If your precious philodendron is sulky with drooping and limp leaves, you may be worried about the unhealthy look of your plant. You don’t have to be too alarmed. I’m going to help you get to the bottom of the problem and find ways to help your philodendron bounce back to health.
The most likely causes of drooping philodendron are underwatering and overwatering. Ensure a consistent watering schedule; water when the top 2-3 inches of soil is dry. Other common causes include excessive heat, low humidity, cold drafts, fertilizer burn, nutrient deficiency, and repotting shock.
As you can see, your philodendron could be drooping for several different reasons. You must review your care routine and inspect your plant to establish the exact culprit.
Is It Normal for Philodendron to Droop?
Drooping philodendron is a sign that something is wrong with your plant. Your prized can appear droopy for a number of reasons, but none is normal.
When your droopy philodendron has curled, yellowed, or limb leaves, you must take a closer look at your care routine. You must not rule out other possible reasons, too.
For this reason, I recommend that you carefully analyze your plant’s symptoms. By knowing exactly what is ailing your philodendron, you can take the necessary action. (you will find out more on that ahead).
Underwatering Causes Philodendron to Droop
Poor watering habits are the most likely reason your philodendron is drooping. You must ensure a consistent watering routine. And make sure the soil is wet but not soggy.
If you leave the soil to dry out completely, your philodendron will not be happy because there’s insufficient water available for roots to absorb. Meanwhile, water is still being lost via transpiration and used to make energy through photosynthesis.
Your philodendron will eventually lose turgidity, causing your plant to droop and wilt. And don’t forget that, without water, your philodendron cannot photosynthesize and produce energy to thrive.
If you don’t water soon, your plant will show other alarming signs of underwatering. These include:
- Foliage may turn irregularly or uniformly yellow
- Lower leaves will start to wilt and fall off
- The leaves will feel dry and crisp to the touch
- You may notice brown edges or tips on the leaves
- Potting mix is pulling away because the soil is very dry
- Leaf deformations like curling, shriveling or wrinkling
You know the drill. If your philodendron (or any other houseplant) is thirsty, you must water it immediately to rescue your plant. The same is true here:
- Remove the saucer and take your philodendron to a tub or sink.
- Fill the basin with room temperature water to around 3-4 inches level. This way, it will soak up water from the drain holes in the bottom
- Let your plant soak up water for more than 45 minutes
- Check routinely until the top 2-3 inches of the soil is wet but not soggy
- Remove your plant from the basin and tilt to drain excess water
- Replace it on the saucer and provide optimal conditions
If you prefer watering from above, do so until liquid drains out of the bottom holes. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then dump out excess water from the saucer.
You should never let your philodendron sit in soggy soil. If you give it too much water, the potting mix will become mushy and waterlogged.
You must remember that roots need oxygen to breathe. So, overwatering, if not rectified sooner, will suffocate the roots and cause fungal infections like root rot.
Drooping is another common symptom of an overwatered philodendron. You should keep a keen eye on other potential signs of overwatering, too, such as:
- Yellowing of leaves closer to the base of the plant. You may also notice yellowing along the leaf veins.
- Leaves will start wilting and drop off
- Browning on the edges and tips of the leaves. That’s because your philodendron pushes excess water, bursting the veins on the ends.
- You may notice brown, water-soaked, or raised spots on the leaves
- A rotting smell may hit your nose. This is a sign of root rot, which is terrible news for your philodendron.
- You may spot some pests on the leaves since they love damp leaves
- If the root rot is extensive, the plant will dry out and eventually die
- Your plant looks weak and mushy
- Mildew, mold, or other fungal growths on the soil surface due to dampness
- An overwatered philodendron becomes sickly and susceptible to diseases
- Stem or leaf root on the soil line or near base of the stem
Check the soil using a finger test. If it’s soggy, then you have overwatered your philodendron. There are various ways to treat your overwatered plant. Each solution will depend on how severe the overwatering is:
If it’s mild overwatering, stop watering your plant. After a few days, the soil will start drying out and your philodendron will bounce back almost immediately.
The problem could be a lack of drainage. Check if the soil is well-drained and if the container has drainage holes at the bottom. Make necessary adjustments and let the soil dry out a bit.
If the soil is wet and soggy, you will need to dry it out. Move it to an area that will facilitate the evaporation of moisture. You may use a fork to turn the soil upside down, speeding up moisture loss.
What if there’s root rot?
- First, gently tilt your plant out of the pot to inspect for root rot. Affected roots will be brown to black, soft, and mushy to the touch. You will also get a distinct rotten smell.
- Wash away as much soil off the root system as possible
- Your best course of action is to trim away diseased and dead roots. Leave only white, firm, and bouncy roots, which are healthy.
- Dip the remaining roots in contact fungicides. You can also use hydrogen peroxide or homemade remedies (baking soda, charcoal, cinnamon, etc.)
- Consider repotting your philodendron in a fresh batch of potting mix
- If the overwatering is too extensive, your best bet is to repot.
Loss of the Turgor Pressure
Turgor pressure is crucial for the survival and growth of your philodendron. It helps let in air and moisture for photosynthesis and transpiration. That’s how your plant makes food and energy for robust health and function.
When your philodendron loses turgor pressure, your plant will wilt, limb, and droop. This usually affects the herbaceous (non-woody) parts of the stem.
What causes loss of turgor pressure? It can be due to overwatering, edema, diseases, sunburns, and root or leaf rot.
- Check the soil if it’s dry using the finger test. If the top two inches of the soil have dried out, that could be the issue. Water your plant until liquid drains out of the bottom holes.
- If overwatering is the culprit, start the soil curing process.
- Don’t forget to check for root rot. If the roots are brown, soft, and squishy, trim off the affected ones and treat the remaining roots with fungicide
Over-Temperature and Extreme Cold
Temperature stress is another rampant reason why philodendron plants droop. As a tropical plant, the philodendron loves warm conditions, so it may be fairly forgiving when it comes to high temperatures.
However, these plants are too finicky about cold weather. They will start to become weak; leaves will turn yellow and fall off if exposed to cold drafts.
Remember the ideal temperature range for philodendron is 60-80 ºF (15-26°C). If the ambient temperatures dip below 55º F (13°C), you’re asking for trouble. It may shed leaves, wilt, and look sickly.
On the other hand, excess heat causes tissue damage. The soil will also dry out faster in excess temp, leading to signs of underwatering, such as drooping.
- If your philodendron is drooping and showing other signs of cold stress, check for sources of cold drafts. These could be open windows, air vents, and HVAC.
- The same is true of heat drafts. Move your plant away from hot air vents, radiators, water heaters, and other sources.
- Use a thermometer to track the temperatures over several days. This way, you can move your plant or adjust the ambient temp as required.
As I’ve already stated, philodendrons are tropical plants. They’re indigenous to warm, humid climates, like the rainforests.
In short, your philodendron loves to be in a relatively humid environment. If you place it in a low humidity setting, the leaves will start drooping and brown on their tips and edges. The soil will also dry out quicker, exacerbating these symptoms.
If you don’t remedy the situation, low humidity will cause the entire foliage to turn yellow. This may be followed by leaf wilting, drying, and falling off.
- Your solution for the problem is simple: improve humidity to 40% or more. There are several different ways you can do so:
- Group your houseplants together, essentially creating a humid microclimate
- Give your plat daily misting to increase humidity. Make sure the leaves are not damp.
- Place your philodendron on or close to a humidity tray
- Use a humidifier
Philodendron Leaves Drooping After Repotting
Drooping philodendron after repotting or transplant can be caused by a lack of water. That’s right; your play may suffer from a lack of tissue moisture even if you’re watering it properly. That’s because the roots will take some time to readjust.
Your plant may have suffered root damage during repotting. Without these vital roots, your plant won’t absorb water effectively.
This may lead to wilting, as well as leaf yellowing, browning, and falling off. Drooping could also just be a mild transplant shock
- There’s something you can do to minimize transplant shock. This is especially true before you actually repot your philodendron.
- First of all, drill a shallow hole and water it before planting your philodendron
- Be careful with the fine root system when digging up and repotting
- Give ideal conditions and the plant will bounce back on its own
If your philodendron is drooping but under watering and overwatering are not the issue, you must check water quality. Tap water in some cities and softened water contain fluorides, chlorine, mineral, and other salts.
Over time, these salts will build up in the soil and cause tissue damage, mostly in the roots and foliage. Drooping is often a sign of salt burns.
- You must leach excess salts out of the soil
- Simply place your plant in the sink or tub. Now let the water run through the soil for at least 10 minutes. This will help flush out buildup salt out of the potting mix
- Make sure to drain excess water and see to it that the soil isn’t soggy
- If there’s too much salt buildup, you can re-pot with fresh potting mix
How Much Light Is It Getting?
Your philodendron will thrive when parked in bright, indirect light. If you expose it to too much light or direct sunlight for too long, the leaves will suffer sunburn and droop.
If you transition your philodendron quickly from a low light area outside where it will get intense light, this will also cause drooping, brown leaves, and wilting.
The fix is easy: move your plant to a spot where it will receive bright, indirect light. If it’s outside, move it indoors to minimize sunburns.
Is It Getting Enough Nutrients?
Your philodendron will look feeble and droopy if it’s lacking certain nutrients. In most cases, drooping is caused by a deficiency of magnesium.
Iron, manganese, and nitrogen deficiency may also result in leaf yellowing, dropping, and drooping. Take note of any discolorations.
- During the rapid growth period, which is usually spring and summer, apply balanced houseplant liquid fertilizer monthly.
- To solve drooping, you almost always need to use magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts)
Philodendrons are typically pest-free, but you may find a few cases. It may start to droop when infested by pests like mealybugs, red spider mites, thrips, aphids, and scale insects.
In a lot of cases, the culprit is normally sap-sucking insects, most notably mealybugs. They leave honeydew that makes the plant susceptible to fungal diseases. They also cause tissue damage to the foliage.
- Spray away insects from the leaves of your philodendron. Take it to the shower, tub, or sink – give it a powerful spray of water.
- Repeat this every 1-2 weeks until you eliminate the pests
- If there are leaves that are too diseased, damaged, or dead, trim them away
- Each time, use insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils (like neem oil) to treat the plant
Philodendron can be prone to diseases like stem rot, bacterial soft rot, and fungal root rot. All of these can cause your philodendron to droop, wilt, and may die.
Diseases can cause drooping in a variety of ways. For one, it affects the function and health of the root system.
Secondly, it disrupts nutrient and water flow through special tissues called the xylem. When it does so, your philodendron loses turgor pressure and droops
- Inspect your philodendron carefully for symptoms of disease infection. The best solution will depend on the type of disease.
- It’s important that you remove and dispose of diseased, dead, and heavily affected parts of the plant
- Use an antifungal or antibacterial solution as needed
- For organic methods use hydrogen peroxide, cinnamon, or activated charcoal
Has It Outgrown Its Container?
Philodendrons are easy to grow and maintain. However, they can grow pretty fast, especially during early spring and summer when the conditions are just right.
If the pot used has become too small for your plant, your philodendron will deplete nutrients, water, and other resources fast. This may result in either overwatering or underwatering, both of which cause philodendron drooping.
Your plant will show you when the container has become too small:
- Cracked pot
- The emergence of roots through drain holes at the bottom
- Water flows through the soil
- When this happens, it would be wise that you repot your philodendron in a larger container.
- You may use the existing potting mix. But I highly recommend that you switch to a fresh batch of fertile, well-drained soil.
Lack of Root Development
When you propagate your philodendron, it may take some time before the roots become well-established. Without the fine roots, the plant can’t get enough nutrients and water. The result isn’t pretty: drooping, leaf yellowing, and wilting.
Lack of root development may also be due to repotting shock. Physical root damage, root rot, and waterlogging may also be to blame.
You may have to propagate your philodendron afresh to develop roots. Simply find a good, healthy stem cutting and snip away all the leaves except the top three.
Propagate in water or moist potting mix. New roots (and new leaves) will develop after 2-3 weeks. Keep it well-watered and give it bright, indirect light.
Fertilizer Application Mistake
Drooping is most likely to occur when you over-fertilize your philodendron than under-fertilize it. You see, too much fertilizer will cause extensive damage to the roots.
Damaged roots, in turn, can’t absorb nutrients and water properly, resulting in your philodendron drooping. If there’s white crusting on topsoil, that’s an indication of fertilizer salt buildup
- Run water through the soil for at least 45 minutes to flush out excess fertilizer
- Tilt to drain out excess water and let the soil dry
- From here on, only apply standard water-soluble houseplant fertilizer once every month from spring through summer. Make sure you dilute to half-strength first.
Hopefully this article helped you precisely identify and solve the drooping problem.