We all love that one corner in our room bearing houseplants. But it becomes somewhat discouraging when these indoor plants stop growing. This problem doesn’t happen in one day. After prolonged wrongdoings and unsuitable surroundings, the plant starts acting negatively.
So, in this article, we shall discuss everything about why is your indoor plant not growing and how you can fix the same.
In general, indoor plants stop growing because their primary care requirements are not met. Poor lighting conditions, Too much or too little water, low humidity, inadequate fertilizer, and unacceptable temperature range are primary causes of stunted growth in houseplants.
If your houseplant is not growing and you are unaware of the reasons, read this article to understand why your indoor plants are not growing and how to make them grow again. You will also find some care tips for your indoor plants.
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What are the causes behind indoor plants not growing?
It can be pretty frustrating when your houseplants stop showing any progress. You might think you’re doing the right things.
But somewhere, something is wrong due to which your plant’s health is not improving. That is what we will discuss in this article.
I have listed the probable causes for indoor plants not growing that I have encountered over the years. Read them attentively to know what is wrong with your houseplants.
Your plant is getting low light.
The indoor plants will need light for photosynthesis and energy. Without these, either they will grow slowly or just stop growing.
Make sure that your indoor plants are getting a good amount of light. You will have to research your particular houseplant to know its light requirements.
I would recommend placing them near a north or east-facing window during the summers as this direction provides bright and less intense sun rays.
A south and west-facing window during the winters would be nice. These directions get bright sunlight. During the winters, the sun’s intensity is low, so these directions would work fine.
If the plant is receiving excess light, you must protect your plant from the harsh sun by using curtains or Venetian blinds.
If the plant needs a lot of direct sunlight, you can place them in the south or west-facing windows or open balcony.
You can also use artificial lights for your indoor plants without much sun outside, expected during the cloudy monsoons. Wherever you keep them, just make sure they get proper light and no harsh sun rays.
Your plant is not getting enough water.
Plants need water to survive and thrive. When you do not give enough water, the plant remains dehydrated. It fails to absorb water and nutrients from the roots and soil.
Due to a lack of water and nutrients, your plant will not remain healthy and thus will stop growing. Along with slow or no growth, the plants show other signs, too, like dry, crispy leaves, yellow leaves, brown tips, and edges.
You can start by watering the plant at least once a week thoroughly. Reduce the frequency during winters. Keep checking the moisture level of the plant soil.
Poke your finger into the soil, and when you feel that the top ½ or 1 inch of soil has dried up, you need to water your plant.
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Your plant is getting too much water.
Just like less water, excessive water can be harmful too. The roots remain wet when you constantly overwater your plant without allowing the soil to dry out. They suffocate due to excess water and fail to breathe.
Due to the suffocation, the roots cannot absorb water and nutrients. This lack of water and nutrients results in yellow leaves, water-soaked brown spots at tips and edges. Eventually, the plant stops growing.
In worse conditions, prolonged overwatering can result in root rot, a nightmare for all indoor plants and even yours.
You will have to stop watering and wait until the top 1 inch of soil dries up well. Water the plant once a week. Let the soil get dry between the waterings.
How often to water the plants depends on the type of plant, size of the plant, pot material, time of the year, and many more.
In brief, a big plant will need more water than a small plant. A plant placed in porous pots might need frequent watering.
During summers, plants will need more water, especially the plants under direct sun. Some plants enter a dormant period during winters, so you can cut off watering frequency to less than half, compared to summers.
Different plants will have different watering needs. I recommend you research and know your plant’s requirements before you start watering it.
Both less and excess fertilizer can affect the growth of your houseplants.
Plants already get energy from the sun. They get nutrients from the soil because some ingredients in the potting mix work like fertilizers to some extent.
But over time, the soil becomes old and loses all its nutrients. The nutrients get washed away with each watering.
If the plants don’t get enough nutrients, they will not remain strong or healthy. They will look tired and eventually stop growing. So, fertilizing is essential.
Similarly, overdoing the fertilizing will also harm the plant’s health. They will have salt build up on the soil surface, which will absorb all the moisture, the leaves will turn yellow, and ultimately the plant will not grow in such unhealthy conditions.
To save your plant from such inappropriate fertilization, first, you need to understand your plant’s needs.
You should use a fertilizer containing the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium and micronutrients like iron, copper, calcium, boron, etc.
Fertilizing once in 1-2 months during their growing season would be suitable for your indoor plant.
Different plants will need different fertilizers. For example, a foliage plant will need high nitrogen fertilizers for healthy foliage, whereas a flowering plant will need a fertilizer high in phosphorous for abundant blooms.
Research and then fertilize.
The small, young plants will not need fertilizing right after their planting. The same goes for the recently re-potted plants. In both cases, the potting mix used is new and fresh, with all the fresh nutrients.
Some plants go dormant in winters. These plants also won’t need fertilizers during the winters.
Most indoor plants originate from tropical regions and thus thrive in high humidity conditions. Low humidity can affect their growth, leading to brown tips and edges in the leaves.
Misting sometimes might help, but it is temporary and not much effective.
If you have some tropical plants, fix a humidifier in that room. It can create the exact humid conditions your plants used to get in their native land.
There are other methods, too, like pebble trays, grouping plants, terrarium jars. But this might take extra time and effort. Fixing a humidifier is much more effective and effortless.
Sometimes, the soil is also responsible for stunted growth in indoor plants. The soil mix must support drainage and retain moisture.
You should also consider the pH level of the soil. Different plants have different needs for acidity levels. An imbalance in nutrition can alter the pH level, resulting in no growth.
Know your plant well for preparing the correct potting mix with the right pH level.
In general, an ideal temperature for all the houseplants ranges between 64°F and 73°F. It is necessary not to expose your indoor plant below or above this temperature range.
The plants won’t handle high temperatures, especially when the light levels and humidity are not equal to the plant’s natural habitat. Similarly, low temperatures will also harm them.
Most houseplants belonging to tropical areas will be unable to handle extreme cold conditions, resulting in poor health and no growth.
For healthy and constant growth in indoor plants, you need to provide your plant with moderate temperatures. Keep them away from devices like air conditioners, heaters, or ovens.
If the weather is cold and windy, keep your plant a few feet away from the window or just close it. Always provide them bright light for warmth, but away from the scorching heat.
If your plant has outgrown the pot, the roots will start growing out of the pot. The plants constantly go through different stages of growth, due to which the roots will need more space for flexible growth.
Lack of space will make the roots grow out of the pot, from the drainage holes, above the soil, the roots will grow around the plant, twisting. When you take the plant out, you will find the roots growing in a circular motion.
This type of situation is called root-bound. Some plants like to be rootbound for flowering. But excessive rootbound becomes a problem.
When the roots lack space for growth, they stop growing. The roots don’t absorb water and nutrients, as there is no soil left for the roots to absorb. Due to this, the plants too will stop growing.
If you want your plant back in motion, you will have to repot your plant.
Do not just jump to a huge pot. Choose a pot 1-2 bigger than the existing one.
Remove the old soil gently. Cut back all the damaged and thin roots. This will keep the roots healthy. Do not disturb the healthy roots and root ball.
Check for pests
Pests are another source that slows down the plant’s growth and kills the plant in worse conditions. They suck out all the nutrients and sap from the plant leaves and stems and leave them lifeless. Due to this, the plant stops growing.
The common pests found are – spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, thrips, scales, and mildews (powdery and downy).
Neem oil is an efficient and effective horticulture oil to remove all sorts of pests from the plant. Misting the plants once a month with neem oil will also prevent the pests from further attack.
Other ways are soap water and herbal sprays. If these natural ways don’t work, go for the chemical ones but use them carefully.
Your plant is dirty.
Indoor plants can attract dust. The problem arises when the leaves have a lot of dust, and the plant gets blocked from proper transpiration and good photosynthesis.
These two are very important for good health and growth in indoor plants. But when the plant cannot perform any of the two, it will slow down its growth.
So, it is essential to clean your plant daily. You can use plant wipers to clean the leaves. Wipe the dust with a wet cloth. While using a wet cloth, let the plant leaves dry out soon after cleaning.
Indoor plants grow well when they adapt to their existing environment. A constant change in location can stress the plant. They might also face temperature fluctuations.
When your plant is already thriving in one position, it is pointless to change its location suddenly. By sudden changes, you are constantly interrupting your plant’s growth and development. This not only slows down but also halts the growth.
You should only relocate your plant when you find any light, temperature, or humidity problems. Otherwise, if your plant is doing well in its existing position, let it be.
The plant has reached its full potential.
After doing everything right, your plant suddenly stops growing. The reason is your plant has reached its final stage.
If you own a plant that stopped growing at 12 inches, for example, peperomia, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong. Since the plant has reached its maturity, it won’t grow more.
Some plants grow slowly, and thus, they are kept indoors so that they do not take much space in your room. So when they grow slowly, you don’t need to worry.
Another natural reason behind indoor plants not growing is dormancy.
Most houseplants enter a dormant stage during the winters, for which they stop their growth. There is nothing wrong with this. Once the winter ends, the plant will be back to its average growth rate.
Tips for caring for your indoor plants to encourage their growth
Now that you have known all the reasons behind slow or no growth in indoor plants, you need to understand and follow some tips to care about your plant briefly.
But for adequate caring, you will have to research the particular plant you own and then take appropriate actions.
Choosing the right plant
There are different houseplants available. Choosing a plant that is easy to care for and grow would be better. You don’t have to put any extra effort behind them, for example, snake plants, cactus, aloe vera, ferns, or ivy.
They are effortless to care for and can even tolerate inappropriateness and ignorance to some extent.
You can choose houseplants according to your personal choice, provided your home environment is ideal for the plant you choose to grow. Whichever plant you choose, proper care and attention would keep them thriving.
Basic care tips
Soil: Ensure you are using the right potting mix. The pH level must match the plant’s requirements. The soil should support proper drainage and moisture retention.
Water: Search, read and understand your plant’s watering needs. Let the soil get dry in between the watering sessions.
It is better to water little than more. You can always fix under-watering. But overwatering can cause a deadly issue like root rot, which can kill your plant. So, do it wisely.
Light: Some houseplants will need direct light, some medium or indirect light, and some will thrive even in low light.
So, research and then place them in a place where they can get enough sunlight. You can also use artificial lights in case sunlight is not much available.
Fertilizer: Fertilizing less is much better than over-fertilizing. But never deprive your indoor plants of fertilizers.
Fertilize them during the growing seasons. As some plants go dormant in winters, avoid fertilizing during winters.
Transplanting: Plants will need repotting every 1-2 years. It provides more space and fresh soil with nutrients to your plants.
Fast growers will need repotting every year, but slow growers will need repotting every 4-5 years.
It is better to repot during the growing season because most plants will get shocked otherwise. The growing season will help the plants to recover and adapt to the new environment faster.
Some gardeners do not recommend repotting during winters. They state repotting during growing months interfere with the plants’ smooth growth and development.
Houseplants don’t grow due to dormancy in winters, and there will be no interruption in their growth. Thus they support repotting during winters.
However, you should always do the best for your plant.
Temperature, ventilation, and humidity: Most houseplants can thrive in temperatures between 65-75°F during the day and 10°F cooler during the night.
The houseplants will also need humidity matching with their native land. I would recommend you to keep your plant away from AC or any heated devices. Fix a humidifier in your room. Also, make sure that your plant receives good airflow.
- Never use oversized or under-sized pots.
- Choose a pot depending on the plant size.
- Select a pot at least 1 inch wide in its diameter than the diameter of your plant’s root mass.
In case your plant is a fast grower, choose 4 inches wider pots.
Now that you got complete information about the causes behind slow or no growth in your plants inspect what wrong you have done with your plant and fix it as soon as possible.
Do not further make such mistakes if you want your plant to remain healthy for a long time. Following the care tips would help you to prevent making such mistakes in your indoor plants.
Some reasons are usual, like reaching maturity or dormancy, so there is nothing to worry about in such a case. Your plant is completely fine and healthy.