How to Fix Stunted Growth in Plants

Lack of Nutrients

We all know that plants need proper love and care to grow in the right manner. After all, they enhance the beauty and liveliness of your place.

However, despite your best efforts, some of them do not grow the way you want them to, and that can be quite frustrating. No matter what you do, there are times when they simply stop growing. 

In order to resolve the issue, you need to know what caused the stunting in the first place. 

There are a lot of factors that stop the growth of your plants, but the question is, “can you reverse the stunting?” The answer is yes! But you need to consider how severe the damage is. 

In this article, we will learn all about factors that lead to stunting and how you can fix it. So, let’s get started.

Factors Leading to Stunted Growth

The major factors that lead to stunting are:

Lack of Nutrients

Lack of Nutrients

Just like human beings, plants also need certain nutrients in order for them to grow in a healthy manner. If any of these are lacking, it will lead to diseases that ultimately stop their growth. 

To make sure they grow healthy, you need to provide them with the right kind of nutrients, the most important of them being magnesium, potassium, and nitrogen. These three will play a key role in keeping the roots strong and making your leaves lush green. 

You can also use fertilizers rich in nutrients to tackle any kind of deficiency. It is advisable to use fertilizers once or twice a year, preferably during spring, when the plants are at their flourishing stage. 

Pest Infections

Another leading factor that causes stunting is the presence of pests. Pests and insects damage several plants and stop their growth, sometimes also causing death. 

Those growing in favorable conditions are less likely to catch any disease, but pathogens can spread out anywhere, so it is crucial to identify and remove them. 

The most prevalent type of infection is caused by fungi, which causes wilting, leaf spots, curled leaves, and rotted fruit. Some fungal infections also cause mildew, mold, and rotting of the roots. If your plant has any kind of infection, make sure you remove the affected parts to prevent its spread. Use medicine if necessary. 

Over Fertilization

Similar to nutrient deficiency, overdosing your plants with fertilizers can raise your salt concentrations and cause a nutrient burn. 

Nutrient burn leads to browning and yellowing of leaves and root damage. In this situation, they may look burnt and cannot be revived by watering. 

Dehydration or Overhydration

Dehydration or Overhydration

Dehydration is a major factor in stunted growth. But do you know that overhydration can also lead to plant damage? Overwatering can rot the roots and cause needle blight, a non-parasite disease that can kill them. 

The key solution is to know when and how much your plants need water. If you are a rookie gardener, you can start with this watering guide. Eventually, you will get it. 

For starters, water them in the morning before the sun is not fully out and allow the roots to absorb the water completely. Once they receive proper sunlight, it will evaporate the excess water and reduce the chances of needle blight. 

Always use clean water. For young plants, you can use a sprayer to avoid overwatering. 

Other factors such as dry sandy soil, waterlogged soil, inappropriate pots, and environmental changes can also stop your plants from growing. So, it’s important to keep track of the changes and fix them immediately. 

Identifying The Symptoms 

When you are facing a problem related to stunting, it is tough to examine the cause of the problem. 

The best way to identify the symptoms of stunting is to observe the leaves and roots carefully and see if there are any growth abnormalities in the structure. For example, deformity or discoloration of the leaves indicates that your plant is not well. 

Several plant diseases display similar symptoms, which are sometimes a combination of many problems, so you may have to experiment with a few remedies before you find the effective one. 

Ways to Fix Stunted Growth in Plants

Like we said earlier, you can fix plant stunting, but it depends on the severity of the disease. Once you identify the actual cause and how severe it is, you can work on finding a solution. 

Apart from the causes and solutions discussed above, there are some other things you can do to prevent your plants from stunting, such as:

Creating A Favourable Environment

Different plants need different conditions to grow. Therefore, as a plant parent, you should know what exactly your tiny greens need to grow lusciously and healthy. 

Provide them with the right temperature, appropriate sunlight, and just the right amount of water in order for them to flourish. A good option would be to create a greenhouse where you can manage the suitable environmental conditions that fit the needs of your plants to ensure ideal growth. 

Most of all, it is important to protect them from extreme weather conditions such as heavy rainstorms, weed infestation, and other viral infections. 

Examining The Soil

Examining The Soil

Soil is the basic need for plant growth, so you have to be extra careful when choosing the kind of soil your plant needs. 

You can perform a soil test to determine the fertility and composition of the soil, which includes its pH level and the presence of vital nutrients and toxic elements that can affect the growth. The ideal pH level is between 6 and 7, but it differs. 

The type of soil you use also requires different care. Clay soil does not absorb much water, and that can lead to waterlogging. Therefore, keep in mind not to water it regularly. If you feel the soil is too rigid, loosen it with gypsum. 

On the other hand, sandy soil, which absorbs more water, requires constant irrigation. But if that is something you cannot do in your area, amend the soil so that it holds the nutrients and water better. For amending, you can use organic compost or manure such as wood chips, worm casting, and grass clippings. 

Investing in High-quality Material

Use high-quality seeds. Do not buy plants with brown or yellow roots. 

Do not walk over the soil and avoid practices that can damage the roots, such as tilling and plowing. 

Select a pot that is suitable for the seeds to grow. Start with a small pot and increase the size or move it to the ground as the roots grow.  

Raising The Garden Bed

Another effective way for better soil drainage is to elevate the garden bed. To do it, remove the existing plants carefully and add the compost beneath the planting bed. 

Another option would be to purchase a well-drained soil mix from a grade shop to enhance the soil properties. 

In Conclusion

Even if it’s hard to admit, it is true that almost all of us, at some point, have followed bad gardening practices (even unintentionally). But it’s never too late to reverse the process by following effective methods. 

It can be hard in the beginning, specifically when different plants need different care. Therefore, it is important to be informed about the reasons and solutions for stunting so that you can detect the problem as soon as possible and take necessary actions.

Use this article as a guide to prevent any gardening challenges you might face in the future. Happy gardening!

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  1. A friend gave me a potted mixed plant several years ago. It was approximately two foot tall and contained four different plants. We have an atrium and the plant gets lots of sunshine. I repotted several times and am now using the largest pot I could find. The plant is now approximately 10 feet tall. It was always lush. Recently, the middle of the plant has become very sparse. Not sure what the plant is but it produces a hard red berry that is later brown. Tastes like coffee when you bite it.. any suggestions? Thanks.

    1. Hi Charmaine. Without a photo of the plant we are unable to help you identify it. If you’d like you may send a photo of the plant to There could be a few different reasons why the plant is no longer thriving in the middle. It could be shocked from being repotted, receiving too much sunlight, under or overwatering (root rot). We hope this helps!

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