If your plant is drooping, this is usually a sign that it is slowly dying. If you are a plant lover or gardener, you know how frustrating it can be to see once healthy plants withering away. So, if your plant is drooping, why? There are several reasons why your plant is drooping, and a few of the common ones include but are not limited to:
- Container could be too small
- Insect or pest infestation
- Lighting issues
- Not enough fertilizer
- Overwatering or underwatering them
To figure out why your plant is drooping, you need to figure out what is causing the foliage to droop in the first place. We’ll go over 12 possible reasons and how to fix it below.
A drooping plant is usually a sign that there is a bigger problem going on that you have to address before your plant dies.
Why Your Plant is Drooping – 12 Possibilities
Like any living being, plants require three core things to grow: air, water, and sunlight. Having an imbalance of any of these things can cause you to notice your plant is drooping. These wilting leaves could be a small sign of a large problem, and the biggest culprits include:
1. Damaged Leaves or Stems
If your plant is drooping at one specific part, you want to take a good look at the stem and see if it has any damage. It doesn’t necessarily have to get broken straight through to be a problem. When the plant’s stem gets bent, it can get cracked inside. In turn, this leads to a lack of water circulation further up your plant.
If your plant is drooping in one part while the other section is growing strong, this is a clue that you have a stem issue. When you can see a clear kink in the stem, you can straighten it out and use a small amount of cheesecloth to bind the damaged spot. With a little water and luck, the plant will continue to circulate and heal. You can also snip away the broken stem and let the rest of your plant grow.
2. Fertilizing Issues
There is a very thin line between fertilizing and over-fertilizing your plant. Fertilizers are necessary to help your plant get specific nutrients, but adding too much can be toxic or harmful for your plants due to chemicals. Too much fertilizer can easily burn your plant’s roots, and if the roots get damaged, the plant will no longer stay strong and healthy. As a result, you’ll notice your plant is drooping.
Prevention is going to be very important here. If you’re not sure about how much to add, use less as this won’t hurt your plant. You should also be very careful when you add fertilizer. Slow-release options are well-liked and easy to apply. You won’t have to worry about spilling too much into your plant’s pot as you can with liquid fertilizers. If you already have too much fertilizer, don’t add more.
You want to flush off the soil to help get rid of any accumulated salts due to fertilizing too much. You should do this when your soil is completely dry. Water your plant deeply and allow 20% to 30% of the water to drain from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. This will help you flush out the salts with the water. You can resume your regular watering routine now.
You have to be careful when it comes to fertilizing your plants because too little will ensure they don’t get the nutrients they need while too much can cause chemical overload.
3. Insects or Diseases
Aphids are pale and small translucent green pests that aren’t any larger than a grain of rice. They are commonly found on the underside of your plant’s leaves, so it’s easy to miss them if you forget to look. A few spritzes of pyrethrin-based repellent or insecticidal soap can help clear them off. For any plants you have outside, you can introduce a ladybug population as they are natural aphid predators.
Scale is a little harder to deal with, and this is assuming you spot it and realize that you’re looking at an insect instead of a scab. They tend to look like smooth bumps that can have some stripes running along their backs. Scale insects are very slow, and you can pick them off reasonably successfully. Soap sprays won’t be very helpful in this case because the shell protects the bugs. You can try a product like neem oil or rubbing alcohol applied directly to any pests you see with a cotton swab.
Fusarium is a fungus that lives in the soil and will go to the roots of your common houseplants. It doesn’t do any damage to your plants, but it will draw in water before your plants have a chance to, and this can mean your plant is drooping. There is no treatment for this infection, and all you can do is remove the plants and get rid of them. Toss out the potting soil and sterilize the plants. If they’re outdoor plants, cover the soil with a black garbage bag and let the sun heat up the fungus and kill it.
You also have to look out for mealybugs. These pests are shaped like scale insects, but they’re typically white with a fuzzy or rigid appearance. You can get rid of mealybugs just like you would aphids, using a solid spray of insecticidal soap. They can be more hardy than aphids though, so you may need to spray them two or three times a day.
For localized clusters of pets, you can take a much more straightforward approach and cut off the leaf or stem to dispose of it. As with any of these infestations outside of Fusarium, once they’re gone, your plant should start to recover nicely. Give it regular water and some extra sun to perk it back up. To prevent any more pest infestations, keep a sticky strip around your plants to trap flying insects before they reach your plant and lay eggs.
4, Insufficient Space in the Container
Some plants have a faster growth rate than others. If your plant doesn’t have enough space to grow and spread out, you’ll see your plant is drooping. A great way to know if your plants need a bigger pot is to look at the roots. Check and see if the roots are messy and tangled. If they are, the plant is most likely root bound. A simple way to fix it is to put your plant in a bigger container so the roots can grow correctly and get enough nutrients. If you need to pick up a new pot, a self-watering pot is a nice option to consider to ensure you don’t water them too much.
5. Low Humidity Levels
A lot of houseplants have tropical origins, and they require a higher humidity level to stay healthy. The humidity levels inside are usually relatively lower than these plants will get in their native environment. In winter, the weather also dries out and the evaporation rate skyrockets. This reduces the humidity levels even more. Most indoor plants like their humidity levels to be around 60% to 70%. However, it’s not possible to keep the humidity levels this high inside. You want to aim for around 50% humidity, and there are several things you can do if your plant is drooping due to low humidity, including:
- For a temporary fix, mist them each day.
- You can place your plants in a tray filled with pebbles. Fill the tray with water and pebbles and then sit your container on them. The pot shouldn’t touch the water.
- Grouping a lot of plants will help increase the relative humidity levels.
- You can place your plants in a terrarium jar.
- If you have a dedicated room for tropical plants, a humidifier is the way to go. You want to place the humidifier in the room and let it run. This is a permanent solution, and all of your plants will benefit from a higher humidity level.
6. No Drainage
If your planter doesn’t have adequate drainage at the bottom of the pot, it can lead to stem death or root rot. Poor drainage will compact the soil very quickly, so the roots won’t be able to absorb any nutrients. To prevent this, you want to check and make sure that there are drainage holes at the bottom of the pot and clear out any blockages. If the soil is extremely wet, drain out the excess water. You can also line the bottom of the pot with small rocks and incorporate amendments to help with drainage.
If your plant is drooping more or severely damaged, you may have to start in fresh soil. Remove it from the current pot and remove the extra soil from around the root ball. Cut off any damaged roots and soak them for an hour in a quart of water with an ounce of peroxide mixed in. This will help revive the roots, and finish by replanting them in new soil. Hold off on watering for a few days.
Some planters come with no or very little drainage holes that are prone to blocking, and this makes the plant retain far too much moisture.
7. Not Enough Support
Sometimes, your plant is drooping due to not enough support. When your plant starts to sag but the stems and leaves are healthy, it’s most likely just getting too heavy to stay upright by itself. A rod or stick firmly stuck into the soil can be an easy solution. You just want to make sure you don’t damage the roots when you stick it in the soil. You can also attach support on the outside of the pot and use gardening ties or a softer string to gently boost up your plant and attach it to the support to keep it upright.
8. Temperature Issues
Lower temperatures can lead to frostbite on your plant, and higher temperatures can lead to excessive loss of moisture. If your plant is drooping and you have temperature fluctuations, this could be the cause. TO prevent this, cover your plants with burlap in the winter months and water them more frequently in the summer months so the soil doesn’t dry out due to excessive heat.
9. Too Much Dust on the Foliage
Any plant that has dusty leaves will have a lower aesthetic appeal, and it can also lead to lower light absorption and photosynthesis disruption. Plants will also have trouble regulating their moisture content, and it can lead to increased or decreased transpiration. An increase in transpiration can be very damaging to your plants. If the water loss eclipses the water intake, you’ll see your plant is drooping or wilting. To avoid water loss, you want to wipe the top and undersides of the leaves with a damp cloth every other week or so.
10. Too Much Sunlight
Another vital element to keep your plants healthy is sunlight exposure. Some plants need direct exposure while others are content with indirect, low light. If you put a plant that loves the shade under sunlight or put a plant that loves the sun in shade, your plant will droop. There is a very simple solution to this problem. If you see yellow or brown spots on the leaves or if your leaves are losing color and burnt, put them in the shade for a few days. If the plant starts to revive, you can leave it here.
11. Transplant Shock
When you transplant your plants, it gets a whole new environment. After staying in one environment for weeks or years and then suddenly getting thrust into another one, you’ll shock your plant. If your plant is drooping after you transplant them, it’s in shock. The leaves may turn yellow or fall off. There is no treatment for shock, and all you can do is leave your plant alone and give it time to adjust. You want to avoid stressing the plant out any more, and don’t fertilize it for at least six weeks. Finally, make sure they have the correct light, water, temperature, and humidity levels to help them adjust faster.
12. Water Issues – Too Much Water or Too Little
Some plants adore water while some need far less. Over watering or under watering your plants are huge reasons why your plant is drooping. Giving your plant too much water can cause the roots to rot, and not giving them enough water can cause the soil to dry out. So, when you bring a new plant home, you have to learn about the specific water requirements it has. Too much water in the soil will reduce how many air pockets there are, so the roots won’t be able to draw oxygen. As a result, this leads to root death.
When you water your plant according to its needs, you’ll get healthier cultivars. The general rule of thumb to consider is that plants with thin leaves need more water. Waxy and thick leaves like you see on succulents will need far less water. Plants outside get exposed to higher heat levels and need more frequent watering sessions while indoor plants require less.
In hotter conditions, the same plant will need slightly more water to thrive. You also want to avoid watering them too much when the growing season is over. You can solve wilting due to underwatering quickly. Allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions to prevent wilting. If you suspect the plant has root rot, use horticulture hydrogen peroxide to try and revive them. You can buy self-watering spikes to help you gauge the proper amount of water if you notice your plant is drooping too.
Watering your plant can be very tricky, so it’s important that you look up your plant’s specific needs when you bring it home.
How To Fix A Drooping Houseplant
Sometimes, if your plant is drooping, it can be challenging to fix it. However, in most instances, a little extra attention and care is all it needs to restore your houseplants. You can try:
- Mist – One nice way to increase the humidity and moisture levels around your plants is to get a spray bottle, fill it with water, and mist the foliage. Misting is a great way to give your houseplants a lift.
- Repot – Take your plant from the current container and remove as much as the old soil from around the roots as you can. Replant it in a bigger container with fresh soil.
- Revitalize Soil That is Extra Dry – Poke a few holes in the surface of the soil and water to aerate it. These holes allow more water to get through the soil’s surface. By doing this, you’re also working on breaking up impacted soil that is stopping your plant from getting the nutrients it needs to thrive.
- Try Using a Pebble Tray – Sometimes, your plant is drooping because it’s not getting enough humidity. To help this, fill a saucer with small pebbles, add water, and put your plant’s container on top. The houseplant shouldn’t sit directly in the soil.
Plant is Drooping – FAQs
If your plant is drooping, it’s common to have a range of issues that could be the core cause. So, there are a few questions people tend to ask more than others, and we’ve answered them for you below.
1. How do you prevent a houseplant from drooping?
To fix a wilting or droopy plant, start narrowing down the root problem. If the roots are rotted or decayed, you can cut away the dead or dying parts and replant them. If the soil dries out very fast, you’ll water more. Remove any leaves that show signs of damage and keep an eye out for insects.
2. How do you fix root rot?
If your plant’s roots are mushy or show signs of decay, this is usually root rot. If it’s just setting in, you can water your plants with a diluted mix of horticultural hydrogen peroxide in water for a few days. If it’s advanced, you’ll pull the plant from the pot, clean the roots, remove any rotted portions, and replant in drier soil.
If your plant is drooping, there are many common causes. Try taking care of your plants by meeting all of their specific needs. If you think you’re meeting everything, you could be giving them too little or too much water, sun, humidity, or fertilizer. Go through the list and address each thing one at a time and see which helps revive your plant.
Remember that droopy leaves are a visual sign that there is something going on with your plant. You can revive your plant if you don’t ignore the signs and find the correct cure. We outlined 12 possible reasons why your plant is drooping and how to address it, and it may just take a little extra attention from you to bring your plant back.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.