How to Measure the Health of a House Plant

Overview

Bringing a new house plant into your home can add more than color and beauty: it can bring pests or disease along with it. Some conditions are obvious and your decision to acquire the plant will depend on your willingness to nurse the plant back to health. Other problems are subtler and may not become apparent until several weeks later. To protect your current house plants, isolate all new plants while you monitor the newcomer's ongoing health.

Step 1

Look for robust, sturdy-looking plants. Plants that have been deprived of adequate light will be leggy and pale. While these plants will recover with time and care, the process can take months.

Step 2

Look for robust, sturdy-looking plants. Plants that have been deprived of adequate light will be leggy and pale. While these plants will recover with time and care, the process can take months.

Step 3

Choose plants with signs of new growth. Plants that appear severely pruned---lacking much new growth---may have been cut back due to disease.

Step 4

Use a magnifiying glass to inspect the leaves for signs of insects. Avoid any plant with obvious signs of insect infestations such as webbing, cottony white materials on the leaves or sticky, moldy deposits on the leaves. These conditions can be signs of spider mites, thrips, white flies or scale.

Step 5

Check for fungus gnats. Fungus gnats are small, hovering flies that feed on the organic material in potting soil. They are not a danger to the plant's overall health, but fungus gnats are annoying and contagious to other plants.

Step 6

Look at leaf growth. Deformed, misshapen or chewed leaves are signs of disease or insect infestation. Avoid these plants.

Step 7

Assess the plant's overall look, color and condition. Molds may cause powdering or fuzzy growths on newly formed leaves. Mottled leaves may be caused by viral infections or chlorosis. Weak, poorly formed leaves and stems may be the result of nematodes or stem rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnifying glass

References

  • West Virginia University Extension: Houseplant Diseases
  • West Virginia University Extension: Houseplant Pests
  • Oregon State University Extension: How to Buy Healthy Houseplants
Keywords: healthy house plants, insect infestation, pot bound plants

About this Author

Moira Clune is a freelance writer who since 1991 has been writing sales and promotional materials for her own and other small businesses. In addition, she has published articles on eHow.com, GardenGuides.com and VetInfo.com.