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Nine signs your houseplant isn't happy and needs some TLC fast

By Rachael Gavin|

Indoor ?plants have become a popular addition to our homes by turning nature into stunning dcor.

But unlike vases and cushions, houseplants need to be looked after according to each variety's specific needs.

As hard as we try to look after our greenery, they can still end up unhappy and struggling to thrive.

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Just like when you're unwell, there are signs and symptoms a plant will have if it's not feeling the best, and in most cases these problems can be addressed and treated to get your plant healthy again.

Here are nine signs your plant is struggling, and what to do about it:?

Wilting leaves

Signs your houseplant is struggling
Wilted leaves are sure signs your plant is struggling. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

An easy way to tell if your indoor plant needs some attention is if the leaves are wilting. This likely means the plant is thirsty and needs a drink, so if the soil is dry (stick your finger in an inch to check if it's damp)? then try watering it. You should start to see signs of improvement in a few hours.

But wilting leaves can also be caused by overwatering. So if the soil is quite damp, taking a while to dry out or you know you're watering your plant often? this could be the cause. If this has happened, allow the plant to fully dry out before watering and repot if necessary.

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Yellow leaves

This isn't always a sign your plant is struggling, as having a leaf or two turn yellow is often part of the aging process. In this case you can just cut them off.

If leaves continue to turn yellow, the cause can be one of several things. Underwatering and overwatering are two common reasons but it could also be a lack of light?, nutrient deficiency, being near a cold draft, a viral infection or pests.

It might be hard to detect the case so start by addressing watering needs, and if it's not that, moving the plant to a new spot might help.

If water and a new home doesn't stop the leaves turning yellow and there are no signs of infection or bugs, try repotting the plant.

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Roots showing at the top or bottom of the soil

Spotting roots emerging from the drainage holes or the top of the soil means your pot needs more room to grow.

To fix, repot in a pot that is just one size up from what you have. More room, fresh soil and fertiliser will give your plant a new lease on life. ?

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Brown leaves

Signs your houseplant is struggling
Some discolouration is normal, but it can be a sign of problems. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Water is the likely issue again here, but if the brown is on the edges or tips of the leaves the plant is likely underwatered and needs a drink

Brown in the centre of a leaf, however, is a sign the plant is overwatered and requires some drying out before you water it again.

Another possible reason for brown patches on leaves is poor ventilation. If this is the case, try moving the plant to a different spot with better airflow.

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Burnt leaves

?If the brown on your leaves looks crispy than they've actually got sunburn. White and yellow patches on leaves can indicate sunburn too.

Unlike us humans, though, you can't put sunscreen on plants, so you'll need to move your plant to a spot that isn't as sunny and cut off the damaged leaves.

If the plant was one you moved into the sunlight, you can avoid that in future by slowly moving it into a sunnier spot.

It also helps to check the lighting needs of each specific plant by looking at the information on the tag or researching online.

White patches

Signs your houseplant is struggling
Mould and mildew can pop up on your houseplant's leaves and soil. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

When you see white patches, it's likely to be powdery mildew. This is a fungal disease that occurs to plants in humid rooms with poor ventilation.

To treat, isolate the plant so the fungus doesn't spread and then use a fungicide to treat. You can purchase these in a garden centre or hardware store or make your own.

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Leggy or lanky growth

When a plant looks stretched with few leaves or long spaces between leaves it is known as leggy growth. This can be caused by a few things like not enough light, or the light only reaching one part of the plant (you'll know this because it'll have grown towards the light), and needing more moisture or humidity.

?Once you've addressed light and moisture needs you can fix a leggy plant by trimming it above a node to keep it compact.

You can also encourage new growth on a trailing plant by winding the stem around the soil and pinning it down next to the node. This will encourage leaves to grow at the node points.?

Indoor plants
Know what signs mean your plant is struggling and they'll be more likely to thrive. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Falling leaves

Leaves falling off your houseplant is normal to an extent, but lots of leaves dropping or healthy-looking leaves falling could be a problem.

This is another one of those indoor plant issues that can be caused by over or underwatering, low light or low humidity

It can also happen because of shock, which occurs when there has been a sudden change in the conditions your plant is used to.

Other causes are nutrient deficiency, pests? or being near a draft.

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Bad smell

?A funky odour coming from your plant, especially the bottom of the plant, means it's likely to have root rot.

This is largely caused by overwatering and poor drainage and can be fixed, but you need to get onto it as soon as possible to stop it spreading to other parts of the plant.

To treat, take the plant out of the pot and remove the soil. Then give it a wash and trim off the infected roots, leaving just the healthy ones. Repot in a pot with good drainage, but if using the pot the rotting plant was in make sure you wash that first.?

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