Occasionally, you might run into the problem of your houseplants suffering from wilting. Many will think their houseplant simply needs to drink more water, but there are many causes, so you need to identify the cause before trying to fix it.
My houseplant is wilting. Why? It is important to observe and identify the problem before taking action. Underwatering is a major cause and other causes include overwatering, temperature stress, pests, disease, and low humidity.
Here are the steps you should take to identify and fix the problem. This article will help you identify the correct cause of your houseplant wilting.
What is the Cause of Houseplants Wilting?
The plant uses water pressure within its leaves and stems to maintain the structure and strength of the plant. The water reaches the leaves continuously from the roots, through its vascular tissue, xylem.
The collapse of water absorption, as well as water loss through transpiration, can result in wilting in non-woody parts of the stem. This can also occur if the transport of water through the xylem is interrupted.
OK, first the obvious one: Underwatering causes the root system to dry out and insufficient water is available for the plant to take up. In the future, when turgor pressure peaks, your houseplant’s wilts and collapses in front of your eyes. Water continues to be used by the plant and lost during transpiration.
Plants that reach a tipping point often wilt in minutes or hours, depending on the weather conditions.
Identifying the cause of the problem is straightforward if the plant has not been watered in some time and the soil is extremely dry. Also watch for the brown crispy corners, brown tips, or shriveled leaves, and you may even see the plant wither before your eyes. Add water and keep an eye on your plant, as it should make a spectacular recovery.
Plants like wilted nerve plants and Peace Lilies often collapse spectacularly, then recover after they’ve had a drink. The plants that are not as tolerant to this issue will suffer after repeated instances of wilting. Avoid overwatering in all plants, even those that are tolerant to it.
This condition is the exact opposite and maybe much more problematic. I mentioned that the plant’s ability to absorb water is often a cause of leaf wilting. A very different cause occurs in the case of overwatering.
When plants are overwatered, they will initially begin to show signs of overwatering, with edema and yellowing of leaves. Overwatering will have a detrimental effect on the roots. It occurs when excessive amounts of water are in the soil, preventing sufficient oxygen from reaching the roots. This leads to root hypoxia, opportunistic anaerobic infections, and root dieback.
Despite having plenty of water, a plant that has dead roots will begin thirstily. Keeping an eye out for early signs of overwatering can save you. There is a high risk of wilting if the soil in your pot is overwatered, or rotting if the soil drains too badly.
Look for yellowing leaves or signs of edema on the soil, or feel the soil for generalized yellowing. The roots of plants with persistent root rot will go mushy and brown in color. There may be a rotten smell in the soil, and some of the rot may even spread to the base of the plant or leaves.
It is likely your plant will die if you catch it overwatering at the point the roots are wilting. Save your plants by taking swift action if you detect the early signs of the disease.
The problem is that temperature stress plays both halves of the game, unlike watering issues. Extreme temperature levels cause temperature stress in plants. Tropical conditions are ideal for most houseplants, which prefer temperatures between 55 and 90°F. If the temperature extends beyond this range, it can damage plant leaves and stems, as well as plant roots if the exposure is prolonged.
Plant tissues can be damaged directly by excessive heat, but the most likely cause of wilting is increased transpiration or water loss during high temperatures. The roots may be unable to provide enough water during these circumstances, leading to increased water demand.
Consider your plant location and whether it receives many hours of direct sunlight if it is in a sunroom or if it is close to a radiator or hot air vent. Remember that a plant that might be fine sitting on a windowsill during winter could feel a little uncomfortable sitting there during the summer if it becomes too hot and bright.
It is important to remember that the soil of a plant that is growing in warm weather will dry out much faster than a plant in cool weather. Adjust the watering schedule based on your plants’ needs.
Look for scorch marks, leaf curling, leaf dropping, brown tips, or brown edges on leaves that you see have sun damage.
To solve this problem, place your plant more in a pleasant location where it will receive sufficient water.
Drafts and Coldness
Direct damage to a plant’s foliage or roots may result from temperatures outside of the plant’s comfort zone or intermittent cold drafts. Your house plants will cease to function if the roots are not active, causing them to wilt.
You are unlikely to suffer frost damage to your houseplants while they are indoors, however, if you have taken any plants outside for the summer, you should bring them back in between now and the colder nights of autumn.
An Infestation of Pests
Plants can wilt from excessive water loss rather than lack of supply when sap-sucking pests are present. It is usually caused by insects that suck on the sap of the tree, such as mealybugs, scale, aphid, or spider mites. An infestation of small bugs usually doesn’t pose too much of a problem, but a large infestation can lead to major damage to your houseplant’s leaves and water loss, leading to wilting.
You should not have much difficulty spotting pests on your plant if it is wilting because of them. Be sure to look closely if you see spider mites. If you see any, read this article to identify them and treat them.
Look out for signs of plant pests early (at least monthly) when checking your plants. You can eradicate them much easier if you treat them before the entire plant becomes infested.
Wilting can be caused by diseases in two ways. In the first place they can damage the roots. Second, they can decrease turgor pressure through the plants’ xylem and other tissues, which leads to their wilting.
Keep your houseplants free from any signs of disease. quarantine any plants you suspect may have a problem, so it doesn’t spread.
Several months ago, I experienced fusarium wilt in my Begonia ‘Inca Flame’ which underscored the critical importance of taking immediate action. A healthy plant became wilted and nearly black 24 hours later.
This situation can be resolved by aggressively pruning back all affected leaves, treating the entire plant with an antifungal, isolating the plant, and letting the soil dry out before rewatering.
Thankfully, my Begonia survived, although I have been unlucky in the past. Please be vigilant in spotting any symptoms of disease and save your flora.
Many diseases are caused by too wet conditions, with weak airflow and insufficient drainage of the soil. With these tips, diseases will hopefully not be a common reason for your houseplants to wilt. So plant your houseplants in well draining soil, in a pot that is the correct size, and make sure they are well ventilated.
Some houseplants require humidity levels that are higher than are usually found in our homes. Most houseplants can handle these levels, but will look lower than their best if humidity levels are too low.
Dry weather and indoors in winter are the best environments for plants to thrive in. Sensitive plants in these conditions usually suffer from dramatic wilting, particularly if paired with sparse irrigation.
Make sure plants receive sufficient humidity by using a humidity tray, grouping them together, or placing them in a bathroom or kitchen.
The Fertilizer Problem
Overfertilizing is likely to be behind the wilting, not under fertilizing. You might be tempted to add just a little too much fertilizer to your houseplants in the hope that they will grow bigger and better than ever.
In reality, it works differently. You only need to feed your houseplants enough fertilizer to prevent nutrient deficiency and to ensure sufficient growth. The roots of your plant could suffer chemical damage if they receive too much fertilizer.
Wilting is caused by roots damaged or unable to soak up enough water for the plant’s needs, resulting in wilting.
Watering the soil to wash out excess fertilizer salts will enable it to begin the process of recovering. To prevent damage, simply take it slow with the fertilizer. I recommend using half the amount recommended on the labels for most general-purpose fertilizers.
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