Signs That Your Plant is Unhealthy

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Trying to care for any plant, although it can be quite rewarding, can also be quite difficult. The fact is that all house plants need certain things to stay healthy and alive, and each plant is different from the next.

Light, water, temperature, soil, drainage, fertilizer, and more are all important factors which will contribute to plant health. If any of these parameters are off, you might end up with an unhealthy plant. So, what are some of the signs that your plant is unhealthy?

Signs That Your Plant is Unhealthy

Yellow Leaves

One of the main afflictions which your plant may be suffering from is the yellowing of its leaves, and there are several things which may be causing this.

Improper Moisture Levels

This is a very common issue, one that most often has to do with moisture. First off, underwatering your plant can lead to yellow leaves.

If you suspect that this may be the case, check the soil to see how dry it is. If the soil is bone dry, chances are you have been underwatering the plant. Make sure to water the plant, and to give it enough water until it runs out the drainage holes in the bottom.

Overwatering may also be the cause of yellowing leaves. To check if your plant is overwatered, try lifting the pot up to see how heavy it is.

Also, test the soil to see how wet it is. Is the pot really heavy and full of wet and sticky soil? If so, you are probably overwatering your plants. House plants usually only need to be watered once per week.

Lack of Sunlight 

Another main cause of yellowing leaves on plants is a lack of sunlight. Most house plants are going to need around 14 hours of sunlight per day. Direct light is usually best, but indirect light works as well.

If your plant is not getting nearly enough light, it cannot properly perform photosynthesis, which then leads to yellowing leaves. If your plant is not getting enough sunlight indoors, you may want to substitute light with an indoor plant grow light, such as this one.


There are also various other causes of yellow leaves, although they are not as common as the causes discussed above. Other factors which may be to blame include your plant being too cold, infections, and various nutrient deficiencies.


Another sign that your plant is unhealthy is if it is wilting, which is characterized by drooping leaves and stems. As with yellowing leaves, the most common cause for wilting has to do with moisture levels.


The most common cause of a wilting plant is that it is not getting enough water. Remember that most house plants need to be watered about once per week.

If you have been giving your plant much more water than this, the pot feels very heavy, and the soil is almost muddy, you can be sure that your plant is overwatered.

Some good methods to stop this from happening include only watering the plant when the top 2 inches of soil are dry, and to provide your plant with soil that features good drainage.


Overwatering is usually the cause of wilting leaves, but it may also be caused by underwatering. If you notice that the soil is extremely dry, almost dusty, and the pot which the plant is in is very lightweight, chances are that your plant is not getting enough water. Simply increase the amount of water you provide the plant.

Brown Leaves 

Another sign that your plant is unhealthy is if it has brown leaves, particularly the leaf tips. So, what causes this to occur?

Root Rot

The most common cause of the tips of leaves turning yellow is root rot. Root rot occurs when the soil is too wet, to the point where it literally causes the roots to drown and rot. This is technically a disease which attacks the roots, usually a fungus which thrives in moist conditions.

If your plant has root rot, it may also appear to be wilting, and it may also feature very stunted growth. Unfortunately, in many cases, once root rot has set in, there is not much that can be done.

However, you may be able to salvage the plant if you put it in a bright and sunny area, a dry spot with ventilation. You need to do everything possible to dry the plant out to remove as much excess moisture as possible. You may even try using a dehumidifier such as this one to try and dry the plant out.

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Burnt Leaves

The next sign that your plant is unhealthy is if it has burnt or scorched leaves. There is one main cause for this, so let’s take a look.

Too Much Sunlight

This really depends on the particular plant, but more often than not, scorched leaves that look like they are burnt, are most often caused by exposure to too much direct sunlight. Some plants are fine with large amounts of direct sunlight, while others are not.

If you have a plant that doesn’t do well in direct sunlight, and you have it sitting in a sunny window, chances are that it’s getting too much sunlight, thus resulting in the burnt leaves.

This could be due to being exposed to too much UV light, or it could be that the excessive light and heat is drying up your plant, effectively dehydrating it. To remedy this issue, you should try to move the plant out of direct sunlight and provide it with more water.

Leaves Falling Off

Another very common sign that a plant is unhealthy is if the leaves are falling off. This can be caused by a number of things.

Environmental Changes

Plants are easily stressed by changes in the environment, particularly in terms of humidity and temperature. Plants may drop leaves due to stress caused by a change in the environment. Plants often need a few days to adjust, although if the change is too extreme, the plant may not survive.

A Small Pot

Another cause of leaf drop is if the plant is being kept in a pot that is too small which means that there isn’t enough room for the root system to develop, and therefore the plant will not be able to support many leaves. If you need a large pot, check this one out.


Leaf drop may also be caused by overwatering. If your plant is wilting and dropping leaves, check to see how wet the soil is.


There you have the 5 most common signs that your plant is unhealthy, and what you can do to try and remedy the situation. You may have to engage in some trial and error here, as plants are finicky, and signs of being unhealthy can often be caused by a myriad of factors.

It’s all about finding out what the root cause of the issue is, and then remedying it before your plant dies.

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