How to Tell If A Plant Is Healthy – What does it look like?

I recently had no idea: How to tell if a Plant is Healthy

I purchased a beautiful orchid and a money tree. I followed the watering and light directions really closely… but they both started to look a little off!

Plants are enchanting additions to homes and gardens, but they can also become a challenge to care for if you don’t know how to read them. Fortunately, plants do give hints when they are miserable and equally so when they are happy. Here are some of the most important indicators that your plant is healthy and thriving. Knowing the signs of a healthy plant is the first step to achieve a better garden. It might save you some time as you can prevent the worse possibility ever. Some signs can also be seen in many parts of the plant. You can tell it by looking at the leaves’ condition, the stems, the roots, and the entire look of the plants. It doesn’t take you to be a professional to be aware of this stuff. You just need to be more assertive about your plants surrounding as well as attentive to your planting cares. So, what you need to look out for when you want to tell if your plants healthy or not? Below is some list we recap about it just for you.

We will cover 2 angles in this post: Characteristics of healthy plants and further on, characteristics of unhealthy plants.


Healthy Symptoms of a Plant

A Healthy plant will grow rapidly

Happy plants that receive enough nutrients and sunlight will rapidly grow and produce denser foliage than unhappy plants.

Plants that have deficiencies and lack sunlight will not grow and will instead appear fragile and stunted. The key nutrients that plants require to ensure growth are primary nutrients, which are required in large quantities, and secondary nutrients which are required in smaller quantities.

The primary nutrients are carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and potassium. Secondary nutrients include calcium, magnesium and sulphur.

If you ensure that your plant has enough of these nutrients, you will ensure that your plant has all the building blocks to grow rapidly.

Healthy plants have healthy roots

A healthy plant will have a healthy root system, which means that the plant can optimally absorb and extract water and nutrients from the surrounding soil. Healthy root systems lead to healthy growth.

Signs that show unhealthy roots are usually missed and could be any of the following:

Roots coming out the bottom of the pot indicate that your plant has outgrown its space in the pot and needs repotting. If this is ignored, the roots will gradually take up all the space in the pot and leave no space for soil or water, which will cause your plant to die from a lack of nutrients.

Should you repot your plant and observe some dark roots with a sticky or slimy appearance, this may well be a sign of overwatering that has led to root rot.

Healthy plants are disease-free

Happy plants are pest-free and infection-free. The symptoms that indicate that your plant is struggling with infection include slow growth, discoloration or changes in the leaves or soil.

Viral and bacterial infections will discolor and change the leaves of your plant, while fungal infections are commonly spotted as a white chalk-like powder on leaves and stems. The presence of any of these indicates an unhealthy plant.

Bugs indicate a problem and many pests will eat and finally kill your plant, but bugs may also be a secondary problem. The presence of gnats, for example, indicates that there are rotten materials which could mean that your plant has root rot or is otherwise unwell.

Flowers are happiness for a healthy plant

Flowers are directly proportional to happiness. Happy plants make flowers and end up with a favorable flower to leaf ratio.

Once plants make very few flowers it could be indicative of nutritional deficiency or excess, particularly a nitrogen excess that will stimulate the growth of leaves but retard flower production.

Remember that balance is most important when it comes to nutrition.

Healthy plants are colorfast

Color changes in your plant should make you concerned. A happy plant maintains its natural color and will not fade or discolor. Common discolorations that should be noted are:

Yellowing of leaves may indicate excess water most likely due to overwatering or poor drainage.

Whitening or drying of leaves may indicate sunburn and should prompt you to move the affected plant out of direct sunlight.

Brown leaves indicate that the plant is suffering from root rot and may need repotting. Also, a brown discoloration may indicate infection or accumulation of toxins.

Healthy plants perk up

Healthy plants are young and firm and stand up straight. No wilting should be tolerated.

A wilting plant may indicate either underwatering or overwatering that has already led to root rot. Plants should be watered routinely according to their requirements and when in doubt rather underwatered instead of overwatered as plants recover from drought easier than root rot.

In summary, happy plants make happy owners and those who take the time to know their plants are ultimately rewarded. The signs that your plants are happy and thriving are exactly the things that spark joy about your plant – that vivid shade of green, the way it perks up and the rainbow array of flowers.


Soil Drainage

Make sure you are using the correct and recommended soil. Soil too sandy or containing too much clay can inhibit your plants’ root system to have the moisture it desires to stay healthy. After watering your plant to it’s recommended watering, pooling or puddling water is a sign the soil be not be correctly draining. Water running directly to the bottom of the pot may be a sign the soil is too sandy or  loose. Your pot should be clear, or contain drainage holes with a water catch so that you can see water coming out of the bottom of your pot.



What Does a Healthy Plant Look Like

You can see from the image below. A healthy plant looks like it is growing rapidly, it is flowering, perky, and colorful. The roots may not be visible, but if your plant is looking healthy, you may wan tto consider slightly upsizing the pot it lives in. This will reveal the overall health of the plant’s roots, and give the plant a chance to grow. A healthy plant will eventually become pot bound, meaning it will no longer grow in size as it’s roots do not have room for expansion.

How to Tell if a Plant if Healthy – Infographic with Points


Unhealthy Symptoms of Plants

Let’s look at the opposite signs of a healthy plant. 

Infected plants

Some plants might be healthy but some others might be not. There is a various reason that could make your plants ill. One of them is pests and diseases. Pest and diseases of the plants might be caused by bacteria, fungus, and even viruses that come from the bugs like spider mites, mealy bugs and a wholesome chemical substance from the fertilization that you use. You can tell it by looking at the leaves or the joints, the place where pests are often found. If you find some pests, then your plants might be not healthy anymore.


Troubled Roots

Roots are like the hearth of the plants, if the roots are rotten or ruined, the condition of the plant might be unhealthy. It might be hard to look for the root condition as its located deep down the soil, but unfortunately, there is a way of how to know it without trying to dig and pull the plants out. You can look at the drainage hole of the pot. If you see the root growing through the hole, it means your plant has been put in that pot for too long. There is another sign such as rootbound that can be found on the top of the potting mix. The color of the root can also be a sign of an illness. For example, a dark-colored root means your root is over watered or over fertilization, while swollen roots can be caused by root-knot infections.


Wilted or discolored Leaves

Unhealthy Money Plant Tress with Discolored Leaves

Your plants’ leaves changing its color might be beautiful in a scene but at the same time, it could be a sign that your plant is unhealthy. A young leaves changing to yellow can because of the lack of sunlight, over fertilization and even lack of iron and manganese. If it happens to an old leaf, it might cause by a rotten root, lack of nitrogen, magnesium, and potassium in the soil, or even viruses and pests infections. The humidity of the location could cause the problem on the leaves and it might even affect the whole growth of the plant if you don’t carefully treat it.

That is all some points you need to be more cautious to tell if a plant is healthy or not! Be sure to check your plant condition daily and put the utmost care for a better plant condition! If the plant is not healthy, you may use the services of your local Tree Removal experts to get the tree removed and then plant a new one.


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Cynthia Peters

Blogger, web designer, guy making his way through life.