How to spot what's wrong with your houseplants – and save them

How to spot what's wrong with your houseplants – and save them

Sarah Gerrard-Jones (@theplantrescuer) doesn’t believe some people are born with green fingers, while others are serial plant killers.

She does, however, advocate that plants are adept at conveying their needs, but their cries for help often fall on deaf ears as owners consign them to the compost bin.

‘I want to give houseplants a voice so owners can recognise their needs and rectify any problems before the plant reaches the point of no return,’ says Sarah, who started her journey rescuing broken plants from garden centres and bringing them back to life, and has recently published a book about it.

‘An unhappy plant can be a great teacher, but only if you take the time to notice,’ she adds.

Here she lists some common tell-tell signs and how to respond to them.

Problem: Showing roots

Diagnosis: Needs a bigger pot

If the roots are growing out of the bottom of the drainage holes, the pot is distorting out of shape, the lower leaves are yellow or growth has stopped, the chances are your houseplant is screaming out for more space and needs repotting.

The best time to repot is spring, the start of a plant’s active growing phase – and I suggest using a pot just one or two sizes bigger than the current one.

How to repot a houseplant

Problem: Brown circular spots

Diagnosis: Fungal infection

Bacterial and fungal spores love a moist environment and giving your plant water without enough light creates the perfect conditions.

The plant should be moved away from other plants to minimise the spread of infection, and affected leaves cut off.

Keep foliage dry when watering and remove any fallen leaves from the soil. Treat the plant with an organic fungicidal spray – then move to a brighter position or alternatively, water less.

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