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Is My Plant In The Wilting Phase Or Can It Be Saved?

September 26, 2023 4 min read

Is My Plant In The Wilting Phase Or Can It Be Saved?

Understanding the Signs and Solutions

wilting plants


Identify The Wilting Phase

Stage 1: Initial wilt

Stage 2: Moderate wilt

and finally Stage 3: Heavy wilt. 

Initial Wilt

The wilting process begins when a plant experiences water deficiency or water stress. This can happen due to various factors such as insufficient water supply, high temperatures, excessive transpiration, or root damage. In this stage, the plant starts to sense the lack of water and initiates a response.

saving plants

Moderate Wilt

As the water stress continues, the plant undergoes the second stage of wilting, which involves the loss of turgor pressure. Turgor pressure is the pressure exerted by the water-filled vacuoles inside plant cells that helps maintain cell shape and rigidity. When there is a water shortage, the plant cells lose water, and as a result, the vacuoles shrink, causing the cells to become flaccid and lose their firmness. This loss of turgor pressure makes the plant's stems and leaves droop or wilt.

Heavy Wilt

If the water stress persists, the plant enters the third stage of wilting, where cellular damage occurs. In this stage, prolonged water deficiency causes irreversible damage to the plant's cells and tissues. The lack of water disrupts essential cellular processes, leading to the breakdown of cell structures and functions. As a result, the plant's leaves may turn brown, dry out, and eventually die if water is not provided. 

It's important to note that wilting is a natural response of plants to water stress, and it serves as a survival mechanism to conserve water and reduce transpiration. Reversing the wilting process can often be achieved by providing the plant with adequate water, allowing it to recover

If your plant's leaves are drooping down, you first need to check how dry the soil is to get a bit more information. A good way to do that is by sticking a finger to the first knuckle to test it. If the soil is dry, your plant needs water. However, if the soil is still wet, then your plant may have root rot, which is a fungal infection of the roots caused by overwatering. Other symptoms can include yellowing leaves, sudden dieback of part of the plant (or all of it), and the plant becoming loose in the soil. If the plant's roots are okay, it could be suffering from low humidity. 

How To Check For Root Rot

Remove the plant from the pot and look at the roots — they should be white or light brown. If they're falling apart when you touch them, are soggy or brittle, and are going dark brown, these are signs of rot. Wash off and trim off the affected parts; you'll also need to trim off some leaves to keep it in balance. If enough roots remain, dip the roots in a fungicide (such as a  3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution) then repot it, using a clean pot and fresh potting mix. Water the plant as well, but then leave it alone until the top of the soil is dry when tested with your finger. Be sure to wash and disinfect the old pot before using it again. 

Other Signs To Look Out For

Besides wilting, a plant can be ill in health in other ways such as plant/soil not holding water, yellowing leaves, roots at the surface of the soil or coming through drainage holes, tips/edges of leaves turning brown, flower buds forming then dropping before opening, or shrivel soon after opening, brown, burnt-looking spots on the top of leaves, dropping leaves, black dots on leaves, or brown marks with a yellow ring and changing leaf color. 

Can My Plants Be Saved? 

In a lot of cases, plants can be saved, as long as it isn’t a severe case of wilting or some other situation in which your plant isn’t able to come back. In the case of wilting, watering is so important seeing as it’s usually the cause for the wilting to begin with. Water the plant thoroughly, making sure the water reaches the roots. However, avoid overwatering, as it can lead to other issues such as root rot. Check the soil moisture regularly and water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry. Soil moisture management is also key to saving plants. Ensure that the plant is potted in well-draining soil that allows excess water to escape. If the soil is compacted or retains water for too long, it can hinder root respiration and cause wilting. Adjust the watering frequency based on the plant's needs and environmental conditions. Excessive heat and direct sunlight can accelerate water loss through transpiration, causing wilting. Move the plant to a shaded area or provide it with some shade during the hottest part of the day. Additionally, maintain an appropriate temperature range suitable for the specific plant species. Remove any diseased, damaged, or dead plant parts through pruning. These can cause stress to the plant and hamper its ability to recover. Regularly inspect the plant for pests or diseases and take appropriate measures to control them. Some plants, especially tropical or moisture-loving species, may wilt due to low humidity levels. Increase humidity around the plant by misting the leaves with water or placing a tray filled with water near the plant. Alternatively, you can use a humidifier to create a more favorable environment. In some cases, nutrient deficiencies can contribute to wilting. Use a balanced fertilizer appropriate for the plant type to replenish essential nutrients. Follow the recommended application instructions to avoid overfertilization, which can harm the plant.

For more check out Why are there spots on my leaves?

saving pplants

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