Troubleshooting Issues in Plants (and Life)

It isn't easy to figure out what is going on with a plant when it's struggling because they can't tell you. But if you learn to speak their language you can figure out what is wrong! The key is a lot of observation and NO random guessing. Let's get started.


Here are some questions you SHOULD NOT be asking:

  1. What can I give my plant to make it better?

  2. What should I buy to fix my problem?

  3. What do you do in your garden when you see this problem?

Here are the things you SHOULD be thinking about:

  1. First and most importantly, have a solid, basic understanding of the biology going on and how the plant interacts with the environment. This is how you can learn their language! It's not enough to watch it grow; there is too much going on that you can't see or understand. You need to understand it on multiple levels. How does the plant breathe, how does it eat, how does it protect itself, what temp and humidity does it need it certain stages of its life, what pests like to attack it, etc. This is very important because without this information you are just blindly guessing at the solution. Stop asking your friends for their random advice and do the work to learn about plant biology. Other people's advice is only useful if it is based on biology of the plant and they have seen all of the factors that go into the issue.

  2. Always pay attention to the environmental factors and how they my have changed since the plant has had issues (or maybe the plant never liked it to begin with). Has the temperature fluctuated? Has the humidity dropped significantly? Is the temperature at night different? Has the pH of the soil changed? A lot of times these factors build up and build up and then it is difficult to figure it out because now you have more problems to sort through.

  3. Always do lots of observation. Notice the symptoms, note them on paper, and take pictures. Issues usually show up on the plant in multiple ways. For example you can't simply say yellow leaves are due to nitrogen deficiency because there are over 20 different issues that can cause yellowing of the leaves. So take note of every little symptom you see and think about how they may be connected.

  4. Learn how to get to the root of the problem, literally. Ask, where are the issues coming from? For example, if you think you have a nutrient deficiency because of yellow leaves, you most likely don't. What you probably have is a root zone that is not able to take up nutrients due to certain factors in the soil. People always jump to the conclusion that they have a calcium and magnesium deficiency or a nitrogen deficiency. Take a step back and look at your feeding schedule as well as the health of the root zone. The plant may be struggling to uptake nutrients because of other things you are/are not doing, like feeding heavy salt fertilizer and no enzymes, or feeding a plant with organic nutrients but not feeding bacteria and fungus. Or overfeeding and causing the plant to lock out all of the nutrients you are feeding it. Symptoms can stem from a bigger issue than you originally may think about.

  5. Leave your pride at the door. Almost always the problem in your garden is your fault and you have to own up to it in order to fix it. That is a great lesson to learn in life because it forces you to stop feeding your ego and open up to the truth that you could be wrong and you don't know everything. The plant doesn't care about how your ego feels, it just needs you to show up.

These 5 bullet points can be used in many situations, including solving problems in life. I hope these will help you become centered & calculated with your actions. Don't fly by the seat of your pants because that is the slowest way to find a solution. If you can't get to the root of the problem, it will just keep popping up.


I do phone coaching for people who are looking to solve issues in their gardens and would love to help anyone! Book a discovery call to find out if I can help you or book a Plant Health Diagnosis call with me - it will be worth your time.


Happy Growing,

Gabby Waterman



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