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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Why Did My House Plant Suddenly Begin Wilting?

Q. Suddenly, this plant started drooping and weI can't figure out why.  It's was a beautiful healthy plant until about a week ago when the branches started to bend/droop. We tried tying it up but this morning it was even worse.  Could the heat being on in the house be a factor?  We've had the plant for about seven years with no problems. Two other possible factors:  about a month ago we moved the plant from an inside wall to an outside wall near two windows; and about four months ago we re-potted it using a regular mix.

Plants that are drooping are wilting inside the house

A. I don't believe anything that happened a few months ago would have any direct bearing on this drooping. It has to be something that happened recently or that has been progressive. I'm assuming you've monitored the soil for moisture content by either using the pencil method or lifting it to determine its weight before irrigating.

My guess is the problem is at the root level or major stem or stems coming out of the soil. I'm guessing the roots. I would pull the plant out of the container as if you are repotting it. Remove the soil from around the roots and inspect the roots for damage. It is difficult to find repotting soil that is not free from fungus gnats. If there are insects feeding on the roots than this could be the problem.

If the soil is not draining like it should and root rot becomes a problem, then you would see this kind of reaction. I would repot it with a good potting soil, stake it, add some super thrive (I am not a big believer but at this point I would try anything) and see what happens.
Inexpensive soil moisture meter. Not terribly accurate but gives you a general idea if the soil is wet or not.

Monitor the soil moisture content carefully with a soil moisture meter you can get from the nursery for about eight dollars or use these other methods I mentioned to determine soil moisture content before you irrigate.


  1. Thank you for your quick response to our question on Monday ..We did as you suggested and although its only been a few days the plant seems to be responding...,tempus narrabo....Here's a new thought...is it possible that the plant is too large and needs a haircut...it was nice to see our problem included in your Dec 1 X Newsletter....

  2. It is very possible the roots need more room to grow. As plants get bigger this can be a problem. I think you were suggesting to give it a root haircut. I would be careful about doing this unless you can also make the top smaller. Plants need a “root to shoot” balance for good growth and good health. It is sometimes called a “root to shoot ratio” and plants generally grow to achieve this balancing the growth of its root system with the growth of its “top system” or canopy. If you cannot reduce the size of the top then it would be advisable to get a larger pot and allow the roots to increase in size along with its top. If the top can be reduced then you can also reduce the size of the roots. This is a technique used in managing plants used in bonsai.