Why Is My Indoor Plant Having a Stunted Growth?

Why Is My Indoor Plant Having a Stunted Growth?

Dr. Soma Patnaik, 25 April 2022

The best feeling of being a plant parent is to see your plant baby growing. As said a human baby’s potential growth can be seen through their activeness, happiness and involvement in various activities; so does the case of a plant baby when it grows healthily, happily bearing new leaves and blossoms. The utmost happiness and satisfaction a plant lover get by watching the plant growing happily, at the same time it’s equally disheartening and frustrating to troubleshoot the problem of a plant that has suddenly stopped growing or has a stunted growth without any visible reasons.

Are you a plant parent and are worried about the growth of your house plants, and still struggling to find the reason behind the negative behaviour of your plant? This article can make you aware and can help you detect the cause and a solution for the same.

So, here we are going to address some of the potential reasons/causes behind the stunted growth of your indoor plant. Reasons can be many like prolonged wrong measures, unsuitable growing conditions, unconducive temperature, inadequate nutrition etc. Let’s have a look.

Incorrect Planting Season

The plants need to be planted in the appropriate planting season. For instance, summers being too harsh new plants can’t bear the heat scotch if planted/ repotted in such extreme weather conditions. Such climatic conditions can either stunt the growth or can even kill the plant. Hence, a milder season when plants can be tolerant is a better season for new planting, pruning and repotting a plant.

Transplantation Shock

Plants should not be immediately transferred and repotted after getting them from the nursery or shop. Like humans, the plant even needs some time to get acquainted with the new setup and adjust to it. The immediate transplantation can cause transplantation shock which might lead to stunted growth of your plant.

Extreme Temperature Variations

Temperature and extreme weather changes occurring these days are also one of the major reasons behind the negative behaviour of houseplants. Extreme temperature variations are difficult to adjust which curbs the plant growth at times and gets dormant. Extreme wind, moisture or dryness can be difficult for many plants to handle.

Seasonal Dormancy

We have seen many animals going to hibernation during extreme weather conditions in order to avoid the turbulent weather. Similarly, plants do become dormant in certain seasons. They don’t die during this phase but you will not find any desirable change in foliage or bloom during this dormancy phase. This condition may last for some months and with the change in the outdoor atmosphere, the plant gets backs to its normalcy. It is advisable for plant lovers to be patient in such a phase rather than frequently disturbing the plant with an expectation to bring about sudden drastic changes with various measures.

Soil Condition

Soil is gold, it gives nutrition, strength and support to the plant. But with time the soil losses its mineral contents and nutrition, which might get hard and its absorption power. Such soils are not able to help further in the growth of plants. Hence, the soil quality should be checked from time to time to time and renewed in order to give the plants sustainability and consistent growth.

Improper Watering

Over or under watering may be a probable reason for the stunted growth of your houseplant.  There is no set thumb rule or schedule for watering a plant; as the need of the plant changes due to various conditions like weather, soil variety, moisture content of the room etc. The proper time to water a plant is to see if the soil is fairly dry. Some plants like succulents need water sparsely as they store water in their leaves. Overwatering can lead to roots and leave rotting due to excess water retention.  

Improper Light Condition

Plants need light to grow. There may be variation in the lighting conditions some need bright direct sunlight to thrive whereas some require it moderately. The house plants need indirect light to thrive. If your houseplant has stunted growth, you need to check the lighting conditions. If the plants are receiving too much light you either need to change the placement of the plant or place it in a space with reduced lighting. On the other hand, if the space is extremely low lit you need to place the plants in the direction of moderate sunlight or if the space doesn’t receive sunlight at all you need to have alternatives like growing lights or fluorescents tubes. The leaves should be kept clean so that the plants can receive proper lighting. 

Incorrect Fertilization

High or low fertilization can also be a reason behind the houseplant not having proper growth/ stunted growth. Plants draw nutrition from soil and energy from sunlight. But with the passage of time the soil gets drained out of nutrition present in it, so fertilizing the soil is important for the healthy and sturdy growth of plants. On the contrary, over-fertilizing plants can have a negative impact on plants, due to salt buildup on the surface of the soil which eventually absorbs the moisture and dehydrates the plant.

Root Bound

If your plant has not been replanted for a while and you notice the growth of the plant has paused, root bound can be a potential reason behind it. Plants draw nutrition from soil which helps in the creation of new roots which with the passage of time grow to their maximum potential and cover the available space in the pot or planter. With no more space to grow and a lack of nutrition in the soil, the plant growth gets curbed resulting in stunted growth. Hence, it is necessary to check for the growth of the roots and trim the ancillary old roots keeping the parent root intact in order to keep the plant growing in a healthy manner by producing needed roots that absorb the nutrition in a better way. 

Frequent Relocation

Frequent changes in space or location can also have a negative impact on the growth of plants due to sudden changes in temperature, climate, atmosphere and space. Plants take time to adjust to the atmosphere to thrive and have healthy foliage but sudden and frequent changes can send shock waves which can be stressful for the plant and can lead to stunted growth for a certain period.

Excessive Dirt and Dust

Plants use their leaves for photosynthesis and other activities, which helps them to retain their energy and grow steadily. The dirt and dust on the leaves hinder the processes, further curbing the growth process resulting in stunted growth. Hence, the plant leaves should be kept free from dust and other pollutants for unhindered growth.

Pest & Diseases

Many a time our house plants get infested by pests, viruses and fungal infests which result in stunted growth and eventually kill the houseplant if not taken care of on time. Various pests like spider mites, aphids, powdery mildew also called the sooty mould, mealy bugs, coccoid insects and some soil-grown insects can be some. Try using some natural ingredients like soda bicarbonate, neem oil and other natural milder pesticides for these problems rather than using strong chemical pesticides which can cause further harm to the plants in long run.


You have tried to troubleshoot all possible causes and tried out the solutions for the stunted growth of your houseplant. Apparently, none of the tricks worked out; here you need to understand that the houseplant has reached its maximum growth stage, unlike other living beings the house plants have certain limitations when it comes to its further growth. Although, the plant has reached its maximum growing limit doesn’t mean that the plant would not survive anymore. The plant can very well survive for years with proper pruning and periodical care.

These are some of the factors to be taken into consideration when raising a house plant.  Take proper care of these issues you can have a healthy and happy houseplant pet. 


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