Why do my plants keep dying?

There’s lots of reasons why plants may die – old age, drought, the dog sat on it… But sometimes plants die for no apparent reason…
If this is the case, then the following should be considered.

Planting the root ball too deep:

 Planting the root ball too deep causes numerous problems for the plants. The first one being collar rot which is caused by soil or mulch being placed around the stem of the plant. Subsequently the base of the plant rots out stopping the food and water flow from the roots to the tree and basically the plant starves to death. Being to deep can also cause the plant to drown if the soil is to wet.  


Failure to water adequately at the time of planting is one of the most common causes of plants dying within a few days of planting. Plants should be watered-in with at least a bucket-full of water immediately after planting, even if it’s raining. See our information sheet on “how and when do water my plants” for more detailed information.


Applying too much fertiliser is probably the second most common cause of death in new plantings. Little plants only need a little bit of fertiliser, and it is all too easy to over-do it. Too much fertiliser is like medicine – the right amount is good for you, an overdose can kill. Since it is extremely difficult to measure the correct amount of fertiliser for a little plant, and since they don’t really need much anyway, Texture Plants recommends using our 12 month slow release planting food at all times. As it is slow release it wont cause burning or death. Texture Plants 12 month planting food is ideal for use at planting and also as a top dress in later years.

Teasing out the roots:

When you plant your plants, DO NOT tease out the root-ball. Teasing or pulling at the roots damages the fine feeder roots which absorb the water and nutrients for the plant. By damaging the roots, you run a very high chance of killing the plant. Don’t take any notice of books, articles, or TV shows which say otherwise – this is an outdated piece of advice left over from the days when nurseries sold root-bound plants. Texture Plants plants are not root-bound! By using our 12 month planting food the nutrients will leach deep through the soil and the roots will follow. This use of the fertilizer will encourage deep, fast root growth.

Root-rot diseases:

If you’ve ruled out planting too deep, fertiliser, root teasing or failure to water adequately, then the most likely cause of sudden death in plants is root-rot disease. Root-rot disease is commonly caused by a fungus called Phytophthora which destroys the roots of plants. Since the most important function of roots is to absorb water, an infected plant wilts severely as if the ground is bone dry, even though the soil is quite moist. Once a plant exhibits these symptoms it is too late, and death is swift and inevitable.
A plant may be carrying root-rot disease for months or even years before it succumbs – like sickness in humans. It often takes some sort of stress or change for the disease to take hold. It is commonly seen during hot wet summers.