Why is My Creeping Jenny Dying? Here are 9 Reasons it Happens

Creeping Jenny can be a wonderful addition to any home garden. But what happens when you notice that your plant isn't growing well, and it appears to be dying? Creeping Jenny can die for a variety of different reasons, and in this article, amateur gardener Jason White looks at 9 specific reasons your plant may be looking a little worse for wear.

Dying Creeping Jenny Plant


The creeping jenny is a favorite plant for many gardeners. While this plant grows pretty, yellow flowers, they aren’t very short-lived. For this reason, the creeping jenny is grown for its gorgeous foliage. It looks great next to ponds or in containers. It is worth noting that this plant can be considered invasive in some areas because of how quickly it spreads.

As a prolific grower, creeping jenny can be a great plant to have in your garden, provided that you have it under control. This is why it can be particularly alarming to see your beloved plant in poor health.

If your plant looks like its health is failing, you will want to right the situation. While you are troubleshooting, it is important to do your research. Since there can be a lot of reasons for your creeping jenny being sick, it can be difficult to narrow down the causes. In this article, you’ll learn about the most common problems that may endanger your creeping jenny’s health, as well as solutions to each issue. Let’s jump in!

Improper Watering

Three Plants Hanging in Greenhouse
Watering your plant too often or not enough, is often a cause of early plant death.

This plant loves water and is thus suited to be a pondside plant. However, it’s important that you are giving it the correct amount of water– no more and no less. Generally, it is difficult to overwater this plant. However, it is not impossible.

Both overwatering and underwatering can cause issues; this is because water is vital to the nutrient uptake of the plant. Water is the vehicle that transports nutrients into the plant from the soil. Too little water means that the nutrients can’t move, and too much water will suffocate the plant. For this reason, symptoms of overwatering and underwatering are similar: yellowing leaves that eventually turn brown, wilting, and so on.

Generally, it can be difficult to determine what your plant needs in terms of watering needs, at least at first glance. However, you can tell if your plant needs water by touching the soil. Do this before you consider watering the plant. Insert a finger a few inches into the soil to assess moisture. Creeping jenny requires soil that is a bit moist, but not soggy.

Soil that is obviously dry will need a good drink of water to revitalize the plant. Soil that is clearly wet should be left alone for a few days. If the soil is just dry, you can resume watering. For the most part, you will need to water this plant more often than many of your other plants.

How to Fix:

Bear in mind that overwatering can cause lots of issues beyond nutrient deficiency. It can also lead to stem or root rot, which occurs when the plant stays too long in waterlogged soil. This can spell the death of the plant.

You’ll want to make sure that your plant gets an appropriate amount of water at all times. Try watering it once a week, allowing for an inch of water each time. Righting the situation will help it come back to its former self.

Improper Sunlight

Yellowed Plant Sitting in Sun
Sunlight is critical to just about every type of plant, including this popular vine.

Improper amounts of sunlight can cause problems for most types of plants. This can manifest in the leaves changing color, as well as wilting. The color you are looking for is lime green. If the plant has turned a darker green, that means it has been given too much shade.

If it yellows, it means that the plant is being exposed to too much sunlight. Extreme amounts of sunlight can turn the foliage pale, which can eventually lead to browning and burning! This is especially true in places that have hot climates.

Despite that, creeping jenny isn’t too picky about the sunlight it receives. It can thrive both in full sun or partial shade, as long as either condition isn’t too extreme. A brown and crispy plant has gotten too much sun, however, and will need to be moved to somewhere shadier, and then watered deeply. Regardless, it’s important that your plant still gets its sun, because sunlight is the means by which photosynthesis can operate– the process that allows a plant to make its food.

Creeping jenny plants can tolerate harsh weather fairly well, growing well in USDA zones 4 through 9. It can survive temperatures up to -34 degrees Fahrenheit, which is certainly impressive!

How to Fix:

Ensure that your plant still has protection during the winter; a good mulching can help them make the transition from dormancy back to producing gorgeous foliage for you when it gets warmer.

Soil Conditions

Green Plant in Fresh Soil
Soil is just as important to climate and temperature when it comes to plant growth.

Your creeping jenny may have gotten into poor health because of poor soil conditions. Despite loving moist soil, it’s imperative that the soil is well-draining. Waterlogged soil can expose the plant to disease, and will prevent it from taking in nutrients.

If the soil has good drainage, it doesn’t really matter what type of soil it is. Creeping jenny can thrive in loamy soil, sandy soil, and virtually anything else, as long as the soil isn’t soggy. Well-draining soil also has the added benefit of allowing your plant’s roots to breathe. This can prevent issues in the form of compacted roots, which we will cover in the next section.

Another factor to consider is the soil’s pH. They aren’t particularly picky about the soil pH they require, being able to thrive in slightly acid, neutral, and slightly alkaline soils. However, leaning too much in one direction can spell trouble for the plant. Check your plant’s soil regularly with a pH test kit, available at most gardening supply stores.

How to Fix:

If you need to make the soil more alkaline, a good agricultural liming agent is a good idea. To make the soil more acidic, simply add organic matter, such as compost or peat moss. This has the added benefit of improving drainage, as it does raise the bed too. Organic compounds will also give your soil more nutrients, which can be very good for your plant’s health.

Root Damage

Green Plant Roots Exposed
Root damage is another reason that your plant may be dying off early.

The creeping jenny is famous for its ability to spread, which is what makes it difficult to control when not kept in check. Regardless of whether you are planting it in a container or in the ground, it’s important that the roots not be damaged. Damaged roots means that the plant will be unable to take in nutrients from the soil, which could be disastrous for its health.

Root damage can happen from being too harsh with tools, or from roots getting compacted. Compacted roots often occur when growing the plant in a pot that is too small for its spread. If this is the case, you will often find the roots sticking out of whatever opening they can manage to find. Take care to size up your pots whenever it is necessary.

It’s a good idea to prune the roots, just as it is a good idea to prune the foliage to control it. Pruning the roots can help it stay in its pot; just be sure not to damage the root system by accident. When checking the roots, take note of the color. Healthy roots are a pale, yellowish-white color.

How to Fix:

Diseased roots, stemming from root rot, are dark in color and will have a foul odor. If your plant has developed roots like this, it will sadly be time to discard the plant and start over with a new one. Good draining is essential to root health, so take care to give your plant the appropriate soil.

Aeration can also make a big difference in root condition, allowing the roots the space needed to breathe and absorb nutrients.

Nutrient Deficiency

Plant with Nutrient Deficiency
Nutrient deficiencies can cause a plant to turn yellow, brown, and potentially die.

As we’ve previously discussed, nutrient deficiencies are a big reason that your plant may be dying. This comes down to the care that the plant receives. However, poor soil quality may also be the reason that your plants are missing out on essential nutrients.

You can usually see this if the leaves of your creeping jenny have turned yellow, but the veins are green. Top leaves will also go yellow sooner than the ones on the bottom.

You can use a test kit to test the amount of nutrients in the soil. Getting a good picture of the amounts of nutrients in the soil can help you rectify the situation effectively by using an appropriate plant food. It will usually benefit from a 10-10-10 fertilizer in the early springtime, but may be fed at other times of the year when it could use a boost. Fertilizer with higher concentrations of nitrogen can be used to amp up foliage.

How To Fix:

However, it is important to note that you should always follow the instructions on the fertilizer’s packaging. Not adding enough fertilizer will be a waste of effort, time, and resources. However, adding too much can also be a problem, as the overload of nutrients can burn your plant, and end up sending it into even worse health!

You can notice this if the leaves have yellowed even further, and start browning. Taking care of the amount of nutrients your creeping jenny gets can restore it to its former glory very quickly.

Fungal Diseases

Plant With Brown Leaves
Fungal diseases can also cause the early death of a plant.

Since creeping jenny loves moist soil, it can sometimes be difficult to stay within that boundary without crossing over into waterlogged territory. The fact that it grows quite densely can also spell trouble.

This is because these conditions provide a great home for a fungal infection to foster. Fungal diseases can really spell trouble for your plant, as it will endanger their health. It is important to act quickly. One common fungus that plagues the creeping jenny is the southern blight, commonly seen in the southern states.

Sclerotium rolfsii is the fungus that causes southern blight. It thrives in warm, humid conditions, and will disappear when cold weather sets in. However, it is likely to return the following summer. It is a tricky disease to battle.

You can identify the fungus by seeing webbing from the soil, through the stems and leaves. This webbing is called hyphae, and acts as the roots of a fungus. It will gradually decompose your plant. You will also see small, light brown spore pods, called sclerotia, which is what keeps the fungus in your garden for years.

While it can be difficult to control the problem as it actively exists, you can combat it by digging up the dead plants and properly disposing of them, as well as the top 8 inches of soil they were planted in. You can choose to flip the soil, such that the previous surface is buried. This will prevent the remaining spores from accessing oxygen, which will kill the fungus. However, you can also opt to use new soil after digging up the bed.

How To Fix:

Controlling the fungus with a fungicide may not be effective, as there isn’t much existing fungicides can do against southern blight. Instead, focus on keeping conditions unfavorable for fungus to thrive. Do not overwater your plant. Prune the plant often to prevent it from getting too dense. When planting more than one creeping jenny, space the plants enough apart so that any infections do not spread to healthy plants.

Clean your tools thoroughly after using them on a diseased plant. Good soil drainage is key to keeping your plant healthy and free of fungal infections. If your soil needs more drainage, consider adding sand to the soil to improve it.

Pest Infestation

Snail Crawling on Creeping Jenny
Pests like snails can make life miserable for many different plant types.

Pests can certainly infect this plant, and cause it to come into failing health. One particular pest that plagues the creeping jenny is the sawfly larvae. Though they look like caterpillars, these larvae are more closely related to bees and wasps. The infestation will be apparent once you see the damaged leaves and larvae crawling on your plants.

Snails are another common pest, crawling on the plant leaves and eating the plant as they slowly move along.

If the infestation has not progressed too dramatically, it may be possible to remove the pests by hand-picking them off for several weeks til none remain. Quick action is important so as not to let the infestation progress further. Spraying the plant with a strong blast of water can help wash the insects off too.

How to Fix:

If the infestation is more severe, you can opt to use insecticides. You can begin with a spray of neem oil diluted in water. Apply this weekly until results are apparent. You may also try a similar solution of insecticidal soap.

Failing this, you can also use stronger insecticides, such as ones that include acephate (Orthene), bifenthrin, and carbaryl (Sevin). Exercise caution when using systemic insecticides, as it can harm beneficial insects such as pollinators, too.


Recently Potted Green Plant
Plants that have been recently planted or transplanted to a new location take time to get adjusted.

Another reason your plant may look like it is dying is due to simple acclimation, especially seen in new plants just brought home from the nursery. When purchasing a new plant from a greenhouse, note that it has spent its whole life in those pleasant, warm conditions.

Bringing it out of that comfortable position will, more often than not, shock the plant. It will not be used to your home just yet, and will display symptoms that may be concerning. The plant may discolor, the foliage will wilt, and leaves may be dropping off.

For as dramatic as your plant can be, this is only natural for it. Being in a new environment will take getting used to for any living creature, and the creeping jenny is no exception! If you bring home a creeping jenny plant and notice it immediately beginning to “die”, then this is your cue to provide it with the care it needs.

How to Fix:

Giving it lots of TLC can make all the difference in this adjustment period. Attending to its daily needs will help it bounce back into good health and begin blessing your home or landscape with its gorgeous green foliage. Simply be consistent about the care you are giving your plant, and you can ensure good health well into the future, too.

Natural Life Cycle

Plant in Garden Sun
All plants have a natural life cycle, including seasonality which may cause them to go dormant.

The final reason your creeping jenny could look like it is dying is due to its natural life cycle. While a perennial, the creeping jenny will still need to go into winter dormancy, especially in areas colder than USDA zone 8.

You will see the plant start wilting, with the leaves discoloring and eventually falling off the plant. As long as this is happening when the weather has started getting cold, there’s really no cause for alarm. It is worth noting that the creeping jenny can be considered evergreen in warmer USDA zones.

How to Fix:

You may choose to protect your plant from frost damage by covering it with a frost cloth while it sleeps. This should be easy enough given that the creeping jenny is low-growing. This can keep your plant comfortable so it can greet you when the weather has gotten warmer. You should see healthy, green growth again in the springtime, so look forward to it!

Final Thoughts

We hope that this article has given you the answers you need to solve your creeping jenny’s health issues. Narrowing down the problem can really help you determine the best course of action to right the situation.

Caring for your plant as it is ill is crucial to its survival, so always strive to do your best! As long as you are attentive to its needs, the creeping jenny will bless you with many wonderful years of gorgeous, green growth. If we’ve solved your problem, or you have further questions, feel free to let us know in the comments section below!

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