If you start to notice that your Pilea’s leaves are drooping down then this might be a sign of unhappiness or shock. The good news, however, is that drooping leaves are often one of the earlier signs of distress which means it is a little easier to fix before it causes irreversible damage. It’s important to check over your plant for other signs that might help you figure out the cause of the drooping leaves.
In this article, we will go through each of the causes of a drooping Pilea, starting with the most common issue of watering problems as well as shock, low light and environmental shock.
Underwatering can cause droopy Pilea leaves
One cause of drooping Pilea leaves is a lack of water. Although Pilea plants don’t like to be sitting in a lot of moisture, they will struggle if their soil is too dry for long periods of time. It is always important to keep an eye on the moisture levels in your Pilea’s soil so you know when your plant is ready for watering.
Before you change anything about how you water your Pilea, it’s important to check the soil and root system to confirm if underwatering is causing your plant to droop. You can either take your Pilea out of its pot to check the moisture or use the chopstick/finger method. However, if you’re struggling to know when to water your Pilea, then the best bet is to invest in a moisture meter. These take all of the guesswork out of watering and will tell you when the soil is too dry.
Another telltale sign that your Pilea is being underwatered is if the root system has started to crisp up. This usually means that the issue has been going on for a while so you might spot some other issues popping up too.
If you find that your Pilea’s soil is very dry, water it a little every other day for a week to help revive it. Your first instinct might be to give your plant lots of water straight away but this can actually be harmful to your plant if the soil goes from one extreme to the other. Yes, plants can get shocked too by a sudden change in their environment. So instead you want to reintroduce frequent watering for a week or two and this should solve the problem.
Hopefully, with a bit of water your Pilea’s leaves should stop drooping and there shouldn’t be anything else you need to do to solve the issue. To prevent the problem from occurring again and harming your Pilea, it’s important to get to adjust your watering to your plant’s needs as well as seasonal changes that impact how much water you need to give your Pilea.
A drooping Pilea can also indicate overwatering
What is strange about drooping Pilea plants is that they can be caused by both overwatering and underwatering. This is because both problems cause damage to the root system, depriving your Pilea of needed nutrients and moisture, causing it to droop.
Overwatering is one of the biggest problems in the houseplant world as it can cause a whole range of issues that some plants can not recover from. However, if the leaves are drooping but are still quite green and healthy then the problem should not be so advanced luckily. The reason why overwatering is so damaging to your Pilea is that it can very quickly cause root rot. Once this occurs, you will very quickly see your plant deteriorate and develop issues from brown leaves to droopy stems. It means your plant can become very unstable as the roots aren’t able to support it.
As with underwatering, it’s very important that you confirm the issue before changing anything about how much or how often you water your Pilea. Holding back water from a plant that isn’t being overwatered will start to cause a whole range of issues beyond the initial drooping problem. Use a moisture meter or simply take your plant out of its pot to see if the soil is waterlogged. Another sign is if the roots are starting to feel soft and have become very dark in colour.
If you have confirmed that your Pilea is suffering from overwatering, replace the soggy potting mix right away and trim away any rotten roots. Don’t wait for the soil to dry out naturally as even a few more days in soggy soil can cause some real issues for your Pilea and can make the problem a lot harder to solve.
Adjust your watering schedule to avoid repeating the problem and over the next few weeks, you should start to see your Pilea improve. Moving forward, make sure to either cut back how much water you give your plant, or how frequently you water to allow time for the potting mix to dry out.
It takes a little longer for the plant to recover from overwatering than some other issues due to the damage to the root system so don’t give up!
Drainage issues might be to blame
Drooping leaves on your Pilea can also be caused by drainage issues in your pot, rather than actually the amount of water you are giving it.
Although you could be watering the correct amount, if your pot isn’t draining the water in the right way, it could cause the soil to become waterlogged. This will cause the same issues as overwatering as the roots will begin to rot and your plant will become starved of what it needs to properly thrive. The first sign of this will be drooping leaves but it can escalate to more irreversible problems if not solved quickly.
You can very easily increase the amount of drainage in the soil by mixing in a small amount of perlite. This not only aids drainage out of the drainage holes (you should also check to make sure your pots have drainage holes) but perlite can also help with aeration of the soil which is an added bonus.
Another easy step is to add a few small stones or pebbles to the bottom of your pots, this helps in making sure that the drainage holes are never blocked by soil or any loose debris.
If your Pilea is in a plastic pot, we also recommend switching this out to a terracotta or clay pot. These allow some of the excess water to evaporate out of the sides of the pot whereas plastic pots hold in every single drop of moisture. We love these terracotta pots from Amazon. Although they tend to be a little more expensive than plastic pots, they are definitely cheaper than having to buy new plants!
Drooping leaves might also be due to shock
If you have recently moved house or moved your Pilea to a new spot, then this change may be causing the leaves to droop. Plants can get quite stressed if their environment changes from one day to another and will show this in a variety of ways. One of which is drooping their stems and leaves.
Shock can also be caused after repotting or propagating as those things can be quite stressful for plants. Luckily, the drooping should be temporary and as long as the environment and care is what your Pilea needs, then there should be no reason why your Pilea won’t return to normal after a few days/weeks. If your Pilea doesn’t seem to be undrooping, then this indicates that there might be a hidden problem so take a look through the other causes to see what is happening with your Pilea.
Cold temperatures can also cause a drooping Pilea
If you have inspected the potting mix of your plant, analysed your watering schedule and not made any changes to your Pilea’s environment, then it may be extreme temperature fluctuations that are causing the drooping leaves on your plant.
Pilea plants struggle if exposed to cold drafts and can begin to droop down as a result of this stress. You may not notice the cold air coming through cracks in doors and windows but if your plant is right next to any cold air streams then this can over time be a real issue.
Make sure that you draft proof any windows or doors that are close to your Pilea as well as move it away from any air conditioning vents as these can be quite damaging to your plants during summer. Although you might find the cool air a refreshing break from the heat, your Pilea might not always feel the same.
Using a digital thermometer is an easy way to monitor the temperature in your home and allows you to check for any cold drafts. They’ll also help you to avoid the other extreme as well as hotspots that can cause real havoc with your plants if they go unnoticed.
If your Pilea is living in a cool room, it’s also more at risk from overwatering and root rot. Your plant won’t need as much water as the soil will take a lot longer to dry out. This is the perfect mix for problems such as root rot to occur which is why you should be extra cautious when it comes to caring for your plants in winter or in colder rooms in your home.
Low light can also cause a droopy Pilea
Pilea plants like bright, indirect light and if they spend too long in a shady spot, they might start to droop and lose a few leaves. Lower light levels can also mean that your Pilea begins searching for the light by leaning into the light source. This can often mean they become wonky and droopy as a result.
You might also need to think about moving your Pilea around depending on the seasons. In the winter months, when the sun isn’t as strong (and out for less of the day) it might be necessary to move your plant a little closer to the window to make use of the limited sunlight as best as possible.
If you aren’t able to find a sunnier spot for your Pilea then you should consider getting yourself an LED light like this one. These help to supplement light and keep your plants thriving through the darker months. They are also great to use when propagating plants so a great investment all around.
Your Pilea might just need a support stake
There is one final cause of a drooping Pilea that we need to mention and that is natural drooping. Pilea plants grow in weird and wonderful ways and because they have such a long thin main stalk, it can be quite natural for them to lean, fall and droop as they mature. You might be mistaking this natural drooping for an issue when in fact it is nothing to worry about at all.
Check over your Pilea and its environment and cross-check it with all of the above-mentioned factors to ensure that there is nothing wrong with your plant. Monitoring the soil moisture, temperature and changes in the environment will help you rule out any more serious factors.
If your Pilea is simply drooping due to natural causes then you might choose to support it so that it grows upwards. Whilst you can let it continue as it is, there is a small risk that the stem can break if it falls too much. This is why we like to use a support stake to tie our Pilea to which helps it grow straight upwards.
Those are the most common causes of a drooping Pilea plant! It’s important that you diagnose the issue as soon as you spot the problem as this gives you the best chance of fixing it (provided it’s not simply natural drooping). The longer the issue goes on, the more likely it is that it’s causing more serious damage to the root system and your plant and reviving it becomes a little more tricky. You also risk more permanent issues occurring such as brown or yellow leaves or leaves falling off your Pilea.
If the issue doesn’t seem to be getting better or you’re struggling to diagnose it, then you might want to think about propagating part of your plant to save at least some of it. Propagating any healthy pups or even some main stem cuttings mean that you don’t have to say goodbye to your plant completely if the worst should happen. Check out our Pilea propagation guide for more information.
If you want to learn more about how to best care for your plant and avoid any more issues occurring in future, check out our Pilea care guide.
Written by Joanna Turner