Categories
plant care plant problems remedies

5 Common Plant Problems – PLUS Causes & Remedies!

So, There's Something Wrong with Your Plant...

Your typically happy and healthy plant is suddenly dropping leaves in the middle of its growing season – what could it be? I’ve compiled a list of potential and common plant problems PLUS causes and remedies to help nurse your plant back to health. Pictures are included at the bottom to help you identify your particular plant ailment.

Causes and Potential Remedies – Pests & Diseases

Some common plant problems are caused by specific pests, which require specific remedies to manage and deter infestations from spreading. Others can be caused by certain diseases, which can be cured using non-chemical methods, as some of these common plant problems can be resolved by changing your plant’s watering habits or by replanting the plant in fresh soil. Nevertheless, there are some chemical solutions used.

I have compiled a list of resources from the Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center about the treatments used in this post. Organic chemical solutions are still considered highly toxic to humans and animals. However, less toxic, non-chemical insecticides do exist, including insecticidal soaps and neem oil.

Note: When applying particular remedies, make sure the plant has been thoroughly watered and follow the label’s directions. Some houseplants – including jade plant and certain palms – are sensitive to insecticidal soap. Always spot test before treating the entire plant. In some cases, treatment will have to be repeated multiple times.

Common Plant Problems

1. Leaf Drop
  • Causes: 1) Over- or under-watering; 2) Significant drops in temperature; 3) Being severely root-bound; 4) Certain pest infestations; 5) Certain diseases
    • Note: Significant environmental change can cause leaf drop; however, this should last a maximum of 3 weeks
    • If after 3 weeks your plant continues to drop leaves, try some of the following remedies
  • Remedies:
    1. Change watering regimen accordingly
    2. Increase room temperature or bring the plant inside
    3. Repot the plant into a larger pot
    4. Treat for specific pest infestation or disease
2. Brown Leaf Tips & Edges
  • Causes: 1) Over- or under-watering; 2) Exposure to bright sun and/or hot, dry air; 3) Certain pest infestations; 4) Salt accumulation
    • White or grey crusty deposits on the soil surface can be a sign of salt build-up
  • Remedies: Prune leaf tips and…
      1. Change watering regimen accordingly
      2. Relocate plant away from direct sunlight and into indirect or filtered sunlight
      3. Treat for specific pest infestation
      4. Remove salt deposits and add a layer of fresh soil
    • Lix’s Tip: Wait 1 to 2 weeks for a healthier looking plant; if your plant shows no signs of improvement, repot with new, fresh soil
3. Wilting
  • Causes: 1) Over- or under-watering; 2) Root rot; 3) Being severely root-bound; 4) Over-fertilizing; 5) Salt accumulation
  • Remedies:
    1. Change watering regimen accordingly
    2. Treat root rot
    3. Repot plant in fresh soil
      • By the time you notice this common plant problem, fresh soil will save the plant’s root system from the damages that fertilizer or salt deposits that accumulated in the old soil can cause
4. Yellowing of Entire Plant
  • Causes: 1) Over-watering; 2) Too little light; 3) Under-fertilizing; 4) Certain pest infestations
  • Remedies:
    1. Change watering regimen accordingly
    2. Relocate plant to a sunnier location, like a windowsill
    3. Change your fertilizing regimen
    4. Treat for specific pest infestation
5. Lopsided Growth or “Stretching”
  • Causes: 1) Too little light; 2) Under-fertilizing
  • Remedies:
    1. Relocate plant to a sunnier location, like a windowsill
      • Make sure that all sides of your plant receive equal amounts of light
      • Lix’s Tip: When I notice that one of my plants is “stretching,” I rotate that plant 90 degrees every day so that all sides receive equal amounts of sunlight!
    2. Change fertilizing regimen accordingly

Images of Common Plant Problems

Need help diagnosing your plant problems? Comment below or send me your plant’s symptoms and a picture!
Categories
disease remedies

4 Common Diseases – Plus Effective Remedies

So, You Think Your Plant has a Disease?

You’ve noticed that your plant has turned black and you don’t know what to do. What could it be?  I’ve compiled a list of potential and common diseases PLUS remedies (and prevention tips) to help nurse your plant back to health. Pictures are included to help you identify the particular plant ailment (you can find them at the bottom of the post).

 

The vast majority of remedies discussed are nearly all non-chemical, as most of these common diseases can be resolved by changing your plant’s watering habits or relocating your plant to a more ventilated area. Nevertheless, some chemical solutions are used. I have compiled a list of resources from the Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center about the treatments used in this post. Organic chemical solutions are still considered highly toxic to humans and animals. However, less toxic, non-chemical insecticides do exist, including insecticidal soaps and neem oil.

 

Note: When applying particular remedies, make sure the plant has been thoroughly watered and follow the label’s directions. Some houseplants – including jade plant and certain palms – are sensitive to insecticidal soap. Always spot test before treating the entire plant. In some cases, treatment will have to be repeated multiple times.

Common Diseases

1. Root & Stem Rot
  • Appearance: the base of the stem will turn black and become soft; leaves and branches will noticeably wilt
    • Caused by various fungi, which are dormant in the root and stem and are activated in humid, wet environments
  • Fungi survive in the soil or on infected plant debris and can be spread by wind, splashing water, or the moving of infested soil
  • Remedies (& Prevention):
    • Remove the infected plant and if only a few roots are infected, cut those off – infected roots are dark brown or black in color; repot in new, fresh soil
      • However, once root rot occurs, it is unlikely that the plant can be save (especially if it is a new, weaker plant)
    • To prevent this common disease:
      • Properly water your plant according to its watering needs,
      • Use a soil mix with a high drainage capacity,
      • Choose a container with drainage holes, and
      • Dress the soil with pebbles
2. White Mold
  • Appearance: white, fluffy, cotton-like fungus that grows on top of the soil surface in moist, humid, and over-watered conditions
  • Common sign of poor ventilation
  • It does not harm the plant
  • Remedies: gently remove top layer of soil with a knife and relocate plant to a more open, ventilated space
    • Removal process could send fungal spores into the air, which may trigger allergies or asthma
3. ‘Sooty’ Mold
  • Appearance: fungus turns clear honeydew, which is excreted by aphidsmealybugs, and scales, black or dark green
  • This type of fungus thrives in humid and poorly ventilated environments
  • It does not harm the plant, but the pests that excrete the honeydew do
  • Remedies: remove by wiping a damp cloth over the leaves; then rinse the leaves with clear water
4. Powdery Mildew (Fungus)
  • Appearance: the fungus Oidium causes white, powdery growth or dry, brown, papery leaf spots to grow
  • Initial infections commonly come from fungi surviving in dead or decaying plants
    • This common disease develops quickly in very humid conditions
  • Remedies (& Prevention): remove severely infected leaves and relocate plant to a more open and ventilated space
    • As a last resort, you can use a spray containing sulfur after removing the infected leaves to reduce any future incidences
    • To prevent this common disease maintain proper ventilation and watering to control humidity levels

Gallery of Common Diseases

Having trouble diagnosing your plant? Comment below or email me your plant’s symptoms and a photo!
Categories
pests disease remedies

8 Common Pests – Plus Effective Remedies

So, You Have a Pest Problem?

You go to water your plant and notice something is wrong – what could it be? I’ve compiled a list of potential and common pests PLUS remedies (and prevention tips) to help nurse your plant back to health. Pictures are included to help you identify the particular plant ailment (you can find them at the bottom of the post).

The remedies discussed are nearly all non-chemical, but there are some chemical solutions used. I have compiled a list of resources from the Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center about the treatments used in this post. Organic chemical solutions are still considered highly toxic to humans and animals. However, less toxic, non-chemical insecticides do exist, including insecticidal soaps and neem oil.

Note: When applying particular remedies, make sure the plant has been thoroughly watered and follow the label’s directions. Some houseplants – including jade plant and certain palms – are sensitive to insecticidal soap. Always spot test before treating the entire plant. In many cases, treatment will have to be repeated multiple times. Make sure you isolate the infected plant to prevent infestations from spreading.

Common Pests

1. Aphids and related insects
  • Appearance: very small – largest are 0.125in (3.175mm) – soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects; usually green, but can also be pink, brown, black or yellow; adults might have wings
  • Commonly found on new growth or undersides of leaves
  • Feed by sucking plant sap, resulting in yellowing and misshapen leaves; the longer the infestation goes unnoticed, the more likely aphids will cause plant growth to be stunted, new growth to be deformed, and even plant death
    • As aphids feed, they excrete a sugary material called ‘honeydew,’ which makes leaves shiny and sticky; ‘sooty’ mold may grow on the honeydew
  • Remedies:
    • Minor infestation: handpick, spray with water, or wipe away the insects with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol
    • Major infestation: spray leaves and soil with insecticidal soap or neem oil
2. Mealybugs
  • Appearance: small, largest are 0.25in (6.35mm); pale insects related to scales; mature females cover themselves and their eggs with a white, waxy material that resembles white wool or cotton
    • The wax on the insects repel pesticides, making it difficult to control them
  • Commonly found on underside of leaves and where the leaf attaches to the stem
  • Feed by sucking plant sap, causing similar plant problems as aphids
    • Like other common pests, they excrete honeydew
  • Remedies: wipe down the leaves and stem with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol; to ensure no insects are left in the soil, repot the plant; then spray with a 1:10 dilution of rubbing alcohol and water or neem oil
3. Scales
  • Appearance: two types, armored scales – which have a hard covering that can be scraped off to reveal the insect – and soft scales; anywhere from 0.06in (1.6mm) to 0.5in (12.7mm) in diameter; some are flat and appear stuck to the plant, while others look like colored blobs
    • Crawlers, which are young scales, can move around; adults cannot
  • Commonly found on the stems and the underside of leaves
  • Feed by sucking plant sap, causing similar plant problems as aphids and mealybugs
    • Only soft scales excrete honeydew, like other common pests
  • Remedies:
    • Minor infestations: removed by scraping scales off with a fingernail, since adults are relatively protected from insecticides by their waxy covering
    • Major infestations: spray leaves and soil with neem oil or canola oil, which controls the adult population by smothering them; crawlers are susceptible to neem oil, canola oil and insecticidal soap
4. Spider Mites
  • Appearance: More closely related to spiders; since they are so small, plant damage and webbing are usually how to detect an infestation
  • Feed by sucking plant sap, creating light-colored speckling on upper surface of leaves
  • Remedies: isolate infected plant and…
    • For sturdy plants: spray forcefully with water to dislodge the spider mites and break up the webs
    • For more delicate plants: spray leaves and soil with an insecticidal soap or neem oil
    • Repeat weekly until infestation is gone
5. Fungus Gnats
  • Appearance: can be spotted by large amounts of adult fungus gnats; first sign of infestation = plant loses its regular, healthy appearance
    • Fungus gnat larvae sometimes feed on roots, making them a ‘silent’ killer
  • Thrive in potting soil that is rich in organic matter and in wet environments
  • Remedies (& Prevention): if the plant can tolerate it, allow the soil to dry between waterings, since the drier conditions will kill the larvae
    • Do not allow standing water in saucers beneath houseplants for long periods of time and do not overwater
    • To deter future infestations, some recommend the “bottom watering” method:

1) pour water into a saucer or container beneath the pot

2) allow the plant to soak in the water for no more than 20 minute

3) once per month, thoroughly “top water” (aka, give your plant a ‘traditional’ watering) to wash away any salts and mineral buildup

    • this method prevents excess water from just sitting in the soil, which fosters the moist, wet environment fungus gnat larvae love
6. Thrips
  • Appearance: tiny – less than 0.06in (1.6mm) in length – slender, yellowish or blackish insects with fringed wings; blowing lightly into blooms and leaves can cause thrips to move, making them easier to spot
  • Commonly found on leaves and between flower petals
  • Feed by scraping surface cells to suck plant sap; damaged leaves from thrips will look speckled, similar to the damage done by spider mites
  • Remedies: prune injured plant areas; spray leaves and soil with insecticidal soap or neem oil
7. Springtails
  • Appearance: tiny – about 0.2in (5mm) in length – and vary in color; wingless, but can jump
  • Found in the soil; presence is a sign of overwatering
  • Chew on seedlings or tender plant parts
  • Remedies: follow remedies and prevention treatment for fungus gnat larvae
8. Root Ball Pests
  • Plants taken outdoors during the warmer months may have their root balls infested with pests – including pillbugs, millipedes, and ants – which can cause damage to the root systems
  • Remedies:
    • remove plant from soil
    • carefully remove any clinging dirt from the root system
    • submerge the entire root ball in a container of water for at least 30 minutes
    • repot with new, fresh soil

Images of Common Pests

Need help diagnosing your plant? Comment below or email me your plant’s symptoms and a picture for help identifying which common pest is harming your plant.