Why do Houseplants Leaves Fall Over?
Plants are popular for their foliage, consequently realizing that the leaves are slowly shedding can be particularly distressing. Leaf loss can sometimes be explained by life cycles or seasonal fluctuations, but it can also be caused by more serious factors. Why is my houseplant losing its leaves?
Plant Stress or Transplant Shock
How does it feel to be under time pressure with a big work project? Not great, right?
Houseplants can also undergo stress. In fact, since they do not have jobs, bosses are not what usually upset them. Instead, various factors can disturb your houseplant. Plants are usually stressed when they are moved, which is quite common.
The same goes for moving your houseplant into a new pot or moving home or office. These physical changes are both associated with transplant shock. When your plant is acclimated to its new home and no longer showing signs of stress, it should stop losing leaves.
Just make sure the brand-new conditions closely match the old ones. Plants may go into shock if they are exposed to drastic changes in lighting or temperature. It will lead to your plant losing even more leaves when it doesn’t have many left over.
You’ll notice that your front yard has several trees and that they change with the seasons. In winter, the trees are bare and in spring, they are regrowing. Houseplants can also follow seasonal patterns (at least to a certain extent), regardless of whether they are indoors.
Usually your indoor plant won’t lose all its leaves in winter. However, if a few drop off and it’s not because of one of the reasons above, it’s nothing to be concerned about. It is normal, and in no time at all your houseplant will have begun its growing season and its leaves will regrow.
Now let me explain to you the serious reasons you might be experiencing leaf drop. One of these reasons is disease. Plants that shed can have a number of diseases. Below are a few to look for.
Houseplant with Root Rot
The most common plant disease is root rot, which is caused by overwatering (which I’ll discuss more in a moment). Overwatering leaves the roots without oxygen, so they rot.
A houseplant’s roots die, and when that happens enough, the damage spreads to the other parts of the plant, so that its leaves become yellow, wilted, and eventually fall off. Plants that suffer from root rot will die without your intervention.
Houseplant with Bacterial Leaf Spot
You should watch out for too cold and too wet conditions if your plant wants a cooler climate. These conditions can encourage the growth of bacterial leaf spots.
When the bacteria begin to spread across your plant’s leaves (a process that can take just a few hours), you’ll observe symptoms throughout your leaves.
Leaf spots will appear, along with a yellow ring around each spot. A black or dark brown spot may surround a yellow ring.
As the leaf spot dries and falls off, the entire leaf will also fall off. Bacterial leaf spot, despite its name, can affect flowers, buds, and shoots as well.
Houseplant with Anthracnose
A fungal disease called anthracnose is caused by Gloeosporium and Colletotrichum. Wet, cooler weather accelerates the rate of infection, just like bacterial leaf spots.
When you detect anthracnose on the leaves, you’ll see mostly yellowing and browning. Before the leaves die, and maybe even after they’re dead, they’re likely to fall off.
Houseplant With a Pest Infestation
When you don’t see strange spots or colors on your houseplant’s leaves, it could be due to pests inside its pot. There are many types of pests that are known to cause leaf drop on houseplants.
An incredibly tiny insect, scales release wax as a defense against predators. They are not dependent on a partner to reproduce, so they can reproduce in large numbers and do irreparable damage to your plants.
When the time comes to feed, spider mites will pierce the leaves of plants and consume the plants’ cells. Spider mites accumulate their silky webs on houseplant leaves.
The leaves will eventually fall off, causing the plants to die. Oh, and spider mites don’t care if you have an exotic plant; they eat a wide variety of plants.
You should watch for Mealybugs in plants that prefer warm, moist environments, including plants native to tropical areas and those grown in greenhouses. The mealybug, once it has established its home and starts sucking liquid from the leaves of a plant, can promote the spread of disease.
Overwatering Your Houseplant
Overwatering can cause root rot that leads to the leaves shedding. Even before root rot takes hold, the leaves can still suffer.
Here’s how it usually works. The water on the leaves of a houseplant evaporates. When the plant needs more water, it draws on the supply in the roots. This process is known as transpiration.
The process of transpiration does not only affect plants’ leaves, but also their flowers and stems.
Most of the water you provide indoor plants goes to waste. Only one to three percent of it is retained.
It is transpired or guttated the rest of the time, during the night or early in the morning after the stomatal membranes close up and transpiration ceases.
As water builds up, pressure increases, causing water to seep through a gland called a hydathode. It appears that the plant is crying or sweating, but it’s doing neither. It’s terrifying!
Okay, so that’s what will happen when you overwater your houseplant. Water will flush to the leaves in excess quantities, which causes the cells to swell up.
In a houseplant that is overwatered, the excess water can cause the leaves to weigh more than the stems and branches can support, which will cause them to drop. Furthermore, the leaves would be mushy, just as the roots of the plant are mushy. Mushy leaves are not able to support themselves structurally, so they will fall over sooner rather than later.
Underwatering Your Houseplant
Few plants are designed to go weeks without water. Unless we’re talking about succulents, this situation produces the opposite of what I described above.
The leaves become yellow first before turning black or brown around the tips, and touching any of them reveals a very crispy texture. Since the plant is water-deprived from the inside out, it will be parched from the inside out.
In this state, your plant needs the water. Watering now and then on a regular schedule could help, but if no water is given, its leaves are going to start falling off rapidly, and it could die.
There are some plants that are tolerant of cold and dry environments, but many others require humidity in order to thrive.
- Miniature roses
- African violets
In order for Cyclamen to thrive, relative humidity needs to be over 70 percent, which is toasty. For Gloxinia, relative humidity needs to be over 75 percent.
It is recommended that miniature roses be grown at humidity levels between 40 and 50 percent. African violets and gardenias prefer humidity levels between 50 and 60 percent.
Those sensitive plants will not respond favorably to low humidity levels and will begin dropping their leaves as a way of letting you know they need a humidifier or misting.
It is possible that even plants that thrive in high humidity outside of the list above could become sensitive if the humidity fell below a certain level.
Indoor Temperature Changes
Houseplants are sensitive to sudden temperature changes. The good news is that because they’re growing indoors, they’re less vulnerable to fluctuating weather patterns.
A problem with home climate control is that you often create extremes of temperature without realizing it.
If your indoor garden is in any way near your home’s furnace vents, then your plants get a hot blast of air every time the furnace kicks on.
Even though some plants can tolerate a little warm weather, not like this. During the summer, after the temperatures begin to rise, you run the air conditioner all day long.
When temperatures fluctuate between a comfortable room temperature and hot or cold temperatures, a houseplant would almost certainly suffer. If the temperatures do not cause the leaves to shed, then the air conditioner’s hard draft might.
Avoid placing your houseplant on your portable freezer or any other source of heat or cold throughout your home.
A fridge also is not a good place for the plant to be. The highest part of the fridge is usually far too high for the plant, and if you are not careful, the plant can fall over. The heat from the inside of the fridge can also cause the leaves to drop.
Houseplant is in The Wrong Size Container
In most cases, plants are always growing. Well, they should, at least in theory. This applies to roots, stems, and leaves. Growing plants that are in pots that are too small can be restricted, but they do not always stop, or not for a long time. If root bound and choked off, then yes, growth will stop.
In order for your houseplant to keep growing new leaves despite that its home is a little too tight, it can’t devote all its energy to keeping its current leaves. The old leaves will therefore fall off to make room for the new.
Lack of Nutrients
During your plant’s active growing season, if your plant hasn’t been fertilized recently, it may not be too late. You must give houseplants nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, and the amount of each nutrient depends on the species. It is not a good idea to guess at how much of each nutrient your plants need.
Not fertilizing at all or using the wrong mix of fertilizer is just as bad as not fertilizing at all. This leaves your plant vulnerable to nutrient deficiency and death. Plants cannot grow without these essential nutrients, and their leaves can change color from dark green to yellow and even pink. The leaves may fall off as well.
Just as too much water (overwatering) and too little water (underwatering) are harmful for your houseplant, so are overfeeding and underfeeding. An overfed plant has received excessive nutrients. In this instance, too much of a good thing will cause problems. If you fertilize more than once a month, then your plant may be at risk of damage.
Plants that have been overfertilized may present symptoms such as dead seedlings, stunted growth, flower dropping, black roots, crusty soil, and brown roots. Leaf colors will become yellow and brown. Some leaves may wilt before falling off and some will shed without fuss.