4 Signs That Your Indoor Plant is Unhealthy

Nothing is more frustrating than caring for an indoor plant, only to have it not do so well. Or maybe you’ve been busy, your indoor plant has been a bit neglected, and it’s showing. In any case, don’t worry—you can totally diagnose your plant’s problem and nurse it back to health.

Here are 4 signs that your indoor plant is unhealthy, along with tips on how to remedy the situation:


Sign #1: A wilting plant

If your indoor plant is wilting, this is a classic sign of dehydration. Basically, your plant doesn’t have enough water.

First, check to see that the soil in the pot is dry. You can do this by sticking your finger 1-2 inches into the pot, and feeling the soil moisture. If the wilting plant is in dry soil, you’ve got a dehydrated houseplant on your hands.

If your plant is lacking water, there are a bunch of things you can do to remedy the problem. You can always water it with a watering can, but there are other methods that might be more effective if the soil is really dry. One thing you can do is set the pot (with holes in the bottom) in a tray or sink filled with water. This will allow the soil to absorb water slowly over a few hours. When the soil at the top of the pot feels moist again, remove the pot from the water. Another option is to poke holes that are 1-2 inches deep into the soil, and water it generously. Keep watering until the soil is moist, and water runs out of the drainage holes in the bottom. Whatever method you choose to recover the soil moisture, be sure to water the plant once a week.  If your plant is getting a lot of sunlight, you also might consider moving it to a less intensely sunny window so the water doesn’t evaporate too quickly.

Another note: although most wilting plants don’t have enough water, overwatering can cause wilting. If you think that’s the case, adjust your watering schedule so your plant doesn’t have too much water.


Sign #2: Yellowing leaves

This houseplant condition may indicate an issue with moisture. It can be a symptom of either underwatering or overwatering your plant.

Check the soil in the pot. If it feels really dry, underwatering might be an issue. Try the steps outlined in #1 above to recover soil moisture, and follow up with regular watering. Typically, indoor plants should be watered once a week. If the soil feels too wet, you may be watering your plant too much.  In this case, try watering the plant less frequently. The soil drainage may also not be good enough, making the soil too wet. If that is the case, make sure your plant is in a pot that has holes in the bottom and can drain water.

Another issue may be that your plant is too far away from the sun. Remember, that plants need sunlight to perform photosynthesis and make their own food. If they are too far away from the sun, there may not be enough light to photosynthesize enough, causing the leaves to turn yellowCold temperatures, nutrient deficiencies and infections can also cause your plant’s leaves to turn yellow.

Since yellowing leaves can be symptomatic of several things, you might have to do a little sleuthing. First, we’d suggest checking the soil and sunlight availability to your plant. Try adjusting the watering regime, or its closeness to windows. If those don’t seem to be the problem, consider the temperature, fertilization regime and whether it may have an infection.  

Photo courtesy of StackExchange


Sign #3: Scorched leaves

This issue indicates the plant has had too much direct sunlight. Placing your plant directly in a window may seem like a great idea, but too much light can cause leaves to get burned. This happens when the plant doesn’t have enough water and gets dehydrated.

Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Extension

If you think your indoor plant has scorched leaves from too much sun, move it out of direct sunlight. Check the soil to see if it is too dry, and add water if it needs any (see #1 above). Then, do a little research to see if your plant prefers direct sun, or if it would rather be several feet away from windows. Even if your plant does like a lot of sun, hot summer months can stress it out. Adjust its position and your watering regime according to what best suits your indoor plant’s needs, and the season.


Sign #4: Brown Leaf Tips

If the tips of your plant’s leaves are brown, it may have root rot. Root rot is actually a disease that attacks the roots of plants when the soil is wet. The disease is caused by a fungus that loves wet conditions. Other symptoms of root rot are wilting, and the plant may seem like it can’t absorb nutrients from the soil and grow properly.

With root rot, the plant may not be salvageable, but there are things you can do to try to save it. With root rot, it’s crucial to keep the soil as dry as possible. Don’t water it unless you absolutely must, and some sources even suggest pulling the soil around the plant back so it can dry out more.

Photo courtesy of Gardening Know How


Your indoor plant may appear unhealthy for a number of reasons, but don’t fret. While there are many reasons your plant may not be doing so well, there are also many ways you can help it reach optimum health once again. We hope this list of signs that your plant is unhealthy help you identify problems you may be having. We also suggest getting to know your houseplant and what it prefers in its indoor space. For example, some plants thrive under direct sunlight, while others prefer less sun to live their best lives. Once you know your plant, and consider how to best care for it in your house or apartment, you’re off and running. Happy indoor gardening!



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