calathea plants

Calathea Leaves Are Drooping: Signs, Causes And Solutions

Last Updated on February 15, 2022 by Real Men Sow

Calatheas can go from looking bright and shining to becoming sad and droopy. Calatheas are well-known for their vibrant, colorful foliage and temperamental nature. To keep them looking their best, you need to give them a gentle touch. With a little patience and knowledge, your calathea will soon be radiant and lush.

What Causes Your Calathea Leaves to Droop

Calathea leaves can droop due to overwatering, or underwatering. Other causes include low humidity, lack of light, repotting shock, and temperature stress. Drooping leaves are distressing, but they can be easily treated. Sometimes, it is as simple as correcting the watering or lighting levels that aren’t right for the plant.

Causes of Calathea Leaves Drooping

Nictinasty

Calatheas are also known as Prayer Plants because of their gentle, continuous motion. Called nictinasty, the calathea’s leaf position changes as the day progresses.

The leaves drop in the morning and then rise again in the afternoon. Calathea, like many indoor plants, are a result of their rainforest origins. Their daily dance is an expression of the changing light levels in their tropical home.

Be sure to observe the leaves at different times throughout the day before you make any major changes. Is the drooping a natural process that occurs each day? It’s just the natural cycle of this charismatic flower.

Underwatering Calathea

No matter the species, a plant that is thirsty will be limp. To test the soil, you can poke your finger in it for about three inches. If the soil feels dry, it is a problem.

How to Fix

You can give your plant a relaxing soak in filtered or distilled water. Use a calendar app to remind them to stay hydrated. You won’t forget if you set up a reminder.

Calathea doesn’t require a lot of water. However, it should be watered at least every other week. For plants in bright light, they may need a bit more water so I recommend that you water them once per week.

Overwatering Calathea Leaves

Mastering watering is key to maintaining a healthy calathea. Calatheas are known for being fussy and very specific about how much water they receive. The soil should be kept moist but not too wet.

Soggy soil can lead to a variety of problems. Calathea’s delicate roots are susceptible to rot. If there is standing water on their tray or saucer, it could be a sign that you have been overly enthusiastic about giving water. Their soil should not be more than moist.

How To Fix

Allow your calathea to dry. You can start watering again once your plant has stopped being sodden. It is sufficient to water your plant once every two weeks, or up to once per week in spring and summer.

It is best to use small amounts of filtered water or distilled water, as there is no flow through. Calathea loves good drainage. The pot should be equipped with drainage holes and a medium that is free-flowing. It’s worth repotting if this is not the case.

A mix of organic material and peat moss, perlite, and other ingredients is best. This will allow for drainage and retain the right amount of moisture to enable your calatheas to thrive.

Lack of Nutrition

Calathea isn’t the most hungry plant but it can still benefit from fertilizer throughout the growing season. A lack of key minerals can cause drooping leaves.

How to Fix

It is best to use a balanced all-purpose fertilizer, such as a 10/10/10 ratio of Potassium, Phosphorus and Nitrogen. Apply the fertilizer with care, avoiding stems and leaves. To ensure that your calathea can get the nutrients it needs, water it first.

Do not be too heavy handed, as too many fertilizers can lead to problems. With lush foliage, and maybe even flowers, you’ll know that you have the balance just right.

Temperature Stress

Take into account the environmental temperature of your Calathea. These delicate tropical plants require a warm home in order to thrive.

How To Fix

Maintain a temperature between 65-75F (18-24C) for your plants. They can tolerate temperatures a little cooler but they won’t grow as much.

Stability is the key word. Even though the room may be warm, drafts can stress the plant. Hot air blasts will dry the plant, while cold ones can cause damage to the leaves. Make sure to check the temperature and ensure that your calathea sits in an area without drafts.

Low Humidity

Calathea is known for being very particular about humidity levels. Calathea’s distinctive glossy leaves draw moisture from the surrounding environment. They will dry out faster if humidity is too low.

Calathea thrives in climate-controlled environments that lack the necessary atmospheric moisture. If not addressed, dry air can push the plant into survival mode and kill it.

Calathea prefers humidity levels of 60% or higher. Although it might not be practical or comfortable to bring the whole of your building to that level, you can make a small area of comfort for your plants.

How To Fix

You can mist your plants with distilled water for short term. This will raise the humidity for at least two to three hours. It should also correct mild drooping.

However, long-term solutions are essential. An electric humidifier or humidity tray placed next to the plant will provide it with that tropical environment.

It is also a good idea to group tropical plants together. Each plant has its own moisture levels, so if you have several of them, they can help regulate the humidity. A combination of tropicals can also make a stunning feature in any home.

Repotting Stress

Repotting plants puts them in a stress state. Roots cannot tolerate air exposure for prolonged periods of time without suffering damage. Changes in soil consistency or pH can shock plants.

A new, crisp pot can also be a great inspiration for placing your plant in a prominent spot, which will result in a change of light, humidity, temperature, and other factors.

How To Fix

It is helpful to think of repotting as a type of surgery. The plant should be treated carefully and quickly.

Your calathea will need the same type of soil with similar fertility levels and pH. The new pots should be as well-drained as the old. Re-pot your calathea in its original place. If the pot doesn’t fit, find a place that is as close to the original level of light and humidity as possible.

Poor Quality Water

Poor quality water is a common problem in houseplants. Although it is tempting to just use tap water, most tap water contains dissolved mineral salts. Salty soil can cause damage to the roots and stop your calathea using the water.

How To Fix

To remove any salts, flush your calathea using distilled or filtered tap water. Repotting may be beneficial if you see salts on the surfaces.

After you have removed as much salt as possible from the soil, it is time to stick to filtered or distilled water. Resist the temptation to water from the tap. Rainwater is the best water for plants, so make sure you collect it as soon as possible.

Insufficient Light

Low light is not the same thing as “no lighting”. Without it, plants will starve to death. Photosynthesis is the key to their biology. If you take away their light, it will be a loss of their food.

Calatheas’ light needs to be as close as possible to open rainforest floors. This means bright, but indirect, light is the best.

How to Fix

Move your plant to a spot with more light. Avoid direct sunlight as it can cause damage to the leaves. Ideal light is bright, but filtered sunlight.

However, you need to be cautious when adjusting your lighting. To allow your plant to adjust, move it in stages. After a few days, place it in brighter places until you reach a better setting. If your apartment doesn’t have natural light, you can use an artificial source of light.

Pests

Calathea leaves are usually used in South America to wrap gifts and food. This is a sign that the leaves don’t contain natural defense poisons, which are common in tropical plants. This makes them more vulnerable to pests.

An infestation could be responsible for your drooping foliage. Scale bugs, spider mites and apids can infest your plants by piercing the stems with sharp proboscis. This suckers out fluid from the plant and causes the leaves to sag.

How To Fix

Before you do anything, remove the infected plants from your other greenery. Parasite infections can spread quickly, so it is always better to treat one plant than all.

You should take a close look at your plant, particularly in the crevices or folds of its leaves and stems. It can be difficult to identify some pests. The spider mites and the thrips are tiny, small scale insects that live under a sugar nest and are difficult to spot. Aphids also hide away from light.

It is possible to remove the infected areas if your calathea infestation is not severe. Make sure you get rid of the infected cuttings. Don’t let them go into your compost.

Aphids and scale bugs can be treated by hand, or with a little rubbing alcohol applied to a cotton tip. Some insects, such as spider mites and thrips can be treated with water. Apply an insecticidal soap liberally. This will kill any bugs you missed. You may need to treat your plants multiple times as eggs can be resistant to treatment.

If you have more severe infestations, get rid of the pot and plant. It is a small price to make to keep your indoor jungle safe from infestation.

Disease

Unfortunately, the same conditions that calathea needs to thrive are ideal for incubating disease.

Calathea plants require precise watering, which can make them susceptible to fungal diseases. root rot and stem rot can often be a problem for these delicate and beautiful plants. Your sad, droopy foliage could be due to root rot if you examine the roots.

How to Fix

Calathea rootrot should be treated in two ways: a new pot or less water. Root rot plants will need to have their pots filled with more fluid and placed in a container that has good drainage holes. To remove the root rot, wash the roots in clean water.

Pruning the leaves is a smart idea. They will die if they don’t have a strong root system. They can be removed so that your plant has the opportunity to grow new roots.

As with many other things, prevention is better than treatment. Avoid letting your calathea sit in standing water. Also, don’t over-water. It’s important to ventilate your space – not only for the plants but also for you.

Root Bound

If a plant becomes too big for its container, its roots can become intertwined. The plant suffers when the tangled mass is unable to access the soil’s nutrition or water.

This is how you can spot root-bound Calathea plants. Place two fingers around its base. Gently turn the pot upside down and remove the plant. If the whole plant is easily moving from the pot, then it’s time for a re-pot. You can also look out for roots that are reaching above the pot rim and beyond the drainage holes.

How to Fix

Calatheas needs a new home about every two years, so it is best to repot them in spring. Calathea plants that are truly stuck to their roots need immediate rescue.

Make sure the new pot is at least an inch wider than the one you have. Although it may seem tempting to give root-bound plants a larger pot to spread in, root binding can make it difficult for the plant’s roots to spread and the new soil will likely become stagnant, making it a perfect environment for root rot.

This is a great way to make sure your plant gets the drainage it needs. It is recommended to use a potting mix that contains plenty of perlite and peat moss. You should ensure that the new pot has at minimum two drainage holes.

It doesn’t matter how efficiently you repot it, it may take some time for your calatheas to bounce back. So be patient.

Excess Application of Fertilizer

Fertilizer can be dangerous stuff and you could make mistakes when applying it. Excessive fertilizer can cause damage to the roots and burn the plant.

Over-fertilization can cause yellowing and droopy lower leaves, browning at the edges and tips and in extreme cases, visible buildup of soil on the plant.

How to Fix Calathea Leaves to Droop

Flushing the plant is the best way to get rid of excess fertilizer.

First, get rid of any fertilizer buildup visible on the soil surface. Then, water the plant deeply until all water runs freely through the drainage holes. Repeat this process two to three times. Finally, remove any damaged or yellowed leaves.

Avoid fertilizing your plants for at least one month. It’s best to wait until the soil is dry to water again. The plant will produce new growth if fertilized in the spring and summer. To ensure that the fertilizer reaches the roots, water must be done before you apply it.

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