Health Is Wealth, Get That (Plant) Green

Loving your plant is easy enough, but how well do we know our plants? While we fall hard and fast in love with plants, make them the center of attention, and care for them unconditionally — plants, like people — want to be understood. Get on a deeper level with your plants and you’ll be able to tell when there’s trouble in paradise.

Health Is Wealth, Get That (Plant) Green

Words by The Sill

Common Care Questions Next Article
Loving your plant is easy enough, but how well do we know our plants? While we fall hard and fast in love with plants, make them the center of attention, and care for them unconditionally — plants, like people — want to be understood. Get on a deeper level with your plants and you’ll be able to tell when there’s trouble in paradise.
“That’s sick”

As a rule of horticulture, plant health is always determined by new growth. If a plant is growing, it is generally fine, but of course, there are exceptions. If a plant is growing but dropping as many leaves as it grows, this could be a sign that the plant is pot-bound or nutrient deficient. Plants might also drop old leaves as a sign of aging. When you’re assessing plant health, the best diagnosis starts with simple observations. Is it just one leaf yellowing and dropping, or is the whole plant showing signs of stress?

If a plant stops growing or is dropping perfectly healthy leaves, it’s usually a light issue. If you increase the light, you can spur new growth. If you increase light and nothing happens, try adding some fertilizer. Although some plants have a dormancy period, they usually will not drop their leaves unless they are deciduous, meaning that they drop their leaves and go dormant for a season. When you buy your plant, any good plant retailer will tell you if the plant goes dormant. Some common indoor plants that go deciduous include bulbs and some Dendrobium orchids. Keep in mind that most indoor foliage plants are evergreen.

Know the Green-ing

It helps to know what color your plant should be, in a fully healthy state. Although most plants are green, some naturally occur with other colors or variegation. If you bought your plant at a nursery or plant shop, whatever your plant looked like in the shop is what it should generally look like in your home. If your plant has lots of pigmentation, it will be harder to see if something is wrong with the plant, based on color alone. For example, many burgundy rubber trees are burgundy in color. This pigmentation may mask any leaf yellowing, but it’s not impossible to see if you look closely.

Unhealthy plants will die back more than they grow. They may grow in a deformed way or be discolored. Do not confuse blush (which is a reddish color associated with new growth for many plants) with discoloration. New growth is usually brighter than older growth, but will darken over time. Unhealthy plants will have an unhealthy look, growth that’s spindly, not much growth at all, and prone to insect infestations.

Healthy plants will grow unabashedly. Even if the growth is a little unruly, that’s still ok. Compare new growth to older growth on the plant — a healthy plant’s newer leaves should resemble the older leaves. If they are bigger, the plant is doing exceptionally well. And that means you are too!

Key Plant Terms Glossary

Plant Physiology   Node Nodes are the places on a stem where leaves attach, and buds are. Buds may be recessed into the stem, but the node is usual...

Signs of Overwatering Your Plants

How do I know if I’m overwatering my houseplants? It’s easy to want to give your plant babies too much love and attention — but did you know overwa...

Best Time to Water Your Plants

When watering your houseplants, keep in mind the time of day. The best time to water indoor plants is during the morning hours, before the sunshine...

Size Matters

If the difference in your plant collection is a matter of size, you’ll want to make sure your small and big plants are getting the care they need. ...

Growth Spurts

Plants are like children in that, they grow up so fast. Ask any plant parent, or human parent for that matter. But the rate at which plants, like p...

New Digs: Moving Plants Small & Tall Short & Long Distances

Moving to a new home or apartment? Instead of painful, the process should be precious, especially if you are packing up a few plants. Keep these ti...

Calcium Buildup 101

Calcium. The stuff of strong bones is an essential element for all life. But while it’s necessary, sometimes calcium can buildup. Here’s the what, ...

Not So Mellow Yellow (Leaves)

If you’ve ever seen yellow leaves on your what-was-once-green-plant, read on to find out the causes, symptoms and solutions. It’s going to be fine!

Just Say No: Leaf Shine

Because plants should look like plants. Not plastic. First things first: We do not recommend using leaf-shining products on your houseplants. Plant...

Plant Care: Potting Mix 101

Most plants need soil to live. It’s where their roots are and where they get their water from. But it may surprise you to learn that not all soil i...

Plant Care: Plant Toxicity

Is there a creature making a meal out of your plant? Let’s take a look at the fascinating way plants protect themselves from being eaten.

Plant Care: Fertilizer

You know your new plant needs the right light and just enough water, but what about fertilizer? While it can be great for plants in the long-term, ...

Plant Care: Repotting

Repotting your plants can be tricky, but we have a few tips to make it a success. Proper repotting is key to avoid stressing out your plants. If yo...

Why You Need Plants in Your Life

Indoor plants don’t just look good, they make us feel good mentally and physically, too. They've been shown to boost moods, increase creativity, an...