Although Cast Iron Plants can be pretty hardy and adjust well to a range of environments, this doesn’t mean you won’t stumble into issues if things aren’t right.
If you have started to notice that your Cast Iron Plant is dying, then it’s important to correctly diagnose the issue as soon as possible. Catching problems early is the key to reviving your plant.
In this article, we will go through each of the main causes of a dying Cast Iron Plant as well as methods to diagnose, solve and prevent the problem from causing damage in future too!
Overwatering is the most common cause of a dying plant
Cast Iron Plants are pretty hardy plants and won’t die suddenly if you overwater them once in a while. However, consistent overwatering will mean they start to lose their leaves and their roots will start to rot.
Cast Iron Plants don’t need lots of water to thrive and it’s important you cut back on how frequently you are watering in winter. This is not only because the potting mix dries out quicker in cooler temperatures, but also because your plant will go dormant in winter.
Consistent overwatering over several weeks and months will lead to root rot which can very quickly cause it to start dying. Once the root system is damaged, your plant isn’t able to maintain the same level of foliage and health because the roots can’t transport oxygen, moisture and nutrients to your plant.
How to know if your Cast Iron Plant is overwatered
To confirm whether your dying Cast Iron Plant is suffering from overwatering, check the potting mix immediately. You are checking for two things here. Firstly if the soil is waterlogged and secondly if the roots have started to become soft and mushy. Be careful when removing the soil from the roots as you don’t want to cause any further damage to an already sensitive plant.
How to fix an overwatered Cast Iron Plant
Replace any waterlogged soil so that your roots can recover and trim off any rotten roots. Once a root has started to rot, there is no reversing that and getting it back to full function.
Now that you have set your dying plant on the road to recovery, it’s vital that you adjust your watering habits in future to prevent the issue reoccurring.
The best thing to do is either cut back on how deeply you are watering your plant (ie. how much water you give it each time) or reduce the frequency of which you water your plant.
A lack of drainage could be to blame
If you are spotting some of the symptoms caused by overwatering but you really aren’t giving your Cast Iron Plant much moisture, then it could be a lack of drainage that’s the issue.
This means that all of the water you are giving your plant stays in the pot and any excess has no way of escaping.
A lack of drainage can make even the accidental odd overwatering a real issue.
You can very easily increase the amount of drainage in your aloe soil by mixing in a small amount of perlite, this will make it far easier for water to flow through and out of the drainage holes of your pots (you should also check to make sure your pots have drainage holes).
Another method is switching to terracotta pots if your plant is growing in a plastic pot. These let some of the excess water evaporate out of the sides which is great at combating root rot.
A dying Cast Iron Plant can also mean underwatering
If your Cast Iron Plant’s soil is very dry and powdery then it may be underwatering which is causing it to die. Again you want to be 100% sure this is causing your plant to die before you increase how much you water your Cast Iron Plant.
How to know if your Cast Iron Plant is underwatered
Take the plant out of the pot and see if the potting mix is bone dry. It will start to feel very powdery if there is no moisture. Other things to look out for are crispy roots (this suggests the problem has been going on for a while), if the potting mix has compacted and has come away from the sides of the pot or if the potting mix is very light in colour.
How to fix an underwatered Cast Iron plant
To solve the issue and to start to revive your dying plant you need to be very careful about how you begin to introduce moisture again. The thing about plants that you might not expect is that they are sort of like humans in the way in which they can get quite stressed.
If their environment changes both suddenly and dramatically, then they can go into shock. Usually this is temporary as they adjust to their new environment but it can lead to droopy stems and your plant losing a few leaves here and there.
With this in mind, the best way to solve underwatering is to give your plant little bits of water once or twice a day to get some moisture into the soil.
This also prevents the soil from just running over the top of the pot and out through the drainage holes and allows it to soak into the pot itself.
Cold temperatures could be killing your Cast Iron Plant
Cast Iron Plants can adapt to some drop in temperature but don’t do so well when exposed to consistent cold drafts and might start dying as a result.
Not only does the cold weather cause them to stop growing, but it can also mean the leaves, stems and roots freeze if the issue isn’t solved quickly.
During the winter months, your plant will also become more susceptible to root and leaf rot which is why you want to avoid placing your plant in really cold rooms.
This can happen if there is moisture on the plant when the temperatures drop (often at night when we don’t have the heating on).
To avoid this, make sure your plants are in the warmest rooms in your home throughout winter and always water in the morning so there is enough time for the water to be soaked up or evaporate before it gets dark.
You might also need to move your plant around depending on the seasons to ensure that it’s getting enough warmth to survive the winter.
If you aren’t able to find a warmer spot for your Cast Iron Plant then you might want to invest in a heat pad. You place them underneath your pot to add some warmth around your plant. They are also great when propagating plants so a worthwhile investment all around.
Those are the most common factors that might explain why your Cast Iron Plant is dying.
It’s important to catch any problems as early as possible before they have had time to really take over your plant. This not only means less of your plant is visibly struggling, but the issue will be a lot simpler to tackle.
Then after making some changes, check in with your Cast Iron Plant once a day to ensure that things are moving in the right direction and the problem isn’t deteriorating even further.
To learn more about your plant’s care requirements, check out our detailed Cast Iron Plant care guide.
Written by Billy Dawson