drooping plant

Why is my plant drooping?

We've gone over how to solve for spots on leaves. Next let's answer, "Why is my plant drooping?"

Like wilting leaves, drooping leaves hanging limply from the stem indicate the plant is distressed. However, a drooping plant is not necessarily dry or browning like a wilting plant. Heat and under-watering often cause wilting, but other factors can contribute to droopiness. In addition, apart from its sad-looking leaves, the drooping plant otherwise looks quite healthy. 

The good news about drooping plants (as opposed to once the leaves are brown and crisp) is it's not too late to save them. Your plant's leaves should be turgid and held upright by water tension, and range of factors can cause limp leaves. With some trial and error, you should be able to pinpoint what is making your plant droop and fix the problem.

Dusty leaves

Plants with broad, waxy leaves attract household dust to their surfaces. Dust on your plant poses more than just an aesthetic issue. It can interfere with the physiological processes that keep your plant healthy.

Dust prevents light from hitting the leaf's surface, decreasing photosynthesis.

Dust accumulation on the leaves prevents the plant from regulating its moisture content. Depending on the species, dust may prevent or increase transpiration, a process by which plants release excess water through their leaves.

Increased transpiration can cause droopy leaves because of the mechanics of water transport in a healthy plant. Moisture loss is the primary way water is drawn up through the plant from its roots. When one cell is depleted of moisture, it draws the deficit from the neighboring cell and so on, right from the roots through the xylem to the leaves. Water loss through transpiration is, therefore, critical to maintaining water transport through the whole plant.

Keeping your leaves clean and dust-free makes for shinier, prettier plants and allows for optimal transpiration to prevent drooping plants. Wipe leaves' upper and lower surface regularly with our House Plant Cleaning Wipes!

Incorrect sunlight

Droopy leaves may also be caused by the plant not receiving enough sunlight to photosynthesize, a common issue for plants variegated with pale patches. The pale sections of the leaves do not contain chlorophyll and cannot photosynthesize. As a result, the plant requires a much brighter situation than its non-variegated cousins.

On the other hand, if your drooping plant is a shade-loving species, it is likely receiving too much light and is pouting. Fiddle leaf figs are famously fussy for drooping due to too much light. Move them to another location or further away from the window. (While you're at it, buy a second Fiddle leaf fig. Sometimes, it can take a few tries to find the ideal location in your house!)

Incorrect watering

Both under and over-watering can cause drooping leaves. Check your plant's watering requirements to determine which is more likely.

With moisture-loving species like the fern, droopy leaves may indicate you are not providing enough water or humidity. Water little and often, ensuring the soil never dries out completely.

Drooping may also result from overwatering. Too much water in the soil eliminates any air pockets from which the root can draw oxygen. Once this happens, the roots stop being able to absorb any moisture and nutrients. You may need to change the soil to a better draining mix by adding coir or gravel.

If you suspect overwatering is causing drooping, inspect the root for root rot. Signs of root rot are mushy roots and a foul odor. By comparison, healthy roots will be firm and white.

Root rot can be treated with horticultural hydrogen peroxide, which gives the roots concentrated oxygen. First, remove the plant from the pot, gently remove as much soil as possible, and cut off any damaged roots. Then, make a solution of one quart water (at 66 degrees Fahrenheit) to 1 ounce hydrogen peroxide. Soak the roots in this solution for an hour.

Alternatively, you can add 2 ½ teaspoons of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water and only use this solution to water the plant until it revives.

Low humidity

Droopy leaves may indicate that your plant craves humidity, especially for species from tropical rainforests, such as Anthurium, Alocasia, and Fittonia.

When there is not enough moisture in the air around humid-loving plants, the plant loses much more water through its leaves via transpiration. The roots cannot supply enough moisture to replace it, resulting in sad, limp leaves.

If humidity is the problem, place the plant on a tray full of gravel half-filled with water, and aim to mist the leaves at least once a day. To boost humidity further, you can get a humidifier to run near the plant or add a fine spray misting fertilizer to your routine. Houseplants love our Air Plant Fertilizing Spray!

To fix your drooping plants check for dust and the correct light, water, and humidity! Before you know it your sad plants will be happy and upright again. 

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