Even if you are the most conscientious of gardeners, there may come a time when your plants start to die.
It can be frustrating and upsetting when this happens, but before you give up on gardening altogether, take a look at some of the most common reasons why plants might die.
With a bit of detective work, you may be able to save your plants and get your garden back on track.
While it’s normal for plants to go through periods where they appear less or more healthy, there are some tell-tale signs that indicate your plants may be dying.
One of the first things to look for is wilting leaves. This can be a sign of dehydration, pests, or disease. If the leaves are yellowing or browning, this is another indication that something is wrong.
Another red flag is stunted growth; if your plant is not growing as rapidly as it should be, it may be due to insufficient light, poor soil conditions, or insects.
Finally, if your plant has developed black or brown spots on the leaves, this could be a sign of a fungal infection. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take action quickly in order to save your plant.
Overwatering is a common problem among gardeners, especially beginners. All plants need water, but too much water can be just as damaging as too little.
There are several telltale signs that your plants are overwatered, including wilting leaves, yellowing leaves, and soft or mushy stem tissue.
If you suspect that you are overwatering your plants, the best course of action is to cut back on watering frequency and/or amount.
Allow the soil to dry out somewhat between watering, and make sure that your plants have adequate drainage.
Over time, you will get a feel for how much water your plants need and will be able to avoid overwatering them.
One of the most common mistakes gardeners make is underwatering their plants. This can be tricky to detect, as there are a number of different signs that plants may exhibit when they are not getting enough water.
For example, leaves may turn yellow or brown, stems may become brittle, and flowers may fail to bloom. In severe cases, plants may even wilt or die.
If you think you are underwatering your plants, the best course of action is to increase watering frequency and/or duration.
Be sure to check the soil before watering, as overwatering can also be detrimental to plant health. If you are unsure how much water your plants need, consult a gardening expert or reference a reliable gardening guide.
3. The Air is Too Dry
One of the most important things plants need to thrive is moisture. They use water for everything from transport of nutrients to cooling themselves off on hot days.
It’s not just about how much water you provide to the plants’ roots, though – the air itself can also be too dry for your plants.
When the air is too dry, it becomes difficult for plants to access the moisture they need. Their leaves begin to brown and wilt, and eventually the plant will die.
This is especially a problem in homes, where the air is often circulated through heating and cooling systems that remove moisture.
Houseplants are particularly susceptible to this problem, as they are often located in areas with low humidity levels. There are a few things you can do to help your plants if the air in your home is too dry.
Try running a humidifier in the room where they are located, or misting their leaves with water once or twice a day.
You can also try grouping plants together, as they will help to increase the humidity around each other.
4. Nutrient Deficiency
If a plant isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, it will start to die. But how can you tell if a nutrient deficiency is the cause of death, and not something else?
There are a few telltale signs. First, look at the leaves. If they’re yellow or brown, that’s a sign that the plant isn’t getting enough nitrogen.
Pale leaves can indicate a lack of iron, while red or purple leaves may mean the plant needs more phosphorus. Another clue is the plant’s growth pattern. If it’s stunted or deformed, that’s another sign that something is off.
Finally, pay attention to the plant’s overall health. If it’s wilting or its flowers are falling off, that indicates a serious problem. If you see any of these signs, it’s likely that a nutrient deficiency is to blame.
5. Lack of Light
Every plant needs sunlight to grow. This is because sunlight is essential for photosynthesis, the process that plants use to convert light into energy.
Without enough light, plants will begin to wilt and will eventually die. While some plants need more light than others, all plants need at least some sunlight to survive.
If you notice that your plants are not getting enough light, there are a few things you can do.
First, try moving them to a sunnier spot. If that is not possible, you can also try using grow lights.
These artificial lights simulate sunlight and can provide your plants with the energy they need to grow.
By giving your plants the light they need, you can keep them healthy and prevent them from dying.
As any gardener knows, a healthy root system is essential for the well-being of your plants.
Not only do roots help to anchor plants in the ground and provide support, but they also play an important role in absorbing water and nutrients.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell if your plants are rootbound. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- The plant seems to be struggling to grow or produce new leaves.
- The roots seem to be poking out of the drainage holes in the pot.
- The plant seems to be wilting, even when well-watered.
If you suspect that your plant may be rootbound, there are a few things you can do to help it.
First, gently loosen the roots with your fingers or a tool. Then, repot the plant into a container that is one size larger. Be sure to use fresh potting mix and water well.
With a little TLC, your plant should soon be on the road to recovery.
7. Too Much Light
Any gardener knows that light is essential for plants. They use it to create food through photosynthesis and without it, they will eventually die.
However, many people don’t realize that too much light can be just as harmful as too little.
Plants that are exposed to harsh sunlight for extended periods of time will often suffer from sunburn, which can damage their leaves and prevent them from absorbing the nutrients they need to survive.
When choosing a spot to plant your garden, make sure to avoid any areas that are directly exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Instead, opt for a spot that receives partial sun or filtered light throughout the day.
By giving your plants the right amount of light, you can help them stay healthy and prevent them from dying prematurely.
As any gardener knows, pests can wreak havoc on a garden. Not only do they damage plants and spread disease, but they can also be difficult to control.
If you suspect that pests are killing your plants, there are a few telltale signs to look for.
One is damage to the leaves or stems of the plant. This can include holes, chewed edges, or discoloration.
Another is a sudden decline in the plant’s health, such as yellowing leaves or stunted growth.
Finally, you may see evidence of the pests themselves, such as aphids or mealybugs. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action quickly to prevent further damage.
A few well-timed sprays of insecticide can often control most pests, as can many organic solutions for getting rid of pests in a more natural way.
9. You’re Not Pinching Off Old Blooms
One of the most important gardening tasks is deadheading, or removing spent blooms from plants.
Although it may seem like a purely cosmetic task, deadheading actually serves an important purpose.
By removing old blooms, gardeners encourage plants to produce new flowers. In addition, deadheading helps to prevent seed formation, which can redirect a plant’s energy away from flower production.
Finally, removing faded flowers can help to keep a plant looking tidy and healthy.
So if you’ve noticed your plants are looking a bit bedraggled, be sure to give them a good deadhead. It just might be the boost they need to get back on track.
10. The Plant Has Been Moved Too Much
Any gardener knows that moving a plant can be stressful for the plant. When you move a plant, it not only has to adjust to a new location, but it also has to deal with being displaced from its familiar surroundings.
This stress can often lead to the plant dying. If you think your plant has been moved too much, there are a few things you can do to help it recover.
First, try to replant it in the same location where it was originally growing. This will help the plant to acclimate to its new home more quickly.
Secondly, water the plant more frequently than usual. This will help to offset any moisture stress that the plant is experiencing.
Finally, give the plant some extra TLC by fertilizing it and protecting it from excessive heat or cold.
By taking these steps, you can give your plant the best chance of survival after being moved.
11. Wrong Soil Type
If you’ve ever wondered why your plants aren’t thriving despite your best efforts, it could be because you’re using the wrong soil.
Just as different plants have different watering and light requirements, they also have different soil needs.
Using the wrong type of soil can lead to nutrient deficiencies, poor drainage, and a host of other problems.
To ensure that your plants are getting the care they need, it’s important to choose the right type of soil for each one.
For example, cactuses and succulents require well-draining soil to prevent them from rotting, while most other plants prefer soil that retains moisture.
With a little research, you can find the perfect soil to keep your plants healthy and happy.
12. Chemical Contact
Even if you’re being careful, it’s easy to accidentally kill your plants with chemicals.
Whether it’s from over-fertilizing, using the wrong pesticides, or simply not rinsing off your gardening tools after working with them, chemicals can quickly build up and damage your plants.
In some cases, the damage may be immediately obvious, but in others it may take weeks or even months for the full effects to be seen.
If you suspect that your plants have been damaged by chemicals, the first step is to remove them from the affected area and rinse them off with clean water.
You may also need to treat the soil around the plants to prevent further contamination.
13. Fungal Diseases
Fungal diseases can be difficult to spot, as they often don’t show any symptoms until the plant is already severely affected.
However, there are a few tell-tale signs that can indicate that your plant is suffering from a fungal disease.
One of the most common symptoms is yellowing or browning leaves. This is often accompanied by wilting, as the fungus inhibits the plant’s ability to transport water.
Other indications of a fungal disease include black or white spots on the leaves, and the presence of mold or mildew on the stems or leaves. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take action immediately.
Fungal diseases are notoriously difficult to treat, and the best course of action is often to remove the affected plant from your garden.
By being vigilant and taking early action, you can help to protect your plants from these damaging diseases.
There are other diseases, such as bacteria and viruses, that can also kill your plants, but fungal diseases tend to be the most common.
14. Too Many Weeds
Weeds are the bane of any gardener’s existence. Not only do they compete with your plants for light, water, and nutrients, but they can also harbour diseases and pests.
If left unchecked, weeds can quickly take over your garden, smothering your plants and causing them to die.
The best way to prevent weed growth is to keep your garden clean and tidy. Pull out any weeds that you see, and make sure to remove all of their roots.
Also, try to avoid letting weeds go to seed, as this will only result in more weed problems down the road.
By taking these simple steps, you can help keep your garden healthy and weed-free.
15. Harsh Weather
Summertime is storm season, and that can be tough on your plants. Strong winds, hail, and even tornadoes can damage or kill your vegetation.
So what can you do to protect your plants during a severe weather event?
One option is to build a temporary barrier around your garden or patio. You can use wood or metal posts, and secure them with guy wires or rope.
Then, stretch a tarp or piece of heavy fabric over the top of the structure. This will provide some protection from the wind and hail.
Another option is to move your potted plants indoors whenever possible. If you have hanging baskets or other plants that can’t be moved, try placing them in a sheltered spot, such as under a deck or porch.
Finally, make sure you trim dead branches and leaves from trees and shrubs. This will help to prevent them from becoming projectiles during a high-wind event.
By taking these simple steps, you can help to keep your plants safe during summer storms.
16. A Frost or Freeze
Frost and freezes can be devastating to plants. The cold weather damages the leaves, stems, and roots, causing the plant to die.
In addition, frost and freezes can also damage the soil, making it difficult for new seedlings to take root.
One way to help prevent frost and freezes from damaging your plants is to cover them with a tarp or blanket.
This will help to protect the plant from the cold weather and will also help to hold in moisture. In addition, you can also use a garden hose to spray your plants with water.
The water will help to keep the plant’s leaves from freezing and will also help to protect the roots from damage.
By taking these simple precautions, you can help to ensure that your plants survive the cold weather.
17. Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong Environment
Anyone who has ever tried to grow plants knows that there is a lot of trial and error involved.
Even if you start with the best soil, the most perfect seed, and the most ideal environment, there’s no guarantee that your plant will thrive.
In fact, if you’re not careful, it’s easy to end up with a dead plant on your hands.
One of the most common mistakes people make is choosing the wrong climate type for their plant.
If you live in an area with a warm climate, you can’t expect a plant that prefers a cold climate to survive.
Similarly, plants that need a lot of sun will wilt and die if they’re kept in too much shade.
Another common mistake is ignoring a plant’s needs. Every plant is different, and each one has specific watering, feeding, and lighting requirements. If you don’t provide what your plant needs, it will quickly succumb to stress and die.
Finally, placing your plant in the wrong environment can also lead to its demise. A plant that requires high humidity levels will quickly dry out and die if it’s placed in a room with low humidity.
Similarly, a succulent that prefers dry conditions will rot if it’s placed in a damp environment.
Is Your Plant Actually Dead? What to Do and How to Tell
As any gardener knows, not all plants are created equal. Some seem to thrive no matter what you do (or don’t do), while others quickly succumb to the slightest change in conditions.
If you’re struggling to keep your plants alive, you’re not alone. But before you give up hope, it’s important to be sure that your plant is actually dead. There are a few simple steps you can take to testing for signs of life.
First, check the stems and leaves for signs of green growth. If the plant is still putting out new leaves, it’s probably still alive.
Second, poke the soil with your finger. If it feels dry and crumbly, it’s time to water. But if the soil is moist, give it a few days and see if the plant rebounds.
Finally, try gently tugging on the plant. If it comes out of the pot easily, it’s probably dead. But if the roots are clinging tightly to the soil, there’s a good chance it’s still alive.
If you’re still not sure, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and assume the plant is alive. With a little love and attention, even the most neglected plants can rebound.
So how do you help it bounce back?
While it can be disheartening to see a beloved plant withering away, there are fortunately a few things you can do to revive a dying plant.
One method is known as “pruning.” This involves carefully trimming away any dead or dying leaves or stems.
This allows the plant to direct its energy towards new growth, and can often give the plant the boost it needs to recover.
Another method is to allow the plant to go through a process of dormancy. This means withholding water and fertilizer for a period of time, which can help the plant to rest and rejuvenate itself.
Not all plants have periods of dormancy, but for those that too, it can be helpful to allow the plant to go through this natural process. Just leave it alone for a while!
Finally, it is also important to try to identify what is causing the problem in the first place.
Once you know what is stressing the plant, you can take steps to correct the issue and give your plant the best chance of survival. With a bit of care and attention, even a dying plant can be brought back to life.
The Key? Always Check the Individual Plant Instructions!
When you’re planting a garden, it’s always important to pay attention to the instructions for each individual plant.
Otherwise, you might end up giving your plants the wrong care and causing them to become unhealthy.
For example, some plants need more water than others, and some prefer direct sunlight while others do better in shaded areas.
If you don’t take the time to learn about the specific needs of your plants, you might end up inadvertently harming them.
Paying attention to your plants and giving them the care they need is the best way to ensure a healthy, thriving garden.
If you’re having trouble keeping your plants alive, it may be due to some of the reasons we’ve outlined.
By understanding why your plants are dying, you can take steps to correct the problem and keep them healthy and flourishing.
Have you been able to identify the cause of death for your plants? What solutions did you implement to help them recover?
Rebekah is a high-school English teacher n New York, where she lives on a 22 acre homestead. She raises and grows chickens, bees, and veggies such as zucchini (among other things).