Common problems with house plants and how to fix them

Houseplants are a wonderful way of making your home feel more natural and welcoming. In fact, recent studies have shown that people who keep houseplants tend to live longer and generally be healthier. But while some people have “green thumbs”, this may not be the case for everyone. Badly kept houseplants can suffer from a number of problematic conditions that can affect their growth or even kill them. The good news is that most of these problems have simple solutions you can turn to. If you know the telltale signs of each condition, the problem should be easy to catch and treat before things turn bad for your plant. The following guide details the most common problems you may encounter and their solutions.

Plant diseases

Healthy, well-kept plants are unlikely to become infected with disease, but problems start if the plants are overwatered or suffer from poor air circulation. Not giving your plants enough water is a common enough mistake, which will be discussed below, but did you know that overwatering your plants can be just as bad? Different plants have different watering requirements, so it’s best to look up the information about each plant or ask for specific instructions at the garden centre when buying the plant. As a rule of thumb, though, soil needs to be well-drained. You want to avoid a situation where the roots are immersed in water, as this can cause root-rot. Overwatered soil can invite fungal diseases that are very damaging or even deadly to plants. Watch out for white fungal growths, black spots or plants that turn brown and gunky and slowly wilt. Avoid misting plants in rooms with bad air circulation. If plants do get infected, remove infected leaves, increase air circulation in the room and reduce the frequency of watering.


You may think your plants are immune from parasites by virtue of being indoor plants, but sadly that is not the case. To avoid infections as much as possible, always check plants carefully for bugs before buying them. Many parasites are already present at the garden centre and unless you discover them, you may bring home an infected plant and put your other houseplants at risk of infection. Watch out for anything suspicious – whether white, green, brown or black, any tiny bugs you find on a plant are bad news. But even if you take the time to ensure you bring home only healthy plants, infections can happen further down the line. As with the above diseases, healthy plants are less likely to become infected, so start by making sure your plants are well-watered, well-drained and well-located according to their light requirements. Should they become infected with parasites, there are both chemical and natural solutions to each type of parasitic infection that you can either buy from a store or make at home. The good news is that if you follow the instructions carefully, most infections can be dealt with quite effectively and the plant can be saved, although it may take a bit of time to heal completely.

Growing condition problems

The most common houseplant problems are actually down to human error. For example, yellowing leaves, failure to thrive, failure to flower and defoliation could all be the result of poor lighting conditions. Plants need just the right amount of light to thrive. Not enough light and you get the above problems. Too much light and leaves will appear scorched and dry. If your plant is not getting enough light, move it to a brighter spot or use a grow light (find out more about how to work with these on LumiGrowth, which has some useful guides and tips). If your plant is getting too much light, move it to a darker spot or out of direct sunlight. Similarly, plants could be displaying signs of overwatering or underwatering long before they attract pests or disease. Watch out for small or yellowing leaves, weak growth, wilting plants and defoliation, which could be signs of too much or too little water, as well as the aforementioned lighting issues. Experiment with different locations, watering less (or more) as required and keeping plants way from fans, air-conditioners and open windows in cold countries.