Common Plant Problems

If you're visiting this page, you're likely having some problems with your plant. Fear not, trial and error is inevitable as a plant parent. No matter how green your thumb, pests will pop up, leaves will turn yellow and despite our best efforts, plants will die sometimes. Check out the most common plant issues below and let's heal your plant.  It's best to isolate your plant if you're dealing with a disease and test any solution you use on one leaf before the entire plant as some plants are more sensitive than others.

aphids.jpg

Aphids

Aphids are tiny, plump pests no larger than 1/8" that feed on various parts of a plant, most commonly the stems, leaf undersides, and new growth. They typically affect plants that have been living outdoors and then brought inside. immediately isolate from other nearby plants and check neighboring plants. Remove as many aphids as possible with a damp paper towel or by forcefully hosing them off with water. Wash the leaves with a weak solution of unscented, liquid soap or neem oil and warm water in a spray bottle. The soapy mixture kills aphids on contact. Spray the plant on a regular basis to control the infestation and continue to monitor the plant before reintroducing it to other houseplants. 

gnats.jpg

Gnats

Fungus gnats are tiny, black winged insects and look very similar to fruit flies and other gnats. As unsightly as they are, they are relatively harmless pests that have virtually no effect on established plants.  To get rid of them, mix one part 3% hydrogen peroxide with four parts water and drench the soil the next time you would normally water the plant. The soil will fizz for a few minutes after watering which is normal. The hydrogen peroxide will kill the larvae on contact. Repeat for 2-4 weeks or until the infestation subsides. Alternatively, you can use Mosquito Bits and follow the instructions as described. 

mealy bugs.jpg

Mealy Bugs

These soft-bodied pests appear as distinctive cotton-like masses and can gather on any part of the plant including the roots, although they often are found near new growth. Although these spread quick, they are one of the easier houseplant pests to control and treat. Simply use a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to kill mealybugs on contact, wiping them off the plant. Use a weak soapy mixture with unscented liquid soap or neem oil and warm water in a spray bottle and thoroughly spray the plant, ensuring to get the undersides of the leaves and any crevices. 

scale.jpg

Scale

These look like odd growths or scabs more than an insect. They tend to gather on the stems, underside of leaves, or along the leaf mid-veins but can appear anywhere. They are a round, flat or risen bump and are typically white, brown, or tan.  Scale is often introduced indoors by bringing home new plants, reusing pots, or by using contaminated potting soil. They are widespread outdoors and can easily be transferred indoors from anything that was living outside. Dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and rub off as much of the scale as possible. Make a diluted soapy mixture with unscented liquid soap or neem oil and warm water in a spray bottle then thoroughly spray the plant, ensuring to get the undersides of leaves and crevices. 

spider mites.jpg

Spider Mites

Spider mites are not actually insects but relatives of spiders and ticks. Adults are often red or brown but come in other colors. These are incredibly tiny pests, often smaller than the size of a pinpoint, and incredibly difficult to spot with the naked eye until a large infestation has taken hold of the plant.  Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions, often appearing in winter months when humidity levels drop and indoor heating goes up.  Wipe as many as possible with a damp paper towel. Use a weak soapy mixture with unscented liquid soap or neem oil and warm water in a spray bottle and thoroughly spray the plant, ensuring to get the undersides of the leaves and any crevices. 

yellow leaves.jpg

Yellow Leaves

A yellow leaf here or there isn’t a reason for concern. Instead, look at the overall health of your plant. If the yellowing is significant and widespread, then it is an indication that something is making your plant unhappy. This is caused by over or under watering. As a general rule, houseplants  like their soil to dry out about 2-3" down between watering. It's always better to under water than over water.  Please also note that many plants will naturally shed their lower leaves as they grow.