My plants are wilting. What should I do?
Don’t worry, they’re not yet dead
Apr 5, 2017
As we enter the dry season, the temperature is expected to go higher. This annoying heat seems unbearable. And if plants could speak our language, they might be complaining, too.
Wilting is a plant’s primary reaction to heat. Aside from that, plants contain approximately 95% water and wilting is also a sign of thirst. Through drooping their leaves, evaporation is minimized and the remaining moisture or energy is conserved. While it’s amusing to see time-lapse videos of languid leaves regain vigor, regularly allowing plants to go limp before watering might be detrimental to their health.
First post of 2017: Peace Lily recovering from thirst. The observant plant parent should take note of this — soil additives like perlite and coarse sand promote drainage so that’s why at the end of my pouring, you can see some water has drained through to the transparent cachepot. The peat portion of common potting soil is used for water/nutrient retention – thus, like a sponge, you can see the drained water is drawn back into the pot through the drainage holes. The fact that potting soil has both drainage and water retentive capability is why I avoid putting rocks/gravel at the bottom of an enclosed container – the moment any water drains through to the gravel, it is no longer within reach of the soil and thus becomes stagnant – an ideal environment for breeding bacteria. I’m not saying it is impossible to have bacteria-free plants in enclosed containers, I’m just saying that in my house, I control which life forms get to use water. And plants will only use water if they are getting enough light. I hope this deepened your understanding of the ‘Phyto Hallows’: light, water, and soil.
Usually, thorough watering will resurrect wilted leaves. However, always make sure that the plants really need water before giving them a drink. There’s no suggested watering schedule, but is is best to water early in the morning. The best way to determine is to check the soil moisture with your finger or a stick. When it’s an inch dry, then water thoroughly or until water runs out of the pot’s hole.
Wilting may also be a symptom of root rot due to over watering. When plants get root rot, they lose the ability to absorb water. Hence, no matter how much water you give a plant, it remains limp. Combat over watering is by providing soil with good drainage (through the addition of compost and coarse materials like perlite) and enough sunlight.
It’s also important to keep it cool down there. Roots are responsible for water absorption. Mulching with dried leaves may help maintain moisture around the root area. If your plants are due for re-potting, opt for clay or terracotta pots with drainage holes. Although it dries faster than plastic pots, clay pots are breathable and remain cooler than plastic pots. Also, clay pots are more sustainable as they don’t get brittle under the heat of the sun unlike plastic pots (You’re planting to save the earth, right?).
You can also group plants together to make their environment cooler.
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