7 ways you're unintentionally killing your houseplants and how to help them thrive

Danielle Salt August 16, 2022
7 ways you're unintentionally killing your houseplants and how to help them thrive


We love to see our monsteras and pothos vines thrive but we may not always know how to best take care of them. Been there? So have we, so we did some research.

As we go through the hottest part of summer it’s vital we understand what our houseplants need and how the atmosphere and temperature of our home can affect them.

We might be doing them more harm than good without realizing, for example by following long-disproven tips.

So, here are seven ways you might be inadvertently killing your houseplants and how to help them thrive again.

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Interior of domestic room. Potted plants with watering can at home.

1. Too much sunlight

Sunlight is healthy depending on the type of plant you own but, if a plant is exposed to the sun for too long, molecules in the plant absorb more energy than they can handle, potentially destroying the plant.

That’s why you need to place each type of plant in the kind of light that’s best suited to them. Click here for a guide by Savvy Gardening on to how your houseplants “see” lighting conditions in a room.

A lesser known fact is some plants are easily sunburnt so too much light can be as bad as too little.

Researching the type of plant you own and the amount of sunlight they can handle is the best way to prevent these complications.

2. Adapting to the seasons

Did you know plants adapt to the weather and seasons, meaning your plant-care routine should adapt with the weather too?

Scientifically, plants are known to adapt to their environment out of necessity. The summer is known to be the perfect time for plant growth but it’s when they will need the most water. In the winter certain houseplants can become dormant and won’t need as much watering.

3. Repotting

The only way to know if your plant needs repotting is by understanding what healthy and unhealthy roots look like.

If you can see a lot of roots showing at the bottom of your plant pot, it might be time to repot your plant. It is important to note you should move the size up slightly as, if you increase the size dramatically, this can cause your plant to go into “shock”.

A plant that has been repotted may show signs of wilting leaves or could even die. This is called transplant shock, which is caused via damage to the roots during the repotting process.

4. Moving your plant too much

Moving your plant around too much can cause damage to the plant and can risk the plant not getting enough water, sunlight or warmth.

Plants are good at adapting to their environment but moving them around constantly can cause them to never fully adapt to their living conditions.

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5. Under and overwatering

It’s important to get the balance right when watering your plant.

The Smart Garden Guide says it is easy to ensure you don’t overwater your plant. Make sure your plants are in a well-lit area and choose a pot with plenty of draining holes.

To avoid underwatering, don’t put your plants in an overheated area and ensure they are in the right type of soil. It is important you consider investing in a watering globe if your plant needs more water. The Smart Garden Guide states watering globes, which are planted in the pot, normally last for seven to 14 days depending on the size of globe, the soil they are placed in and the plant’s requirements.

6. Rocks in the bottom of your plant pot

Placing rocks in the bottom of your plant pot may seem like an easy fix to helping proper drainage and preventing soggy soil and rotting roots. However, this can actually prevent your plant from receiving vital nutrients from the soil.

Roots need to be in contact with soil to ingest water and nutrients. Rocks prevent this. On top of the lack of nutrients your plants could be getting, rocks also take over important space for roots to spread.

7. Leaf-shine spray

Leaf-shine spray may seem an easy way to get your plants looking healthy and fresh, but it could make your plants deteriorate.

Plants breathe through their leaves and, when you spray them, you are clogging the plant’s stomata, the Laidback Gardner states. A lot of homemade leaf-shine suggestions such as wiping with olive oil and mayonnaise are also a bad idea – you could attract pests into your home. And no-one wants that!

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