5 Reasons Your Plants Are Dying, According to a Pro

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"If you find yourself asking "Why is my plant dying?" far too often, an expert is here to help. Here are 5 reasons you should know about."

Indoor houseplants can be complicated. Each one has a unique set of needs—we’re talkin’ different amounts of light, watering, fertilizer, soil, and beyond. So if you don’t naturally have a green thumb, it might be hard to figure out exactly what your plants are asking for… and why so many are dying. But don’t fear, a plant pro is here.

Nkhensani, the plant expert behind @hermerakai, shared some helpful plant parent tips that will shed some much-needed light on why your houseplants are dying.

“You’re walking down the shopping aisle or visiting the nursery and you see it—that plant! The one that seems to be looking at you saying, ‘Please take me home with you,’” Nkhensani wrote on Instagram. “Then, you buy this green girl without knowing what it needs. And before you know it, it has died and you feel like you’re the worst plant parent in the world, swearing off to never buy another plant again.”

The good news? She says even the best plant parents have killed plenty of plants. “That’s how you learn,” she says. All you need to do is learn the reasons why your houseplants might be dying, then prevent those same issues from popping up in the future. Thriving indoor jungle, here you come.

red and white flowers on green ceramic vase

Why Is My Plant Dying? Here Are 5 Reasons

1. You’re Not Considering the Environment

Not all plants thrive in all environments. “You need to consider the amount of light, space, and temperature of your home or space,” Nkhensani says. Before you buy a new plant, figure out whether it will do well in your home or not. Do this for plants already in your space, too: Some might do better in a humid bathroom, while others prefer a sunny windowsill.

2. You’re Not Doing Enough Research

Speaking of doing research, Nkhensani says to avoid buying plants “without any knowledge of how to care for it.” For example, that calathea you saw at your local greenhouse looks cool. But Nkhensani says a little research will tell you it’s high-maintenance, and if you aren’t able to give it the attention it needs, it’s probably not the best option.

houseplants dying

3. You’re Not Doing Regular Check-Ins

Nkhensani says ignorance is not bliss when it comes to your plants. “Checking on them regularly will help you determine if they’re okay or not,” she says. These check-ins are crucial, as they could help you identify potential problems—such as pests or root rot—before they become fatal to your plant. You’ll also notice if the soil is bone-dry, or if a plant is root-bound. The sooner you realize something is off, the healthier your plants will be.

4. You’re Choosing Aesthetics Over the Health of the Plant

You like how a plant looks in a particular spot. But are you taking the plant’s health into consideration? If it’s not getting the right amount of light it needs in that dark corner, for instance, it’s not going to last long. That’s why if you’re purchasing a plant for a particular part of your home, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand the conditions of that area first.

why is my plant dying

5. You’re Buying a Plant That’s Already on Its Deathbed

Sometimes a plant dying isn’t your fault. “You can be the best plant parent in the world and plants will still die on you,” Nkhensani says. To avoid this scenario, look for recent growth when shopping for a new plant. New growth should be a lighter, more vibrant green in most options. Also look for pests, check the soil, and follow the other tips in this checklist that will help you select a healthy plant.


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If you find yourself asking "Why is my plant dying?" far too often, an expert is here to help. Here are 5 reasons you should know about.

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