15 Basic Mistakes That Kill Houseplants

15 Basic Mistakes That Kill Houseplants

We, plant lovers, have bought many plants enthusiastically but ended up killing them. For beginners, being a plant killer is the ultimate sadness. Nothing can beat the feeling of seeing your happy-looking plant meeting its sad fate because of our own mistakes and negligence. Do not feel bad if your plant fails to thrive; we have all made some basic mistakes that kill houseplants. However, with every new plant comes a new lesson.

mistakes that kill houseplants

The most economical and environment-friendly change you can bring into your home is the addition of plants. From bedroom to living room and kitchen, there isn’t a single place where plants don’t fit. Besides giving a lovely outlook, plants also offer enormous health benefits. However, to keep your plants healthy and lush green for a long, you must take proper care of them. We’ve listed a few common mistakes that most plant owners make and kill their plants. So, you can avoid them and keep your plants fresh and healthy.

Common Mistakes That Kill Plants:

Most houseplants are low maintenance and easy to grow. However, some basic mistakes can be the reason for killing these beauties. Let’s look at the most common mistakes you should be aware of.

1. Over-Watering The Plants

If you are watering your plants thrice a day thinking it’s care, you’re mistaken. Beginners think that all plants need to be watered the same way. That is why overwatering is the most common cause of houseplants not living.

Some plants need little to no water for growth, while some constantly need wet soil to thrive properly. For example, cacti and succulents do not like wet soil and can survive for weeks without water. Similarly, the ZZ plant is another house plant that can go without water for extended periods. Whereas plants like Pothos, spider plants, and fern like moist soil.

overwatering in plants

So, it would help if you water the plants considering their type and needs. Over-watering causes fungal diseases in the roots of plants, ultimately leading to death. Excess water also damages the soil quality. Hence, it is suggested to be very careful while watering your plants.

Easy prevention!!

One rule for watering plants is “the thicker the leaves, the less water a plant needs.” Here’s a tip: if you don’t know when exactly you should water your plants. Wait until the upper one-inch part of your plant soil dries and poke a finger in it to confirm if the soil is dried properly. Once you are sure, water the plant as per its needs.

2. Poor Drainage System

Drainage is one of the essential factors for your plants to grow healthy. And poor Drainage System is among the common mistakes that kill houseplants. Plants don’t like sitting in water or moisture for long. If the fancy planter or pot you’ve bought for your plants doesn’t have a good drainage source, your plants will not flourish. Extra moisture or water also causes root rot.

poor drainage mistakes that kill houseplants

Easy Prevention!!

Buying a planter or pot with single or multiple drainage holes can easily prevent poor drainage. Even if you have a beautiful pot with no hole, you can simply drill holes into it. So, you can drain additional water through them. Moreover, you can add soil amendments to the potting mix to make it more draining. Check this article to know more about how you can improve drainage in potted plants https://plantergalleria.com/improve-the-drainage-in-potted-plants/

3. Too Much Sunlight

Sunlight is vital for a plant’s survival. However, some plant lovers think that all plants need a lot of sunlight. Exposure to too much light, especially indoor plants, can be hazardous as some plants grow in shady places and don’t need excess light. At the same time, some require extra sunlight to flourish. Therefore, ensure you know your plants’ requirements and give them light accordingly.

Too much sun mistakes that kill houseplants

Easy Prevention!!

To keep your houseplants alive, you must remember that not all plants need direct sunlight. Exposure to too much sunlight can be the biggest mistake that kills houseplants. However, you can easily prevent this mistake by doing simple research before buying your plant. You can adjust the placement of the plant by learning what amount of light your houseplant needs to do well.

4. Over and Under Fertilizing

All plants have different nutritional needs. Fertilizers contain all the necessary nutrients plants need for growing and staying lush green. If you don’t understand the importance of fertilizers and don’t provide adequate quantities to your plants, the plants will grow weak leaves showing no development. While, if you over-fertilize your plants, the leaves will turn brown, and plants with brown leaves look very unappealing.

Easy Prevention!!

To avoid damaging your plant’s natural look by under fertilizing, you must carefully understand the manufacturer’s instructions. After understanding, carefully give your plant the required dose. However, if you have over-fertilized your plants, immediately clean the roots and soil with tap water.

5. Beware of Pests and Insects

Plants and wet soil are the best places for insects. Pesticides like Spider mites, Aphids, Fungus gnats, etc., are always looking for ways to get into your planter and damage the plant’s root and soil. However, these pesticides don’t get a chance to invade your plant if the indoor conditions are well controlled. However, if you notice or treat the problem too late, the infestation will take hold or spread to the surrounding plants.

Easy prevention!!

Make sure the plant you are buying isn’t already insect infected. If the pesticide attack is in the initial stages, you can remove them by hand easily. However, spraying anti-pesticides is also fruitful in getting rid of insects.

6. Dirt on the Plants

One of the most common mistakes that kill houseplants is not cleaning the dirt from plant leaves. You may think that the ground on plants is natural and harmless, but it can stop the sunlight from reaching the sun and invites pesticides toward your plants. Both of these things can cause the death of your plant.

Easy Prevention!!

Clean your plants regularly, so dirt does not accumulate on the leaves. You can use a soft damp cotton cloth to remove dirt from plants. Also, baking soda in 1-liter water is perfect for cleaning plants.

7. Cold Weather

Do you like your fingers being frosty in the cold? Of course, No! The same goes for plants. Although houseplants are getting accustomed to various temperatures, low temperatures are dangerous. In the cold, the plant’s cells get damaged, blocking the nutritional pathway and ultimately killing your plants.

cold shock in plant

Easy Prevention!!

This is not among the common mistakes that kill houseplants but needs proper attention and solution. In frost, keep your plants in a moderate temperature room or install a heater to keep the temperature warm and plant-friendly.

8. Neglecting your Plants

Many people grow plants out of boredom. Hence, they neglect their plants once they get something engaging. But why would you bring a plant home to forget them? This is one of the most severe mistakes that kill houseplants. Neglecting can be in any form. You may be under watering and under-fertilizing your plants or not giving them adequate light.

neglect mistakes that kill houseplants

Easy Prevention!!

An easy way to overcome this problem is by setting reminders on your phone. Keep reminders of plants’ watering days and nutrients timing. Follow these carefully, and you’ll soon see yourself caring for your plants.

9. Inadequate Knowledge

If you are beginning with planting, you should research appropriately on each plant before buying. Not understanding plants’ nutritional and watering needs can be fatal for the plant. Moreover, having proper knowledge about the pot material in which you are reporting the plant is also very important.

have knowledge of plants

Easy Prevention!!

You can read books related to plants. If not books, consult Google to know the basic details of plants you love. This will help you in taking proper care of your plants.

10. Poor Soil Quality

You are making a mistake when you reuse your old pot soil for a new plant. The soil you are reusing lacks nutrients that are essential for plant growth. So, your plants will not flourish in it. This is one of the prevalent mistakes that kill houseplants.

Moreover, the indoor plant does not grow well in garden soil, as it is not fast draining and lacks nutrients necessary for growing plants indoors. So if you use the regular garden soil in your pots, it can be a problem for the plant.

soil quality mistakes that kill houseplants

Easy Prevention!!

If you are reusing the same old pot soil, first remove roots and pathogens from it. Then add nutrients to this soil and mix well. Now, your soil is ready to become a safe home for your plants. Furthermore, you can add soil amendments like perlite, vermiculite, coarse sand, etc., to increase the quality of your soil.

11. Container Size

Another mistake usually ignored while potting plants is choosing the right container size. If you pot a plant in a small container, it will crowd the roots. In comparison, the too-large container can retain excess moisture, leading to root rot.

Easy Prevention!!

A deeper pot is perfect for plants with a long root system like spider plants. In contrast, other plants can survive well in shallow or wide pots. When repotting the plant, buy a container only one size up or 1 to 2 inches more than the old pot.

12. Moving Plants Too Often

Plants like stability and do not like being moved much from their environment. Because changing its position a lot can cause variations in variations and humidity levels. Activities that disrupt the habitat of plants like repotting a lot and changing rooms often can cause stress to the plant.

moving plants too often

Easy Prevention!!

If your plant is happy at its place and shows no dissatisfaction, it is best to let it be. And do not move its position a lot if the plant grows at its steady growth.

13. Poor Air Circulation

Good air circulation is an overlooked necessity for a healthy plant. Without proper air circulation, the plant’s soil can remain moist, which is perfect for mold and fungus growth. However, dampness is not much of a concern when air flows through and around your plants.

Easy Prevention!!

Place your plant near the window to get all the needed air circulation. Even when the windows are closed, the temperature fluctuations result in a slight breeze which can be sufficient for the plant. However, in a closed room, the best practice is to use a fan which can cause the air to circulate throughout the room.

14. Varying Humidity Levels

An environment with a high humidity level is the most favorable for mold growth. An ideal humidity range for indoor plants is 50%-60%. Similarly, dry conditions with low humidity, especially during winters, can cause stress to the plant.

Easy Prevention!!

If your indoors are not humid enough, you can consider using a humidifier. Whereas for high humidity areas, it is important to provide good air circulation, so the soil does not always remain moist.

15. Using Alkaline Water

In our houses, we usually water the plants with regular tap water. But the tap water which is not filtered is alkaline, containing salt and chlorine. And this water can change the pH of the plant resulting in poor soil quality. Hence the color of leaves changes from green to brown, eventually falling.

leaves falling due to alkaline water

Easy Prevention!!

Not everyone buys bottled water for the plants. However, you can easily clean the tap water. Just fill a bucket with tap water and let it rest for 24 hours. All the salt and chlorine will settle down at the bottom, and you can use clean water for watering the plants.


We hope this article provides you with detailed insight into the blunders that led to the death of plants. Multiple mistakes kill houseplants, but the above-discussed errors are the most repeated ones. If you are starting with gardening and planting, avoid making any of these mistakes.

If you enjoyed this article, please leave a comment below. And check our website for more articles.

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