Philodendrons are a beautiful, tropical plant species that boast large, long leaves of varying shapes and sizes. Naturally, they’re a wonderful addition to any brightly lit living room or bathroom and will thrive if cared for properly.
If your philodendron leaves are drooping, it means there’s something wrong with the plant– either in its roots or in its environment.
Your philodendron leaves are drooping due to plant shock, an unsuitable environment, or a pest infestation. Plant shock and an unsuitable environment are the most common reasons for your philodendron leaves to droop. An unsuitable environment may include poor watering, lighting, or drainage.
This plant genus is pretty resilient, so if it’s showing signs of deterioration and death, you should first look at whether it’s been injured, and then at its environment. As you continue to read, you’ll learn more about how to build a climate your philodendron will thrive and how to help it recover its liveliness.
As I mentioned, there are three possible causes for a philodendron to have drooping leaves: it’s either experiencing shock (which is common after a transplant or accidental damage), or the environment it’s in isn’t suitable for the plant’s growth. Let’s take an in-depth look at both.
1. Transplant Shock, Injury, or Stress
Suppose you’ve recently moved homes and your philodendron got knocked around in the moving truck. Or, if you’re anything like me, you’ve got a rowdy dog (or a playful cat) that has knocked your plant over one too many times.
When plants experience an injury, they can go through stress, sometimes resulting in overall stunted growth and, thus–drooping leaves.
Along with sad-looking leaves, you might notice a few other signs that can point to plant shock, such as shriveled leaves or a soft, spongy stem. Additionally, if any part of the plant has been broken, torn, or cut- that can trigger plant shock.
Transplant shock happens when you repot a plant. If you’ve recently done so with your philodendron, it’ll need time to acclimatize. Otherwise, if you think your plant is experiencing shock, make sure to follow its watering schedule because consistent water will help the plant strengthen its roots to overcome the injury.
2. Unsuitable Environment
If your philodendron hasn’t experienced anything traumatic lately, it’s time to look at the plant’s environment. There are a few areas to focus on first, such as lighting, watering, soil conditions, and temperature. I’ll discuss these more in-depth in the following sections.
Philodendrons both need and adore sunlight, but the direct beating sun is often too intense. Instead, this species prefers filtered sunlight hidden within the shade of taller canopies. So, philodendrons will grow healthily in bright, indirect light.
Which direction is your plant facing? A general rule of thumb is that east, west, and south-facing plants will get the most sunlight while north-facing plants get the least.
However, west and south-facing plants will get strong and direct light, which is too harsh for Philodendrons to thrive in. Consider placing your plant in an east-facing window where the sun is softer.
If your philodendron isn’t getting enough light, it’ll be leggy– meaning there will be lots of space between each individual leaf. If it’s getting too much light, the leaves will get the equivalent of a sunburn– they’ll dry up and turn from green to yellow, to brown.
For most plants, and especially philodendrons, soggy, oversaturated soil can lead to a root disease called root rot. The roots decay from being overwatered, and the decay eventually consumes the entire plant from the bottom up.
Philodendrons prefer moist soil, and you should allow them to dry almost completely before watering again.
If you’re concerned about root rot, look for a black stem and wilting leaves. To take it a step further, you can examine the plant’s root ball– if the typically white roots are brown or black, your philodendron is experiencing root rot.
Being under-watered is just as bad as being over-watered. The signs of an under-watered plant are wilted discolored leaves and general stunted growth. It may take much longer for your philodendron to put out new growth if it’s not getting enough water to maintain its root system.
This plant species requires one thorough watering a week.
Philodendrons grow best in temperate regions or, at the very least, in moderately warm environments. Typically, they thrive in hardiness zones nine to ten, approximately 20°F to 40°F (-6.7°C to 4.4°C). Many states, such as Florida, Texas, and Louisiana, are ideal temperatures for philodendrons to grow.
If you live in a cold region or you prefer to keep your house temperature lower, there are warming lights you can purchase to keep your philodendron comfortable. The Industrial Performance Heat Lamp Light Bulbs (available on Amazon.com) are the best bang for your buck, as they come in a pack of twelve.
Simply screw them into a desk lamp for smaller plants or a standing one such as the Anten Tree Floor Lamp (available on Amazon.com), and let the lights do the rest!
3. Pest Infestation
Finally, your philodendron could be infested with pests, which can quickly cause plant death if not taken care of as soon as possible. Some common insects that cause damage to the plant are thrips, mealybugs, and aphids.
If your philodendron’s leaves are drooping and yellowing, you must inspect it for pests.
If you find that insects are the problem, there are a number of steps you should follow to help it recover:
- Isolate the plant from your other house plants. Insects will travel to nearby plants if given the opportunity. For this reason, moving the infested plant is essential until it’s been treated. The bathtub is a great place to keep the philodendron during treatment.
- Prune away the diseased leaves. Once the philodendron is on its own, you must prune away all of the diseased parts of the plant. Make sure to use a sterilized pair of scissors and wipe the scissors with a cloth in between pruning.
- Give the plant a wash with insecticidal soap. Non-toxic insecticidal soaps and neem oils are the most popular products to use on the infected philodendron. Bonide Captain Jack’s Neem Oil (available on Amazon.com) is effective at treating most pest infestations.
There are nearly five hundred philodendron species in this plant family, so it would be impossible to name all of the different environments they thrive in. Regardless, the following tips are an umbrella overview of general philodendron care:
- Prune semi-regularly. When you prune your philodendron, the excess energy that would have been used for the pruned leaf gets redirected to produce more growth. Therefore, you’re constantly encouraging the plant to put out new leaves by pruning semi-regularly.
- Water once a week. Most philodendrons enjoy a thorough soak once a week. They don’t like soggy soil, which makes them susceptible to root rot, among other diseases. Misting their leaves is also a good idea.
- Provide a trellis. Some philodendrons are climbing vines and enjoy having something to reach for. A ladder or a pot trellis can do wonders for your wandering plant! The Another Garden Trellis (available on Amazon.com) is a reliable option that I’ve used with many of my climbing plants.
- Use fertilizer once a month. With fertilized soil, philodendrons will consume rich nutrients, which will promote successful, healthy growth. Mulch (decaying leaves) or compost can be added to the soil as fertilizer, as well.
- Avoid direct sunlight. Philodendrons love dappled light, so in general– avoid putting your plant in direct sunlight. Instead, place it in a bright, east-facing room where it’ll receive soft light from the morning sun.
- Ensure your philodendron pot has a drainage hole. For those plants living in containers versus outdoors, ensure their pot has a proper drainage hole. Philodendron pots without drainage holes are more likely to sit in wet soil and develop root issues. If it’s outdoors, you must make sure the ground it’s planted in has good drainage.
- Repot your plant as necessary. As your philodendron grows, it may need bigger and bigger-sized containers. Make sure that you’re repotting your plant as needed. The plant won’t produce much growth if it’s in a pot that is too small. So, if you’ve got a large plant that’s stopped growing in an inappropriately sized pot, it’s time to move homes.
- Mark it on the calendar. If you have trouble remembering when you last watered your philodendron, mark it on the calendar and make a habit of checking it daily. An easy solution is to make plant watering a chore for a specific day of the week. I like to water my plants on Wednesdays, just because!
Your philodendron might have drooping leaves for a few reasons, such as transplant shock or poor watering, lighting, and temperature conditions. Pests could also cause drooping leaves, so to help the plant recover, thoroughly examine all of these possibilities and determine the appropriate solution.
With the proper recovery strategies and future care, your philodendron should grow successfully and happily!
You may like the following articles:
- Why Are My Philodendron Leaves Falling off
- Split Leaf Philodendron Soil
- Propagating Philodendron in Water
- Philodendron Leaves Turning Yellow
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.