Diagnosing Houseplant Problems

Wilted Peace Lily
Several issues can cause wilting.  Identifying the primary cause is the first step to fixing the problem.

Growing indoor plants is a rewarding hobby that yields beautiful results.  But when problems arise with your indoor plants, it can be difficult to determine how to fix them.  

What to do When you Have a Problem

When encountering a houseplant problem, ask yourself, Are the environmental conditions appropriate for this species?

Houseplants have certain environmental considerations that need to be met to have healthy, attractive plants.  If problems arise, start by understanding what that particular species of plant needs for light, soil, water, humidity, temperature, and fertilizer.  If these environmental conditions are not ideal, they must be changed, or the houseplant must be moved to a location where they are ideal.

Problems are Often Complicated!

Many problems are not caused by a single factor – they often result from several factors coming together to cause an unhealthy or unattractive plant.

Look for More Than One Factor

Look for more than one factor contributing to an issue. For example, brown leaf tips are often caused by low humidity.  But the problem is not solved when you raise the humidity if you are also over-fertilizing.  Both things cause brown leaf tips, so both need to be identified and corrected to eliminate the problem.

Identify the Primary Issue

Look to identify the primary issue causing the problem. For example, you can treat with an insecticide to control fungus gnats (albeit difficult), but the primary issue is wet soil.  Without addressing the primary problem (wet soil), the secondary issue (fungus gnats) will always return.

Identifying the Problem

The problems we often see in houseplants can be divided into four categories.  Click below to find information on identifying and treating various issues within each category.

weeping fig dropping leavesImproper Environmental Conditions

weeping dracaenaPoor Culture

orchid with scale on leavesInsects & Pests

houseplant with black spotDiseases 

More Information

Last reviewed:
January 2024