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Marie Iannotti

Why is Your Houseplant
Dropping Its Leaves?

By November 21, 2011

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Many plants will drop leaves when you first bring them home because they are adjusting to their new surroundings. Try not to panic and fuss over the plant. Don't prune or feed your plants just yet and don't over water. Let the plant rest. Make sure it's getting as much light as it needs and check its humidity and temperature requirements. The air is very dry indoors, when the heat is on.

If you can make your new plant feel at home, you should start to see new leaves emerging within 2-4 weeks. Start watering regularly at this point, but don't rush to feed it until the tender new begins starts to harden off.

Remember, all plants lose leaves at some point, especially older leaves. But if you notice sudden, substantial leaf drop, check these possible culprits:

  • Too much or too little water.
  • Low humidity. (Usually occurs with a change in environment)
  • Pot bound plants will often drop their older leaves as new ones appear.
  • A sudden chill or persistent draft or blast of heat.
  • Leaves damaged by insects or disease.

Once you've identified the problem and fixed it, give your plant some time to recover on its own.

Photo: Marie Iannotti


November 21, 2011 at 11:03 am
(1) Jennie says:

I know why my poor lemon tree is dropping leaves: lower light and not enough humidity since I brought it indoors. Poor thing. It just has to limp along until spring…

My tip for humidity is to spray with water often. I keep some of my citrus plants by the sink, and every time I wash my hands I flick cold water all over them. They love that.

November 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm
(2) gardening says:

My little Meyer lemon prefers being outdoors, too. I wish I had more counter space in my kitchen. Keeping plants right near a source of water would be great for lazy waterers, like me.

September 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm
(3) alice says:

Hope you can HELP my english Ivy lost all of its leaves but i did manage to save a new shoot but noe i see cob webbs but no spiders can you tell me what i can do to save this plant . It means alot to me it came from my mothers funeral flower 10 years ago .Please Help

September 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm
(4) gardening says:

Alice, did you notice anything wrong with the leaves before they dropped? Drying, curling or spotting?

The most likely cause of leaf drop is over watering. Ivy likes moisture, but if the soil doesn’t have a chance to dry out, the roots will rot. Sometimes we over compensate with sick plants and kill them with kindness. Don’t try to feed your remaining shoot. Give it time to start to regrow.

They also like cooler temperatures. If they are near a source of heat, it could be drying the leaves and causing them to drop.

Let me know a little more about what happened before the leaves dropped and I’ll see if I can help.

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