Have you ever looked at your once vibrant houseplant and noticed it has started drooping and looking rather lifeless? You’re not alone! In fact, drooping plants can be a daunting problem for even the most experienced plant parent out there.
Luckily, however, there are plenty of things you can do to fix a drooping plant, from watering and revitalizing the plant to checking and eliminating pests. In this guide, I’ll walk you through some of these methods to help you return your plant to its full glory!
Why Do Plants Become Droopy?
Before diving into the juicy details of this guide, you should first understand the reasons behind a droopy plant. This will help you troubleshoot the problem and target the right solution based on the situation you have:
- Water Problems: Underwatering is one of the leading reasons for a drooping plant, although excessive watering can also suffocate the roots and eventually cause more harm than good.
- Lack of Nutrition: Plants need plenty of minerals and nutrition to stay healthy and support their weight as they grow. Poor nutrition means weaker stems, and therefore, droopy plants.
- Pests: Tiny critters and parasites can harm the plant by directly damaging its foundation or stealing its nutrition, which eventually weakens the plant
- Poor Growing Conditions: Every plant has its ideal conditions for optimal growth, especially humidity and light exposure. Failing to meet these conditions can sometimes lead to drooping in some species.
5 Steps to Fixing a Drooping Plant
Now that you know more about the causes, here’s how to save your drooping plant:
1 – Address Watering Issues
The first thing you need to do with a drooping plant is to check the soil. If it’s dry, you need to water the plant immediately. The drooping will then go away gradually as time passes and the plant replenishes moisture.
Oddly enough, having too much water can lead to the same drooping plants you get with too little water. When you overwater a plant or water it without proper drainage, the roots will become smothered and won’t be 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 the droop, even for indoor houseplants.
When too many pests are feasting on your plant’s fluids, it leads to the same loss of internal water pressure as you get with too-dry soil.
Aphids, scales, and mealybugs are the most common indoor plant pests that can contribute to drooping.
How to Remove Aphids
Aphids are extremely tiny critters that are often found on the undersides of leaves, which you can easily miss if you don’t check closely.
Luckily, however, 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, the natural aphid predators.
How to Remove Scale
Scale can be a little tougher to deal with than, as they look like somewhat smooth bumps with indistinct stripes across the back.
Scale insects aren’t too quick and you can pick them off easily. Soap sprays aren’t very helpful in this case because their shell protects them.
Yet, a stronger product like neem oil or rubbing alcohol can be applied directly with a cotton swab to eradicate them.
How to Remove Mealybugs
Lastly, mealybugs are shaped like scale insects but are usually white with a ridged and fuzzy appearance. You can tackle mealybugs the same way as aphids, and 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 straightforward approach and snip the stem or leaf off and dispose of it safely.
Preventing Future Infestations
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 Stem Support
Sometimes your plant just needs a little help staying upright, especially for vining species and plants that naturally droop.
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, rod, or moss pole firmly stuck into the soil can be a simple solution, though you do run the risk of stabbing through the roots.
Affixing 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 and Remove Damaged Parts
If you notice 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. In fact, even a stem bend can cause a crack 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 stem damage 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 recover and grow.
5 – Provide Proper Lighting Conditions
This ties back to my earlier comments on catering to the plant’s needs and growth requirements.
Even if you’re watering on an appropriate schedule, leaving the plant in a spot that’s too hot or sunny can also cause drooping.
This is because 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 the plant to a slightly less intense spot can be the solution. In the meantime, 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.
What If Nothing Works?
Unfortunately, there are still some cases where your plant will stay drooping even after you’ve checked all the potential problems already listed.
This can mean you have some disease or fungus to worry about, which requires professional intervention, although sometimes it’s simply irreversible, especially for Fusarium. This 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 significant drooping symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for Fusarium, and all you can do is pull up the plants and get rid of them.
You’ll also need to cover up the soil in that spot with a black plastic sheet 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.
But hopefully, by following the previously mentioned steps, you’ll be able to pinpoint the problem and bring your green baby back to life!
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.