How to revive a dying houseplant

Houseplants are ideal for green-fingered horticulturalists who find themselves a little short of outside space. Nothing brightens up the indoors like the bright petals and lush green leaves of a houseplant or two. But here’s a secret that plenty of gardeners don’t tell…

We’ve all killed a houseplant or two.

You can have the best intentions and water your leafy baby regularly but it still starts to droop, the leaves turn brown and it shrivels up. What are you doing wrong?

Don’t give up just yet! There’s still hope, and gardening experts Greenhouse Sensation is here to tell you how to breathe life back into your wilting houseplants.

Diagnose the problem

Before you can tackle it, you first need to find out what you are dealing with. It’s time to do a little triage.

  • Do the leaves look yellow? This could be a sign of overwatering. Make sure the pot can drain well and cut back on your watering regime.
  • Are the leaves curling? This is a sign of too little water. Give it a good drink.
  • Can you see webs or white stuff? You may have unwelcome visitors on your plant. You can often get rid of these by spraying or wiping the leaves with a mild solution of soap and water.
  • Do the leaves look pale and flimsy? Not enough light.

If you spot any of the above signs, now you can get to work. While you’re at it, check the stem. If there’s any sign of green, and the stem itself feels firm and pliable, then there’s still hope for a full recovery.

Tips and tricks to nurse back to health


This is a standard part of any houseplant’s life, but if one of yours is starting to look a little limp and tired, moving it to a larger pot of fresh soil can make a huge difference. Take a look underneath. If you see roots beginning to sprout out of the drainage holes then it’s definitely time for an upgrade. For each move select a pot that is at least two inches wider than the one before it, as this will give the roots plenty of room to grow.


Yes, there is such a thing as too much water. Whenever a new leafy addition joins your household, make sure you research how it likes to be watered – they’re all different after all! Here’s a couple of tricks…

  • Water from the bottom up. This will encourage strong roots and allows the plant to take what it needs when it needs it
  • If the soil is so dry that water won’t absorb, run it under a slow trickle for about 15 minutes
  • Water less frequently but soak it thoroughly when you do as this will allow for strong roots and prevent root rot


Plants don’t just need water, they also need food too. When you do come around to repotting, make sure the old soil is replaced with a high quality mix. We’d also recommend trying special houseplant food that is formulated to care for those living indoors. But wait until the plant starts to regain its health as fertilising while the plant is stressed can make things worse.


We all know that sunlight is good for plants, but there’s also such a thing of giving it too much light all at once. If you’ve noticed the leaves looking a little weak and pale, it’s a sign that light is needed. But abruptly moving it into hot direct sunlight can cause some serious problems, especially when the plant is already delicate. We recommend only giving 100% indirect sunlight for a short period until the plant recovers.


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