We all want our houseplants to stay looking as beautiful and healthy as they did when we bought them. However, problems can affect houseplants just the same as any other plant, leaving our lovely collections looking less than happy.

Here are some of the houseplant problems we get asked about the most, and some top tips to tackle them.

Yellowing leaves
When your plant’s vibrant green leaves start to go yellow, it can be worrying. But don’t panic.

Yellowing leaves can be perfectly normal. If you see the odd leaf yellowing at the bottom of the plant, it’s most likely doing its natural job of shedding its oldest leaves. It might even be a sign of new growth on the way.

If your plant’s leaves are yellowing all over, it’s time for some closer monitoring. Keep an eye on your watering – if the soil is completely soggy it’s probably too wet. Check there’s plenty of drainage, and let it dry out for a bit longer between watering.

Any yellowing leaves won’t turn green again, so you may want to remove any that have turned completely yellow to keep your plant looking lush.

Dropping leaves

Much like yellowing leaves, dropping leaves can be a natural part of a houseplant’s lifecycle, especially if they’re dropping from the oldest part of the plant.

If there’s some serious shedding going on, it might be time for action. Persistently dropping leaves can be a sign of any number of problems, from lack of light to over or under watering. Try moving your plant to a brighter spot and monitor how damp the soil is. Most tropical houseplants like soil that’s moist but not wet and prefer their soil to dry out a bit between watering.

Wilting / shrivelling leaves
If your houseplant’s leaves are dry and shrivelled around the base of the plant, this might be normal. It could be shedding its oldest leaves.

If the whole plant is drying up, it’s a sure sign it needs more water. Try setting a reminder on your phone or writing a prompt on your calendar if you often forget.

Bear in mind that leaves going brown and crispy on the ends is quite common, particularly with tropical houseplants. Either cut the ends off the worst offenders or learn to live with a bit of crispiness.

Little black flies
One of the most common pests affecting houseplants are fungus gnats – little black flies which can live in houseplant soil.

Fungus gnats are generally harmless to most houseplants, except very small plants and cuttings where they can hurt the youngest roots. On established plants the biggest problem is how annoying they are for us – often seeming to make a gnatline for people’s faces.

Fungus gnats thrive in the top layer of moist soil, so your first line of defence is letting the soil in your pot dry out. If you usually water plants from the top, try switching to watering from beneath for a while to keep the top layer as dry as possible. This interrupts the gnats’ natural lifecycle.

Still struggling?
If you’ve tried a range of tactics and your plant is still suffering, don’t worry. Houseplants have a lifespan just like any other living thing and it may simply be coming to the end of its natural life. If it is time, compost your plant and perhaps treat yourself to a new one.

Learn more about HOUSEPLANT CARE AND PROPAGATION by joining one of our workshops at our HOUSEPLANT FESTIVAL on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th February 10am - 4pm. Entry to the festival is FREE. Workshops cost £12.99 per session.

To find out more and purchase your workshop tickets use the links below.