Why Do Indoor Plants Drop Leaves?


If you have recently started your indoor garden, and you have already noticed yellowish leaves that drop after some time, you would definitely need to do something about it. Let us assume that you are doing everything right; all the basics like sunlight, water, and ideal temperature. What else could you be doing wrong? In this article, we will tackle each and every factor that might lead to the dropping of your plant’s leaves as well as how to fix it, and give you a list of plants that are pretty resilient which would be best for starter gardens.

If your house plant’s leaves have started to drop you could be looking at a variety of issues such as insufficient or overwatering, low humidity, too much fertilizer, pests, fungi, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to harmful chemicals, and more. Don’t worry. These issues do have a quick fix.

Why Do the Leaves of My Plant Drop and How Do I Fix It?

One thinks you need to remember is that at some point in your plants’ life, their leaves will drop. It is all part of their growth. But when it happens frequently and is unnatural, here are the few reasons why it could be happening.

Watering

The first thing you should check is how often you water your plant. It can go both ways. If you underwater your plant, chances are your plant is not getting enough moisture to continuously produce food. Remember, water plays a vital role in photosynthesis. Plants that do not have enough water will eventually die, and the prelude to this is the falling of the leaves.

If you over water your plant, you will subject it to root rot. When you leave a plant sitting in very wet soil, the roots will have a hard time growing and it will eventually rot and even cause fungal problems.

What to do?

Water in moderation. Check the soil before watering your plant. If the soil is moist, you do not need to water it. Some plants may even require you to completely wait for the soil to dry before watering again. Whichever it is, it all falls down to knowing your plant better and following the recommended watering routine for its kind and type.

Low Humidity

Most plants prefer moisture. When the air is very dry, the plant will consume the moisture stored in their leave and eventually dry them out which causes them to brown up and fall.

What to do?

There are two things you can do to resolve this issue. One is to create a humidity tray. This is a container with wet pebbles that you place within the vicinity of your plants. The water from this tray evaporates and is absorbed by the plants it is surrounded by. Another option is to mist the leaves of your plants every once in a while. Some plants like air plant would require regular misting.

Too Much Fertilizer

When your leaves start getting brown and the sides and tips start to crisp, this is a sign that your plant is getting burned by over-fertilizing. By providing your plant with too much fertilizer, you are also inhibiting their ability to absorb water and making them act thirsty. Ideally, plants do not need fertilizers during dormant periods of their growth. Giving them fertilizers during this time will just accumulate and cause the leaves to fall.

What to do?

Create a schedule for your fertilizing. Be sure it falls on the plants active months which are from spring up until fall. Beyond this time, it would be best to let your plant be on its own. If you have already placed way too much fertilizer, it would be best to drain it out by watering your plant thoroughly and letting the water through the pot.

Pests

Take a closer look at the leaves of your plants. If you notice tiny insects like scale insects, mealybugs, aphids or spider mites, they could be the cause of your plant’s dropping leaves. These pests feed on the nutrition of your plant and reduce its vigor.

What to do?

If there are just one or two pests on your plant, you can easily remove them with the use of a toothpick or a cotton bud. Infestations are a totally different issue. In the event that your plant is infested, the first thing you have to do is isolate it from the rest of your garden and treat with insecticidal soap to kill off the pests.

Fungi

A fungus is quite common in roots and is often the result of overwatering your plant. If you have noticed any fuzzy white material, or brown bumps on your plant, these are signs of fungus.

Click here to find out more about houseplant fungus.

What to do?

There are dozens of home remedies to choose from. One of the most commonly used is the baking soda and liquid soap solution. This mixture adheres to the fungus and eventually kills it. In more severe cases, you may need to use a fungicide that can be purchased at any horticulture store. Be sure to describe what the fungus looks like in order for you to get the right kind of treatment for your plant. Remember to separate your diseased plant from the rest. Fungi reproduce through spores and could contaminate the other plants in your garden.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Contrary to what people know, plants actually have a lot of nutritional needs. Just like animals and humans, they would also need iron, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Should they have a deficiency in any of these elements, leaf dropping and discoloration occurs.

What to do?

If you have confirmed that your plant does have a deficiency, dilute the right amount of fertilizer with water and provide your plant with the nutrients it seems to be lacking. More often than not, fertilizers come with the complete package. Just be sure to use it in moderation. Too much of certain nutrients may cause harm to your plants as well.

Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

Based on the study conducted by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in 1989, plants are able to rid the environment of toxins that are harmful to humans such as formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon dioxide. But there are chemicals that are also harmful to plants, and since they have no way of filtering out what to absorb and what not to absorb, they would end up taking in all the chemicals that are deemed harmful. For example, plants that are exposed to paint fumes and floor treatments may turn yellow and fall off due to the intensity of the chemicals contained in these products.

What to do?

Keep your plants at a safe distance from harmful and toxic chemicals. If paint work or any jobs need to be done using these chemicals, relocate your plants for the time being.

Temperature

It is highly important that you do research on your plant before you buy them. In order to make sure that they do well under your care, you would need to mimic their native conditions. Let’s take a cactus for example. We know that cacti thrive in hot conditions and would need minimal watering. Knowing this information, we know that the cold can cause harm to your plant.

What to do?

Keep your plants that are sensitive to temperature away from drafty windows, and heating vents. Place them in a neutral space away from factors that may directly cause an increase or decrease in temperature.

Environmental Changes

Plants that are newly bought will take some time to adapt. Most of the plants we purchase from nurseries have been grown in ideal conditions. When we move them into closed spaces like our homes or offices, we are changing what they are used to. The plants feel the stress, and it causes them to drop a few leaves.

What to do?

Allow your plant to adapt to its new environment. As much as possible, try to replicate the same setting it had prior to reaching home. This way you can slowly acclimate them into your space.

Insufficient Light

When plants do not receive the right amount of light, they are unable to create their food. Some plants would even grow toward the light, while others would just begin to wilt away. It is important not to keep your plants in the dark space.

What to do?

If your home has no access to sunlight, it would be best to get your plants some grow lights. This way, they are able to produce food even though they are indoors. Otherwise, set your plants in a well-lit space or take them out every now and then. A little sun can do wonders for them.

Resilient Plants That Would Work Best For Your Garden

If you are keen on having an indoor garden but you are just starting out, it would be best to start with these plants first. They are highly resilient and will thrive in spite of neglect. Once you get used to them, you can slowly build your garden.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Fondly called mother-in-law’s tongue, these plants have been quite popular due to its resiliency. It is said that even people with black thumbs can care for this plant without killing it.

When choosing a snake plant, check for those that have dark green leaves. Leaves that are pale mean that they are already sick and would need more care by the time you bring them home.

Use a good draining potting soil. This prevents water from collecting in your pot which would eventually kill your plant. In addition to this, choose a pot that has draining holes. If you can’t find one, make some holes yourself.

Snake plants are not very fussy. You can completely forget about them and when you do remember them, they are still alive. Just provide it with the basics like water and light, and you are good to go.

Make sure to water in moderation. Allow the soil to dry in between watering. This makes it easier to care for during winter since dormant seasons mean they don’t in take much water.

These plants would be a great addition to any home. Just be sure to keep them out of reach from your pets. They are highly toxic to both cats and dogs.

Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)

Native to Solomon Islands, these plants are quite resilient. They can thrive in spite of neglect and are able to survive harsh winters. They would freeze out during snow, but resprout by spring. It is a vine that grows quite fast and is often suspended whenever kept indoors.

The devil’s ivy thrives in pretty much any soil condition, whether acidic, alkaline, or severely wet. These plants know how to adapt. If you are growing them in containers, it would be best to use all-purpose potting mix.

It grows wherever it is placed. In the wild, they thrive in shady areas. But be sure to give it a little light from time to time. The lack of sunlight would hinder its growth.

Ideally drought-tolerant, these plants would not need daily watering. When they are actively growing, just water them till it runs through the bottom of their pots. During winter or dormant days, reduce the frequency.

These plants, like the snake plant are also toxic. Keep them away from reach of both pets and small children alike. It may even cause allergies; it would be best to use gloves when pruning.

Air Plant (Tillandsia spp.)

Quite small in stature that they are often used in terrarium bowls and placed as a shelf or table decor. They are epiphytes, meaning they are able to thrive by growing on a variety of surfaces by acquiring moisture and other nutrients from the air, rain, and water. There are actually lots of types of air plants, and they are popular among gardeners since they are quite easy to care for.

They love humidity, but you wouldn’t need to water them constantly. In fact, there are two ways you can provide them with water; misting their leaves every day or soaking them in a tub of water. Soaking them is the ideal way of watering air plants. All you need to do is fill a small container with water, and submerge your plants for 20 minutes every week.

They love the sun, but it is not recommended to keep them directly under the sun. Keep them in a well-lit space with abundant light, and they will surely thrive.

Constant pruning is not necessary, but if you have noticed some browning of the leaves, you may simply remove them by hand or cut them with a pair of scissors.

These plants are great for anyone just starting out. Their minute size makes them excellent decor.

Cactus (Cactaceae spp.)

Cacti are known to thrive in blisteringly hot conditions. They are extremely low-maintenance which makes them great starter plants for any indoor garden. All you need to do is provide them with the right amount of sun, water, and soil.

Choose a sunny location for your plant. Remember, the key to keeping your plant happy and healthy is to try mimicking the conditions they are used to in the wild. By choosing a dry and well-lit space for them to stay would be a good start.

Water them as needed. Check the soil of the cactus, if it is still moist, leave it alone. Let the soil dry out first before adding more water. Ideally, you would need to water it weekly during active growth, and less during dormant phases.

If you are aiming to get blooms out of your cacti, you would need to fertilize it. Avoid adding fertilizers during winter, instead, add them during spring or summer when they are at the height of their growth. Make sure the fertilizer you use is specifically made for their kind.

These plants are not fond of the cold breeze. Keep them far from air conditioning units. It would be good to provide them with efficient circulation by opening windows and putting them out once in a while.

These plants are highly tolerant of any condition and would only die if you overwater it. It is excellent for people who don’t really have the time to take care of plants but would want to start a garden anyway.

Succulent (Echeveria spp.)

Succulents are easy to take care of. They are used to dry and hot conditions, having being native to Texas and Central America. They thrive in well-lit interiors and require minimum care. In fact, they can survive periods of neglect with low water and nutrients which makes them great for busy people.

Like cacti, succulents store moisture within their leaves. Provide them with water in moderation, and completely stop watering them during cold seasons.

Keep them by the window or even outside. They do well in any environment.

New plants are easily grown by simply cutting the leaf and placing it on the surface of healthy soil. The roots will slowly grow and in a few weeks, a new rosette will form whereas the old leaf would crumble and dry.

They multiply fast. Baby plants grow right under the main rosette. All you need to do is gently take them from under the rosette and re-pot them in equal parts of sand, soil and compost.

You can never go wrong with choosing a succulent as your first plant. They are highly tolerant and quite impossible to kill.

When you have problems with your plants, the best way to care for them is to make a full assessment on their issues. If they are dropping leaves quite frequently, it’s time to go through our list and find out which one of the problems may be causing it. With the quick fixes we have provided, you are sure to get your plant right back on track.

Recent Posts