How to Revive Your Dying Plants in 5 Easy Steps

By Shannon McKee
Published: September 6, 2019 | Last updated: May 25, 2021 11:26:23
Key Takeaways

Still see a hint of green in your struggling house plant? Then there's still hope to turn its fate around even if you don't have a green thumb! Just follow these five easy steps to see it spring back to life on its own.

Have you ever returned home only to find one of your houseplants struggling to survive? It was most likely neglected for one reason or another. Maybe you went out of town and your house sitter missed your favorite potted plant in your book nook, or you were just too busy enjoying the summer outdoors to remember how many times you watered it. No matter the reason, you can save your struggling indoor plant by following these steps.


Give Your Dying Plant a New Home

Repotting your plant into a new home full of fresh soil or potting mix can bring it back to life. You’ll need to find a new container with ample room for the roots to grow.

Pick a pot that is considerably wider than the old one. A quick trim of the foliage may seem like a step backwards for the plant, but it can be helpful if there is a lot of damage to the roots. This will give the plant a fighting chance because the root system will not have to support a large amount of foliage.


Read also: 5 Ways to Grow Veggies in Your Apartment or Tiny House

Is Your Dying Plant Lacking Nutrients?

When adding fresh soil to a larger container, provide your plant with essential nutrients by using a high-quality mix. You can also boost performance by adding fertilizer.

A word of warning: Be sure to follow the directions on the bag—don’t overdo it as too much fertilizer can finish off your plant just as easily as forgetting to water it can. Depending on your plant, you might choose to use a slow-process fertilizer variety instead. This may take some time, so be patient.


Drooping peace lily indoor house plantSource: R Coates/Shutterstock

Evaluate Your Plant's Environment

Your potted plant may be declining for reasons other than the occasional forgetful watering spell. The environment may not be right for your type of houseplant, especially if it's of the indoor herb garden variety. You can tell if the plant's current spot is too sunny if the leaves look bleached or have dark patches.


The touch test is another good indicator. Poke the compost with your finger to feel if the surface is dry. The foliage may even become brittle in the process.

Select a shadier spot and trim the lifeless leaves and water the soil well. To increase your plant's chances of surviving even more, you can also increase the surrounding humidity by rigging up a tray with water and gravel for the pot to sit on.

If your plant's leaves are pale and small, then there's it's likely lacking sunlight. You will want to move the plant to a brighter area and see if doing so has a positive effect on future growth.

Read also: Secrets for Successful Succulents

Should I Give My Dying Plant More Water?

It could be possible your plant is being harmed not from you under-watering it, but from you overwatering it, especially during its dormant phase. If the soil becomes oversaturated, then the roots may start to rot. The pot may even begin to grow mold or mildew.

Your plants should be fed and watered well during the growing season, but less water is needed when the plant is dormant. This typically happens in the winter. Learn about your particular plant to give it the best care.

Plant infected with spider mitesSpider mites are leaf suckers and chewers that can deprive the leaf and plant of nutrients. | Source: Jana Janina/Shutterstock

Keep Pests Away from Houseplants

Your houseplants are the perfect place for insect invaders to hang out. Pests like aphids, fruit flies, spider mites and fungus gnats love the environment your plant provides. This is unwelcome for both your home and your plants.

Stop these invading freeloaders by wiping down the leaves on your plants with a damp cloth or mild soap solution from time to time. Doing this will help removes the pests, along with any dust that may be floating around your home. Dusting your plants removes the organic compounds pests love to snack on.

Don’t get discouraged if it seems like your efforts are going to waste. It may take a few weeks to observe true improvements in your neglected plant. After completing these steps, give it some time to let your efforts bear some fruit. Eventually, you’ll be amazed when your plants are restored to vigorous health because of your well-thought-out actions.

Read next: Pest and Pathogen Prevention in an Indoor Garden


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Written by Shannon McKee | Freelance Writer, Gardener

Profile Picture of Shannon McKee

Shannon McKee lives in Ohio and has been a freelance writer for several years now, including on her blog, Nicknamed by loved ones a garden hoarder over the past few years, she grows a wide variety of plants in her urban garden.

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