One of our leafy friends’ most typical issues is wilted or drooping leaves. Wilting is a problem that most plant owners will run into at some point or another, not only because it can be brought on by various factors but also because it doesn’t take much for it to happen. Fortunately, it’s not too alarming if you notice your plant drooping; the only challenge is figuring out what is wrong with it and taking the steps required to heal it.
Although many believe giving a wilted plant a drink will help it recover, that isn’t always the best action. While underwatering is one cause of drooping leaves in plants, several other potential causes may be made worse by providing your plant with more water.
What are the primary causes of droopy and wilted plant leaves? How can you identify the one that is affecting your plant, though? I’ve identified all of the warning signs you should be on the lookout for and the best solutions for each problem your plant may encounter.
Why is the Houseplant Wilting?
Your plants can’t respond when you speak to them, but they can tell you something is wrong by giving you signs. A sign that your indoor or outdoor plants need extra care is when they droop or begin to wilt. Knowing the most common causes of wilting can help you correct the problem.
Incorrect Watering Amounts
All plants require moisture to survive, but each has different water requirements. You can find out the specific watering requirements for the type of plant you have by doing some research. The soil must dry out a little between waterings for most plants to thrive. Never allow a plant to sit in waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot.
If it droops, you may give it too much or insufficient water. The leaves of a plant that has received too much water will frequently appear yellow and droopy. Additionally, they might feel softer than usual. The leaves of your plant may also droop if it doesn’t receive enough water. The leaves may appear dried out, but they rarely turn yellow from a lack of water.
Improper Light Levels
The kind and amount of sunlight that different plants require also varies. While some plants prefer direct sunlight, others thrive in bright, indirect light. Some outdoor plants thrive in locations with dappled sunlight. A plant can droop if it receives the wrong kind or quantity of sunlight.
Determine the kind of sunlight your plant requires, then change its location to provide that kind and quantity of sunlight. To lessen stress when moving locations, move gradually, especially if you’re going from a shady area to strong sunlight.
Rootbound Potted Plants
For potted plants to thrive, the right pot size is necessary. A pot’s size can affect how much water is retained in the soil and how quickly it dries out, leading to rotting and disease. A pot that is too small can squeeze the roots, slowing growth and depleting the soil’s nutrients.
A plant in a pot may outgrow its container, and the houseplant may begin to droop and appear limp if it develops rootboundness from a lack of nutrients and water.
Poor Environmental Conditions
Most houseplants prefer warm, steady temperatures, though different plants have different ideal temperatures. Plants placed close to a heat vent may become overheated and wilt. Other plants may become cold if they are close to a drafty area. Find a location where the temperature is always warm.
Some houseplants may also require additional moisture. Ferns, for instance, enjoy moisture. This can be achieved by placing a pebble tray with water underneath the plant, using a humidifier, or occasionally misting the plant.
Houseplant Pest Infestations
The plant may droop due to numerous pests weakening or harming it. Pests can cause your plants to droop by sucking the sap from them. Aphids, scales, whiteflies, fungus gnats, and spider mites are a few common pests that harm houseplants. Even though they are frequently tiny, you can usually see them when you look closely, especially if you have a serious infestation.
To stop the pests from spreading, keep an infected houseplant separate from others. Take the sturdy houseplant outside and give it a good hose spray to remove the pests if necessary. You can also spray the plant with insecticidal soap until the infestation disappears.
Afternoon Wilt in Outdoor Plants
Some outdoor plants droop in the late afternoon on hot, sunny days, particularly those with larger leaves. This helps slow down water loss by reducing the surface area of the leaves exposed to the sun. You probably don’t have a problem if your outdoor plants bloom at other times of the day but wilt in the hot afternoon sun.
Avoid giving plants more water in this situation because you might overwater them. Watering in the afternoon can increase the risk of some diseases because water remains on the leaves.
How Can I Revive a Wilted Plant?
Once you’ve discovered the problem with your plant, the next step is to make a conscious effort to revive the plant.
Too Little Water
The stems remain upright when nutrients and moisture flow freely through a plant’s vascular system. Plants’ stems sag when their roots don’t get enough water, and the wilted plants probably need water if the soil feels dry about an inch below the surface.
Put the pots of the plants in a sink full of room temperature water to revive them quickly. Each pot’s side should be covered with water about halfway up. Once the soil feels moist to the touch at the top, leave the pots in the sink for at least an hour. For some plants, this process may take several hours.
The soil in each pot soaks up water from the drainage holes at the bottom and becomes saturated, ensuring the roots have enough moisture to make the stems stiffen. By the following day, the plants should have significantly improved. You can reduce future wilting by altering your watering routine so that you water the plants more frequently.
Too Much Water
While plants require water to survive, having too much in their pots can be problematic. Because roots need air pockets around them to breathe, an excessively saturated soil suffocates the roots, which makes it difficult for the plants to absorb nutrients effectively and causes wilting. Too-wet roots are more likely to develop root rot, which makes plants wilt and eventually die.
Use containers with one or more drainage holes on the bottom, and set the containers on saucers or other dishes that permit free drainage of any excess water. Outdoor pots can drain on almost any surface, though raising the pots off the ground, for example, with bricks, increases the drainage potential.
If you touch the top of the soil in a potted plant one day or more after watering the plant and the soil is still wet, the soil is holding on to too much water. To help prevent future issues, make sure the drainage holes in the pot are not blocked and replace the soil with a mix that drains well, like one that contains perlite—additionally, only water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry.
Because roots require space to expand, they cannot properly absorb nutrients in containers that are too small. Plants wilt if they don’t get enough nutrients. Plants that are root-bound have roots that protrude above the soil, peek out of drainage holes in the pots or repeatedly wrap around the inside of the pots. Such wilting plants should be carefully taken out of their pots and placed in larger pots with fresh, sterile potting soil that drains well.
The health of plants is largely dependent on temperature and light. If you are certain that your shriveled potted plants are receiving enough water and are housed in the appropriate pot sizes, try relocating them. If placed in front of a window, they may receive excessive direct sunlight or afternoon heat; simply moving them to the side can make enough of a difference for the plants to revive from wilting.
On the other hand, if the wilted plants are tucked away in a dim spot, move them to a more open area. Plants left outside in strong winds or under air vents may wilt rapidly because the wind dries out the soil. Such plants can benefit from being moved into locations shielded from wind and air vent drafts.