Why are my house plant leaves drying up [Causes & How to Fix]

Being a house plant collector is catching on as most people learn about the benefits of keeping plants.  More than half of the United States of America can relate to this hobby.

However, not taking care of your house plants is looked down upon. This is especially true if you neglect to take care of your plants.

According to 2022’s House Plant Statistics, 70% of millennials call themselves plant parents, out of which 67% admitted to letting at least one plant die on their watch.

Potted house plants are notoriously more sensitive and fragile than most species of outdoor plants. This is one of the reasons people get so invested and emotionally attached to house plants.

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They effectively require almost the same amount of care as a cat or dog would.

However, keeping a potted house plant alive, upright, and healthy is not easy. A lack of attention or a slight change in environment can cause the leaves of your potted house plant to dry out, curl up, and turn brown.

Why Are Dried Up House Plant Leaves a Problem?

Drying leaves are the first sign of distress in a plant. If too many of the leaves turn brown and start to fall, it’s a sign your plant is breathing it’s last.

If you have ever had the experience of caring for a potted house plant, you are probably well aware of just how fragile they are.

Forgot to turn on the infrared sun lamp for your baby cacti house plant when leaving for the weekend? Prepare yourself for inevitable plant death.

People sometimes try all the different tricks and hacks they watch and read about online and still end up killing their potted house plant.

House plants do not just break down and die on their own. Instead, they actually show signs of sickness and weakness before eventually dying out.

The problem arises when their caretakers lack the knowledge and expertise to identify these signs and symptoms. They go unnoticed and just get worse with time.

Most potted house plant species have lush green stems and leaves, which help enhance the visual aesthetics of the living space.

If the person caring for these plants fails to provide them with the required nutrients, the potted house plants will start wilting and drying up.

Once this process has already begun, bringing the potted house plant back to good health becomes tough.

Hence, if you find the leaves of your beloved potted house plants drying up, you know you messed something up in their necessary everyday care.

Once this happens, you have two possible options. If you have successfully noticed the situation when only the tips of the leaves are showing signs of dehydration and dryness, you still have a chance of saving them.

However, if multiple leaves or shoots of the potted house plants have already dried up, the chances of you being able to save them are meager.

Some other signs of your potted house plant leaves drying up include:

  • The leaves of the plant begin to turn brown.
  • The flowers of the house plant begin to lose petals.
  • The tips of the leaves become dry and brittle and eventually break off.
  • The stem turns brown and flaccid and loses its ability to hold up the weight of the entire plant. As a result, it bends and falls over to one side.
  • The potted house plant stops bearing fruits and shows signs of stunted growth.

The death of a house plant can be a significant problem for many. Some species of potted house plants are extremely expensive. For instance, some types of indoor bonsai tree plants can cost a person up to 10,000 USD.

Some people prefer such plant species for their exotic roots, while some grow them to sell them on a commercial level.

Hence, if such a rare and pricey potted house plant dries up and dies, the person will suffer a significant financial loss.

Furthermore, dried-up potted house plants that end up dying can cause emotional damage to people who have grown deep attachments to their plants.

Many researchers go as far as to call the house plants the ‘new pets’ of our era. Hence, the death of a house plant that one has spent so much time caring for can cause the same kind of trauma that the death or loss of a pet would.

Hence, it is incredibly important that the plant parents are educated on why the leaves or their potted house plants dry up and the main causes of a plant’s death.

Continue reading to learn why the leaves of your house plants may be drying up and the major mistakes you make as a plant parent.

Read Why Do House Plant Leaves Turn Yellow?

Why Are My House Plants’ Leaves Drying Up?

Are the leaves and stems of your house plants drying up? Well, it is possible that you missed something in your daily routine of caring for your plants.

Some possible mistakes and actions that lead to a potted house plant’s leaves drying up are as follows:

1. Not Watering Your House Plants Enough

House plant species may look like regular plants, but their nutritional and water requirements differ greatly from outdoor plants.

While most outdoor plant species require ample water every other day to remain upright and healthy, most potted house plants do not have such requirements.

Hence, plant parents tend to water their potted house plant species once or twice every week or month. Surprisingly, this is exactly where they usually go wrong.

While MOST potted plants don’t require much water to thrive, this isn’t actually the case for ALL plants.  Every indoor plant species is different.

For instance, potted succulents only need to be watered when their soil is almost bone dry.

If you can feel moisture or wetness in your hands when you feel the soil, you do not need to water your potted succulent.

On the other hand, if you are growing a money plant or an indoor bamboo plant at home, watering it once every week will kill it.

Such house plants need almost the same amount of watering an outdoor plant does, if not more.

If you wrongly assume that just because your money plant is an indoor house plant, it needs to be watered less than once a week, the leaves of your plant will dry up, and it will surely die.

2. You Overwatered Your House Plants

Once a plant parent has to experience the loss and death of a potted house plant caused by underwatering, they begin making another mistake of overwatering their plants.

If you are growing indoor bamboo shoots, you can water them as much as you like. However, this isn’t the case for all plants.

If you overwater a plant that doesn’t require watering more than once a week, you’re going to end up with a rotting, dying plant.

Many house plant species need to be watered just once a month. Some of these species are as follows:

  • ZZ plants (also known as un-killable plants) because of their durability and endurance
  • Snake plants
  • Rubber plants
  • String of pearls
  • Aloe plants
  • Almost all species of succulents

If you begin overwatering potted house plants, the roots of the plants get badly affected, leading to the plant drying out and eventually dying.

This happens because, just like the rest of the plant, the roots also need a supply of oxygen to carry on functioning and remain healthy.

When the potted house plant’s soil is always wet due to overwatering, the necessary air pockets in the soil get filled with water. The excessive water prevents any oxygen from reaching the roots of the plants.

As a result, the roots begin to rot and can no longer absorb water; hence, the water supply to the rest of the plant stops. Eventually, the leaves turn yellow, brown, and brittle, and the house plants begin to die.

Read How Often Should I Water a Houseplant?

3. The Conditions of Your Home are Too Dry

Collecting different species of house plants is a more challenging hobby than collecting stamps or coins, as plants are just as alive as a pet or a person.

This means that plants also need certain living conditions to thrive.

If the conditions of your living space are too dry, the leaves of your potted house plants will eventually dry out too.

Usually, this is frequently observed during winters or when you keep the air conditioners running for too long. The air becomes dry and lacks any humidity.

In such circumstances, regular watering usually is not enough. Since the soil has more moisture than the surrounding air, water begins moving from where it is higher in concentration to where it is lower, per the laws of diffusion.

Hence, even when you regularly water the house plants, the water from the soil begins evaporating into the dry air before it reaches the plant’s roots.

Moreover, water molecules also begin transpiring from the inside the upper dermis layer of the plant’s leaves, leading to further dehydration.

As a result, due to the lack of water, the leaves of the potted house plants dry out, and the stem can no longer support the weight of the plant.

Read How to Clean House Plant Leaves

4. Your House Plants Are Exposed to Excessive Amounts of Sunlight

Like most house plants do not need the same amount of water as outdoor plants, they also do not need as much sunlight.

If these potted house plants are exposed to an excessive amount of sunlight, the water molecules begin transpiring out of the leaves of the plant to cool down to the plant’s surface temperature.

When this continues for an extended period, while water intake remains constant, the plant begins to get dehydrated. As a result, the leaves start curling inwards, dry up, and break off the plant’s stem.

Read How to Care for Houseplants in Summer

5. Your House Plants Do Not Have Enough Sunlight

As mentioned above, one common mistake most plant parents make is generalizing the needs and requirements of all potted house plant species.

Like some house plant species need nearly the same amount of water as outdoor plants, some house plants also need direct sun exposure to carry out photosynthesis and make their food.

Without sufficient sunlight, the photosynthesis process slows down, and the plant cannot make enough sucrose (plant sugar) to fulfill its energy requirements.

As a result, the roots can no longer carry out their function, and hence water is not supplied to the plant.

Consequently, with extended periods of limited sunlight, the house plant’s dehydration leads to its death.

6. Your Potted Plants Are Diseased

Your house plants are prone to catching diseases and getting sick – just like humans and animals.

If they are exposed to a contaminated environment or grown in the same soil as other sick plants, they will also catch the disease.

Some of the most common diseases that cause the leaves to dry up and fall off are caused by fungal infections, usually due to overwatering.

The fungus begins to grow inside the potted house plant’s soil and covers the surface of the roots. As a result, water molecules cannot enter the roots’ surface, and hence absorption is stopped.

With no water moving up the house plant’s stem, the dehydration eventually leads to the house plant’s flaccidity and death.

Why are my house plant leaves drying up
Why are my house plant leaves drying up

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Final Thoughts

Keeping your potted house plants hydrated and alive can be challenging; however, it is not impossible. Remember that a good plant parent is an informed plant parent.

Hence, before bringing a house plant species into the environment of your home, always do your research. Learn exactly how the specific house plant needs to be cared for, how much watering is enough, and whether leaving it under the sun for extended periods is a good idea.