Houseplant Not Growing but Still Alive? Here’s Why

As a home gardener, witnessing your houseplants’ growth is one of the biggest sources of pride and fulfillment. However, a plant’s development never follows a linear trajectory, and sometimes, a species might even stop growing altogether despite being alive and well. 

Reasons why your houseplant is not growing but still alive include not receiving enough nutrients or light, suffering from a pest invasion or disease, and a less-than-ideal watering schedule. Possible solutions include fertilizing your plant and creating an ideal environment for it to thrive.

In the following sections, I’ll dive into some of the most probable reasons why your houseplant isn’t growing even though it’s alive. I’ll also explain some of the quickest and most efficient fixes to get your houseplant growing and thriving again. Therefore, if you’re looking for a quick and straightforward troubleshooting guide on why your greenery doesn’t seem to be developing, this article is for you.

Why Your Houseplant Is Not Growing Even Though It’s Still Alive

There are six common reasons why houseplants stop growing even though they’re still alive. These include:

  • Not receiving enough nutrients
  • Not receiving enough light
  • Pest invasion or disease
  • Poor watering schedule
  • Your plant being rootbound
  • Your plant reaching its full growth potential

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these culprits to better determine their severity and how to notice their earliest warning signs.

The Houseplant Isn’t Receiving Enough Nutrients

The most common culprit behind your houseplant slowing down or ceasing its growth is a lack of nutrients. Therefore, as soon as you notice your greenery is not developing at its regular rate, it might be time to test the soil for any nutritional deficiencies. 

Regardless of how punctually you follow your plant’s fertilizing sessions, each plant’s requirements will vary depending on its species. Moreover, the type of soil you’re using also affects how your greenery’s nutritional intake should be supplemented.

Phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium deficiencies are widely common, which is why you’ll find that most fertilizers provide a combination of all three. Hopefully, you’ll be able to notice these deficiencies in time and remedy them accordingly by observing your houseplant’s appearance and behavior. Here are some signs you’ll want to look out for:

  • Yellowing leaves: Nitrogen deficiency
  • Poor fruiting or brown-edged leaves: Potassium deficiency
  • Overall color dullness: Phosphorus deficiency

Therefore, if you notice any of these signs accompanying the growth issue, immediately get your soil checked to determine how well it’s supplying your plant with the required nutrients. 

The Houseplant Isn’t Receiving Enough Light

Nutrient intake is only one of the many essential components that affect a plant’s health and growth rate. If a houseplant is forgotten in a dark, shadowy corner of your home, don’t be surprised to find that it has ceased developing. 

Sufficient lighting is one of the most crucial components when it comes to keeping a thriving house plant. Without it, your greenery won’t be able to manufacture carbohydrates, which are required to maintain the organism’s energy reserves. 

Therefore, if the lack of sufficient light is severe and consistent enough, your houseplant’s energy reserves will quickly deplete, increasing the chances of death. 

However, before its energy reserves are fully depleted, a houseplant will likely stop growing first, which is why as soon as you notice this symptom, you should evaluate the amount (and quality) of sunlight your greenery gets on a day-to-day basis.

The Houseplant Is Suffering From a Pest Invasion or Disease

One of the worst parts of gardening is knowing that no matter how attentive and careful you are when it comes to creating an ideal environment for your plant to thrive, there are always going to be some variables that are out of your control.

Pests and infections are prime examples of how frustrating the plant growth process can be. 

Therefore, if sure you’ve provided all the required conditions and nutrients for your houseplant to thrive, the reason behind the growth issue might be a common pest or circulating disease.

In this case, you’ll want to check your greenery for any sign of pest damage or try to find the culprits themselves. Moreover,you should also check for any symptoms of fungi or infection that might be burdening your houseplant. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Spotted leaves
  • Downy mildew
  • Powdery mildew
  • Wilting
  • Yellowing
  • Loss of vigor
  • Root rot

Your Watering Schedule Isn’t Ideal

Finding the ideal watering schedule for your plant’s unique needs is a challenging but necessary effort. 

Overwatering and underwatering can both lead to growth issues that can eventually lead to death, which is why you’ll want to make sure that you get the process’s timing and frequency just right. 

Therefore, if none of the previous possible causes seems to be the issue, it might be time to re-evaluate your watering practices.

The Houseplant Is Rootbound

Sometimes the reason behind your houseplant’s stunted growth is easier than you think– there’s simply not enough space for it to do so. 

When a plant’s roots grow too big for its pot, they’ll start tangling and taking up a significant amount of their container’s volume, leaving little to no room for oxygen, water, and necessary nutrients. 

Finding out whether your plant is rootbound or not is relatively simple; all you have to do is lift the pot to check if you can spot any roots coming out of the watering holes at the bottom. 

Alternatively, you can gently raise the plant out of its container to see whether its roots have started to swell to the shape of the pot.

The Houseplant Has Reached Its Full Growth Potential

Luckily, a houseplant that stops growing isn’t always bad news. In some instances, it simply has reached its full growth potential. 

Therefore, if you went through each of the possible causes mentioned above and ruled them out one by one, there might not be a cause for worry after all!

If you suspect this to be the reason behind your houseplant not growing, there’s no need to read through the possible fixes; your plant is perfectly healthy as is. 

Fixes for Your Houseplant Not Growing Even Though It’s Still Alive

The good news is that in most cases, a houseplant not growing is an issue that can be fixed through a few changes in your care and maintenance routine

Here’s what you can do to get your plant growing again:

Fertilize the Houseplant

If a nutrient deficiency seems to be the reason for your houseplant’s stunted growth, it might be time to shop for a high-quality fertilizer to supplement your greenery with the minerals and vitamins it requires.

However, be careful never to overdo it, as too much fertilizer can further stunt your plant’s growth while wilting and yellowing its leaves.

Create the Right Environment for the Houseplant To Grow

When such an issue presents itself, you’ll want to re-evaluate the quality of the environment where you keep your beloved houseplant. This is the perfect time to delve into a bit of research about the specie’s requirements and the best way for you to fulfill them.

Make sure the light, humidity, and temperature conditions all fall within an acceptable range to promote your plant’s growth. 

Address the Pest Invasion or Disease

Even though this might not be the most pleasant process to go through, it can be essential. If you’ve found signs of a pest invasion or disease burdening your plant, you’ll want to address it immediately. 

Here are a few handy guides to help you better identify and deal with some of the most common pests and diseases in houseplants.

Adjust Your Watering Schedule

Adjusting your watering schedule can be more challenging than it sounds. Even though there’s plenty of information available online that could help you along the process, each plant’s needs are unique and can widely vary from the rest of its species.

Therefore, you’ll want to take note of how your greenery reacts between waterings to get a better understanding of how to adjust your technique if necessary.

Move the Houseplant to a Bigger Pot

If you’ve concluded that your houseplant has become stunted due to becoming rootbound, then you’ll want to move it to a bigger pot immediately. 

When the roots become too crowded, there’s no physical space for them to expand, an issue that can lead to stunted growth and even death if not promptly addressed. 

Final Thoughts

A houseplant that’s not growing while still being alive isn’t always a cause for worry. The most common culprits behind this issue include environment and nutrient-related deficiencies. 

However, in some instances, your greenery might have simply reached its full growth potential.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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