My pot plants keep dying

5 reasons why your pot plants keep dying?

  • The pots are too dry
  • They are too wet
  • The plant is starving hungry
  • Bugs or diseases are affecting the plant
  • The plant is in the wrong type of pot.


Most of us have some plants that are growing in pots, but container growing is more tricky than growing the plant in the soil.

Plants did not evolve to grow in pots, so they do require more ‘gardening effort’ to keep them looking happy and healthy.



The main problem plants face growing in a pot….is us!


We plonk plants into any old pot, in any old compost and forget to water then. Then to make up for our neglect, we then stand them in a saucer of water for days and effectively drown them. In addition, do we really read the label properly when applying plant food? So Are we really surprised we ‘goof’ it up?


Plants are programmed to grow wherever the environment is most suited to them. We just make it more difficult for them to grow well!


So the moral of the story is this:- If planting in pots you need to ensure they are really easy and convenient for you to look after!

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Lack of Water:

Ok two problems here, firstly, we all die of thirst pretty quickly, plants included; so stick your finger right into the soil in the pot and see if it’s wet. If not, water the soil (not the leaves) and count to at least 15 before you stop. You need to see water seeping out of the bottom of the pot to know water has gone right through.

The second problem though is that the soil has got so dry, all the water runs right through without ‘touching the sides’.  You need to stand the pot in a bucket of water for a good half an hour so as the compost can absorb water and will expand to fill the pot, alternatively, add more compost to the pot and then water thoroughly.


Too much Water:

In essence the plant is drowning. The tips of the leaves start to turn brown and the plant wilts.

Tip the pot onto it’s side and see if water seeps out or is there always water in the saucer. It is likely the soil is too waterlogged, this causes the roots to rot and the plant to drown. The simplest remedy is to raise the pot off the floor by using pot feet for example, or if the pot sits in a saucer, fill the saucer with grit and stand the pot on that. Also check that the pot drainage holes aren’t blocked by roots growing through, if so, then you probably need to repot the plant.


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Lack of Food:


magnesium deficiency (image wiki commons media)

We all need a food, and plants are no exception, plants in pots though tend to run out much quicker, so they al need regular feeding. Look in our planting and digging guide for images of common food deficiencies to see if that’s what your plant has. If so, just add a regular plant food to the plant over the next few weeks to give it a boost.

Always use the correct dosage, but for those who aren’t good at remembering to feed their pot plants – use a slow release fertiliser and sprinkle it on the soil. Remember that the pots still need watering! 


Bugs and Nasties!


vine weevil larvae (wiki commons image by Tarquin)

Sadly these can cause your plants to wither and die, check our bug guide to help identify anything that may be lurking. Bugs are a natural part of the ecosystem, the problem is not that you have them, but that you have too many of them. The ecosystem is no longer in balance. If you simply reach for the bug spray, you may tackle the symptoms but the root cause is left unsorted. The bug problem will soon reappear.


Read more about creating a more balanced garden ecosystem.

How ‘Green’ are Bedding Plants?

Who are flowers really for?

Which Flowers are best for bees,

Gardens are for Life, not just for Show

What about the Bugs?


If a plant gets a bug problem though, move it away from any other pots you have to prevent the spread.



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The Wrong Type of Pot:


Metal Pots

This may sound a bit odd, how can you have the wrong type of pot? There are many pot designs  out there and loads of new material used, metal, fibreglass, wood, plastic or terracotta, the problem arises in the thickness of the pot and how heat absorbent it is.

In a pot, all the roots eventually circle the edges of the container, until it is time to re-pot, but if the container itself heats up in the sunshine, then these roots cook and shrivel up. So if you want a more modern style of pot that can get hot, such as a metal container or the pot is fairly thin, then you will probably need to line the pot with an insulating material to help keep the roots cool, polystyrene sheets are quite good for this.



If you still can’t work out a solution or you need some more advice, contact us we’d love to help. 

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