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Plant Problems Part 2: Light, Water and Temperature

Here it is, part 2 in our series on Plant Problems. 

In the last blog post we talked a bit about some of the basics to avoid any plant problems and some of the first steps to take when you think there might be an issue on the horizon. Now it’s time to delve into some of the common problems associated with Light, Water and Temperature. 

Once you are able to pinpoint what each symptom means, you’ll be better equipped to remedy the problem and get your plant back to looking its best. Just be aware: not all symptoms are specific to one problem - it might take a bit of trial and error before you figure it out, but once you do your plant will be thanking you for it!

First Up: Temperature

Temperature is a tricky one - sure a room may be too hot or too cold but that doesn’t always mean moving your plant to another room is going to be the best thing for it...What if that really cold room has the perfect light? Or maybe you shifted plants from a really hot room to a room where they’re getting too much direct sunlight. Sometimes it’s easier modifying the space your plants are already in rather than playing shuffle and having to deal with a whole new host of problems. 

For example, some quick fixes for a cold room might include using blankets to stop any drafts, opening the blinds more, putting down a large rug or even just using the room more yourselves!

Hot rooms can be cooled by opening doors and windows (just be wary of any drafts that might hit your plants!), using sheer curtains to diffuse the sun but maintain good natural light, and closing the room off from other hot rooms like kitchens. 

Problem:Newer adult leaves are smaller than other, older leaves

Reason: Too hot

Fix: Move the plant to a cooler location. 

Problem: Wilting

Reason: Too hot OR too much natural light

Fix: Move the plant out of any direct sunlight and double check the watering - you may need to increase it. 

Problem: Yellow Leaves, Leaf Spots

Reason: Too cold

Fix: Move the plant to a warmer room or  increase the temperature in the room (eg add artificial heating)

Next Up: Light

Similar to temperature, the answer when dealing with too much or too little light isn’t always ‘move to another room’. You’ve obviously got your plant there for a reason - it might work well with the space, or maybe this a room you use a lot and what more plants in there. If you can create the right conditions for the plant WITHOUT having to shift rooms ...perfect!

Light hacks can be as simple as opening the blinds more, using sheer curtains, adding or removing mirrors to/from the room, or even closing the blinds a bit earlier each day. Grow lamps are also great options and there are a range of styles and types to suit most budgets. Hangers can also be used to to move plants in and out of light levels.

Problem:Burnt leaves

Reason: Too much direct sunlight

Fix: Adjust the plant’s positioning so its not getting as much (if any) direct sunlight or diffuse the light with a sheer curtain.

Problem:Leggy or thin growth

Reason:Not enough light

Fix: Shift the plant to a space with more natural light or increase its exposure to natural light by opening curtains or adding mirrors to the room. 

Problem:Slow growth

Reason:Not enough light

Fix: Shift the plant to a space with more natural light or increase its exposure to natural light by opening curtains or adding mirrors to the room.

Problem: Yellowing foliage and leaf drop

Reason: Too much natural light

Fix:Shift the plant to an area with less light.

Last Up: Water

Getting the watering right for your plants can be a little tricky at first but with a little observation and awareness you’ll be fine. The amount of water your plant takes up will not only depend on what type of plant it is, but also how much light it’s getting and how warm the room is. 

Managing your watering is always toughest when the conditions change - think, moving from winter to spring and summer or even just moving your plants between rooms. For the first few weeks after any change, pay extra attention to your plants and adjust your watering as required. Water metersare a great way to get to know your plant’s thirst levels, but don’t rely on them for the long term. They’re best used as a tool to help you understand your plant, not something to replace your own intuition.

Problem: Root Rot

Reason: Plant sitting in water or being watered too often.

Fix: Don’t let the plant sit in water - if it hasn’t taken up all the water in its drainage tray after a few hours, empty the tray.  Reduce how often you water the plant and allow the soil to dry out a bit between drinks. 

Problem:Brown Leaf Edges or leaf curl

Reason: Not enough water, not humid enough

Fix:Keep the soil moist, increase humidity around plant

Problem: Leaf drop

Reason: Too much or too little water. Could also be due to exposure to drafts

Fix: Adjust watering and keep an eye on the soil (don’t let dry out for too long and don’t let it sit in water). Move plant away from any possible exposure to drafts 

Alright! That’s it for this week but stay tuned for the next post dealing with all things pest and disease related!

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