Calathea is a genus of tropical houseplants that can bloom indoors all year long. While it’s easy to grow and famous, many people struggle with drooping leaves when growing calathea plants.
The main factor that causes the leaves of the Calathea plant to drop is low humidity. If the air inside your home is humid, the leaves of calathea will tend to droop. This is because humidity levels directly affect the moisture content of the leaf. The leaf will dry out quickly when the humidity level is low, leading to wilting. This condition will cause the leaves to become thin and wavy and eventually drop off.
There are other reasons why the leaves of calathea could be drooping. These include pest infestation, overwatering, transplant shock, and extreme temperature levels.
In this article, we’ll examine the most common causes and solutions of drooping leaves in Calathea and provide practical advice on preventing this issue from appearing in the future.
Let’s get started!
Why Calathea Leaves Droop?
Many factors can cause the leaves of calathea to droop. One factor is low humidity. Another factor is inappropriate watering. Additionally, temperature, sun exposure, and fertilizers can cause this issue. In this section, we will go over all the causes of droopy leaves in calathea and see how each contributes to this issue.
By inappropriate watering, we mean underwatering, overwatering, or using poor-quality water.
Let’s start by underwatering!
Underwatering can make your calathea feel like it is not receiving enough water. In fact, when the soil is dry, roots do not have access to water, and it takes time for the roots to send water back up to the leaves. Eventually, the plant will become droopy if it does not get enough water.
Overwatering can also cause droopy calathea. In fact, overwatering results in root rot, and the whole root system becomes deprived of oxygen. This leads to the leaves becoming droopy and eventually turning brown.
Finally, water quality may also cause calathea leaves to droop. For example, if you water your plant using tap water, it will leave minerals behind as it evaporates. Tap water also contains a lot of chlorine which can kill the roots of your plants. It also makes the soil acidic, which causes the leaves to curl up.
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Most plants respond well to temperatures between 65° and 75° F but will begin to show signs of stress if they are exposed to temperatures below 55° F or above 85° F for extended periods.
Like any other plant, calathea uses the sun to make food, and the sun only provides energy to the plants when it is warm. So, when temperatures fall below 55° F for extended periods, the calathea plant will begin to shut down the metabolic processes to save energy for cold protection. As a result, the plant will not be able to gather enough power to make food which will make it droopy and less productive.
High temperatures can also cause calathea leaves to become droopy. In fact, tropical plants that grow in high temperatures have a hard time keeping cool, which can be detrimental to their health. If the air temperatures get too high, a tropical plant such as calathea will lose water through the leaves and stems, causing it to droop.
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Root boundness happens when the plant roots start to grow on the sides of the pot. This causes the plant to have a much larger root mass than the rest of its body. Eventually, the plant will not be able to get nutrients and water from the soil.
When calatheas become rootbound, they don’t have enough room to grow correctly, and this causes them to become droopy. Eventually, this can cause a decrease in the plant’s overall health.
In addition, root-bound calatheas will become increasingly unkempt. The leaves will begin to droop and wither, which is a clear indication that the plant is out of balance.
Low Humidity Levels
When calathea gets exposed to low humidity, it will get more stressed. When this plant is exposed to too much dry air, it will be unable to absorb enough water to maintain proper growth and development. As a result, the plant will become droopy, or lose its color and texture.
Pests and diseases
Pests can cause calathea to become droopy for a variety of reasons. Insects such as aphids and mealybugs feed on the plant and are often attracted to newly sprouted plants. They can also transmit plant diseases. These pests also bite the leaves, making them turn yellow and drop.
Fungal disease can also cause calathea to become droopy. In fact, when a fungal infection happens, the plant will start suffering from nutrient deficiency, and the roots will be exposed to harsh conditions. This will cause the leaves to become wilted and eventually turn brown and droop.
Overexposure To Sun
When calathea is exposed to excess sun, the leaves will dry out and become wither. If the leaf dries out completely, the plant will not receive enough water and eventually look unhealthy and droopy.
One of the most common causes of calathea sun damage is exposing this plant to direct sunlight in full sun. These conditions are not suitable for a tropical plant such as calathea that grows under shade in its native environment.
This phenomenon is a common reaction that new plants experience when moving from one environment to another. The first few days after the plant is transplanted into a garden or a pot are critical. During this time, the plant is still adjusting to light, temperature, and soil composition changes.
So, you must be careful when you move a calathea from the pot to the garden or from the nursery to the pot:
- The new soil must be similar to or slightly different from the old one.
- You should water the plant gently.
- Try to use the same pot material as before, if possible.
When dust accumulates on the leaves of calathea, it makes them very droopy and unattractive. In fact, dust on the leaves prevents the plant from absorbing water and replacing the water loss caused by transpiration. This leads to many problems, including droopy leaves.
Calathea can become droopy due to physical damage caused by humans or domestic pets. Generally, humans, especially kids, tend to touch plants to discover them. When this is done frequently, the plant will start to look droopy.
Domestic pets, such as cats and dogs, can cause calathea to be droopy. In this case, If you have a cat or dog who likes to jump around on your plants, he will most likely damage the leave. Additionally, if you have a dog who loves to urinate near your calathea, this may cause severe damage to the plant. Urine is composed of ammonia and other chemicals that can harm your plants and make them look droopy.
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Can a Droopy Calathea Recover?
Calathea can recover quickly from drooping when it’s caused by underwatering. In this case, all you have to do is to water the plant thoroughly and slowly. Then, let the water drip off the leaves and run down the stem to the roots.
If your calathea is drooping because of root damage or a severe drought, it will be a little harder to heal the plant. In the next section, we will go over how to recover a drooping calathea.
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If the Soil Feels Dry, Then Water the PlantIf you notice that your calathea is drooping and that the soil is dry, you should start watering your plant thoroughly until you feel that the soil is moist, not wet. This way, you can avoid overwatering and still give your plant the exact amount of water it needs.
- Move the Plant to a Shady Spot
After watering your calathea, move it immediately to a shady area. This can be a windowsill or a house room that receives filtered sunlight. Such an area will help the plant absorb water slowly and recover from possible sun damage.
2. Clean the Plant from Dust
The most common way to clean calathea from dust is to use a soft cloth and water. A soft, wet cloth is suitable for cleaning plants and won’t cause any damage.
If you find getting rid of all the dust challenging, you can use a spray bottle to mist your plant and remove any excess dirt from the leaves.
3. Check for Pests and Disease
You can use your eyes and nose to identify pests on your calathea. For example, you can detect pests such as aphids by looking at the plant and seeing if there are any dark spots on the leaves. You can also smell the plant using your sense of smell. In addition to these two senses, you can also use your ears to listen to insects crawling on the plant.
If you cannot see or smell anything, you can use a flashlight to look for the pests. You can use a flashlight with a red filter to view the pests in detail.
When it comes to diseases, the best way to determine whether your calathea is a disease is by looking at the leaves. Usually, leaves with brown spots or other discolorations are symptoms of a possible illness.
The other way to detect plant diseases is to look at the soil. Sometimes, diseased plants can also have some soil discoloration.
If you are sure that your calathea has a disease, you should isolate the infected part of the plant by cutting it off and discarding it. After finding the affected regions, you should wash all the affected parts with soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Next, you should use an alcohol-based disinfectant to disinfect the plant’s leaves, stems, and flowers.
4. Check If the Plant Has a Nutrient Deficiency
After making sure that our calathea is free of diseases and pets, we need to verify that it is not having a nutrient deficiency. First, assess the plant’s growth by checking its appearance to determine whether it is suffering from nutrient deficiency. Does the plant have thin or small leaves? Does the plant have a leggy growth habit? If so, then you may be experiencing a nutrient deficiency. In this case, all you have to do is to apply fertilizer to correct the defect.
Plants will grow leggy if they do not receive enough nutrients. This may also result from improper fertilization, the wrong type of fertilizer, or a change in the soil pH.
5. Re-pot the Plant
If your calathea is becoming droopy because of being root-bound, this step is mandatory for healing the plant. In this case, you can follow the steps below:
- Remove all the excess soil from the plant’s current pot.
- Bring a new container slightly more significantly than the old one.
- Fill the new container with soil and ensure it is level. Make sure you don’t put too much soil in the new container. If you overfill the container, the roots won’t be able to breathe.
- Carefully remove the plant’s roots and place them in the new container.
- Water the plant well.
- Place the pot on its side on top of a towel and leave it undisturbed until it settles.
- Once it has settled, move the pot to a sunny location until the roots and new leaves have fully developed.
- After a few days, check to ensure your new plant is happy with its new environment.
6. Set up Humidity and Temperature at the Optimum Level
If you are unsure about the humidity levels in your home, you can use a hygrometer, which measures relative humidity. If the humidity is low, you should use a humidifier to provide your calathea with optimum moisture.
You can also use peat moss or sphagnum moss as a substitute to help keep the humidity up. They can be found in gardening stores and nurseries and are cheap and easy to use.
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How to Prevent Calathea From Becoming Droopy?
The best way to prevent calathea from becoming droopy is to water your plant correctly and maintain temperature and humidity at an optimal level. Also, it would help if you were careful about transplanting this plant. Make sure that you acclimate it before transferring it to any new environment. Finally, remember that calathea is a tropical plant, so the more you mimic the tropical conditions, the fewer problems you will have with this plant.
You can prevent getting droopy calathea by watering this plant at the right time, providing the right amount of water, and using high-quality water.
To water your calathea correctly, you should use a moisture meter to check the soil before watering. A moisture meter will help us measure how much water the soil has. This device will indicate whether or not the soil is wet. This can help to avoid overwatering or underwatering the plant. You can find these devices at your local hardware store or online.
Also, if you avoid using tap water on your calathea, you will prevent many issues, including a droopy plant. Try to use distilled water. This is the water that is produced by a distiller. It is the purest and most sterile form of water. Distilled water is free of chlorine, which is usually added to tap water.
The Right Light
To grow a healthy calathea and avoid getting a droopy plant, you should provide lighting similar to one of the tropical forests. This will help the plant avoid sunburn and temperature stress. The best way to provide calathea with optimal light is to put it near a west-facing window or grow light.
The Right Humidity
Calathea love to grow in humid environments where humidity is above 60%. To provide these conditions, you can mist the plant regularly, add pebbles to a shallow pan or tray filled with water, or plant multiple Calathes together. But, the best way to increase humidity is to use a humidifier.
Avoid Transplant Shock
Transplant shock is one of the leading causes of droopy leaves and many other issues in Calathes. Therefore, preventing this problem will save us a lot of time growing this plant.
When transplanting calatheas, they must be placed into their new environment slowly and gently, so they do not feel discomfort. This process is called acclimation, and it is one of the most important aspects of growing new plants.
To avoid transplant shock, you should never re-pot your calathea until it shows signs of over-growth or root-bound. Then, re-pot into a larger container and use soil similar to the old one.
To avoid over or underfeeding calathea, you should apply fertilizer once every month. This will be enough to maintain the health of this plant and avoid the issues that come with overfertilizing.
Calathea plants need a well-balanced fertilizer that contains phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and micronutrients such as iron, manganese, and zinc.
You can keep pests away from your calathea by creating a barrier around the plant. For example, placing sticky tape on your plant’s trunk can help prevent crawling bugs from reaching your plants. Additionally, consider using citronella candles or sprays to repel mosquitoes and other insects.
Also, some plants can act as a deterrent to pests. The most common examples include chives, marigolds, nasturtiums, and dill.
Finally, To keep insects and other pests away from your calathea, ensure good air circulation.
Keep It Away from Pets and Kids to Avoid Physical Damage
To keep your calathea away from pets and kids, move it to a location high off the ground and far away from doors or windows. Also, if you want to completely cut off the child’s access to your plants, you should use heavy-duty plant pots.
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