Is your elephant ear plant drooping?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Elephant ear plants can droop for many reasons, but it is most often due to excessive watering or other factors like a lack of sunlight or nutrients in the soil.
This article will explain the 14 most common reasons for an elephant ear plant drooping, as well as some easy steps to follow if you aren’t sure what the problem is. Keep reading to learn more.
- 14 Causes Of Elephant Ear Plant Drooping
- Prevention & Easy Fixes
- Nutrition And Fertilization
- In Summary
14 Causes Of Elephant Ear Plant Drooping
This list of 14 reasons is a great starting point if you aren’t sure what is causing your elephant ear plant to droop.
Don’t worry if you can’t quite figure it out after reading through them, though; we’ll get into some steps to follow afterward to make it easier.
Overwatering is probably the most common reason for the drooping leaves in your elephant ear plant.
Overwatering essentially suffocates the roots; the first symptom you will notice is yellowing and drooping leaves.
Over time, overwatering can lead to root rot which is much more severe. This happens either due to roots dying by suffocation or from dormant fungi in the soil that is favored in overwatered conditions.
Underwatering can also cause the leaves to droop, but this time due to a lack of moisture.
Water is still crucial for elephant ear plant growth, and without enough moisture, the roots will be unable to transport water and nutrients to the leaves, causing them to turn brown and crispy and droop.
3. Temperature And Humidity Factors
Elephant ear plants thrive in warm temperatures and high humidity. If your plant is experiencing temperature fluctuations, low temperatures, or low humidity, it may cause the leaves to droop.
Aim for temperatures between 65-85°F (18-29°C) during the day and no lower than 60°F (15°C) at night, and a humidity level above 50%.
4. Lack Of Sunlight
Elephant ear plants like bright, indirect sunlight for optimal growth.
A lack of sunlight will slow overall growth and cause the leaves to droop, as it is needed for photosynthesis, providing food for the plant to grow.
5. Sun Scorch
Too much sunlight can also be an issue for elephant ear plants and cause the leaves to droop.
If the leaves are subject to direct, intense sunlight, it can cause excessive moisture loss in areas leading to brown spots with yellow halos.
These leaves will eventually die, but in the process, they will droop as well.
Sun scorch is much more common in dry environments or if there is lots of air circulation around the leaves as the moisture loss rate increases further.
6. Pest Infestations
Pests like spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs can harm your elephant ear plant and cause drooping leaves.
These pests feed on the sap found within the leaves and leave behind a honeydew residue that promotes the growth of sooty mold.
This leaf damage can cause the leaves to droop, and severe infestations can kill several leaves and the whole plant if they are not dealt with.
7. Disease And Fungal Issues
Diseases and fungal problems can also cause drooping leaves in your plant. Overwatering, for instance, can lead to root rot which will cause the leaves to turn yellow and droop.
Other issues like fungal leaf blight cause fuzz growth on the leaves, leading to drooping and, eventually, leaf loss.
As mentioned earlier, elephant ear plants like high humidity of at least 50% or more.
A lack of humidity will cause excessive moisture loss from the leaves. This typically starts at the tips, causing them to turn brown, and eventually causes leaves to turn crispy, droop, and die.
9. Lack Of Drainage Holes
Proper drainage is crucial to prevent both overwatering and underwatering issues.
The soil may become waterlogged if your pot lacks drainage holes, leading to drooping leaves in your elephant ear plant.
I’ve encountered this issue several times, and a great way to check is to lift up your plant and check the pot. If there are no holes, there’s a good chance the bottom of the soil is waterlogged and the roots there rotten.
10. Soil Doesn’t Drain Well
Apart from having drainage holes in the pot, it’s also essential to use well-draining soil for your elephant ear plant.
If the soil doesn’t drain sufficiently, overwatering is much more likely to occur. It will also hinder root growth and make drooping leaves much more common.
11. Lack Of Nutrients
Something that a lot of people overlook is fertilizing.
If your soil mix doesn’t contain many nutrients, either due to a lack of organic material like compost or simply because it hasn’t been changed in a long time, it can lead to low nutrient levels.
This can cause the leaves to droop and slow down overall growth significantly.
12. Excessive Fertilizing
Excessive fertilizing can actually cause more harm than good.
It can sometimes lead to excessive growth without a root system developed enough to supply moisture and nutrients.
In other cases, excess salt will remain in the soil, altering its pH and causing damage to the roots. Both will cause the leaves to droop and even die in severe cases.
Either way, there can be too much of a good thing, and this definitely applies to fertilizing.
I’ll share some tips for avoiding this later in the guide.
13. Root Bound
If your elephant ear plant is root bound, it can suffer from drooping leaves.
‘Root bound’ means that the roots have outgrown their pot and have formed a dense ball of roots with little soil and moisture, meaning the leaves start to droop and turn yellow as a result, and overall growth slows down.
If you notice roots growing out of the drainage holes or circling the pot, it’s time to repot your plant into a bigger container with fresh, well-draining soil.
It’s completely normal for elephant ear plants to lose leaves due to age, and after a long period, the plant will also die as well.
If you notice one or two leaves drooping that eventually fall off and die but the rest of the plant is healthy, then age is very likely to blame.
You can expect an elephant ear plant to live for 3 to 5 years indoors and over ten years outdoors.
Prevention & Easy Fixes
If you aren’t sure exactly what is causing your elephant ear to droop, working through the points below is a good idea.
This will give you a starting point to identify what is wrong with your plant if it isn’t apparent in the first place.
Issues like low humidity or poorly draining soil might be hard to notice at first, so don’t worry if you can’t figure it out immediately – it’s completely normal!
Proper Watering Schedule
Establishing a proper watering schedule is crucial to prevent your elephant ear plant from drooping or dropping leaves.
Ensure you provide your plant with enough water to keep the soil moist but not saturated.
The easiest way to do this is to water when the top inch of soil dries out. This makes it easy to know when to water even if the weather changes and your regular watering routine is thrown off schedule.
Soil And Drainage Improvements
Using the correct type of soil and providing adequate drainage holes will make overwatering much less likely to occur and boost the available nutrients to your plant, contributing to reducing leaf droop.
A good soil mix starts with a regular potting mix and then mixes in plenty of compost, peat, and chopped leaves. You can also improve drainage by adding perlite.
In terms of drainage holes, make sure there are several in the pot (if your elephant ear plant is potted) to allow excess water to drain.
Elephant ear plants can technically grow in water, and some species do prefer wetter conditions, but when they are potted moist soil is best to prevent rot.
Getting the light exposure right for your elephant ear plant will save you a lot of hassle further down the line and help to prevent the leaves from drooping.
Aim for bright, indirect sunlight and avoid extended periods of shade or intense direct sunlight.
Moving your elephant ear out of harsh sunlight, especially if the humidity is low outside, will help protect the leaves from scorch.
Temperature And Humidity Regulation
Warm, humid environments are ideal for elephant ear plants.
If you want to grow your elephant ear plant outside, make sure you are located in USDA zones 9 through 11.
Keep the temperature above 60°F (15°C) at night and ideally between 65-85°F (18-29°C) during the day for ideal growth.
Disease And Pest Management
Preventing and controlling diseases and pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs is vital for keeping your elephant ear plant healthy.
Keep moisture levels to a minimum on the leaves themselves, as this can promote fungal growth and attract pests.
It’s also important to keep the soil moist but not overwatered to prevent root rot and, again to keep pests away.
Nutrition And Fertilization
Elephant ear plants require proper nutrition and fertilization to maintain their health.
It’s a good idea to start fertilizing your elephant ear, especially during the growing season, to make sure it has all the nutrients it needs to survive.
I’ve noticed a huge impact from fertilizing, and it’s something that I have neglected for many years, so don’t make the same mistake as me.
Signs Of Nutrient Deficiency
You only have to research the ingredients found in complete fertilizers (those that contain NPK) to see how beneficial each of the main nutrients is:
- Nitrogen – Nitrogen is important for chlorophyll production and leaf development. A lack of nitrogen commonly affects the leaves and causes them to turn yellow and droop.
- Phosphorus – Phosphorus is important for many fundamental processes and plays a key role in root development.
- Potassium – Potassium is important for overall plant health and is beneficial for disease resistance and the process of transpiration.
Understand why fertilizing is so important now?
The best type of fertilizer for elephant ear plants is a complete fertilizer; in other words, one that contains equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Liquid versions are the easiest to work with, and they can be applied diluted once per month during the growing season to boost the overall health of your elephant ear plant and prevent drooping leaves.
Testing Your Soil
Complete fertilizers are the best option in the majority of cases, but if your soil is already nutrient rich due to containing lots of organic material like compost, you may end up overfertilizing, which can lead to its own set of problems.
Getting a professional soil test is the most accurate method, and while home testing kits can be useful, they are not as accurate. You can find more details about soil testing and getting your soil professionally tested here.
So that’s it!
Hopefully, you’ve been able to identify what is wrong with your elephant ear plant using this guide and started on the path to recovery. Remember that it’s completely normal for the leaves to droop from time to time, and it very rarely means that your plant has a risk of dying.
Keep your soil packed full of nutrients and well-draining, and take care not to overwater, and you’re well over half of the way there.
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