Why is My Plant Not Growing?
Houseplants become like our children: we expect to have a tall ruler in the livingroom to mark their yearly growth. But things are not always that simple. What are the reasons behind your houseplant not growing anymore? How can you fix the problems?
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The Reasons Why Your Houseplant Is Not Growing
As with many houseplant health issues, the answer can sound like everything and anything. However, do not become overwhelmed. Do a step-by-step diagnosis, making slow and steady changes.
Analyze the Season
In the spring, your plant is just starting to emerge from dormancy.
In the Mid-to-late summer, your plant is in the heart of its growing season and should be producing plenty of new growth.
In contrast, if it is the Fall-Winter, your plant is in dormancy. While it’s not uncommon for a dormant plant to produce a leaf or two, do not expect prolific growth.
If you determine that you are in the ideal season, what reason could your houseplant have for not growing?
Lack of Light
One of the easiest things to analyze is the amount of light your plant is receiving. Plants require light to fuel photosynthesis, which nourishes it. A lack of light means that the plant is nutrient-deficient and has entered ‘survival mode.’ It will stop growing. No amount of water or fertilizer can fix this problem.
While many plants will survive in less than ideal conditions, they will stop growing. To achieve the goal of a thriving plant, you must put it in proper lighting.
If you cannot provide enough natural light for your plant, consider purchasing a grow light.
Common Lighting Requirements
Full Sun or Direct Sun Plants These plants require the maximum amount of light your house has to offer. They require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Place them in front of your brightest window.
Bright Indirect Light Plants with these requirements need continuous filtered, bright light. They can usually stand an hour or two of the direct morning sun. Place them on the morning-sun side of your brightest window. Or directly in front of a window with a sheer curtain.
Low Light No, this does not mean “no light.” These plants should always be in a room with a bright window or in a shady window-sill. Even the lowest-light plants, such as the Sansevieria and ZZ Plant will not thrive in the lowest lighting conditions in your home. They need bright indirect light to promote growth.
Your watering routine could be another reason why your houseplant is not growing. Too much or too little water will contribute to stunted growth.
This is the #1 houseplant issue. Therefore, take your time and examine your habits closely. New growth requires healthy roots. Excess water damages your plant’s roots and contributes to root rot, an almost irreversible condition.
The symptoms? Your plant will have a yellow-tinge. The soil will be fragrant. And you may be struggling with Fungus Gnats, which love moist soil.
Most plants require that the first layer of soil dries out before more water is required. Become familiar with your plant’s specific care needs.
If you are unsure if you should water, it is recommended that you wait a day or two. Underwatering is easily fixable and less dangerous to the overall well-being of your plant.
Chronic underwatering will halt plant growth. What are the symptoms? Your plant’s soil will be dry and crusty, with the top 2 inches or more of soil being bone dry, and the soil separating from the pot’s edge. Your plant will have brown edges.
Frequent underwatering can be the result of waiting until you see physical signs that your plant needs water. Such as wilting stems or curling leaves. You must monitor your plant’s soil, and care for it according to your plant species’ needs.
Following a set schedule (i.e. weekly, biweekly) contributes to overwatering. However, it is beneficial to set reminders on your phone to check the moisture levels of your plant if you frequently forget about them.
As stated above, the occasional slight underwatering is less dangerous to your plant than overwatering. Always err on the side of caution, but do not frequently allow your plant to cross the line into chronic underwatering.
If you are confident in the lighting and watering conditions of your plant, it is time to examine your plant’s container. When was the last time you repotted your plant?
Living rootbound could be another reason why your houseplant is not growing. Why? The plant has squeezed out the soil, which it needs for moisture and nutrient retention. You will need to repot your plant into a container that is at least 1-2 inches larger than its current pot.
Too large of a container will also contribute to stunted growth. Why? Your plant’s roots are too small to absorb the moisture in the soil, leading to overwatering and root rot.
A lack of proper nutrition may be another reason why your houseplant is not currently growing. The proper mix of fertilizer will give it the boost it needs.
If you have never fertilized your plant, and have not repotted recently, your plant most likely has nutrient-deficient soil. Research your plant species to determine what fertilizer routine is most beneficial for it. Many houseplants require half the prescribed strength every month-or-so.
Do you ever wonder what 20-20-20 means in the world of fertilizer? It describes the percentages of Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium in the mix. Nitrogen promotes overall growth, Phosphorous boosts root health, and Potassium encourages strong stems. Research to see what your plant variety needs.
Low Humidity Levels
Many houseplants come from tropical regions, including those that are labeled “low light” and “low maintenance.” These plants require a humid environment to flourish.
If your plant is suffering from a lack of humidity, it will exhibit symptoms similar to that of underwatering: brown tips and edges. While there are many methods to increasing humidity, a humidifier is by far the most reliable method.
If you have run the full diagnostic and are still unsure of the reason why your houseplant is not growing, check it thoroughly for pests. You can locate many types of bugs on the bag of leaves. Plants stop growing when they are under attack in an effort to survive. Quarantine your plant and research how to treat the specific pest your plant is fighting.