Avoiding Overwatering and Overfertilizing for Healthy Houseplants

Houseplants need additional fertilizer to grow strong roots and blooms, but too much fertilizer may not be beneficial! A water-soluble fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium works best for most houseplants.

Check for signs of over-fertilization, such as white crust on the soil surface, burned or dry leaf margins, and wilted plants. Also, ensure that plant containers have drainage holes!


Houseplant owners frequently make the mistake of overwatering or underwatering their plants. The amount of water each type of plant needs depends on factors like climate, soil type, and the environment in which it grows; watering on a scheduled basis without taking this into account could prove counterproductive to its well-being.

When watering your plant, the moisture must reach its roots. Too much soil saturation will suffocate its roots, leading to fungal infections, or too little humidity will prevent the absorption of crucial nutrients for the healthy development of the plant.

Most houseplants need their soil kept moist but not wet for optimal care, depending on the plant in question. This might mean watering it every few days during spring and summer and less frequently throughout autumn and winter; other species, like orchids, cacti, and succulents, may only require irrigation once or twice weekly. When watering, use only rainwater or distilled water as most species are sensitive to chemicals found in tap water – using rainwater instead can help ensure plant health!

One of the primary causes of houseplant failure is under or overwatering. Too much moisture will suffocate its roots and lead to severe root rot issues, while too little can cause it to wilt, which is an indicator that additional water should be given.

Watering from the soil level, rather than spraying its foliage directly, is essential to avoiding leaf burn and fungal disease in plants that rely on their leaves for nourishment. Water absorbed more evenly by thick or dense potting soil will also benefit more significantly.

When watering your plants, first test to see if their potting soil feels dry by gently pressing your finger into it – if so, water until its surface feels moist to the touch.


Fertilizing houseplants is essential to their growth and overall health; however, too much of a good thing can also have serious repercussions. Just like us humans, plants can experience “nutrient overload,” where too many nutrients (in this case, extra soluble salts from too much fertilizer) enter their system at once. Therefore, you must learn about reading your houseplant’s nutrient requirements as well as any guidelines associated with the fertilizer you choose in order to avoid over-fertilizing, which can have similarly disastrous repercussions as overwatering;

Overfertilization can have multiple ramifications, the most noticeable of which is “burning” your roots. Fertilizers contain high concentrations of salts, which draw moisture away from roots via reverse osmosis, leading to chemical burns and dehydration resulting in crispy, brown edges on leaves, wilted plants, crown rot, or dead roots – symptoms you should look out for!

If your plants show signs of overfertilization, the first thing to do is flush the soil until the excess salts have been washed away by rinsing it with water until it runs clear. This will flush away excess salts around their roots and help the plant absorb all necessary nutrients more efficiently. You may then report them using high-quality potting soil suited to their growing conditions and nutritional requirements.

Liquid and granular houseplant fertilizers are usually water soluble, making the effects of overfertilization somewhat visible quickly. Slow-release granular and spike fertilizers may take several weeks before symptoms appear.

Before restarting fertilization, be sure that the soil is moist but not saturated and that your plants are free from stress or blooming. Apply fertilizers early in the morning when sunlight levels are less intense to prevent burning while helping your plants absorb all their necessary nutrients.

If you want to avoid overfertilizing altogether, choose an organic houseplant fertilizer made of natural material or animal waste without synthetic ingredients. Such fertilizers tend to cause less nutrient burn, though it’s still wise to read and follow all packaging instructions regarding how often to feed your plants.


Plant growth and health depend heavily on sunlight for photosynthesis – the process by which light, carbon dioxide, and water combine into carbohydrates that provide energy to power their growth or seed production. Without sufficient light levels available to them, houseplants will eventually wither and die.

At its core, lighting requirements for plants vary with each season and variety. Foliage species generally need more light during their growing period, while flowering varieties require less.

Fall and winter houseplants need additional water but less light for healthy growth. They should be watered as necessary rather than regularly, rather than scheduling it into their schedules – to prevent diseases or leaf spots occurring from splashing water directly onto their leaves or stems, which could prompt bacteria build-up on leaves or stems.

Some plants act as natural air purifiers, absorbing harmful chemicals while providing fresh oxygen into the indoor environment. Boston fern, bamboo palm, and weeping fig are especially effective at filtering VOCs that may be present in household cleaners or furniture products, increasing humidity levels to help avoid dry eyes or skin conditions.

All plants require a balanced diet of nutrients for optimal growth, but more fertilizer may be beneficial. Too much may damage roots and stunt their development, while too little could cause deficiencies in particular nutrients. When fertilizing, be sure to follow label instructions regarding appropriate amounts to use.

Most houseplants can withstand both shade and sun conditions, yet some species thrive more vibrantly and lushly when exposed to direct light. A ficus tree, for instance, thrives well when placed on a windowsill or table in a bright room as long as indirect lighting is abundant.

Houseplants often benefit from regular care to remove dust that collects on their leaves. A gentle shower of room-temperature water or a soft cloth should do the trick – wiping off dust from the underside of leaves helps improve airflow and allow more sunlight into their care.


Maintaining humidity levels in your houseplant environment is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to ensure its survival. A humidifier is an excellent way to do this during winter when heating systems can dry out the air in your home, especially if heating systems tend to produce dry air conditions. Humidity measures the amount of water vapor present in the air. It can be expressed either as absolute (water vapor per unit of air) or relative humidity (the ratio between total water vapor content and moisture content at given temperatures).

The ideal humidity levels for different species of plants vary considerably; tropical varieties often need higher humidity, while plants native to temperate climates can flourish with lower levels. In general, plants with larger leaf surfaces require higher levels of moisture, while those with longer stems or roots benefit more from reduced levels.

Humidity is essential to photosynthesis, the process that powers plant growth. Too little moisture causes plant stomata to close prematurely and hinder photosynthesis; too much humidity causes excess water to remain on leaves and cause stress or damage.

High humidity provides an ideal breeding ground for certain diseases and pests, including powdery mildew. Other adverse effects of humid conditions include root or crown rot and fungal leaf spots, which can further harm plant health.

Plants generally thrive at temperatures ranging between 40% and 60% relative humidity, which is best achieved by keeping the soil moist through misting or using a humidity tray. Furthermore, placing them in bright rooms that offer lots of natural sunlight helps promote increased humidity levels.

Low relative humidity tends to be the main threat to houseplants. When air conditions become too dry, transpiration cannot fill all leaves evenly with moisture for transpiration processes, and nutrients cannot be taken in efficiently, which causes plants to wilt and turn brown as their leaves attempt to compensate by transpiring water through their leaves and absorb it through transpiration processes. As a result, they often wilt and turn brown in response.

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