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How to recognize that your plants are overfertilized – tips against overfertilization of houseplants.

The use of fertilizer is an important part of plant care, but too much of it will cause plants to over-fertilize. This is especially true for houseplants, which are usually more vulnerable and require tender loving care. There is no general rule for fertilization, as different plant varieties have different needs. However, to avoid over-fertilizing, which can inflict damage, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the guidelines. Below you will find signs that indicate over-fertilized houseplants, as well as some measures that can help against it.

What to do if plants seem overfertilized?

what to do when plants at home are overfertilized and grow slowly or wither?

One or two houseplants will go a long way to add greenery, dimension and life to any room. While some require more time and attention than others, there are general care rules to follow to help your potted plants thrive. Of course, fertilization goes on this list as it is important so you can add nutrients to the potting soil. This will allow your plants to feed themselves, which will encourage their new growth. However, overfertilization can be harmful to their health. In fact, it can cause a number of problems that can even kill your plant.

apply granular fertilizer to the soil surface of an indoor plant in a pot and let it thrive

In addition, overdoing it with fertilizer leads to high concentrations of soluble salts in the appropriate container. These salts damage the roots by slowing the net flow of water into the roots and indirectly predisposing them to certain plant diseases. This occurs in a process called reverse osmosis, which draws moisture away from the roots. Signs of overfertilization include stunted growth, burned or dried leaf edges, wilting and collapse or even death of plants. When plants are overfertilized, they may also show yellowing of the leaves. Here are the top symptoms of overfertilization in houseplants and solutions that will help you feed your green friends the right food.

The most common symptoms of overfertilization

yellow leaves as signs and symptoms of plant diseases or when plants are overfertilized

When the salt content in the soil is higher than what the plant contains, the aforementioned reverse osmosis occurs, threatening chemical burns and desiccation. However, the most serious damage occurs underground in the roots, where the soil is located. Always pay attention to the correct proportions when feeding houseplants. Seeing the plant grow nicely is a sign that your fertilizer is doing a good job. However, excess salt in fertilizers can “burn” the roots and limit moisture absorption. Accordingly, if the plant can’t absorb water, it gets into trouble, resulting in some of the following typical signs.

Appearance of yellowed or brown leaves when plants are overfertilized.

yellowed leaves on plants overfertilized require countermeasures and better plant care


Yellowed and brown leaves can indicate many problems with your plants, including pests, diseases and nutrient deficiencies. However, they can also indicate overfertilization. These symptoms generally go hand in hand with a crust on the soil surface. This is because the plants are unable to absorb nutrients due to the high salt content in the fertilizer, which burns the root system.

remove brown or yellow leaves from an indoor plant and recognize them as a sign of overfertilization

However, “crunchy” leaves can also be due to disease or heat damage. Therefore, it is important to exclude all other possibilities for the proper treatment of plants. So it would be best to inspect plants with yellow, brown or falling leaves immediately. Most of the time, this indicates a problem that needs to be treated. If overfertilization is the problem, you will likely notice yellow leaves in conjunction with the other signs listed below.

Observe impaired growth

slow plant growth may indicate overfertilization and require special plant care


Some houseplants, such as the porcelain flower, tend to grow slowly. Of course, growth is also stronger during the growing season in warm weather and humid conditions, so a slow growth period is not uncommon. However, if you notice that your houseplant hasn’t grown in a while, it may be suffering from over-fertilization. This is also a result of the plant’s inability to absorb the nutrients it needs to grow. Remember that improper watering techniques and a lack of nutrients can also cause slow growth, which is why other possibilities should again be ruled out.

A crusted soil surface indicates that plants are overfertilized

overuse bonsai fertilizer and let plant dry out in office for salt buildup

A white crust on your houseplant’s potting soil can also be the result of overfertilization. The accumulation of salt and nutrients prevents the plant from absorbing water and nutrients. To give your houseplant the care it needs, flush the soil with clean water every four to six months. A white mold layer can develop due to overwatering. So remember to consider watering frequency as well.

If no flowers appear and an overgrowth develops.

regular indoor plant care and signs when plants seem overfertilized

Abundant but lanky growth may also indicate problems with over-fertilization. You may notice many stems but very few leaves and, when you expect the plant to bloom, no flowers. Inadequate lighting can also cause houseplants to become leggy. So consider moving your plants to a new location or opting for a grow light if you notice this problem.

Why wilted plants may be overfertilized

wilting in houseplants as a common symptom of overfertilization or rotting roots

Leaf wilting is often the result of a damaged root system. This often occurs along with a white crust on the top layer of soil and yellow falling leaves. Aside from that, wilted houseplants could also mean that you have underwatered or overwatered them, as well as that they need more nutrients. Think about how you’ve taken care of the plant and what other signs are evident in the process.

What to do if you notice root rot?

gardener performs a check of the plant root of indoor plants in case of overfertilization

Root rot can also be the result of over- or under-watering, but over-fertilization can also be responsible. Other signs of overfertilization are also present in the process, such as yellow leaves, wilting and lack of growth. If you check the root system and discover muddy brown roots, it’s time to take action.

transplanting succulents in small flower pots with fresh potting soil by hobby gardeners

Carefully remove any dead roots and replant, hoping to save your houseplant . However, if it no longer appears to have white roots, it may not be salvageable. After you have determined this for sure, you can propagate healthy cuttings to start over.

How to prevent overfertilization

white crust on the soil surface shows plants are overfertilized and can lead to root rot

If you get carried away with fertilizer or simply have an accumulation of it in your potted plants, there are some steps you can take to save your plants. Since overfertilization can harm your houseplants, it’s important to be proactive and avoid the problem in general. Leach the fertilizer out of the potting soil by watering for a long time and removing the fertilizer from the root zone or bottom of the pot. If there is a crust on the surface of the soil, remove it carefully. However, do not take more than ¼ of the soil. Remove any wilted or burned leaves. Stop fertilizing and reconsider the amount you use. You have a good chance of saving the plant.

care for flowering chinese rose as a colorful and susceptible indoor plant

Also, fertilize only when the plants are actively growing. If they’re not in the growing stage, they may not be using up the salts and nutrients, which could lead to buildup. Water your crops thoroughly to eliminate such salt buildup and excess fertilizer when watering. Also, reduce the frequency and concentration of fertilizer while you’re at it. This will reduce the likelihood of overfertilization and still allow you to provide nutrients to your plants. In addition, the signs of overfertilization often resemble the same symptoms of other houseplant problems. This can make the problem difficult to identify. However, if you notice more than one of the signs at a time and fertilize frequently, there is a good chance that the plants are overfertilized.