Oh No! My Plant Has Wilted, What Do I Do?!

by Fern on April 27, 2010

in How To,Pests & Problems

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Your first reaction upon discovering that a plant has wilted may be to trip over yourself while trying to find your watering can. But adding more water may not be the best thing to do, or at least not the best thing to do first. Intrigued? Read on my friends…

It Could Be The Weather

A wilted plant doesn’t necessarily mean a plant that hasn’t been watered enough, though that’s a possibility. Sometimes, on a particularly hot or windy day, a plant can look wilted even though you just watered it this morning. This is because the plant is losing moisture through its leaves faster than it can take up water through its roots.

If you’re pretty sure that the problem isn’t lack of water (because you’ve stuck your finger in the soil and it is still moist) then move the pot to a lightly shaded spot. If it perks up by the time the weather cools down, then you know that the problem was the weather. If the plant is question can tolerate light shade, you might want to leave it there, at least during the heat of summer. Another option would be to move the pot to a location where it gets morning sun but is shaded in the heat of the afternoon. If those two things aren’t possible, your only option is to move it back to its old spot and continue to occasionally move the plant to the shade during heat waves.

Or It Could Be Too Much Water

If you followed the above advice and the plant still isn’t perking up, (and yet you’re confident that you were watering the plant and it’s soil is moist) then it’s possible that you overwatered the plant to the point that the roots have started to rot and can no longer take up the water the plant needs. The plant may be beyond saving at this point, but certainly stop watering. Place the plant in part shade and see if it recovers. I did this recently to a plant that was in a self-watering pot. Whoops!

If It’s Neither Of The Above…

If neither of those first two scenarios describe your situation, then you probably need to water. If the soil has become hard and has puckered to the point that it is pulling away from the sides of the pot, it’s not enough to simply pour water into the container. In all likelihood, water will rush down the sides (in between the soil and the pot) and flow right out the bottom without wetting the soil. Try using a pencil to poke a few holes in the surface of the soil to allow water to penetrate in several spots. Water until you see water flowing out the bottom, and then repeat in 10 minutes.

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