Adored for their incredible dotted leaves, the Polka Dot Plant brings that dash of colour and vibrancy to every room. Whether your variety is pink, red or white, it’s always frustrating and upsetting to see your plant start losing some of its leaves. Whilst some leaf shedding is normal, there are also a few concerning factors that can have this effect. In this post, we will go through each of these reasons, as well as how to know if it’s simply the natural ageing process, so you can begin to help your plant recover and revive itself.
Overwatering is a common cause for losing leaves
Too much water tends to be the main reason why houseplants begin losing their leaves, and this applies to Polka Dot Plants too. The reason for this is because the roots will start to turn soft and mushy and your plant won’t be able to get all the nutrients, moisture and oxygen it needs. As a result, your Polka Dot Plant will need to conserve energy and shed some of its leaves.
To figure out if overwatering is the reason your Polka Dot Plant is losing some of its leaves, check the moisture levels in the soil immediately using a moisture meter. If the potting mix is very soggy and clumpy then replace it with fresh dry mix. You might be tempted to wait for the potting mix to naturally dry out but this just risks even more damage to your Polka Dot Plant so it’s best to switch out the soil!
To push your plant to recover quickly, trim away the soft, rotten roots and then adjust your watering schedule moving forward, so you aren’t watering your Polka Dot Plant as much or as often as you were before.
Underwatering could also be causing leaf drop
Funnily enough both over- and underwatering can lead to your Polka Dot Plant losing leaves, which makes it super important that you figure out which it is. The thing you don’t want to be doing is watering an overwatered Polka Dot Plant and vice versa.
Luckily, there are a few really easy ways to see if your plant is being underwatered:
The leaves are dry and crispy
If the leaves that are falling off your Polka Dot Plant feel very dry, crispy, shrivelled and look dehydrated, then the problem is probably consistent underwatering.
The potting mix is dry
Like with overwatering, it’s important you measure the moisture in the soil of your Polka Dot Plant. If the soil feels very dry to touch, almost like dust, then your Polka Dot Plant needs more water to prevent it from losing more leaves.
The soil is coming away from the sides of the pot
This is a great method to be able to tell if your Polka Dot Plant is losing leaves due to being underwatered just by looking at it. It will also apply to other houseplants so a nice little tip for you to remember. If you notice that the soil has compacted and is actually coming away from the sides of your pot, then it indicates that you need to increase watering and this may be the cause of your Polka Dot Plant losing leaves.
Use a moisture meter
Getting into the habit of using a moisture meter will help figure out how dry the potting mix is and if you need to water more to stop your plant from losing any more leaves.
How do I go about fixing an underwatered Polka Dot Plant that is losing leaves?
Once you can attribute the leaf drop on your Polka Dot Plant to underwatering, you need to make sure to solve the issue in the right way. You might think that drowning your plant in water will help reverse the issue but this can actually cause your Polka Dot Plant to go into shock, which will lead them to start losing more leaves! Instead, the right way to solve the issue of underwatering is to slowly reintroduce water by giving your plant a little bit once a day for a week. This will slowly dampen the potting mix and hopefully, stop your Polka Dot Plant from losing more leaves.
It might just be natural shedding
If it’s only the oldest leaves that your Polka Dot Plant is losing, then this may be natural ageing. As your plant matures, your Polka Dot Plant will lose some of its oldest, lowest leaves to focus its energy on growing new healthy and often bigger growth.
This is completely natural so you don’t need to worry about this at all. The only thing you should be doing here is monitor the number of leaves that your plant is losing. As long as only 1 or 2 leaves are falling off every few months then this shouldn’t be anything to worry about. If the rate of leaves dropping speeds up then go over the causes above to see if you can figure out what is causing it.
Those are the main reasons why Polka Dot Plants can begin losing their leaves. We recommend always erring on the side of caution when it comes to leaf loss. Assume that it is not natural ageing until proven otherwise as if there is a problem with the care or environment of your plant that is causing leaves to fall, it can also soon cause your plant to die.
Check out our Polka Dot Plant care guide for everything you need to know to help your plant thrive (and not lose any more leaves!)
Written by Billy Dawson