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Reading The Leaves: What Your Plant’s Foliage Is Trying to Tell You

Leaves can say a lot about the health and current status of your plant. If you have a plant, take a look at the following things that your plant's foliage is trying to tell you.



Leaves are malformed or have discoloration

The plant is being overwatered

If the leaves of your plant are looking misshapen or have discoloration, then the plant is probably receiving too much water.


When a plant receives too much water, it can cause the root system to become overwhelmed and flooded with moisture. This results in a plant that is not growing correctly, discoloration of the leaves as well as twisted leaf formation.


If this is the case, you will need to reduce the amount of water you give your plant or increase the time between each watering session.



Leaves have yellow discoloration on the edges

The plant is being overwatered or watered improperly

Plants with discoloration are not being given the appropriate amount of water, which can mean one of two things: the plant is being given too much water, or the water is not being absorbed properly.


This can occur when plant owners water certain plants from the top when they need to be watered from the bottom. Watering a plant from the bottom means placing the pot (always with drainage holes!) in a bowl of water and allow the water to be absorbed by the roots.



Leaves appear brown and crunchy

The plant is not receiving enough humidity

If the leaves of your plant have changed color and turned brown, along with developing a hard and almost crunchy feel, then they are telling you that the plant needs more moisture.


When a plant is not getting enough humidity, it becomes dehydrated. This dehydration results in a lack of watering being spread throughout the plant’s system. The leaves will lose their natural coloration and begin to die, which results in a crunchy exterior.


If this is the case, you will need to increase the amount of humidity being given to your plant by using a humidity tray or a humidifier and probably also decrease the amount of time between each watering session.



Leaves appear too pale

The plant requires more nutrients

If the leaves of your plant appear paler than they should be, this is a sign that the plant requires more nutrients. Plants that do not have enough nutrients will not be able to produce the same patterns and colors as healthy plants, which results in a less vibrant appearance on their leaves. This same paleness can sometimes occur with flowers in flowering plants as well.


Plants need six macro-nutrients to survive. They get carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen from air and water, but they also need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which they can get thanks to a regular fertilizing schedule.


Remember to use the amount recommended according to the guidelines and the specific type of plant you are growing. The key is to use enough fertilizer to help the plant get the nutrients it needs without overwhelming it.



Leaves that grow very slowly or not at all

The plant is not being watered or fertilized enough

If the leaves of your plant are growing very slowly or not growing at all, then this is a sign that the plant needs more water or more fertilizer.


If a plant has not yet produced buds but is not being watered or fertilized enough, then the buds will take a much longer time to grow – or they may not grow at all. If a plant has produced buds that sprouted into leaves but the plant is not being watered or fed enough, this can cause the leaf growth to slow down or stagnate entirely. In either case, it is a sign that the plant is conserving water and nutrients to keep the plant alive rather than use them on new growth.



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