but they are becoming paler, you have time to act. Check the soil first and move on to sunlight.
Plants are like children in the sense that they thrive on a clear schedule. When sudden changes happen, this can stress your plant out, which leaves it more susceptible to plant diseases.
Plants come in all shapes and sizes. A plant standing tall is a sign of good health, so, if you start to notice that your plant is wilting, it’s probably a sign your plant is getting sick.
Now, some plants’ leaves will have a natural droop to them because of their weight. Don’t get these two mixed up and cause yourself to panic for no reason. There is a distinction between a plant that just has weight to its leaves and one that is starting to wilt. A plant that is wilting will look “sad” in comparison to another plant that is healthy.
For a wilting plant, check the soil moisture to make sure it’s getting enough water. Remember, the soil top should be moist up to 2 inches down and be sure to weed your plant if you haven’t done it in a while.
Wilting can also be caused by nutritional imbalance. Check the fertilizer you are using to make sure it’s the proper match for your plant. If you want to be extra thorough, most home and garden stores have test kits to check the PH balance of your soil and determine the nutrients that are missing.
If you’ve tried all of these and still your plant is not thriving, you have another problem on your hands. Wilting can be a sign of more serious issues. Especially if you see it accompanied by stunting in the overall growth of the plant. This could be a sign of Botrytis Blight. Once plants are presented with symptoms of full-blown disease, it’s hard to recover.
Much like how your lips become chapped and cracked during the winter months so can your plant’s stems. You might notice cracks on your plant after a cold snap.
Don’t panic. It’s easy to handle when it is caught soon enough. Simply put a tarp or light sheet over your plant. This will provide some insulation without limiting the air circulation too much.
If you’re noticing cracks, and there hasn’t been a recent cold snap, the cracks could be from a more serious source. Cracks can also be caused by cankers. Cankers are abnormal growths that appear on your plant. It’s caused by various fungi and bacteria. This particular disease is more associated with wooden plants, but that doesn’t mean your standard house plants can’t catch it.
Cankers don’t just cause cracks on your plant. They cause abnormal growths on the plant’s stems that can resemble lumps and cause parts of the stem to die off as the cankers get more serious.
Unfortunately, if you notice these symptoms and you suspect your plant is suffering from cankers, the best action is to simply get rid of that plant. Cankers are such a contagious disease that can easily spread to the rest of your garden. It’s sad to have to lose a plant, but better to lose one plant than your whole garden.
We’ve already discussed the colors of leaves changing and what that can mean for your plant. Don’t get the browning of your overall leaf confused with brown spots that might pop up. These two issues are very different when it comes to combatting the problem.
If you notice brown spots popping up on your plant, you usually don’t have to worry about isolating it. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so we won’t discourage you from isolating that plant either. Mostly, the cause of your spot issue is going to be an inconsistent watering schedule or a lack of calcium.
Figure out a watering schedule that works best for you and your plant. If you have trouble remembering, even on your best days, write it on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror as a reminder. If you’re more of a tech-savvy person, use your phone to set a reminder.
Brown spots on your leaves can also be from water spots. Water spots are caused when you’ve accidentally splashed water onto the leaves of your plant when watering it.
Brown spots aren’t the only spots that cause concern when it comes to your plant. Always keep an eye for powdery growths, typically on the leaves. Powdery growth is almost always caused by mildew. Mildew usually results from a combination of an overly moist environment around your plant and poor air circulation.
Unfortunately, if you notice these powdery spots, you want to go ahead and remove this plant from your other plants. Mildew spreads very easily, and if your other plants aren’t infected, you want to keep them safe.
You want to increase the air circulation around your plant for both issues. You’ll also want to remember to trim the infected leaves.
We know you love your plants, and you just want what’s best for them. Some extra advice for dealing with plants that are infected with an ailment is to always wash your hands in between dealing with plants. This helps you from accidentally spreading the disease yourself, even if you have isolated your little buddy.
If you’re washing your hands, you always want to make sure you’re washing your tools too. Sanitize your tools in between use. A simple solution of one-part bleach to nine parts water will get the job done.
The hardest piece of advice to hear is that sometimes you just have to give up on a plant.
We know this is hard advice to take for something that you cherish dearly, but the health of your other plants should be a big factor in this decision. You don’t want to focus all your attention on saving one plant and in the process, infect all your other plants. With that mentality, you’ll be getting a brand-new garden every couple of months.
If you have had a tragedy strike in the form of a plant epidemic, fear not. Our florists at Miss Daisy's Flowers & Gifts serving The Villages, FL, are happy to help you in restocking your plant essentials. We’ll even assist with tips for how to keep your plant thriving.
The best overall advice when it comes to spotting plant disease is simply to keep an eye out. You don’t have to micromanage and keep an excel sheet tracking your plant’s progress or even resort to watching it constantly. You just want to have frequent check-ins to ensure its best health.
Taking a few minutes out of every day, simply to assess the state of your plant, can go a long way. Here’s to ensuring every plant is kept at its best!