Your lovely collection of houseplants is starting to look a little limp, and you’re ready to get things perked back up again. Obviously, you’ve thought to give them a drink and that hasn’t solved the problem. So now you need to figure out what to do next. There are a number of possible solutions to drooping plants, but you need to know the cause first.
1 – Improve the Water Situation
As I’ve said, you’ve already watered the plants to no avail so the issue isn’t just dry soil. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a water problem. Oddly enough, having too much water can actually lead to the same drooping plants you get with too little water.
When you have too much water, or simply thick soil that doesn’t drain, the roots are smothered and are not able to draw in water properly. Without water inside the plant’s tissues, you start to see that familiar wilting even though the pot isn’t dry.
Repotting a plant into looser soil can be a big help, and possibly try a larger container while you’re at it. Plants that have gotten root-bound can droop because there isn’t enough room left in the pot to hold on to the amount of water it needs.
2 – Check for Bugs
If the water and soil issue doesn’t seem to be the root of the problem, take a closer look at the plants and see if there are any signs of insects. Any of the many sap-sucking insects can be behind your droop, even for indoor houseplants. When too many pests are drinking your plant’s fluids, it leads to the same loss of internal water pressure as you get with too-dry soil.
Take a look for aphids, scale and mealybugs. These are the most common indoor plant pests that can contribute to drooping if you have enough of them. Don’t let their small sizes fool you.
Aphids are small and pale translucent green, not much bigger than a grain of rice. They are often found on the undersides of leaves, which you can easily miss if you don’t think to check. A few sprays of insecticidal soap or a pyrethrin-based repellent can be enough to clear them off. For outside plants, you can use the spray or introduce a population of ladybugs, natural aphid predators.
Scale can be a little tougher to deal with, assuming you even realize you are looking at an insect and not a scab on the stem. They look like somewhat smooth bumps that may have indistinct stripes across the back.
Scale insects aren’t too quick and you can pick them off with pretty good success. Soap sprays aren’t very helpful in this case because their shell protects them. A stronger product like neem oil or rubbing alcohol can be applied directly with a cotton swab.
Lastly, mealybugs are shaped like scale insects but are usually white with a ridged and fuzzy appearance. You can tackle mealybugs in the same way as you would aphids, with a solid spray of insecticide soap. They can be tougher than aphids though, so step up the spraying to 2 or 3 times a day to keep them consistently exposed to it.
For localized clusters of insects, you can also take a more straight-forward approach and snip the stem or leaf off and dispose of it.
With any of these insect infestations, once the bugs are gone, your plants should recover. Giving them some extra sun and regular water will help them perk back up.
To prevent any more insect outbreaks, you can keep a sticky strip or two around your houseplant area to catch any of the flying insects before they lay eggs on your plants.
3 – Provide Support
Sometimes your plant just needs a little help staying upright. When your plant starts to sag over, but the leaves and stems are still very firm, it’s probably just getting too heavy for itself.
A stick or rod firmly stuck into the soil can be a simple solution, though you do run the risk of stabbing through the roots.
Affixing a support outside the pot can be another option that might be better for your plants. Use a soft string or gardening ties to gently boost up the plant and attach it to the stake.
4 – Check for Damage
If you are noticing that just one part of the plant is wilting, examine the stem and see if it has been damaged. It doesn’t necessarily have to be snapped right over to be a problem either. When a stem gets bent, it can still be cracked inside, leading to a lack of proper water circulation farther up the plant.
A drooping situation in just one part of the plant is a strong hint that the stem is the problem. When there is a clear kink in the stem, you can straighten it out and bind up the damaged spot with a bit of cheesecloth.
With a little luck the water will continue to flow within the plant and it can reheal itself. Otherwise, cleanly snip off the broken stem and let the rest of the plant keep growing.
5 – Use Some Shade
Though this does tie back to our earlier comments on watering, it is a different cause for your plants to have a lack of water. Even if you are watering on an appropriate schedule, you can get wilting because your plants are in a location that is hotter or sunnier than they are comfortable with. Plants deal with excess heat by using up more water, leading to drooping if you can’t keep up.
Rather than just watering more, this is a situation where moving a plant to a slightly less intense spot can be the solution. In the meantime, do give it more water to help it thrive as it adjusts to the cooler location.
If you’re looking for a replacement to take your plant’s previous sunny spot, try one of these 8 plants that do great in full sun.
After checking on all the potential problems already listed, you may still have no solution to your drooping plant dilemma. Unfortunately, this can mean you have some disease or fungus to worry about, and that might not be something you can fix. In particular, when it comes to wilting, your main culprit is Fusarium.
It’s not that likely if your plants are inside, but definitely consider this for your outdoors garden when you see new drooping. Especially if you also have tomatoes growing in the yard.
Fusarium is a fungus that lives in the soil and will attack the roots of many common garden plants. While it doesn’t actually do any damage to the plants, the fungus draws water before the plant roots do, leading to the drooping symptoms.
There is no treatment for Fusarium, and all you can do is pull up the plants and get rid of them. Cover up the soil in that spot with black plastic and let the heat of the sun kill off the spores for the rest of the season.
With all of these possibilities out there, it can take a little investigating and patience to figure out why your plants are drooping. Hopefully, the solution will present itself and you can go back to enjoying your gardening and healthy houseplants.