Wilting Leaf Tips for Indoor Plants

Though many houseplant species are relatively low-maintenance, you may occasionally notice the wilting of leaves in your container garden. Such wilting signals that something isn't right in your indoor landscape. A variety of poor cultural practices or houseplant diseases and pests may cause wilting. Employ various management tips and strategies to resolve the causes of wilting and keep your houseplants looking lush and healthy.

Drought Stress

Insufficient water leaves plants wilted and prone to pests and diseases. Specific watering needs vary widely according to the species involved (e.g. aloe vera needs far less water than lush lily plants). The size of the pot also affects watering needs, with smaller pots needing more frequent watering. A general guideline is to provide enough water to penetrate the bottom of the plant's root network.


Due to the contained nature of a houseplant's pot, the plants need regular fertilization to support vigorous foliage growth. Poor fertilizing can leave the plant's foliage wilted or faded in color, and may also lower blossom production in flowering houseplants. North Dakota State University recommends using any one of the many fertilizers pre-formulated for use on houseplants. Apply the fertilizer according to its labeled rate, as potency varies by product.


Indoor air often lacks proper humidity. This dries and wilts the leaves of plants such as orchids that need humid air. Position houseplants away from the vents of heaters or air conditioners, and regularly mist them with water to keep the foliage fresh and perky.


Every houseplant species has different sunlight needs. Whatever the species, too much sunlight burns the leaves and wilts them, and too little leaves them pale and weak. If you're unsure of your houseplant's sunlight needs, consult the nursery or garden store from which you purchased the plants. Plants that need the most sun do well in south-facing windows.

Root and Stem Rot

Various fungi cause root rot and stem rot, a disease that leaves both foliage and stems visibly wilted and decayed. Overwatering is the chief cause behind this disease, according to Clemson University. Allow soil to dry out between watering to discourage the growth of fungi. Treat severe cases of the disease with a fungicide labeled for use on houseplants, such as a fixed copper spray.


Dozens of insect pests can cause wilting, including springtails, spidermites and aphids, according to North Dakota State University. The university suggests treating mild cases of insect infestations with a homemade soapy solution. Combine 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap with a gallon of water and spray it on all affected indoor plants. Severe infestations can be treated with a chemical-based houseplant pesticide obtained from all garden stores and nurseries.

Keywords: indoor plant wilt, wilting houseplant care, houseplant wilting problems

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.