Tech Tips for Diagnosing Plant Problems

Plant technicians are your frontline to maintain accounts and plant health. Though routine visits are key, despite best efforts, some plants will experience issues. Techs must be trained and equipped with a routine to start diagnosing plant problems to help mitigate against plant replacements. Consider a tried and tested routine to help technicians navigate through accounts with a starting point to begin diagnosing plant problems.

Inspect on Approach

Encourage plant technicians to do a visual inspection while they approach plants for care. If anything seems off about a plant, the technician should be able to start anticipating the supplies and type of care needed.


After approaching the plant, take a moment to feel the soil and evaluate the soil moisture levels. Depending on the plant’s needs, make a mental note of whether it needs additional water.


Trim off any material that needs pruned. Rotate the plant to get a better look at other portions that are hidden from view and may eventually present problems. Look for bugs, dead leaves and other items that may require extra care. Take time to look in all of the leaf axils and crevices that may go unnoticed. This is a great time for technicians to look for, and work on diagnosing potential issues.

To diagnose issues, consider asking some key questions.

  1. Evaluate plants for symptoms to determine the type of problem the plant is having. Are there pests? Fungus? Spots on the leaves? The symptoms a plant presents are key clues to diagnosis.
  2. Observe the plant’s environment. Have there been any recent changes to the plant’s environment, like light or temperature? 
  3. Could the problem be self-inflicted? Improper techniques might be the cause of an ailing plant. Overwatering, over fertilization and negative soil conditions can significantly affect a plant’s health.
  4. How should you go about remedying the issue? Will the problem be fixed with pesticides, or can it be resolved through more organic means?

Get our free Professional’s Field Guide to Plant Pest Control to learn how to identify and treat seven of the most common indoor pests. For truly unique cases, technicians that are unsure of the cause of a plant’s malady can always take pictures during their route to get help on a diagnosis.


Properly watered plants are key to healthy plants. Make sure techs have a thorough understanding of how light can affect water usage, the impact splashing water on leaves can have, and the importance of irrigating the rootmass. Train technicians on proper techniques to make sure they are equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to keep plants properly watered.


If plants are plagued with fungus, pests or other ailments, be sure to treat them with the proper products. Pesticide use is tricky, so make sure technicians are trained on how to use these products, and fully understand the how and why behind the usage of chemicals if used.

Special Work

Special work includes all those little tasks that need to be done. For example, fixing top dressings, or cleaning up anything dropped into the plant container.


A good rule of thumb is to leave an area cleaner than when you arrived. Wipe down the container, floor or table. Cleaning these surfaces helps to mitigate dust, and leaves an installment looking fresh and properly cared for. 

Look Back

As technicians complete their tasks and walk away, make sure to encourage them to take one last look at the plant. That last look back can help to catch anything missed. 

Ensuring technicians are properly trained and able to handle these tasks are key to maintaining plant health and happy accounts. Take a look at our Tips for Techs Guide for more information on how to increase account efficiency and effectiveness.

Allison is a budding plant person looking to share what she learns from horticulture and other subject matter experts. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Public Relations from Anderson University and is a SEO and Outreach Specialist at NewPro Containers. Her experience in PR and marketing has given her the skills to distill key facts and advice clearly and concisely across various platforms and mediums. When she is not researching new plants to add to her growing collection, she enjoys going on motorcycle rides and watching road-trip movies.

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