house plant leaf dieoff

Asked February 5, 2013, 1:43 AM EST

Hello. All of my indoor geraniums, honeysuckle, tamarind, angel vine and fuchsias are loosing all the leaves; they turn brown and fall off, including all the new shoots and leaves. The begonias, succulents and African violets don't seem to be affected. I see no signs of insect damage, and they are well watered, without over-watering. There does appear to be some white fungal growth in some, but not all of the pots. Is there anything I can try, or should I pitch them and start over? Thanks

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

Thank you for your question to Ask the Expert.

Growing indoor plants requires careful attention to growing conditions including: light, temperature, water, humidity, fertilizer, and planting media.

Does the white growth on the soil surface look fluffy (like mildew) or crusty? It could be salts from fertilizers forming on the surface.

From the picture that you provided, it looks like the geranium is located in low light. Have you moved it close to a window recently? Based on your description, low light is a possible cause of the problems that you are seeing.
If you are not seeing an sort of disease on the leaves and stems of the affected plants, then low light intensity could be the problem.

You might move the plants close to a south facing window to see if increased light helps them to grow vigorously. If that does not work, it might be time to start from scratch. Also, let the soil dry out a little between waterings.

Here is a great publication on growing houseplants that might help as well:

Please let me know if you have any further questions.