Wilting or drooping leaves is one of the most common issues amongst houseplants. Having a drooping plant usually has something to do with the amount of water it’s getting.
Why is your indoor plant drooping? A dry plant will wilt or drop, but overwatering, root rot, pest, and even recent transplants can also cause drooping and wilted leaves.
Be sure not just to assume your plant is wilted because it’s thirsty. Sometimes overwatering can cause more harm than good. But how do you know why your plant is wilting? Keep reading to learn every reason for a drooping plant as well as how to fix them.
What Causes a Plant to Wilt?
If you forget to water a potted plant, its leaves wilt. A likely reason for this wilting is that the xylem and plant tissue has no structure. Xylem gives rise to the leaves, maintaining their perky, lush appearance through water pressure. If the plant is dehydrated, the xylem has no force and droops.
The fancy way of saying your plant is drooping or wilted is called a loss in turgor pressure. The xylem is filled with water via the plant’s roots. If the roots are damaged or sick, the plant can become dehydrated even though it’s in a pool of water.
Some plants can withstand wilting better than others. The peace lily is known to bounce back after dropping. However, other plants aren’t as flexible and will never recover from even a little hang.
Watering to Prevent Wilted Leaves
Underwatering is the most likely reason for your plant leaves wilting. Plants need and use water to produce food and grow. They use up and lose this water through transpiration. However, too much water can cause damage to the roots, limiting absorption.
Underwatering Causing Drooping Leaves
Too little water will result in a wilting plant. To tell if your plant is thirsty, poke a finger in the potting soil. If the soil is dry and crumbling, it means your plant has gone without water for some time. Dry, brown edged leaves are also a sign that the plant needs some hydration.
To fix this problem, simply water your plant. Their bounce and lush leaves should be back to normal in no time. However, you can’t undo extensive damage due to lack of water. Make sure to have a good plant watering routine and never let your houseplants get to the point of drooping.
Wilting of Leaves due to Overwatering
If you poke the soil and it’s drenched, you could be overwatering your beloved houseplant. Yellowing leaves are also a sign of an overwatered plant. When the plant’s roots are bathing in a pool of water, they become susceptible to bacteria and rot. Whether you underwater or overwater your plant, the results are the same.
Damaged roots make it challenging for the roots to absorb oxygen and supply the plant. This can further lead to root hypoxia, increased bacteria growth and even root death. When the roots can’t provide water to the xylem, the leaves will droop due to insufficient water.
To save your plant, you need to do this early on. If you’ve overwatered, pour away any excess water, ensure proper drainage and pop the plant in a well-lit, warm area. Drooping due to extensive overwatering can’t be fixed, but you can take preventative methods. Ensure the topsoil dries between watering, the pot has good drainage, and you are using the correct soil.
Temperature Stress Causing Drooping
If your plant is drooping but not from water-induced injuries, it could be because of the temperature. Most houseplants are tropical and thrive in high humidity at temperatures around 13 – 32°C (55 – 90°F).
Wilting From Excessive Heat
If you’re still asking, ‘Why is my plant drooping?’ it could be because your plant is transpiring too quickly. Hot temperatures do the same to plants as they do to humans. It makes them sweat. The increased water demand of the plant makes the soil dry up quicker than average. Wilting can occur if you can’t keep up with the plant’s new water demands.
Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves on top of dehydrating the plant. Make sure to move your plants away from hot sunrooms, heaters and air vents.
To fix the problem, move your plant away from the harsh light and give it some water. Make sure you adjust your watering routine in the hotter summer months to prevent damage.
Wilting From Coldness and Drafts
Low temperatures and frost can damage the plant’s root system and foliage. Damaged roots cannot correctly absorb water, limiting the plant’s water intake and causing wilting and drooping.
To fix this problem, move your plants into a warmer area, away from vents and drafts. If you keep your plants outside, be sure to bring them in overnight when the temperatures drop and over the cold, winter months.
Low humidity Causes Drooping
A Lot of common houseplants thrive in a tropical environment, specifically in humidity above 60%. While plants can live in lower humidities (<50%), they won’t reach their full potential. These low levels of moisture can cause the plant’s leaves to wilt.
To fix this problem, you can group your houseplants on a humidity tray. Grab your needy houseplants and stack them on a tray next to a home humidifier. For a cheaper option, close the doors and windows in your bathroom with the plants inside. Run your shower on hot and let the steam fill the room.
Potting Stress Causing Wilt
Plant’s drooping can also be due to their potting condition. Too much fertilizer, the wrong soil or even a recent repotting can upset and droop your plant.
Fertilizing Problems Lead to Drooping
There’s a fine line between fertilizing your plant and over-fertilizing it. The fertilizer doesn’t magically make your plant grow more beautiful than ever. It only prevents nutrient deficiency. Too much fertilizer can cause toxicity and chemical burn to the plant’s roots. And damaged roots mean, yes, you’ve guessed it, drooping leaves.
To aid in your wilted plant recovery, you can flush the soil with lots and lots of water. This will remove the excess salts and vitamins. As for prevention, take it easy. It is recommended to use only half of the suggested amount of fertilizer.
Rootbound Can Cause Wilting
Another cause of drooping leaves is a plant that is rootbound. Rootbound happens when the roots of the plant run out of space to grow in their pot. The roots protrude through the soil and start growing out of the pot. This happens when the plant becomes too big for its boots.
When the plant reaches this stage, the roots are searching for more water. The pot can’t hold the amount of water the plant needs, resulting in a lack of water and wilted leaves. To fix this problem, a simple root trim or transplanting into a bigger pot will suffice.
Can Transplant Shock Cause Drooping?
After repotting a plant, it takes some time for the plant to get used to its new home. This phenomenon is called transplant shock and leads to wilted or drooping leaves. While it is unavoidable in most cases, there are some ways to minimize it.
Be gentle during the repotting process. Try not to bump and shake the roots. These traumas can send the plant into shock and cause wilting. Giving your plant a generous amount of water and a tidy trim can help the plant settle in its new location. And lastly, giving a spoon of grocery store sugar has been proven to help the recovery of wilting plants.
Pests Can Lead to Wilting Leaves
Juice-sucking pests that have invaded your plant will suck the water right out of them. A lack of water will cause leaves wilting on your houseplant. Look out for mealybugs, scale, aphids, thrips and spider mites. While these are only a few of the pests that can infect your plant, they are the most common.
Turn leaves over and thoroughly search the plant for any small bugs. Look carefully because some of the bugs can be small.
To treat the problem, isolate your plant so the pests can’t spread. Then wash away the bugs with a garden hose. Alternatively, you can spray the plant with suffocating mediums like horticultural oils, insecticidal soap or alcohol.
Diseases Can Make Your Plant Droop
Lastly, a plant withering can also be because it is sick. Diseases can damage the root system of the plant or injure the xylem in the leaves. Both situations reduce the flow of water, oxygen and nutrients to the plant.
Some common plant diseases include root rot, fungal and bacteria spots, mould and mildew or even just a virus. Each disease must be diagnosed and treated differently. Most treatments will require you to isolate the plant. Then cut off the infected areas or treat them with medication as a fungicide.
Final Thoughts on Sick House Plants
You’ll never ask, ‘Why is my plant wilting?’ again. Go through the checklist to identify what your plant needs. Because plants can’t talk, they communicate their problems to us via their appearance. But now that you know what causes plants to wilt and how to fix it, you’ll be able to treat every drooping leaf that comes your way.
Have you resurrected a wilted plant before? Leave your tips and tricks in the comments section below!
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