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Master List of Houseplant Troubleshooting

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Now, what’s wrong with this plant?! Do you ever have those moments when you just throw your hands in the air? Just when you think you understand a plant, its watering needs, finding the right spot for light, humidity, and temperature–now the leaves are yellowing, dropping, or getting brown tips. You may wonder, What am I doing wrong? Whether you are a novice or a beginner, plant issues can be overwhelming.

Today, I have put together a list of possible plant issues. I also have individual posts on specific plants that talk about what to watch for and the telltale signs that the plant is in distress, so be sure to check those out as well. But feel free to frequent this page when you need to do detective work.

Keep in mind diagnosing problems of indoor plants can be challenging. It takes time and a bit of detective work.

Indoor Houseplant Leaf Issues

Sudden Loss of Leaves

Sudden loss of leaves is frequently caused by insufficient light, soil that is too wet, or dry or cold drafts. Plants may not grow as well in a certain spot during the winter as they did during the summer. You may have to move your plants to a spot that has more light. As you can see, several factors come into play. Troubleshoot them one by one.

What causes a sudden loss of leaves?


Brown Leaf Tips

What causes brown tips on plant leaves?


Black Tips on Leaves

Several factors can cause black leaf tips on indoor plants. While the damage can sometimes be stopped and prevented on other leaves, the tips cannot be restored to their healthy color. Careful attention to the plants’ environment during all phases of the day will help to identify the problem and point to a solution to prevent a recurrence.

What causes black tips on the leaves?


Brown, Dry Spots on Leaves

Brown Edges on Leaves

There are white deposits on the pot near the drain holes.

Small Brown Spots Rimmed with Yellow

Curling Leaves

Unnaturally Small, Pale Leaves

Brown Leaf Tips and Edges

Bleached or Faded Spots on Leaves

Plant Leaf Distortion

Indoor Houseplant Root Issues

Root Bound

What causes a plant to be root bound?

What to look for


Root Rot

What causes root rot?

What to look for.


Soil Issues with Indoor Houseplants

I shared a photo up above of some soil that has some white, crusty-looking substance. Don’t mind the brown/golden powder; that’s just cinnamon, which I use for fungus gnat control. Let’s discuss what this white stuff may be telling us.

White Substances on the Soil Surface

What to look for


The Water Runs Straight Through the Soil

If you know you are giving a plant plenty of water and that it’s not root-bound (two common reasons for plants to dry out), it may be an issue with your soil. A lot of potting soils use peat, which holds water well when it is moistened, but is difficult to wet the first time thoroughly.

Even if it has been moistened well in the past, leaving the plant unwatered when you go on vacation or forgetting to water it regularly can dry out the soil, and it won’t absorb the water well. Small pots can be submerged in lukewarm water to remoisten the peat in the soil. It’s more challenging to do that with large pots.

Unusual Houseplant Behavior

The Plant is Stretching

What causes a plant to start stretching?


That’s a wrap for now. I am sure this list will continue to grow as I encounter more plant issues. But let’s hope not! Please leave a comment below and have a blessed day. amie sue

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