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What Leaves Reveal

Leaves can seem little more than accessories to flowers and trees. However, they provide much more than colorful foliage or shaded escapes. They are essential to a plant’s health and we can benefit a lot from learning about the role leaves play in plant life. Doing so allows you to identify not only the condition of your plants, but of your living environment.

It is true, plants need a good plot of land and plenty of sun. But they are also fueled by sugar. Leaves are essential in supplying them with the sugar they need as their blades are like nets of branching veins, canvassed with layers of cells. The veins supply the leaf with water, while the cells catch sunlight. The captured light is used to join the water with carbon dioxide. This creates the sugar that keeps plants going. But aside from providing plants with nutrients, the physical state of leaves tell us a lot about the health of a plant and its surroundings.

Yellowing, browning, or loss of leaves indicate low humidity levels. If a plant is indoors, you can remedy this by placing the pot or planter on a tray of pebbles. Then fill the tray with water to increase humidity without getting the roots too wet. Having multiple plants in a room increases humidity as well. To go a step further, set them close to one another. For the average houseplant it is best to keep humidity levels between 50 and 70 percent.

Leaves that are brown or dry, occur when temperatures are too high.  This can be fixed simply by moving your plant to a cooler area. If leaves are brown at the tip or margin only, you may want to improve the water or soil quality. In some cases, you may need to re-pot your plant using new soil.

Small, white specks on leaves are often caused by spider mites. Sticky spots occur when exposed to aphids and cotton like growths result from exposure to mealy bugs.

When red or silver blotches appear on a leaf it is a sign of sunburn. For outdoor plants, avoid watering during the peak heat hours of the day. This is usually from noon until the early evening. Sunburn may result in spotty leaves as well.

If grown leaves drop or new leaves curl, you may have pollutants in the air. Check to make sure there aren’t any excess chemicals floating about your home as it will ensure better health for yourself as well.



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