THE FIRST STEP in treating your plants is to understand the likely dilemmas and their solutions. Here are a few common questions I receive about ailing houseplants and how to address them. Once you know what to look for, you’ll be surprised by how quickly your diagnostic skills improve.
Why Are the Leaves Yellow?
Start by evaluating your regular watering habits. Watering too frequently or infrequently can cause leaves to yellow. Tropical plants prefer moist soil, while cacti and succulents like the soil to go dry between watering. Always use your finger to check the top 1 or 2 inches of soil for moisture before watering.
Increase success by using containers with drainage holes or self-watering pots with weep holes that allow excess water to escape. Pour off any water that collects in the saucer to avoid root rot, or place pebbles in the saucer to elevate the pot above the excess water.
Once you rule out improper watering, it’s time to review your fertilization schedule. Let the plants be your guide. Pale, yellow or stunted leaves may mean the plants need a nutrient boost. Use a diluted solution of houseplant fertilizer and only fertilize actively growing plants from spring through early fall, even if they’re always indoors.
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