Why Are My Plants Growing So Slow? This question might have bugged you and every other gardener whenever plants exhibit stunted growth.

Unlocking the Mystery of Slow Growing Plants

It may happen for several reasons like improper watering, heat stress, insufficient sunlight, and poor soil condition.

Don’t worry, you can quickly hasten plant growth with the methods discussed here. So, continue reading.

Why Are Your Plants Growing So Slow?

Your plants are growing so slowly because of poor location, improper watering, excessive heat or lack thereof, soil not being of good quality, nutrient deficiencies, aftermath of poor transplantation, growing in a closed space, having a weak root system and because of insect and other pests attacks.

– Poor Location

It would help if you grew your plants properly, where they can receive sufficient sunlight. If you are growing indoors, ensure they are placed at an ideal distance to grow lights. The reason is that plants require light to photosynthesize and grow.

Too little of it can cause a plant’s chlorophyll levels to drop, resulting in stunted development. Furthermore, incorrect light can lead plants to become chlorotic, which means they turn yellow.

Different types of plants have different requirements for sunlight. Some plants have adapted to shade and can thrive in low-light conditions, but most vegetables do not. So, how much light is enough? Your plants need at least six hours of light/sunlight to thrive.

– Improper Watering

Water is essential for plants to thrive right from the beginning. Moisture causes seeds to germinate and creates tension, allowing plants to stand upright. However, you must balance plants’ water intake, as overwatering or underwatering them results in poor growth.

Too much water for your seedlings will wash away soil nutrients (like Nitrogen) and cause root problems (like rot). How do you know you are adding too much water? If your seedlings begin to droop over and your soil is very damp, you are overwatering your plant.

Reasons for Plants Growing So Slow

Underwatering is another major reason for slow plant growth. The plant cannot move nutrients from the roots to the rest of the foliage without sufficient water. This will slow its growth. Leaves turning wrinkly, yellow, and eventually drooping are signs of underwater plants. Furthermore, plants need water if the top inches of soil are droughted.

– Excessive or Lack of Heat

Plants mostly like moderate heat. Still, their temperature requirements differ. Warm-season plants require temperatures above 65 degrees to thrive, while cool-season varieties will thrive at about 50 degrees. Many can tolerate hot or cold temperatures, while some can be sensitive to them (like cannabis plants).

Heat stress (even in the presence of appropriate soil moisture) can affect the transpiration rate, resulting in the slow growth of plants. Similarly, plants will not be able to grow properly if there is a lack of heat. Instead of developing leaves, they will spend time attempting to withstand the stress. Therefore, plants must get appropriate heat to continue their growth.

– Soil Is Not Good Enough

Having garden beds not only looks beautiful but also helps your plant to grow quickly. But you have to stay careful as walking on the soil repeatedly causes it to become dense and hard. Plant roots struggle to grow in such soil conditions. Furthermore, if you are growing plants in pots, ensure the soil is full of nutrients and has good drainage.

Similarly, the soil should be porous enough to allow oxygen to pass through and reach the roots. It should also contain organic substances and an ideal pH level. If the soil lacks all of these factors, it will lead to outdoor plants growing slowly.

– Nutrient Deficiency

Ever wondered- “Why is my plant not growing new leaves?” If yes, then the answer is nutrient deficiency. Once the seedling begins to grow, it requires more nutrients. If the soil cannot provide them, you will face the classic “Plant not growing but not dying” situation. 

In this, plants look old and don’t grow new parts (leaves, flowers, etc.). But the limited nutrients in the soil are enough to keep them alive. Therefore, more than nutrient deficiency is needed for growers.

When plants lack nutrients, they cannot generate the energy necessary for growing leaves, branches, and flowers. Furthermore, a nutrient-deficient plant will bear poor-quality fruits as well. So, such plants will be useless if you don’t add fertilizers.

– Aftermath of Poor Transplant Technique

When you transfer plants from their seedling tray to bigger pots, it slows their growth. When you shift plants, their roots are disturbed, which might temporarily slow their development. Once the transplant shock settles in, plants will continue their growth.

– Growing up in Closed Space

When you move the seedlings into the soil, they still look tiny. Later, these little seedlings grow into large mature plants that demand a lot of areas. If the plants are too close to each other, they will compete for nutrients, light, and water. One will eventually prevail over the other. Those plants that will lose this battle will face stunted growth.

– Weaker Root System

Another big reason that stops plants’ growth is the weaker root system. When roots don’t get air (for gas exchange), water, ideal temperature, carbohydrates, minerals, space, and low soil Density, they grow slowly and eventually become weak.

When the roots are not strong, they cannot take up nutrients and water efficiently. So your plants will need to grow properly. In addition to bad growth, plants will also face problems like discolored or wilted leaves, mushy stems, etc.

– Insect and Pest Attack

Plants will always have insect-pest problems at some point. It’s fine if they are in small numbers because that’s part of nature. The issue arises when their population becomes out of control and begins eating up a large portion of the seedling. Pests may also suck the sap, leave molds, harm roots, and cause viral infections. 

No plant is safe from this damage. Whether growing flowering or cannabis plants, you will find insect-pests roaming around them. Fortunately, you can get rid of them for better flower or cannabis growth (More on that later).

– Bad Genetics

Have you noticed that some plants germinate and grow more quickly than others, even when you provide the same conditions? The reason behind this is genetics. That is why seeds are now grown commercially (which have the best genetic makeup).

If your plants show poor growth, chances are you used low-quality seeds. To confirm, go online and check what other people say about the variety. If the reviews are mostly negative, then the genetics of seeds is the main culprit.

– Small Pot Size

Proper pot size is important whether you are growing outside or indoors. It is because plants remain little and show poor growth if kept in a too-small pot. The reason is that there is no room to spread their roots in small-sized pots, and a “root bound” condition occurs.

Also, the soil is limited to smaller pots. So, there needs to be more room for water as well. That is why plants in such pots also face water stress. In addition, limited soil also means limited nutrients. So, nutrient deficiency is also on the cards.

– Nature’s Decision

Sometimes plants’ slow growth is not anyone’s fault. That’s how they are designed by nature. There can be days or weeks when they don’t require anything from you other than water and some fertilizers occasionally.

Some small, slow-growing outdoor plants are the dragon tree, snake plant, fiddle leaf fig, money tree, etc. No matter how many ideal conditions you provide, they will grow at their own pace. So, if you prefer to grow slow-growing plants, you must be patient throughout the journey and follow good care tips.

How to Speed Up Slow Plant Growth?

How to speed up plant growth is really quite hassle free: You need to provide a stress-free environment, add fertilizer, remove old leaves and twigs and transplant the plant into a bigger pot. These solutions will clear up any problems.

– Provide Stress-free Environment

Providing a stress-free environment can help plants thrive. It means you must take care of soil pH, sunlight, water, and heat. If any of these things are not optimal, plants will feel stress.

Let’s start with Soil pH first. It should be optimal (according to plants’ needs). Get help from a soil pH meter to know about the current pH. If it is found to be too alkaline, apply sulfur. If it is more acidic than required, add lime.

Another important thing to keep plants stress-free is proper sunlight. If you are growing indoors, place them at an optimal distance from grow lights. If they are outdoors, choose the location wisely (where sunlight falls for at least six hours).

Solution for Plants Growing So Slow

It would help if you also watered appropriately to avoid water stress. Use a moisture detector to check whether the soil around the roots is dry. Apply water only if the device shows a dryness rating or the top two inches are bone dry.

– Add Fertilizers

Add fertilizers if you do not want your plants to grow slowly. Soil should have sufficient nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other minor elements for the perfect growth of plants. 

To enrich it with these nutrients, you can use organic compost and commercially prepared fertilizers. However, commercially grown chemical fertilizers are inorganic, so you have to be careful about their application. They are expensive too, which is why most people prefer organic ones.

– Remove Old Leaves and Twigs

For plants to grow faster, you should remove old and dead leaves. When you do this, plants spend their energy growing new leaves and flowers. Furthermore, it is the finest technique to make plants look healthier.

It is simple to remove dead or dying leaves from plants. You will need clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears. When you cut them, you can also bury them in the soil. It is a great organic way to enrich the soil with important nutrients.

– Transplant Into a Bigger Pot

For better plant health, please place it in a relatively bigger pot. When you do this, the root system will spread more and eventually get stronger. Also, you will be able to add more water. In addition, soil volume is more in such pots. So there will be more nutrients available for the plants.

Make sure you don’t purchase a “too big” pot, as it can cause trouble in relocating. Also, bigger pots might prompt you to add more water which can cause different complications. Furthermore, you should check how much area is available to place such a pot. So, keep these things in mind to avoid frustration when choosing a pot size.

The Slow Growth of Your Plants


Hopefully, you now have the answer to your question, “Why Are my Plants Growing so slowly?”

Here are the key takeaways of the article so that you don’t miss anything:

  • Make sure you apply proper water and fertilizers on time for fast growth.
  • Plants should be placed at an ideal location where they receive proper light, or they will grow slowly.
  • Pots should neither be too big nor too small.
  • Always choose good quality seeds and safe transplant techniques.

Now you know why plants show slow growth and how to speed it up!

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