Polka dot plant drooping or wilting is something I hate to see with this plant. That’s because it messes up the look of the beautiful leaves.
Sadly, this can happen for a number of reasons.
And you may find yourself waking up to see your once vibrant polka dot plant now look very sad and weak as it droops.
Why is you polka dot plant drooping? Watering issues including underwatering and overwatering are the main reasons for a droopy polka dot plant.
Lack of humidity, extreme temperatures, lighting issues and nutrition problems can also cause wilting and drooping.
In this article, I’ll go through the different possible causes in detail and explain how to solve each issue.
Causes of Polka Dot Plant Drooping / Wilting
When you see your polka dot plant wilting it is usually a sign of stress. However, there are many reasons for this.
So, it is important to figure out the actual cause.
Below, I’ll list out the different possible reasons that your polka dot plant is drooping.
But don’t be intimidated by the number of items on the list. Instead, use them to narrow down your diagnosis by eliminating those that are not relevant.
Lack of Water
Polka dot plant drooping is most commonly caused by underwatering or dehydration.
In general, plants are made up of 90% water.
As such, when your polka dot plant lacks water, its stems won’t feel full or firm. This prevents it from staying upright as it normally does.
As a result, you’ll see it droop and look sad.
But that’s not all.
Plants rely on water and nutrients for sustenance.
So, when they don’t get enough moisture, they will have a harder time growing as they normally should. Additionally, water plays an important role in transporting nutrients around different parts of the plant.
Without the two, your polka dot plant will get weak and start wilting as well.
How to Fix It
If you suspect underwatering or dehydration, the first thing you need to do is confirm your diagnosis.
An initial sign of this is usually very dry soil. The surface will feel dry and not moist.
But to make sure, stick your finger or a stick into to soil.
If the soil is dry all the way down, then your suspicion is right. The plant is underwatered and needs a drink. This is the reason why it is drooping.
However, if the bottom part of the soil is moist and only the top half or three-quarters are dry, then reassess your diagnosis.
Odds are lack of water is not what’s causing you polka dot plant to droop.
That said, if your polka dot plant is underwatered, then giving it water is the solution.
You can rehydrate it by watering from above. Make sure to water thoroughly so the roots get the drink that they need and want.
Alternatively, you can also use bottom watering.
While this method takes longer, it allows the roots to absorb moisture at its own pace.
Whichever method you decide to go with, make sure to let the plant completely drain afterwards.
Another possible cause of polka dot plant drooping and wilting is overwatering.
Unfortunately, many of the symptoms here are similar to those of underwatering. And this is why it can be confusing when trying to identify one from the other.
That said, it is very important not to mix up overwatering with underwatering.
Otherwise, the consequences can be serious.
For example, if your polka dot plant is drooping due to overwatering and you misdiagnose it as underwatered.
By adding more water, you worsen the situation and increase the risk of root rot.
So how can you tell?
Check the leaves and the soil.
How to Fix It
When you suspect overwatering or underwatering, you always need to confirm one from the other before taking any action.
In this case, get a feel of the leaves then touch the soil as well.
Since many of their symptoms are similar, these two features will tell you the difference.
An overwatered polka dot plant will have soft, sometimes mushy leaves. On the other hand, an underwatered polka dot plant will have dry, sometimes crispy leaves.
To further verify, feel the soil.
Again, you can stick your finger into the soil or use a wooden stick.
If the soil is wet, mucky or soggy, then the plant is overwatered. But if the soil feels very dry all the way down, then underwatering is the reason for your polka dot plant’s wilting.
Once you’ve confirmed overwatering, it is time to fix the problem.
If the overwatering is minor or just recently happened, you can drain out excess moisture. Pour out any excess water that may still be standing on the soil or in the pot.
However, if the plant has been consistently overwatered or the issue has been chronic, it is better to take more aggressive action.
Here, take the plant out of the pot and sit the root ball over several newspapers. Leave it there to dry faster.
Allowing the root ball access to light and ventilation will help speed up the drying process.
Similarly, the newspaper will absorb some of the excess moisture as well.
You’ll want to wait for the root ball to dry. This can be several hours but will usually last for a few days.
Therefore, keep the plant somewhere secure and away from cold drafts, air conditioners, heaters and direct sunlight.
Once the plant’s root ball dried, repot it in fresh, dry soil.
You can start watering again but make sure to let the top half of the soil dry between waterings. Never water before then.
Also, use well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes to avoid waterlogging.
Polka dot plants are tropical plants. As such, they thrive in good humidity.
Ideally, the plant prefers humidity to stay at 50% and higher.
Unfortunately, this is not something that’s always easy to maintain in all homes. A lot depends on where you live.
In fact, most homes have average humidity between 20% and 50%.
And the level can drop during very hot, dry summers as well as during winters.
Therefore, if you notice your polka dot plant drooping, checking the humidity in the area where the plant is placed helps.
If humidity is below 40%, then this may be the reason for your drooping polka dot plant.
How to Fix It
The good news is low humidity is fairly easy to fix. The only exception here is if your home pushes out central heating or central air conditioning.
Then it may more challenging.
Both heaters and air conditioners dry up the air.
So, when they’re turned on, you’ll see humidity drop considerably. You can test this in certain rooms of your home.
And the low humidity will last for about 20 or so minutes after you’ve turned off the appliance.
The downside to central heat or cooling is that all rooms are affected. So, you’ll need to find a spot to put the plant that is not affected by these appliances.
Or you’ll just need to provide extra moisture to the air surrounding the plant.
That said, the simplest fix to low humidity is to mist the plant. You’ll need to do this regularly depending on how low humidity gets.
Sometimes, you may need to mist 2-3 times a week.
As such, this can be a hassle if you’re short on time or have a very busy lifestyle. It is also not a good idea if you tend to forget to do so.
If this is the case, a better alternative is to use a humidity tray or a pebble tray.
You can make your own for both. But you only need one for your polka dot plant.
Of course, getting a humidifier is always an option as well.
Humidifiers do come with a cost. But they’re not expensive unless you go with the larger, full room versions. You don’t need those for your plants.
The advantage of humidifiers is that they let you be more precise in setting the humidity level.
Polka dot plant drooping can also be caused by extreme temperatures.
Note that when I say extreme in this case, this is relative to what the plant enjoys.
Ideally, polka dot plants thrive when temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And it will be able to tolerate temperatures 10 degrees above and below this level without much problems.
But the farther off you go, the most likely issues will arise.
Temperature that’s too hot or too cold can stress the plant. Although, the two work in different ways.
If it gets too hot, the plant will lose more moisture than it is able to absorb.
On the other hand, if it gets too cold, the plant won’t be able to take in enough moisture through its roots to keep the plant well-hydrated.
As a result, the lack of water and resulting loss of turgor pressure will cause your polka dot plant to wilt and droop as it cannot stand upright as it normally does.
Of course, lack of water also means a less healthy plant.
How to Fix It
Fortunately, it is very easy to fix temperature issues. But before you can, it is very important to know what the conditions are.
For this, I highly recommend getting a digital thermometer.
This is an inexpensive device that is portable.
So, you can easily tell if the room your polka dot plant is in is too hot or cold.
This can easily happen during the peak of summer or in winter. Similarly, some rooms are prone to cold drafts or sudden drops in temperature during nighttime.
So, the digital thermometer will let you instantly tell.
As I’ve mentioned above, avoid leaving your polka dot plant near air conditioners and heaters. You also want to keep it away from fireplaces, stoves, ovens or areas with cold drafts.
Basically, anything that can quickly change the temperature and cause it to fluctuate is a no-no.
In case the location is too hot for the plant, move it somewhere cooler. On the other hand, if the area gets a bit cold, move your polka dot plant somewhere warmer.
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Lighting is crucial for plant growth. And the polka dot plant is no exception.
That’s because the plant relies on light to grow.
It needs light, be it from the sun or artificial lighting to support its photosynthesis requirements.
As such, the polka dot plant grows best in well-lit locations.
Light allows the plant to process the nutrients, air and water to produce sugars which in turn it uses as energy. The energy is what allows it to push out new shoots and leaves.
It is also what lets your polka dot plant maintain is gorgeous leaf patterns and colors.
So, when it does not get enough light, you’ll see the colors fade.
Just as importantly, the plant won’t be able to produce as much food (sugars) as it normally does. This results in a weaker, drooping plant that grows slower, produces fewer leaves and smaller foliage as well.
On the other hand, too much light is harmful.
While the polka dot plant thrives when there is plenty of light, excess light or very intense light will damage its leaves.
In most cases, it is excess direct sunlight that does this. But placing the plant too near LED grow lights can also do this.
When this happens, the leaves will dry up faster and they can potentially scorch or get burned by the heat.
How to Fix It
Ideally, the polka dot plant does best in medium to bright indirect light indoors. You can place it in filtered, dappled or diffused light as well.
However, avoid very low light or dark locations which will hinder its ability for photosynthesis.
A simple test I like to perform to make sure there isn’t too little light is to put down a newspaper, book or magazine where I plan to place the plant.
Then start reading.
If I can read the main content text without squinting, straining, opening any lamps or the ceiling lights, then there is enough light.
Otherwise, there isn’t sufficient light and it is better to choose another spot.
Similarly, keep it away from direct sunlight.
This is especially true for a south facing window. That’s because the south receives late morning, noon and mid-afternoon sun. These are the times the sun is most intense.
As such, your polka dot plant cannot tolerate the intensity.
Therefore, if you choose a spot near the south facing window, position the plant so the sun’s rays never touch the plant.
The best spot to put your polka dot plant is near an east facing window.
This side receives the morning sun which is gentle. So, it can tolerate the sun’s rays then. You can also distance the plant from the window as well as long as the spot is well-lit.