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Drooping Leaves in Soil Gardens

Posted by Gordon Redman on 7/1/2016

Are your plant's leaves are drooping? There could be several reasons.

Toxic shock from a buildup of minerals in the plants growing medium can cause leaves to droop. Have you been keeping a log of your watering or fertilizing schedule? Make sure that 10-20% of the water or fertilizer leaves the container. Don’t allow this water to be soaked back into the soil by leaving it in a drip tray. Improper use of drip trays lead to the most cases of toxic shock.

When plants can’t uptake water and nutrients their leaves droop and may turn yellow, purple, red or brown. They also tend to get dead spots and curled tips. Leaves may become crunchy to the touch. The stems lose the ability to stand up straight and often have red or purple streaks. These symptoms are all signs of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) or potassium (K) deficiencies. Watering and flushing the plant’s growing media properly will help solve these problems.

If the plant has been sitting in standing water for any length of time, you could be suffocating the roots. Air needs to be added to any water or fertilizer you are adding to your plants. Just like every human, plants do need oxygen to be healthy. For small applications fill up a milk jug half way with water. After you put the cap on shake the jug vigorously for a minute or two. This is enough to imitate the effects of natural rainfall.

Often gardeners will only water until a small trickle of water is leaving the pots drain holes. If you see that the plant’s growing medium is extremely dry or pulling away from the sides of the container, plants may be dehydrated. To re-hydrate the growing medium and the plant, put the pot into a drip tray. Fill the drip tray with aerated water. The growing medium should start to absorb the water. Keep filling the drip tray until it no longer is absorbed. Then start watering on a regular basis trying not to let the soil dry out too much.

It is possible that the plant has heat exhaustion. Make sure the plant is not growing too close to its light source. Also check the ambient temperature of the growing area. Warm growing areas can cause plants to droop and need watering more often.

Occasionally insects may attack plants and cause leaves to wilt. Checking for insect activity both on the leaves and in the growing medium will let you know what’s going on.

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