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Like any other plant parent, I knew that my Pilea would start drooping the minute I took it home.
It’s a common problem encountered when you move a plant to a new environment – it’s their way of adapting to the new conditions.
And if you give the plant enough time, it should bounce back. But that didn’t happen. The days went by, and my pilea was drooping even more. Eventually, I had to call another plant parent to come to my rescue.
As we went through what I could have done wrong, I realized that I had underwatered the plant!
Of course, I was curious to learn what else could affect the plant in the future because I did not want to go through the guesswork again.
And I soon realized that watering was not the only contributing factor.
The reasons a pilea Peperomioides is drooping is due to Poor watering techniques, inadequate or too much light, and repotting issues. The most common factor for it drooping being watering issues, too much leading to root rot, too little causing it to wilt and droop.
I put together the guide below to shed more light on how best to care for the Pilea and how to uncover what is making your plant droop. Let’s get into it in more detail:
Why Is My Pilea Drooping?
Do you know what your Pilea needs? Starting from that point enables you to prevent issues such as drooping, browning of the leaves (we have an article here on why are my pilea leaves turning brown), and even the death of the plant.
As we go through each possible cause and its resolutions, I will also guide you on what your plant needs at any given time. So, let’s start with the causative factors:
Did you know that the Pilea also goes by Chinese Money Plant? Some people believe it inspires good luck, especially when it comes to money.
This plant does best in bright but indirect light. If you leave it outdoors in full sun, its leaves burn.
And if you leave it in low light conditions, its leaves turn dark green, and its stems start exhibiting leggy growth.
Thus, the best conditions for the Pilea are partial shade/ partial sun. Moreover, you should change the plant’s position every two weeks to prevent it from leaning towards the direction of the light.
So, how does access to light relate to drooping? The Pilea will droop when it does not get enough sunlight. It starts losing its shape and soon starts to droop.
Of course, it is more complicated than this. It comes down to two things: evaporation and watering.
Assuming you keep watering the plant, yet it has low access to light, the plant will not use up the water.
As a result, it will sit in the waterlogged soil, encouraging root rot, and the effect of this will eventually exhibit in drooping. Thus, if you notice such a change, assess the plant’s light exposure in relation to its needs.
If you need more information on pilea light we have a full article on the light requirements for a pilea.
Poor Watering Practices
Under lighting, I mentioned that the Pilea does not like sitting in waterlogged soil, which encourages root rot.
And this often results from overwatering – giving the plant more water than it needs.
But that’s not the only problem that Pilea parents face. Underwatering can also be the culprit behind drooping, which was the issue in my case.
As such, when covering how to water your plant and what you could be doing wrong, I will focus on both cases:
Overwatering can kill your plant by inviting root rot. An overwatered plant exhibits pale green and yellow hues in its leaves.
Moreover, it can start drooping, and the soil may appear infested by fungal growth. Unfortunately, overwatering is a silent killer, and you may notice the signs when the harm is already done. What causes overwatering?
- Watering when the soil is not dry. Ideally, you should space the waterings by at least a week. Of course, this depends on your region’s climate. To be sure, reach two inches into the soil and check if it feels moist. If it has water content, leave the plant and check after a day or two.
- Using a pot with inadequate drainage holes: The pot should allow the excess water to drain, allowing the soil to absorb what it needs. Otherwise, the plant will sit in water which is a recipe for disaster.
- Planting the Pilea in a poor potting mix: The soil should be well-draining and should not hold on to excess water. Peat-based potting mixes are great in this regard.
Drooping as a result of underwatering is easy to explain – it comes about due to reduced moisture content in the plant cells, thus causing shrinkage.
And that’s when the plant starts to droop because it does not have enough nutrients to remain firm (with processes like diffusion taking a backseat).
While this might not seem like a big deal, the plant could die if left neglected for a long time.
This cause will not come as a shock to many people. After all, it’s one of the things you hear at the nursery when taking a plant home.
If it starts to droop, give it time, and it will thrive after a while. So, what causes transplant shock? It’s pretty easy – plants also need time to adjust to new environments.
And if your Pilea seems to have retreated, it’s doing what it can to get accustomed to the new environment. Often, this takes place after repotting, more so if you disturb the roots during the move.
How can you prevent drooping as a result of transplant shock? Unfortunately, you cannot prevent all shock, but you can lessen its effects by:
- Avoiding root disturbance as much as you can. Avoid touching the roots unless you are repotting a Pilea affected by root rot.
- Not loosening the soil around the roots. You do not need to touch the soil around the roots when moving the plant unless you need to trim damaged root sections.
- Ensuring the plant gets adequate access to light and moisture during recovery.
- Covering the base of the plant with organic mulch to prevent the loss of excess water, thus enabling the plant to conserve what is available.
- Monitoring the temperatures. The Pilea does best in temperatures between 60- and 95-degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperatures lower than this can cause cold shock. Extremely hot temperatures also weaken the plant.
How Do You Fix Your Drooping Pilea?
Prevention is always better than cure. But if your pilea has already started drooping, you cannot dilly-dally on what you should have done. Instead, you must act fast to counter the effects of the causes. How?
The Pilea thrives in bright and indirect light. You should move it to a spot that receives partial sunlight / partial shade.
Ensure that the plant does not have direct exposure to the sun’s rays, which can damage it.
Moreover, you should also ensure that the light is sufficient to support healthy growth. If this is not the case, you can invest in grow lights to supplement the daylight.
Keep checking the plant to see how it adapts to the light. And if you notice signs of leggy growth or burning on the leaves, increase or reduce the light exposure, respectively.
To help with leggy growth we have an article on how to fix leggy pilea growth and future prevention tips.
Poor Watering Practices
Overwatering the Pilea is more dangerous than underwatering it. That doesn’t mean that you should neglect your plant. But you are better off giving it less love than too much love. Here is how you can reverse both issues:
Once a plant starts showing signs of overwatering, time is not on your side, and you must act with haste. Here is what you do:
- Give watering a break: Your plant has more water than it needs. Thus, do not add more water to the soil. Instead, ease the plant out of the pot and inspect its roots.
- If the roots appear fine, plant the Pilea in a peat-based potting mix. Water it thoroughly and allow the excess water to drain. You can then allow the soil to dry completely before watering the soil again.
- If the roots appear damaged and soggy, cut out the damaged root sections as these can harbor infections. Even if you repot the Pilea with these root parts, you will not have cured the root rot. These diseased parts will infest the rest of the root, and you will be back to square one. To completely kill the fungus, dip the roots in fungicide. You can then repot the plant in a peat-based potting mix and water the potting mix thoroughly, allowing the excess water to drain. Allow the soil to dry before watering it again to avoid falling into the same trap as before.
An underwatered plant is easy to save. All you need is to:
- Water the plant: If it has gone without water for a few days, you can water it as usual and watch it come back to life. But if it’s not had any water for about a week or more, you need to stagger the watering to avoid shocking the plant. Allow enough water to run through the soil until the excess water drains from the holes. Then allow the soil to dry completely before watering the plant again.
If you have a hard time watering the Pilea as needed, consider investing in a moisture gauge to help you know when the soil needs water. You can avoid costly mistakes this way and keep your plant happy.
Like most gardeners will tell you, the cure to transplant shock is patience on your part. Give the plant a few days and ensure it gets the light and water it needs.
In time, it will adjust and start thriving. However, this depends on how much you disturb the roots during transplanting.
If you move them around too much, the plant may take more time to adjust to the new pot. So, how can you facilitate a faster recovery?
- Add a sugar and water solution to the soil. That works magic as far as diffusion goes and enables the plant to recover faster by facilitating cellular activities in the Pilea.
- Prune the plant: The plant can easily adjust to its new environment if it does not need to make a lot of food. And to help it, you can cut back up to a third of its total size. That should help it focus on a smaller surface area. Be careful, though, with the cutting back – if you trim the plant too much, its recovery can even be harder.
- Keep the plant away from cold or hot drafts to avoid triggering more shock. Maintain temperatures between 60- and 95-degrees Fahrenheit.
Above all, give the plant time to recover and ensure it gets what it needs in the meantime.
Drooping does not mean your Pilea is going to die. If anything, it is a sign that all is not too well – which is your chance to jump in and make the necessary changes to help your plant adapt better to its environment.
And with the guide above, that should become much more manageable.