How to Help a Withering Plant


To restore a withering plant to a healthy, attractive condition you need to diagnose the problem. The most common causes of withering plants are inadequate or excess water, pests and limited root space. Examine the plant carefully and use a process of elimination to determine the issue. Once you have identified the problem, the correct solution will be evident. Diagnose and treat your plant as soon as you notice signs of wilting or leaf discoloration, and in most cases you will be able to restore it to healthy growth.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish or horticultural soap
  • 1 pint spray bottle
  • 1 pint water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swab
  • Potting mix
  • Planting container with drainage holes

Diagnose the Problem

  • Check the soil moisture level. Poke your finger into the soil down to the first knuckle. The soil should feel slightly moist but not soggy.

  • Inspect the plant for insects. Look for infestation on the undersides of leaves and at the growing tips.

  • Check if the plant is root bound. The soil of a root-bound plant will dry out quickly even when frequently watered. More roots than soil will be visible on the sides of the root ball when it is removed from the container.

Treat the Problem

  • Water plants only when the top inch of soil is dry and before the soil below that has dried out. When water flows through the container drainage holes, the entire root ball has been watered.

  • Spray infested plants with a mixture of 1/2 tsp. dish or horticultural soap in 1 pint of water. Treat mealybug infestations by dabbing the powdery white infested spots with rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab.

  • Transplant root-bound plants into containers one size larger than those they had been growing in. Be sure the containers have drainage holes. Use potting mix, not top soil.

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