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Houseplant Troubleshooting

Do your houseplants look a little droopy? Leaves turning yellow? Here are a few troubleshooting tips for identifying problems with ailing plants.

We give our houseplants plenty of tender loving care. We make sure they're in the right location, have the right amount of fertilizer and water, and even move them carefully to larger homes when necessary.

Still, plants can become sickly for varying reasons that our out of our control or that are sometimes due to a little too much "love."

The number one problem for plants is overwatering. This can cause a wide variety of symptoms that include:

-Stem rot
-Root rot
-Yellow leaf tips
-Dropping leaves
-Spotted leaves

While you may be accustomed to a regular schedule of watering, your plants may be drowning. In most cases, you should allow the soil to dry out somewhat before watering again. Test with a finger rather than a calendar. Every Monday may be too much. Watering will also depend on the time of year, temperature, and the humidity levels.

A second offense is allowing water to sit in the saucer. While many plants love a fast-draining soil, the water that moves through too quickly and sits will only add to the problem.

On the other hand, the easiest fix to droopy leaves is probably a good soaking. Plants can survive a certain amount of drought, but if it happens too often, they will have less energy each time to bounce back.

If plants begin losing their bottom leaves, they may need some more Vitamin D. Try moving them first to a brighter spot. Those leaves will not be replaced, however. You can recover the rest of plant, however. If it is too bare at the bottom for your tastes, think about placing it in a larger pot and adding a smaller, younger version alongside for fullness.

Most plants, at one time or another, experience browned leaf tips. Eventually the leaf will turn completely brown and brittle. You'll have to experiment to determine the cause as it could be anything from too much water to not enough, high temperatures or too much sun, too much of a draft or a combination of all these factors. Try eliminating each one and over time you may be able to determine the true culprit.

If flowering plants don't bloom, they may have not received adequate care during their "down" time, or the dormant season. Some may require a rising and falling temperature range to begin producing flowers. Many types of blooming beauties require special care throughout the year with regard to temperature conditions, water, and sunlight.

Before you assume that location and water - or lack thereof - is the problem, check for insect infestations. Be sure that your plant is bug-free before trying to rejuvenate it with the above suggestions.

Most plants are pretty hardy and can withstand a little neglect or too much attention. At the first signs of trouble, take action and your plant will likely thrive.



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