The Q&A Archives: Indoor Houseplants

Question: I have several house plants but I'm not even sure what they are. The problem that I have noticed is the leaves often get brown spots and eventually the entire leaf dies. I'm not sure if they are sick or if my inexperience is slowly killing them off. I just need to know what I can do better to make them heathlier. I transplanted some into bigger pots but I never fertilize because when I have in the past I always seem to kill them.

Answer: Without knowing specifically what your plants are, I can only provide some general pointers on care. Plants in containers can't send their roots out through the soil to seek nutrients or water the way plants in the ground can. Therefore, you need to monitor the soil moisture as well as provide nutrients in the form of fertilizer. Use a fertilizer formulated specifically for houseplants and follow the instructions exactly. Don't be tempted to overapply, as this may burn the roots and kill the plant. If you are still nervous about applying fertilizer, dilute the strength by half. The browning may be caused by too much or too little water: plant roots don't like to sit in overly wet soil as they can rot. It might also be caused by sunburn if they are in direct sun and prefer less exposure. If plants have been in the same soil for several years without fertilizer, they may need repotting into fresh soil. I hope this info helps!

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