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Why did the plant die?

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

There are a number of factors that can lead to the sudden death of indoor plants. If you have read my previous post, you will know that I have had tons of experience in that area. It may look healthy before but all of a sudden may decline and suddenly die. The most common factors are below.

Improper Watering

A lot of new plant owners usually makes this mistake. After bringing a plant home, without checking the soil, they tend to drench the plant. This usually causes the roots to be waterlogged and as a result root rot. Root rot is the most common cause of sudden death in indoor plants. The plant may look okay at first but once it dies, the cause will be apparent after removing it from the pot. Healthy roots are firm and pliable, rotted roots are soft and mushy. It can sometimes stink as well. Under watering may be another reason. However, it is less likely to occur since most plants thrive when the soil is allowed to dry between watering. Unless of course, no water is available. Or the owner simply forgot that the plant ever existed. Tap water can also lead to the sudden death of plants as it contains chlorine which may be harmful to most.


If watering issues aren’t to blame for sudden plant death, look closely for signs of insects. Some common pests are difficult to spot. For example, mealybugs are indicated by cottony masses, usually on the joints or undersides of leaves. Spider mites are too tiny to see with the bare eye, but you may notice the fine webbing they leave on the leaves. Scale is a tiny bug with a waxy outer covering. If left alone, the plant may wither before anybody notices it.

Light Sources

Plants are supposed to crave sunlight, but too much sunlight can be deadly to most indoor plants. Most indoor plants usually grows in the shady area of the region they are found. Too much sunlight can cause sunburn and dryness. The same goes for too little or no light. It will not be able to photosynthesize properly and can impede on their growth and sometimes eventually starve to death. Some plant owners use grow lights to overcome this issue. Different plants need different amounts of light during the day, and some specifically require periods of darkness. Plants that require limited light exposure or that grow best in the shade do not do well if exposed to light for long periods. Therefore to use artificial lighting, one needs to control the time for the light to be in operation depending on the species of plants.


Houseplants can be afflicted with many different bacterial, fungal and viral diseases. Identification can often be done through inspection of the plant and the growing conditions. Being able to identify the disease helps you to treat your plant correctly and take steps to prevent further problems. Some may be curable and eventually saved. However, if you notice a houseplant developing symptoms of fungal leaf spots, remove any affected leaves and fallen debris laying on top of the soil where the fungi thrive. In not so severe infections, you can treat with a fungicidal spray safe for your particular plant that kills the infecting fungi. For most severe cases, there is no cure for the problem and it is best to discard the plant and the used soil and not take the chance of infecting a new healthy plant by reusing it.

Over fertilizing

Houseplants need fertilizers to get all the nutrients they need to be healthy. However, excessive fertilizer can harm plants, so it’s important to keep the balance right. Plants need the right balance of nutrients to support growth and metabolism, so if you’re not seeing progress, that’s a good sign that the nutrients are imbalanced. Be sure to check the fertilizing requirements of each individual plant before you attempt to feed them.

There may be more reasons but I think these are main causes of a lot of sudden death in plants. Plants are unique and beautiful in their own ways. So in order to keep it that way, be sure to be mindful of their needs and give them the proper attention that they require.

I would like to hear about what you think. Did I miss any important information? Or maybe you have the formula to successfully maintain the plant health. Do comment.


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