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For many people, getting started gardening can be a challenge. Even when they do everything they have been advised, they might find it hard to keep their garden plants alive. Some blame it on a lack of a green thumb, while others, wondering, “Why are my garden plants dying,” become frustrated and consider giving up. However, there may be a simple fix that will help your plants survive.
The most common reasons your plants are dying are from the wrong amount of water or sun, poor soil, exposure to harsh climates, or disease and pests. You can take steps to determine what is causing the problem, learn about what plants need to survive, and fix the problem so that your plants thrive and survive.
The key is to learn what you can about what plants need to grow and research each type of plant you have. Different plants have different needs and do well in specific locations. Take a look at six reasons why your garden plants are dying and how to fix them.
Too Much or Too Little Water
When people start gardening, they often believe that if the plants in the garden look bad, they must need more water. They will water the plants more often without realizing that plants can get too much water. The good news is that if you are overwatering your plants, you can save them most of the time.
The roots of your plants take the water in, but your roots also need to take in food, nutrients, and oxygen. If you overwater the plant, the soil becomes so wet that the plant drowns. The water fills in the spaces where there would be air pockets, depriving the plant of its oxygen. You can check the moisture content of your soil. Soil that is too wet will be solid without any room for air or other material.
The leaves on your plants will wilt when they are overwatered. They will feel soggy and limp. You will also notice water pressure building in the plants, and cells that burst form blisters that eventually burst. You will see growths in tan, brown, or white take their place. You also might see the leaves turn yellow and stop growing.
You need to start by looking for signs that there is too much water in the garden. Check your soil regularly to see how moist it is. You can also use a moisture meter to tell you exactly how much water is in the soil. If you are overwatering, you can reduce the amount you water, and your plants will become healthy again.
Sometimes people don’t water enough. There may be a dry spell when you are accustomed to rain, and you may not realize that the plant needs support when nature doesn’t do its part. You will notice the tips and the edges of the leaves turning brown as they dry out, and the plant will not grow well.
Keep in mind that if you give the plant enough water to survive but not enough to thrive, it may only show a few symptoms. However, adding water will help your dehydrated plant, and it should bounce back unless there is something else going on with it.
Too Much or Too Little Sunlight
For this problem, you need to know how much sunlight your plants (like bok choy) require. When you buy them, they will tell you. The type of plant lets you know how much sunlight the plant needs. Some are full sunlight plants. Others are partial sunlight, partial shade, and full shade.
- Full Sunlight: These plants need a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day.
- Partial Sunlight: These plants should have between three and six hours of direct sunlight.
- Partial Shade: These plants need between three and six hours of sunlight, but they should be protected from the intensity of the mid-day sun.
- Full Shade: These plants should have three hours or less of direct sunlight.
When you have full sunlight plants, you still need to learn more about them. If the plant is heat or drought-resistant, it is likely to do well on any sunny day. However, some plants need full sun but can’t handle the heat. This is where you need to learn which plants grow best in your climate.
Partial sunlight and partial shade may sound similar, but they each have their own needs. These plants will do well in filtered light, and they can tolerate direct sunlight in the early morning or late afternoon. Partial shade plants will need protection during the hottest part of the day. Partial sunlight plants can handle more sunlight, and they do need direct sunlight to do well. The ideal time for either is the direct sunlight in the morning.
If you have full shade plants, you will need to protect them by filtering the light. They do well under a canopy of trees or bushes. The key is to make sure that they do not receive direct sunlight during most of the day.
You should try to become familiar with the layout of your yard or garden so that you understand how the sun moves across the sky. It may move differently at different times of the year, so you need to choose what you plant and where you plant it accordingly.
Poor Soil Quality
Your soil is more than dirt. Healthy soil is full of nutrients and creates an underground ecosystem where your plants can thrive. Most gardeners work to improve their soil quality year after year by adding to the balance of organic matter, ground soil, air, mineral particles, and microorganisms. When you balance these parts of your soil, you can grow a healthy garden.
You need to start with healthy garden soil. It should be loose enough that roots can grow, it needs to drain, and it should provide for air circulation under the ground. It is also going to be full of nutrients, minerals, and organic matter.
Organic matter is what is broken down by organisms that live in your soil. They feed on it, creating pockets for air and water to travel to the roots of your plants.
You need to know what kind of soil you have. The three main types are clay, sand, and loam. The organic matter you add will improve these soil types to create an environment where your plants can thrive.
You should always start by testing your soil. You need to know what type it is, how well it drains, and the pH level. You want soil that allows drainage and has a neutral pH of 6 or 7. You can buy a soil test kit online, or you can take a sample to your local county extension office if you want a complete analysis. Once you know your soil content, you can add what it is lacking, and it will help your plants grow.
There are several things that you can do to improve your soil. First, you can add compost. Compost is organic matter that has decomposed. You can buy it at a garden store, or you can make it yourself. It should be composed of dead leaves, lawn clippings, kitchen scraps, cardboard, and more. You shouldn’t include fats, meat, oils, or dairy because they don’t break down quickly enough.
The compost will attract microbial organisms and earthworms, which will help keep your soil healthy. The earthworms will leave their casting behind, which increases the fertility of your soil.
Another way to improve your soil is by mulching the surface. This will stimulate growth, retain soil moisture, keep it cool, and prevent weeds from growing. Over time, mulch decomposes, which adds more organic matter back into your soil.
Your soil could also be compacted. This happens when it gets a lot of traffic. The soil becomes compressed, which prevents plants from receiving the water, air, and nutrients they need.
You can also add animal manure that has aged, such as chicken, rabbit, horse, sheep, or goat manure. This will add nutrients to the soil and improve its structure. Ensure that the waste isn’t fresh because it is too hot and can contain pathogens and burn the plants.
Improving your soil is a constant process, but it is the best way to ensure that your plants are healthy and survive if you want to garden.
The Climate Zone
If you haven’t heard of plant hardiness zones, you aren’t alone. However, knowing what it is will help you choose the plants that grow best in your climate. The hardiness zone is the average extreme minimum temperature, and numbers distinguish them from one to 13. One is the coldest region, with 13 being the warmest. Each one is further divided into a and b.
You should start by looking up the plant hardiness zone in your area. You will learn what kinds of plants do well, whether you can grow perennials, and which types of plants will do well.
For example, if you are growing a vegetable garden, you might buy a few packets of tomato seeds. However, you need to know which variety will grow best in your area, as well as when to plant it. Otherwise, you may become frustrated nurturing a plant that won’t grow.
Before you decide to plant something, be sure to look it up and find out whether it does well in your region when you should plant it, and other information. This gives you the best chance to grow it in your garden successfully.
Harsh Environmental Conditions
Another factor for your plants is any potentially harsh environmental conditions that are affecting your plants. If you plant your garden near the dryer vent of your home, the hot air may stress your plants and cause them to die.
Take note of factors in the environment around your plants. This might include the proximity to large appliances such as the air conditioning unit or your dryer vent. You should also take a look at the roof and any runoff that comes from bad weather. Make sure that there aren’t any chemicals that can leach into the soil.
If you have animals, they shouldn’t run through your garden, and you want them to go to the bathroom somewhere else. Consider how close your garden is to a surface that might be power washed or have some other maintenance that can harm your plants. These are factors that could be causing your plants to die.
Disease and Pests
Your plants might be dying because of disease or pests. They may not kill your plants, but they can cause them to become unhealthy. If you know the diseases and pests, you can often correct the problem and save your plants.
Take a look at some of the most common diseases and pests.
Aphids are insects that love plants. They can be light green, pink, white, grey, or black. An aphid infestation can develop quickly, as it can move from one plant to the next. They suck the sap from new growth on your plants, and they will cluster on the stems. The new leaves will appear stunted and crinkled, and the plant can start to drop leaves. They secrete honeydew, which attracts ants, and it can also lead to mold and fungus growth.
If you see aphids, you need to use water to wash them away. Neem oil is an organic solution, and it works as a repellent. You may need to cut away infected areas, or you can use sticky traps. There are pesticides available, but your garden will no longer be organic.
If you have a vegetable garden with kale or cabbage, you might notice holes in the leaves. They are green worms that become butterflies, and they feed on cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collards, turnips, and other root plants. It only takes a few worms to do damage to your plants. You can make an organic repellent from spearmint, green onion, garlic, hot peppers, horseradish, and peppercorns mixed with water to keep them away. Citrus seeds also serve as a deterrent.
Spider mites are arachnids, and they are very small. They leave a delicate, silky web on plants, and they damage the leaves. They suck the plant juice out of the leaves, leaving them covered in yellow spots. They can also remove chlorophyll from the plants.
You can treat your plants by spraying water. Another option is to get some predatory insects that feed on them. Predatory thrips and ladybugs will do the trick. You can use neem oil for this pest as well. These pests do well in dry, hot weather.
Whiteflies include many different species, and they are tiny little flies that feed on the plant juices. You will see them because they are heart-shaped whiteflies. You can spray them with water or use sticky traps to get rid of them. Neem oil is another option, and it is safe for use on food plants and vegetables. They can appear on any green plant that grows in a warm area.
If you notice your leaves suddenly grow thick and curl, the plant will often die. The curly top virus, CTV, can cause this. It can affect more than 300 different species of plants, including edibles and ornamental plants. If you notice it, you need to remove any of the infected plants to prevent spreading.
This virus affects tomatoes, peppers, beans, potatoes, spinach, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, and cabbage. It is usually caused by the beet leafhopper, which will feed on a plant that is infected. Then, this insect will transmit it to other plants when it feeds on them. Depending on the weather, it takes anywhere from 25 hours to 30 days for the plant to show symptoms. You need to remove any plants that are infected.
Powdery mildew is one of the most common diseases that affect plants. It is a fungus that can be found anywhere, especially in places with high relative humidity during the night. The spores travel through the air and germinate on the surfaces of leaves, and the fungi spores stay inside the plant buds. Fortunately, it isn’t usually fatal. You should remove infected plants and do not compost them. You need to improve the air circulation and make sure that all of your plants have enough room to breathe. You can spray it with a mixture of baking soda, water, and liquid soap. This will kill the fungus. You can also use a fungicide.
What Do You Do with a Dying Garden Plant?
If you notice a dying garden plant, the first thing to do is determine the cause. You may be able to revive it. It could need more water, less water, more sunlight, or less sunlight. You can also check your soil. If the plant is suffering from pests or disease, you need to dispose of the part of the plant that is affected. Do not put it in your compost pile, as you could contaminate other plants. Place it in a trash bag that is tied shut, and dispose of it.