What Causes Plants to Wilt ?
Plants wilt for a number of reasons we look at why and how to prevent your plants from wilting. A lack of moisture in the pot or soil is one cause of wilt, heat on the foliage is another and then to confuse things ‘to much water’ is another cause. Lets look at different situations and find solutions.
A common scene, you come home from a nursery or garden centre with some new plants, you do not have time to plant them so you leave them in the pot, a few days later the plants looks limp and week, your new plant is wilting.
Or we are in the garden and we notice that one or more wilting plants, looking limp and sad, we have a case of wilt, but what are the causes and how do we prevent it? What are short term solutions to help our plant recover?
Lack of Water
If the plant is weak and floppy and soil is dry, then it is most likely a lack of water. They can be saved easily.
A lack of moisture in plants causes a reduction of the pressure in the plant cells, and therefore, they wilt.
The solution is to provide water, but not just a quick soaking. If the plant is in a container or in soil then the wilting can also be a sign that the roots are beginning to die back, also through lack of water.
In a container, soak the whole pot in a large bucket of water until it stops releasing air bubble from the soil, and then leave it a little longer. It’s not much use putting the plant back in the same position and ignoring it until next time, consider
- a cooler position where the container itself is shaded
- a regular watering regime
- a more water retentive potting mix
- a larger pot that does not dry out so easily
In the ground
- regular watering
- some shade cloth to keep the plant cool until it recovers
- amending the soil with humus and other materials that hold water little more
- shifting the plant to a more suitable position
Plants will also wilt when they are transplanted, usually it is because the the roots have been disturbed and have ‘died back’ a little on transplanting. So water well, transplant in cool weather and use a root growth stimulant such as seaweed fertilizer to reduce transplant shock.
Other reasons that plants will wilt.
If the potting mix or soil is still damp, and the leaves are wilting on hot days then the plant needs little more shade, so shade cloth, shift the plant or plant something taller that will provide shade
If the soil is moist and the weather is cool, then you might just be over watering, This can cause the roots to rot and begin to die.
- stop watering
- make sure the drainage hole is clear
- repot the plant
- hope the damage is not to great
Fusarium wilt and Verticillium wilt
These are a disease or fungus particularly in potatoes, tomatoes and capsicums. Often one part of the plant will turn yellow. Also happens in some palm trees and has devastated banana plantations.