How to Troubleshoot House Plants Problems


Houseplants are often tropical to subtropical plants adapted to an indoor environment. They are often tough and able to take a bit of abuse before showing signs of damage. Houseplant issues are often avoided when the correct care practices are adhered too, and the environment is kept clean, with a steady ecosystem. Houseplants that begin to suffer will grow slowly, often exhibit poor foliage and may change color, according to Purdue University Extension. Knowing how to troubleshoot houseplant issues requires knowing what to look for when certain issues arise.

Step 1

Test the soil of your houseplant using a home pH and nutrient-testing kit to determine whether your plant has a nutrient deficiency. A wilting, yellowing plant, or one that has stunted growth may have nutrient issues.

Step 2

Inspect the top, bottom and nodes of your plants leaves for evidence of bugs. Certain plants will wilt or yellow when bugs are present. Remove most bugs by dipping a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and removing the bug.

Step 3

Check the temperature of your house is suitable for the plant being grown recommends University of Illinois Extension. Sudden leaf drop, according to University of Arkansas Extension, is often caused by quick changes of temperature or environment. Inspect your windows for drafts of cold air that may be causing cold drafts.

Step 4

Send your soil to a local university extension service for a fungi test to determine whether you have a mold disease. Look at the soil for fuzz or strange colors. A fungi test will tell you the exact fungi type and what fungicide is required to destroy it.

Step 5

Check the tag that came with your plant, or find your plant in a good horticulture book to ensure you are keeping the plant in the correct light, and watering and fertilizing it correctly.

Things You'll Need

  • pH test
  • Cotton swab
  • Rubbing alcohol


  • University of Arkansas Extension: Houseplant Problems and Solutions
  • University of Illinois Extension: Diagnosing Houseplant Problems
  • Purdue University Extension: Houseplant Problems

Who Can Help

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: Cooperative Extension Offices
Keywords: Houseplant problems, Troubleshooting indoor plants, House plant care

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.