It can be really frustrating to see a plant that used to grow so vigorously stop pushing out new growth. Identifying why this has happened can be tricky for beginner plant parents. So here are five reasons why plants stop growing and what you can do about it. Make sure you read this article to the end because I have a bonus tip that will help you easily turbocharge the growth of your houseplants.
Top 5 reasons your plants stop growing
1. Lack of light
A lack of light is the most common reason why your houseplant is not growing to its full potential.
Houseplants need light to photosynthesize, to capture and store energy for growth, and where there is a lack of light there is a lack of growth.
Keep your plants in a bright spot in your home near the east, west, or south-facing window. Be careful not to have them in prolonged hours of direct sun as this will scorch the leaves unless there are succulents. You should put your succulents in direct sun for better growth.
For example, plants in the ficus family will respond really well to being put in a spot with bright indirect light. They can tolerate lower light levels but they won’t push out as many new leaves during the growing season.
Take a look at where your plant is in your room, and how far away is it from the window. Anything more than two meters would be classed as mid to lower light levels for plants.
So if you want lots more growth move it nearer to the window.
2. Rootbound can cause your plants to stop growing
Having healthy plant roots is vital to having a houseplant that is happy and pushing out lots of new growth in the growing season. We, therefore, need to make sure that our plants are not root-bound.
Being rootbound just means that a plant has grown too big for the pot that it lives in and there are too many roots in the pot compared to the amount of soil in the pot.
This essentially means that the plant is unable to access the nutrients it needs for growth. Because there’s not enough nutrient-rich soil in the pot.
You will have a houseplant that is more normal as yellowing leaves and is not growing vigorously. So check the roots of your plants at least annually to see if they need to be up-potted.
If the roots are circling around the crown of the plant give it a bigger pot.
House plants need free macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to support their growth during the growing season and we provide this to our plants in the form of houseplant fertilizer.
If you are not fertilizing your plant then the plant will not have access to the nutrients it needs and it won’t be able to push out strong new growth.
I apply liquid fertilizer to my houseplant about once a month during the spring and summer and they respond by growing lots of foliage and looking really vibrant.
There are lots of options for houseplant fertilizer but just make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to apply it to your plants and not just follow some random YouTuber.
You don’t want to fertilize too much or too often otherwise this will result in root burn.
Under or over-watering your plant is another reason that your plants stop growing. In both instances, the roots of the plant will become damaged. Therefore they won’t be able to support the growth of the plant.
When a plant is regularly watered and the soil kept moist at all times this can lead to rot of the roots. This is because the plant’s roots need to dry out in between watering much like they do in the wild.
If they are not allowed to dry out then they become soggy and eventually, this leads to rot, leading to stunted growth of the plant.
At the same time if you put your plant through long periods of drought then the plant’s roots will become dry and damaged and this can also lead to rot of the roots.
Water your plant when the soil of the plant is dry but don’t wait too long. So I tend to water my plants once a week in the spring and summer and cut it down to once every two or three weeks in the winter, but always check the soil before watering.
I of course use my trusty moisture meter to tell me when to water my plants.
5. Pests & Diseases can cause your plants to stop growing
Pests are always a possibility when an indoor plant isn’t growing and some are difficult to spot. Spider mites are tiny pests that are difficult to spot with the naked eye but they leave very fine webbing on the foliage and on the stems of the plants.
A plant that is infested with spider mites will be stressed. It will go into survival mode and stop growing.
If you suspect your plant has a mite issue then hold the light to the underside of the leaves where they meet the stem and look for very fine webbing.
If the webbing is present then remove all the soil of the plant and spray down the plant rigorously with a spray hose to get rid of all the mites and all the eggs.
Also, watch for diseases such as powdery mildew or mold which are often linked to excess moisture. Viruses can cause the growth of your house plants to become stunted.
The five points I’ve mentioned so far are all about diagnosing why your plant is not growing to its full potential. So let’s talk about my bonus tip that will turbocharge your plant’s growth and that is to place your plant outside during the summer.
Putting your houseplant outside during the summer is probably the best thing you can do for your plants. This is because nature does a much better job of looking after its plants than we ever could.
Your plant will have access to rainwater that is rich in nitrogen, higher humidity than in our homes, and better access to natural light.
Even if we have our plants in a really bright spot in our homes it really does not compare to the level of light they would receive outside without a ceiling hanging over it.
Increased natural light, rainwater, and humidity will really encourage much stronger growth on the plant and by the end of summer, you’ll have a plant that is much bigger and bushier.
You’ll also probably see some of your plants push out flowers that wouldn’t be possible indoors. Just make sure to place your plants in the shade and never in direct sun because your plants won’t be used to the harsh light of the direct sun and the leaves will scourge.
Also, make sure you wait until nighttime temperatures outside are consistently above 10 degrees celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Because most of our house plants are tropical plants and will suffer if we put them out in the cold.
Thank you for reading. Hope you guys liked this article. Happy gardening!