In the houseplants realm, philodendrons are among the top choices, owing to their captivating foliage. It’s green, shiny, and perky, making this plant the ideal addition to any setting.
Not to mention its exotic foliage colors of purple, red, and copper!
That said when the plant’s leaves begin to bend downwards, this distinct type of beauty vanishes.
So, why do philodendron leaves droop? There are six major reasons for this, which we’ll go over shortly. We’ll also show you how to save the plant in each case, so let’s get started!
One of the highlights of owning philodendrons is how simple they are to care for. However, if they receive the wrong type of care, it won’t be long before they begin to show it.
Droopy leaves are one way for a plant to communicate its discomfort. Thus, here are six potential reasons why your philodendron’s leaves are drooping and how to treat each one:
Underwatering is one of the most common causes of droopy philodendron leaves. Although this plant doesn’t demand frequent watering, if it doesn’t get enough, it’ll lose its perkiness.
You see, several nonwoody plants, like most philodendron varieties, rely solely on the water pressure within their cells to keep them upright.
Meanwhile, there’s a critical process known as transpiration that occurs during photosynthesis. This process works by continuously releasing water from the plant through its leaves.
Naturally, when you don’t replace the water that the plant loses, the leaves lose their upright posture. They may also curl and develop brown margins, then eventually wilt.
Another sign of dehydration is soil moisture content, which you can determine in two ways.
The first test is a visual one in which you’ll examine the color of the soil. A properly watered soil will almost always be dark brown, whereas dehydrated soil will be light brown.
The second test is more sensory, in which you’ll insert your appendix finger into the soil an inch deep, about the length of your fist knuckle.
You should feel the soil completely dry if the plant is underwatered. You can also take a pinch of soil in your hands and squeeze it; if it crumbles, it’s dry; if it sticks together, it’s moist.
Your first thought might be to water the plant a lot to make up for the times you didn’t. Well, let’s stop you there because by doing so you’ll stress the plant even more.
For a dehydrated philodendron, simply water it until liquid comes out of the pot’s drainage hole. Don’t forget to dispose of any accumulated water in the saucer to avoid soil oversaturation.
Then, make sure that the plant isn’t in direct sunlight. If it is, the water will evaporate faster from the soil, so move the pot to a location with partial sunlight.
Finally, maintain a healthy watering schedule and your philodendron’s leaves should bounce back in no time!
This schedule will be determined by when the top inch of soil dries out, which could be every week or every 10 days.
If you normally water your philodendron without checking the moisture level in the topsoil, we may have an overwatering problem.
To clarify, when you don’t allow the topsoil to dry between waterings, the soil becomes waterlogged.
When this happens, the roots don’t get enough oxygen, which is essential for growth. As a result, the leaves turn yellow as well as become soft and limp.
Not only that, but mold spots may appear on the soil’s surface or the plant’s stems.
If overwatering isn’t treated early, the roots start to die and the plant becomes more susceptible to disease. Root rot is one of the diseases that usually goes hand in hand with overwatering.
As the number of damaged roots goes up, so does the number of wilting leaves.
If overwatering was discovered early on, restoring the limp leaves should be fairly simple. First, stop watering the plant and inspect the drainage of the pot.
The pot must have drainage holes to dispose of excess water. Therefore, you must add holes if there are none or if the pot requires more for better drainage.
The next step is to reintroduce air to the soil, specifically the roots. You can do so by tilling the soil with a garden hand fork or any other tool that’ll do the job.
Avoid placing your philodendron near a sunny window, as this can hasten its death. Simply put, plants actively grow in bright light and require more water to do so.
However, when the roots become waterlogged, they’re unable to absorb water properly.
This means they’re unable to keep up with the leaves’ demands, resulting in distress and, eventually, death.
Finally, once the top inch of soil is dry, you can begin watering your plant!
Important note: Wilting is caused by both dehydration and overwatering. Before deciding on a treatment path, check the soil moisture levels to distinguish between the two cases.
It’s true that most philodendrons are heavy feeders and require regular fertilization.
More specifically, they should be fertilized monthly during the spring and summer months. Whereas, during fall and winter, they need to be fed every six to eight weeks.
It’s fine to fertilize your plant more frequently if it has a relatively slow growth rate or small leaves. Yet, too much of anything is bad, and in the case of plants, it can be deadly.
Aside from being droopy, an overfertilized philodendron will exhibit the following signs:
- Dried leaf edges
- Yellowing leaves
- Salt/Fertilizer accumulation on the soil
If the plant hasn’t been severely harmed by overfertilization, begin by removing the crusty salt layer from the soil’s surface.
Then leach the soil with water to prevent further root damage. Repeat this process four times to ensure that you’ve removed all of the fertilizer from the root zone.
On a side note, don’t forget to give the plant enough time to drain before the next watering.
If you notice that the plant has sustained significant damage, repotting it would be a smart move. The plant will have a better chance of recovering if it’s moved to new soil.
In any case, wait three to four weeks or until the plant appears healthy before fertilizing it again.
This tropical plant thrives in temperatures ranging from 75-85°F during the day and 65-70°F at night. It’s not quite tolerant of extreme heat or cold drafts.
On the one hand, the plant can’t compensate adequately for the water lost during transpiration due to excessive heat.
On the other hand, cold freezes the plant cells, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients.
Consequently, when philodendrons are subjected to extreme weather conditions, their leaves begin to droop and curl up.
If you currently have scorching summer days, move your philodendron to a cool, humid location.
Be careful not to place it in front of air conditioners or other sources of cool air. This kind of dry airflow is one of the cool drafts that make the leaves droop.
In the winter, especially when the temperature drops below 55°F, be sure to place the plant in a warm area away from cold floors and open windows.
Philodendrons appreciate humidity and won’t hesitate to let you know if they aren’t getting enough of it.
The leaves will begin to brown at the tips and occasionally at the margins. They’ll also begin to shrivel and droop.
This is more likely to happen if you live in a dry climate or during the dry winter months.
Besides, the heating systems that we use in our homes during the winter also create a dry environment for the plants.
There are several ways to boost humidity for this lush plant to get its leaves back in shape. The first and most basic method is misting the plant every few days with a spray bottle.
The second method involves setting the plant’s pot on a pebble tray, which is a simple and inexpensive DIY project.
As the name implies, all you’ll need is a shallow tray and whatever pebbles or tiny rocks you can get your hands on.
Filling this tray with water and then placing the pot on it keeps the pot from being directly soaked in water.
Instead, the water evaporates from the tray, providing the plant with an ongoing supply of humidity.
Finally, you can invest in a humidifier, which will allow you to easily control the humidity levels in the room at all times.
The good news is that philodendrons are not a species that attracts bugs or pests. Despite this, they’re susceptible to infestations from common houseplant pests such as:
- Spider mites
Your philodendron may show different signs of damage depending on the pest species.
Nevertheless, the majority of them have one thing in common, which is sucking sap from the plant’s tissues. This causes the leaves to droop, turn yellow, and in extreme cases die.
Not to mention that most common pests leave a sticky substance called honeydew on plants, which attracts ants.
Thankfully, removing a pest infestation in its early stages is pretty straightforward. In fact, if you can only find a couple of them, you can simply handpick them and call it a day.
If there are too many pests to pick by hand, start by removing the heavily-infested parts of the plant.
Then, thoroughly spray your philodendron with water. Repeat the spraying process, and depending on the situation, you should be able to get rid of most of the unwanted guests!
Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to eliminate any remaining pests. You can spray them on your plant or apply them to a cotton pad and wipe it down.
The most important thing to remember here is to keep the plant separate from any other houseplants while you treat the infestation.
Now that you’re aware of the main possibilities for “why do philodendron leaves droop?” it’s time to conduct your own little investigation.
Before treating your philodendron, carefully examine the signs listed with each possible cause to see if they apply to your specific case.
We wish you the best of luck in restoring this lovely plant’s vibrant foliage!
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.