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My indoor plants are one by one slowly dying and I'm clueless as to why this is happening. I even bought these water droppers to regulate the water level (at least, that's what I believe they do), but even with water in them, some plants just seem to dry out. I also added hydro granules at the bottom of the pot before potting the plant, which should also keep the ground hydrated as far as I know.

For some context, I'm living in an apartment without direct sunlight pretty much the whole day (except for summer, then I've got sun until 11am). The apartment is lacking a bit in the insulation department, so at night it cools down quite a bit to about 14/15 degrees Celsius. Over the day, I don't really turn the heating on either, so it's often about 17/18 degrees Celsius inside.

I've included some pictures below for more context and the current state of my plants. For this first one, the leaves all started hanging recently. I repotted this from the shop I bought it from to this new pot (with hydro granules at the bottom) about 3 months ago now. I give it some water every week and keep the water droppers filled, but the leaves are hanging already.

Plant 1 (leaves start hanging))

This second one seems to get enough water from the droppers since the ground is wet every time I feel it. This also has hydro granules at the bottom, but even with the dropper, its leaves feel extremely dry and I feel like it's been surviving like this for over 2 months already. I repotted it about 4-5 months ago when I bought it from the shop. Plant 2 (drying out)

I feel like the small one doesn't have much chance to survive anymore, but perhaps some nice tips here would be able to save them? I just want to know what I could be doing wrong here. I understand this is difficult, and perhaps, a lot to ask for so a couple of good tips could perhaps do the trick too.

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    You might want to rethink your reliance on hyrdrogels. See here: s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/403/2015/03/hydrogels-3.pdf. Note that fertilizers can affect their stability; gels can also impact nutrient uptake by plants. In a related question - do these pots drain or does the gel sop up all of the water you add to the pots?
    – Jurp
    Dec 10, 2023 at 17:31
  • @Jurp I never considered hydro granules to be a problem, thanks for the resource! The pots do not drain anything, all of them are closed. That's also something I considered doing, but I assume that's not as easy as I would think (just create some holes in the bottom and place a bowl of some sort below it). The surface of the ground does stay a little wet, so I don't think they sog up all the water. I believe the waterdroppers play a big part in that.
    – M Zeinstra
    Dec 10, 2023 at 18:11
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    Isn't a closed pot bad? many plants hate standing in water. Dec 10, 2023 at 20:00
  • I assume it is yes. I feel like open pots really help rid the overfill of water, indicating the soil is too wet. Altough, I always thought hydro granules would do pretty much the same. I realize now that open pots may be a more natural approach, so I'm going to try to use open pots next time I pot a plant. I assume a combination of hydro and open pots is an absolute no-go (?).
    – M Zeinstra
    Dec 10, 2023 at 22:57
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    I would not use hydro granules at all - just an open pot (without any gravel or anything over the hole, except a potsherd). Empty the saucer 15-30 mins after watering. More plants are killed by overwatering than by underwatering.
    – Jurp
    Dec 10, 2023 at 23:08

2 Answers 2

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Plants grown in containers can quickly fill their pots, and in doing so seem very healthy and happy until they hit the brick wall by filling the pot with roots and having nowhere else to go. Attempts to give the root ball enough water can result in old roots rotting and taking up space while contributing nothing to the health of the plant. It would be instructive to let the plants dry off a bit and then pull the plants from their pots and examine the root ball. If you find many dark roots and few light coloured young roots then that could be part of the problem. Cut back the top growth a bit so that when you knock apart the roots to get the old stuff out replanting the root ball in fresh soil comes as less of a shock to the whole plant.

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  • Thank you very much for the informative feedback. I never thought about cutting back the top growth when repotting to lessen the shock. That's a great point. I'm a little hesitant however, to let the plant dry off because it's seemingly not doing to well currently. I could try this, but at what point would you say it's absolutely time to pull out the root ball and 'fix' it? As in, for example, when the leaves start turning brown (although I'm guessing it's too late by then).
    – M Zeinstra
    Dec 10, 2023 at 22:53
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    If you have other plants, experiment by turning them upside down and shaking the plant out of the pot to examine the roots. Alternatively lay the pot on its side and slowly pull out sideways. Dec 11, 2023 at 6:42
  • What are your thoughts on the water droppers? To me, when they start losing water, it indicates whether the soil is getting dry. On the other hand, it keeps the soil wet which makes it rot faster(?).
    – M Zeinstra
    Dec 12, 2023 at 9:29
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    Bad idea. If the goal is to maintain constant moisture it does not allow air to contact the roots. Dec 12, 2023 at 12:45
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Happened the same to my plants but the cause is probably more simple: Scottish winter. If your plants get little to no sunlight, that is probably the culprit.

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    Dec 11, 2023 at 22:39

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