Hanging leaves is a common problem you may encounter when taking care of your plants. While you may think that the plant just needs a big gulp of water, there are super many reasons why your plant looks so glum. So be careful and first try to figure out why your plant is drooping its leaves.
Usually, houseplants let their leaves droop when they are under water. Other causes include temperature stress, a pest or disease, low humidity, or problems with nutrition. We are happy to help you solve your plant problem!
Why does my plant get droopy leaves?
All plants use some sort of water pressure in their leaves and stems to keep the plant standing proudly. The strength and structure is determined by this. There is a continuous supply of water from the roots all the way to the tips of the leaves. A drooping leaf is actually the loss of this pressure in the stems and leaves. Usually this happens because of an unnatural balance between water intake in the roots and water loss through transpiration. So excessive or underwatering is one of the biggest causes of drooping leaves, but there are other factors that cause your plant to droop its leaves too!
Not enough water
Let's start with the most obvious cause of drooping leaves. If you don't water your plant enough, the soil will become dry and there won't be enough water for the roots to absorb. The water that the plant absorbs will also leave the plant through transpiration. Eventually the pressure in the stems and leaves, turgor pressure, will decrease to the point where the leaves will droop.
Fortunately, this cause is very easy to recognize. If you have not watered your plant for a while you can check if the soil is dried out. Stick a finger in the soil and check whether the soil is dry there too. Is that the case? Then the cause of drooping leaves is probably too little water. Sometimes you can even see brown, hard leaf edges or leaf tips forming! Give your plant a nice splash of water and take a step back: hopefully your plant will soon shine again!
Too much water
With too little water we indicated that the plant cannot absorb water, causing the leaves to droop. Actually, exactly the same thing happens when you overwater your plant, but for different reasons!
When you give your plant too much water it will first show the familiar signs, such as yellow leaves. If you persist in overwatering your plant, root rot may occur! With dead roots, the plant cannot absorb water and will therefore become very thirsty. This will cause the same principle as giving too little water: the pressure in the stems and leaves will decrease causing the leaves to droop.
So over-watering is a serious problem! If the soil of your plant is always soggy, the pot is poorly drained or the soil is very poorly drained then the risk of root rot and therefore hanging leaves is high. Therefore, always check the soil before giving your plant a sip of water and keep an eye out for signs of root rot.
Besides water problems, temperature is also an important cause of drooping leaves. Temperature stress in plants is caused by large differences from the plant's "normal" temperature. Prolonged exposure to extreme temperature can eventually cause a plant to droop!
Extreme heat can cause direct damage to the plant. In fact, leaves can also burn! The most likely cause of drooping leaves in extreme heat is that the warm temperatures lead to increased transpiration and thus water loss. The plant is super thirsty, but its roots simply cannot handle the demand for water. This will cause the leaves to droop. Is your plant in a place where it gets a lot of direct sunlight or is it near a heater? Then pay close attention to the health of the plant. The soil dries out much faster so you have to adjust the watering to the needs of the plant. Do you think your plant is in a place that is too warm? If so, move her to another spot. Most plants thrive best in a bright spot with indirect sunlight.
Cold or drafts can also do direct damage to your plant. The plant is more susceptible to diseases and pests which can damage the roots. Without functioning roots, your houseplants cannot absorb water, resulting in drooping leaves. So make sure your plant is not in a draft!
Pests and diseases
Insects that drink the sap of your plant can lead to drooping leaves. Especially mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites or thrips are culprits. A few insects are not a problem, but a large infestation can lead to leaf damage, drooping leaves and eventually the end of your plant!
Is your plant getting droopy leaves? Then check the plant carefully for pests. These can often be seen with the naked eye, but a small magnifying glass is super handy to check properly. Think you've spotted a bug? Then read all about the pest on the PLNTS doctor page.
Tip: Make it a habit to regularly check your plants for plant pests. This way you will be on time and the infestation is easy to control!
Our houses are nowadays super well insulated. Many houseplants still need a humidity level that is slightly higher than normal in our homes. Some plants are real princesses and will let you know when the humidity is not optimal. They will hang their leaves!
Do you have a plant that likes a little humidity? Then try to meet its needs as best as possible. Use a humidifier, place the plants close together or put them in the bathroom! This way they will not let their leaves droop.
Giving nutrition can also be a possible cause of drooping leaves. Giving too much plant food is especially problematic. We understand that it is tempting to give your plant a little more nutrition so that it grows bigger and prettier than ever. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work that way! Too much nutrition can seriously damage the roots, causing drooping leaves.