Plant “Love” Language

It may not exactly be a love language, but plants have their very own language and way of expressing themselves and their needs. Some plants are divas and more temperamental while other plants are extremely chill and laid back needing little intervention. So, how exactly do plants communicate to us?


Plants use body language. When plants are dropping and droopy, this is usually a sign that your plant is thirsty. Perky plants with upright leaves typically means your plant is well hydrated.


droopy pothos leaves

Plant’s speak through their leaves. The unnatural colors of leaves can tell a lot about plants and indicate issues that may be wrong with your plants. This can be confusing since sometimes colors can mean more than one issue or different colors can mean the same issue. Here are a few key tips to remember that are almost universal for all plants and how you can learn to speak their language:

-Yellowing leaves are almost always a sign of plant distress. There are a few major causes for yellowing leaves which include: improper watering, overwatering, poor drainage, root damage, and lack of nutrients. Watering issues can mean too little or too much water. When your plants are overwatered, the roots will suffocate and this can cause root rot, highlighting the need for well-draining soil and pots. Because of this, too much water causes leaves to turn yellow. However, when plants don’t get enough water, there are not enough essential nutrients and this causes yellowing as well. Ways to fix this include: watering on a schedule to ensure your plants get adequate water and using the finger test to check if your plant’s soil is too dry.


Pothos with Yellowing Leaves

Root rot isn’t the only root damage that can cause yellowing leaves. When plants outgrow their containers, your plant’s roots will become compacted and if this happens, your roots can’t function properly which will cause distress to your plants. To check for this, lift up your plant and check if plant roots are coming through drainage holes or gently slide your plant out of the pot to check the roots. Healthy roots are sturdy and white while damaged or rotting roots are brown or black and mushy. You can fix this by getting rid of the rotted or damaged roots and replanting your plant into a new pot with fresh soil.

Other causes of yellowing leaves include nutrient deficiency in your plants. This could be caused from improper fertilizing. Ways to fix this include fertilizing your plants during spring and summer growing seasons, but avoiding fertilizing in the winter. Potassium deficiencies show up on plant’s leaves on the edges when they turn a bright yellow color but the inside will stay green, magnesium deficiencies shows up as yellow patches between the veins of your plant’s older leaves, iron deficiencies shows up as yellowing between the leaf's veins and on younger leaves at top, and lastly, sulfur deficiencies also affect the younger leaves turning them yellow throughout. There are many ways to fix this such as adding epsom salt to your plant’s soils to help with nitrogen deficiencies. Read our blog The Dirt on Nitrogen Deficiency & Naturally Feeding your Plants to learn other ways to add nitrogen to your plants.

Yellowing of leaves, known as chlorosis, happens when there is interference with your plant’s chlorophyll, which is what keeps them green. It is clear that yellowing leaves are a sign of stress for your plants and your plant’s leaves won’t turn back to green once they are yellow, so instead, fix all the issues above and prune off the yellowing leaves so that the healthy leaves get all of the plant’s energy. This sign allows you to take proper care of your plants and prevent these issues in the future.

-Browning of leaves is a whole nother story. There are different shades of brown that represent different types of issues. The location of these brown spots also means different issues that can arise with your plants. When your plant’s leaves turn a light brown on their edges, this is a sign of under watering or lack of light. Other browning includes leaf tips, which is a sign of lack of humidity or lack of water in plant leaves. Browning tips can also be caused by improper watering or too much fertilizer. Darker brown spots that are located on the interior of leaves is a sign that there could be root rot. We have already talked above about what to do if you suspect root rot in your plants. In the case of root rot, it is always important to act as quickly as possible so that it doesn’t spread. Brown spots that are tinted orange and located on either the edge of your plants’ leaves or the interior of them are signs of sunspots. This means that your plant is in direct sunlight, when it should actually be in indirect sunlight. Simply move your plant into a spot that gets filtered sun through a curtain or on the side of a window.


plants with browning tips

Clearly there are many ways our plants ‘talk’ to us. It is important to know their language and signs in order to treat and care for them properly. Now you know many important signs to look for and ways to care for your plants when these signs arise.

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