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Plant Problems : Wilting Plants

Plant Nutrients: What They Need and When They Need It


Plant wilting is all too common a problem. Whether you are growing plants indoors or out, the causes of wilting, and the cures are the same. Like any other plant problem, you may need to put on your investigator's cap, and study both the plant, and it's environment.


Soil Water/Moisture Levels

Like you and me, plants need water to thrive. Stick an index finger 1 or 2 inches into the plant's soil. If it feels dry, the plant needs water. If the soil feels moist, another problem is causing the wilting, such as over-watering, too much wind, very bright sunlight, pests or disease.


High Temperatures

Wilting occurs as midday nears. The plant recovers as late day and evening temperatures go lower. If hot dry weather is causing your plants to wilt, pour on the water. Use overhead sprinklers to both water the plants, and to cool the leaves. In vining plants, promote the growth of secondary roots.


Light/Sunlight Extremes

Plants can wilt under a hot summer sun. Leaves can burn or scald in the midday summer sun. Shade covers, misters, and overhead sprinklers will help. If you are growing plants in containers outdoors, move them to an area that offer them shade from the midday sun. Your plants may also wilt due to a lack of sunlight. This is common with indoor houseplants.


Soil Fertility

You love your plants, so you feed them well. However, too much fertilizer can cause your plants to wilt, and even to die. If you've recently applied fertilizer to your plants, and they almost immediately (usually within a day) begin to wilt, they’re likely suffering from over-fertilization. Flush the soil with  plenty of water to disperse the excess fertilizer. If grown in containers, consider re-planting, or replanting them in new soil.


Root bound Plants

Container grown plants can outgrow their pot or container. The roots consume increasing amounts of space in the container. The roots grow in search of water and nutrients. Eventually, your plant can wilt for lack of nutrients. The solution is simple: repot it in a larger container. Your plant will now have room to grow, and more, fresh soil to seek out vital water and nutrients. As a rule, houseplants should be re-potted every 1-2 years, or less with faster growing plants.


Plant Disease

No doubt about it, plant disease can cause your plants to wilt and die. People worry about fusarium wilt, or this wilt or that wilt. As soon as they see wilting, they immediately fear that their lush vegetation has been infested with some terrible, deadly disease. In reality, plant disease is one of the least likely reasons your plant is wilting.


Once you have eliminated other plant problems, then the path leads to plant disease. Most of us are not educated in identifying the specific disease, although we may have our guesses. When you suspect or have determined that plant disease could be the cause of the problem, apply a general purpose plant disease spray or fungicide.




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