You think you’re doing the right thing watering your plant until you see the yellow or brown leaves and think your plant is dying.
What’s going on?
Why Do Plants Turn Yellow and Brown?
The leaves of your plant can turn yellow or brown because of overwatering.
Overwatering your new plant is possible because you don’t know the needs of your plant yet.
Signs of overwatering your plants:
Leaves turning yellow or brown.
Soil that never dries out.
Mushy leaves or mushy spots.
Small insects, flies for instance, on the surface of the soil.
How Not to Overwater House Plants
There are different factors to take into consideration when it comes to water your plants properly. The material of the pots, heating, air-conditioning, the size of the container, for example.
The easy fix is to buy this soil moisture sensor here. The needle will show you 3 zones: red, green and blue:
The red zone: from dry to slightly humid, for plants such as cactus.
The green zone: slightly humid to humid, right for most plants.
The blue zone: very humid. Your plant doesn’t need more water.
With or without the soil moisture sensor, it’s important to pay attention to your plant the first month until you see new leaf and plant growth.
Leafy plants require more water than plants with more rigid structures such as cacti, snake plants or plants with woody stems.
Smaller plant containers need to be watered more often in general. On the other hand, you don’t need to water every inch of soil in bigger pots.
Sometimes, having watering rules for the seasons is not accurate. It could be summer and still some days could be cold or rainy and less water is required for those days. Take into consideration the weather every day instead of the season in general.
Tip to avoid overwatering your plant: check if there’s water pouring into the saucer underneath your pot. If there’s a lot of extra water in your saucer, pour it off after a day and water a bit less next time.1
How to Revive an Indoor Plant
If the leaves are yellow stop watering. Check your plant daily and water only if the soil is dry to the touch.
Check the drainage of the pot is working properly.
Especially during winter, consider moving your plant to a warmer spot if temperatures are low.
The yellow leaves won’t revive. However, new leaves and branches will grow.
How Long Does It Take for a Plant to Recover from Overwatering?
The plant in the picture recovered in two weeks. Meaning, growing new leaves and branches.
The damaged leaves remained yellow as you can see in the picture. You’ll have to cut them or they’ll dry and fall off anyway.
There are different variables to take into account to water your plants properly. Indoor plants seem easier to take care as you can control these variables better than with outdoor plants. However, sometimes you think you’re doing the right thing and still overwater or underwater your new plant.
The plant in the picture recovered because proper action was taken as soon as the leaves turned to yellow. The first action: stop watering ASAP until the soil was dry to the touch.
Lesson learned. Take a month to observe your new plant until taken care of it becomes part of the routine and new leaf and plant growth show that your plant is healthy.
Stearns, J. (2019). The Inspired Houseplant: Transform Your Home with Indoor Plants from Kokedama to Terrariums and Water Gardens to Edibles. Sasquatch Books. ISBN 9781632171788.1
Singh , D, Davidson, J. (2019). Gardening for Newbies – Introductory Techniques & Tips to Indoor Plant Culture. Mendon Cottage Books. ISBN 9780463207994.
Peerless, V. (2017). How Not to Kill Your Houseplant: Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged. Penguin. ISBN 9781465469809.