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Why Are My Outdoor Plants Dying? Uh-Oh!

I love my outdoor plants. They provide a pleasant green presence in my garden, and I look after them zealously.

Yet, they do occasionally die, leaving me heartbroken and confused.

Why are my outdoor plants dying? I set off on a mission to find out why my outdoor plants were dying since I am such a responsible gardener.

Let’s look at each of these six reasons and I’ll share the ways in which you can counter each and how these interventions can save your outdoor plants from dying.


Why Are My Outdoor Plants Dying?

The six main reasons why outdoor plants die include inadequate amounts of water, incorrect amounts of sunlight, barren or over-fertilized soil, planting the wrong plant for your climate zone, harsh weather or climate elements, or an infestation of pests or strike of disease. 


Six Reasons for Outdoor Plants Dying


Reason 1: Inadequate Amounts of Water

Outdoor plants require specific amounts of water to keep their roots hydrated and growing healthily. When an outdoor plant has been under-watered, it wilts and dies.

If it has been overwatered or is planted in soggy soil that doesn’t drain well, it will drown, and the roots will die or rot. Ultimately, you’ll get the same results, and the plant will die.

The best way to ensure your outdoor plant doesn’t die from inadequate amounts of water is to water appropriately, water at the right time of day, and ensure the plants have well-draining soil if that is their best growing medium.

I like to keep track of when I water my garden, and I either keep an eye on my watch or set a timer for my sprinkler to ensure I water the same amount of water each time.

It is also a good idea to test the soil moisture by sticking 1 or 2 fingers into the earth. If the first two digits of your finger find wet soil, you should not water your plants.


Reason 2: Incorrect Amounts of Sunlight

Outdoor plants are not all the same. Some love full sunlight, while others only want partial or early morning sunlight.

Be sure to find out what your outdoor plants are acclimated to. If you have a plant that enjoys full sunlight like a particular grass species, you should plant it where the plant would enjoy that.

My delicate African Violet species have a preference for dappled sunlight or semi-sun, which is why I have now transplanted them to new beds around the base of a large pine tree in my yard.

Perhaps reading and understanding the light level needs of outdoor plants can help you in this area.


Reason 3: Barren or Over-fertilized Soil

Plants need food. Without it, they can’t grow. Yet with too much food, it may end up burning their roots.

Plant food is fertilizer. You can use organic fertilizers such as compost or mineral fertilizers such as nitrogen and potassium, but you must be sure how much to fertilize your plants.

Check your plants’ nutrients requirements according to their species. I found that my strawberry patch had been burned by my first fertilizer session, and this was why they had died.

Now I fertilize only once a season before the plants make berries to prevent them from sickening and dying.


Reason 4: Planting the Wrong Plant for Your Climate Zone

Driving across the states of the U.S. covers several different climate zones, and not all plants will grow happily in all climate zones.

The US Department of Agriculture has specific hardiness zones according to the state you live in. This guide will help you know which plants to plant in your yard, based on where you live.

I live in a USDA hardiness zone of six, which means I can plant temperate plant species, but true tropical plants won’t take in my garden, though they may happily thrive in pots in my home.

Likewise, I can’t successfully plant colder weather grass species as these burn in my yard. Find out what your USDA hardiness zone is online.


Reason 5: Harsh Elements

Plants can’t defend themselves from the harsh elements of nature. When there are hail storms, there is no way for them to protect their leaves and soft stems.

This can lead to them suffering catastrophic damage. I remember crying when my mulberry seedling was cut to shreds by a flash storm.

Likewise, I have also seen a harsh and hot summer suck the life out of my impatiens.

By keeping an eye on the weather, I can take action to cover up my more delicate garden plants with sacking or plastic sheets. This helps me protect my plants from harsh weather elements.


Reason 6: Infestation of Pests or Strike of Disease

Pests and diseases are the worst killers when it comes to plants. One moment your bamboo plants will be thriving and the next they will be covered in lice or mites.

Before long, they are hanging limply with black or brown leaf tips.

I advise a daily or weekly inspection schedule to check for signs of disease. The quicker you pick up on a disease like a bacterial infection, the sooner you can help your plants recover and heal.

With pests, the same applies as your plants stand a better chance of survival when you catch the pests and repel them as soon as possible.


Frequently Asked Questions about Why My Outdoor Plants are Dying


How do you save an outdoor plant that’s dying?

Outdoor plants can die because of several reasons like having too much sun exposure, being watered too often, or receiving too little fertilizer. To save your plant, you should find out what is killing it. If it’s too much sunlight, then move your plant to a more shady spot by transplanting it. Perhaps it’s because your plant’s overwatered and its roots are drowning. By adding more organic material like bark or coconut husks to the soil you can improve the drainage.


In what ways can you revive your dying outdoor plant?

If your outdoor plant is dying, you can revive it by trimming away the affected plant tissues. Dead leaves won’t grow again. Then take steps to help your plant heal. These steps may include transplanting the affected plants or adding fertilizer or watering more often.


How do you save a dying garden?

If your garden is dying, you need to take drastic action. Trim all the dead leaves, inspect the plants to discover the reason why they are dying, and plan your intervention action. You may need to water more or less, give fertilizer or withhold it, transplant your plants to places with more or less direct sunlight, and you need to have insect repellent treatments and anti-fungal sprays on hand to deal with pests and plagues.


The Final Death

Outdoor plants tend to do pretty well on their own, provided you have checked they are not being killed by any of these six reasons for dying. However, the biggest and often most troubling death is due to neglect.

I learned that outdoor plants die because they aren’t taken care of as much as a potted plant is.

So to ensure your outdoor plants thrive and don’t die, take good care of them and monitor them for any sign of illness.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.