Top 8 Ways to Kill a Houseplant

No one sets out to kill a houseplant, yet most dead houseplants were killed by kindness. Gardening indoors is an artificial climate and all plants will need a period of adjustment. Expect to see a few leaves drop at first.

The best thing you can do for indoor plants is to learn something about their growing conditions and provide as close to those conditions as possible. If you see a problem developing, take action quickly.

Here are some surefire ways to kill your houseplants:

  • 01 of 08

    Over Watering

    Woman watering houseplants
    moodboard/ Cultura/ Getty Images
    The #1 killer of houseplants is over watering, which leads to root rot. Don't let your plants sit in water and don't automatically water all your houseplants on a schedule.
  • 02 of 08

    Low Humidity

    We've all seen what low humidity can do to our skin. Well, lack of humidity does in a great many indoor plants, too, especially during the winter. When the heat comes on, the humidity in your house can take a huge dip. Just imagine what a change that is for a plant that was living outdoors, a few weeks earlier. You may first notice the problem as browning leaf tips.
  • 03 of 08
    Shaded Plants
    Photo: Marie iannotti
    Plants that are not getting as much light as they need will look pale, rather than a healthy green and new growth is spindly, as it reaches for the sun. You may also notice that the new leaves are smaller than usual.
  • 04 of 08

    Exposure to Direct Heat

    Placing your houseplant near a direct source of heat, like a radiator or duct, will not only fry your plant, but also speed up dehydration. Some locations are obviously bad, but sometimes choices are limited.
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Improper Watering & Salt Buildup

    Salt Damage on a Terra Cotta Pot
    Giving your potted plants just enough water so the soil gets wet but is never allowed to drain, can lead to salt buildup which can inhibit the growth of your houseplants. You may not notice it until you start to see whitish crust on the soil or sides of the pot.
  • 06 of 08

    Indoor pests multiply quickly. There are no natural predators to keep them in check, so you have to be very diligent about checking for symptoms. Spider mites, aphids, mealy bugs and scale can cover a plant in days. If severe enough, the plant may never recover.

  • 07 of 08

    Exposure to Drafts

    Plants near drafts
    Melissa Ross/ Moment/ Getty Images
    Placing an indoor plant, especially a tropical or blooming plant, near a frequently opened door to the outside or too close to a window with limited insulation will have the same effect as leaving the plant unprotected outside.
  • 08 of 08

    When a plant outgrows its pot, the roots circle around inside the pot and start to restrict themselves. Pot bound plants often seem to dry out more quickly than normal, because the ratio of roots to soil is too large.