Five Gardening Mistakes We Do That Kill Our Plants

Gardening mistakes that kill plants

Namaskar Desi Gardeners! Today let us talk about our gardening mistakes.

We all have done it. As a beginner into gardening, I remember bringing a lot of plants from the nursery, taking good care of those and still many of those plants just died away. I was at my wit’s end. What did I not ‘give’ the plants?

I have watered and fed and given pesticides, then why did the plants die? I felt so helpless.

Now, with experience, thankfully I know better. Let me share with you all I know so that it can help you and your plants.

Five Biggest Gardening Mistakes 

Watering – doing it right

We either water too less or too much. This is one of the most common gardening mistakes. In my case, it was too much. I live in Kolkata, whether the weather is quite warm all round the year. To protect my plants I would water the plants daily without checking the soil. I did not understand at that time – every plant has different water needs.

Some plants like jasmine, bleeding heart, hibiscus – they need the soil to be well drained and quite moist for maximum flowering. Plants like lily and chrysanthemum needed a little less than the others. Plants like portulaca and aloe vera need even lesser.

gardening mistakes that kill plants
Overwatering is the most common reason for plants dying

So first of all check if the drainage holes are alright. After watering the excess water should flow out. Then check if the soil is dry. If it isn’t do not water. Thirdly, know which plants require how much water. For example, an evergreen tree uses more water than a deciduous or succulent.

If we water too much, two things may happen. Either the plant will have a fungal attack or it will get root rot. In case of fungal attack, the tips of the leaves start to go brown and then it spreads more to other leaves and branches. Root rot is more difficult to diagnose and usually it becomes tricky to save the plant.

However, to be on the safe side, apply any fungicide like SAAF or Bavistin once every fourteen days. Be mindful of the watering and your plant will stay healthy.

If we underwater, it is easier to detect. The leaves will droop, the soil will be hard or dry or cracked and you can just see it. Water it well so that the water drains out and then do it once more. By doing twice, the soil will have absorbed the moisture well.

Remember that under watering may make your plants stressed but overwatering has more chances of killing it off. It is easier to recover an under watered plant than an overwatered one.

Another important point – do not water your plants in the hot afternoons even if your soil is dry. Why so?

In the hot noon, especially in summers the soil gets heated up and so do the roots. When you put water at that time, the roots go into shock. It is stressed already and we are putting it into more stress by doing so.


At first it was difficult for me to believe that fertilizers can be a cause of plant death. How can its food kill it?

gardening mistakes
Do not overfeed and apply too many nutrients at once

I read a quote of Chanakya where he said that excess of any good thing is poison. This line of wisdom applies fully to gardening also.

Over fertilization kills plants. The roots get affected and stressed. Sometimes it can even ‘burn’ the plant.

When plants are in the soil in care of Mother Nature, everything is in balance. The plant gets and takes its food as per its needs.

When we give NPK or any other fertilizer we have to understand that every nutrient has a function. Like, Nitrogen makes the plants grow faster. Potash helps in flowering. When we put fertilizers at the base of the plant we guide it. So we have to know a little bit of this science. With a little experience, it is not so difficult to do. Start with few plants and then things will fall into place. Do not buy everything you find in the marketplace. Most of all get good guidance from someone who knows. It could be in person or a place online like this one or YouTube. Sometimes it becomes difficult for Indian gardeners to find the right desi gardening solution. That is why I decided to get this website going so that everyone can get help for free and make less gardening mistakes.

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Which plants should I have in the garden?

When we go to the nursery don’t we all want to buy everything! Usually we see the flowers and leaves and if we like it, we get it.

Well, some plants are annuals – it will die after its flowering season is over. Like calendulas and some of marigold types. There is no point wasting time to save it. It is just the way it is.

gardening mistakes
Don’t get overwhelmed!

Then we have biennials and perennials. Biennials will stay for a few years and then die. Then it needs to be grown from the seeds, cuttings or bulbs. Perennials are the long lasting plants. Gardenia, hibiscus, rose plants are of this type.

Most nurseries push seasonal plants which are fast selling. It depends on you what kind of plants you want in your garden.

  • Do you want plants with showy leaves?
  • Do you want succulents like cactus and aloe vera?
  • Or plants with fragrant flowers?
  • Flowers that attract butterflies?
  • Native plants?
  • Should I plant multiple plants in one container?

How much sunlight will your plants get through the year? What kind of container or pot is needed for the plant?

To stop your plants from dying off untimely, know the right plant, buy at the right time and take the right care it will keep your garden healthy and save your time, money and energy. Usually it is very simple once you understand how it works.

Life Saving Tips for Summer Care of plants

Pests and diseases

Biggest killer of the plants! Here is what to do.

When you buy a new plant, check the leaves well. Check underneath the leaves. Are the leaves yellowing, browning or curled?

Sometimes the pests can be easily seen like mealy bugs but there could be insects too small for the eye to detect easily. Powdery mildew, aphids, ants, spider mites, white flies, ants – these are just some names. Snails and slugs can also eat away your beloved plants.

Then there are more. There could be diseases and infections due to fungus, bacteria and even virus. If your plant looks weak, you would have to diagnose and get the right medicine for it. Generally it is easy to detect but sometimes it can get tricky.

Nutrient deficiency can also affect your plants although it does not kill so much. Regular application of fungicide and neem oil will keep your plants protected from most issues. In case the plant is still affected, you have to give it the right therapy, pesticide or antibiotic to keep it from dying.

While applying any spray or solution, mix the ingredients correctly. Less or more of it can both harm the plants and even kill it.

gardening mistakes
Go for native plants, those are easier to manage

Little or no knowledge

Most of our plants die because we lack the knowledge or experience. This is why we have our own gardening mistakes which causes stress in plants.

Sometimes we also need to know that a particular plant will not survive and we need to stop working on it. Gardening is a wide subject. Although it sounds like a hobby, it is a science. Gardening sounds less serious than farming but it requires equal dedication. In fact since we have multiple kinds of plants, it needs more care.

Native plants require less care and are more disease resistant. For desi gardening, a native plant would be neem, which naturally grows in India. It has been here for thousands of years and more adapted to our climate. On the other hand, tulips are not native to India. However the north – eastern states of India are more suitable for it. Many plants like dahlias are common in Indian gardens which are actually not native. Then there are hybrid varieties which can also be not so hardy as the natives although scientists try to make hybrids more disease resistant.

This Mistake Made Me Lose All My Chrysanthemums

Another mistake  due to our lack of knowledge – which I have done multiple times – is that I have watered on the leaves. If you have to wash the leaves, do it in the evening and not in the morning. The bubbles that stay on the leaves may sometimes harm the plants. The curved surface of the bubbles act as lenses that converge the rays of the sun. Like a magnifying glass it concentrates the heat. In summer or full sunny days it can burn the leaves or put the plant to stress. Water the leaves in the evening if you have to and regularly apply fungicide.

Hopefully, these small tips will help you from making the gardening mistakes and make your desi garden happier and healthier.

gardening mistakes
Had lost this beautiful white hibiscus due to overwatering but once you get the hang of it, it gets easier.