6 common houseplant problems – solved!


Indoor plants

Does your favourite indoor plant look a little under the weather? Don’t give up on it because the solution may be simpler than you think.

Here are some of the most common problems with houseplants, and what you can do to help solve them.

1. My plant’s roots are turning black and rotting

Possible cause: Overwatering. Excess water and poor drainage can do plenty of damage to your indoor plants.

Solution: Try the following to prevent waterlogged soil and save your overwatered plant from serious damage:

  • Use a skewer to poke holes in the soil and aerate it.
  • Repot your plant using fresh potting soil with drainage holes and feed it with Nitrosol.
  • Find out how often your specific plant should be watered and stick to these guidelines.

2. My plant won’t grow

Possible cause #1: Your plant may be too big for its current pot.

Solution: Repot the plant into a pot that is about 5cm larger in diameter than its current pot.

Possible cause #2: Nutritional deficiency.

Solution: In order to grow and reproduce efficiently, plants require the right amount of nutrients. Feed your houseplants with an all-purpose plant food that contains macroelements and microelements, such as Seagro or similar products, which you can find in stores (or on our online shop – deliveries in Cape Town only).

3. My plant’s leaves are sticky, misshapen and turning yellow

Possible cause: Red spider mites. These tiny but vicious spiders are hard to see but easily identified by the little droplets of water trapped in tiny webs on the underside of the leaf after watering.


  • Spray canola oil or red spider mite spray on the underside of leaves.
  • Spider mites hate cold water, so deter them by spraying your plant twice a day with cold water, ensuring it hits the undersides of the leaves and any other hiding places.

4. My plants have brown and brittle tips

Possible cause: If you spot dead, brown tissue on the tips of the leaves, it could mean that the environment is too dry for your plant.


  • Place your pot plants on top of a shallow tray filled with pebbles and water. When the water evaporates, it will help to create humidity for the plants.
  • Regularly mist the leaves with a gentle spray.
  • Move your plant to a part of the house with high humidity, such as the bathroom.

5. There is a powdery, fungal growth on my plant’s leaves

Possible cause #1: Powdery mildew (a plant disease). If your plants are in an environment with high humidity and poor air circulation, it can become a breeding ground for disease.


  • Nurse your plants back to health by picking off the infected leaves and improving the air circulation around them by, for example, placing them near open windows.
  • Place plants in a well-ventilated room to maintain their health.

Possible cause #2: Mealybug. These common pests look like pieces of cotton stuck to the leaves of your indoor plants.

Solution: Treat your plant by wiping the leaves with a damp cloth to remove the waxy coating of mealybugs, then spray thoroughly with Efekto Malasol or a home-made pest repellent – just mix garlic, a cup of cooking oil and a little dishwashing liquid blended with water, and add to a spray bottle.

6. My plant’s leaves are drooping

Possible cause: Lack of light.

For your houseplants to remain healthy, they require ample light to aid their growth. If the plant’s leaves are drooping or cupping upwards, or if it is visibly bending towards the light, it may not be receiving sufficient light.


Consult the plant’s label and follow the care guide, as different houseplants vary in their light requirements. You can also google its requirements if you no longer have the label.

Move the plant to a different spot with better light, such as a windowsill.

Rotate your plants often to avoid lopsided growth, and remove any barriers to light reaching your plants, such as blinds and sheer curtains.

If you have limited light coming into your home, grow indoor plants that are better suited to low or medium light, such as peace lilies and ferns.

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