Landscape Myths: Wilting Leaves Always Indicate the Need for Water

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    A beautiful yard is always a sight to see. Lush grass, plants, trees, and shrubs are enticing as they add excellent curb appeal. Plus, a well-kept outdoor living space makes homeowners feel great about their home. It also encourages you to enjoy your additional living area outside.

    One of the most abhorred things in a garden is wilting plants and leaves. They subtract from the beauty of your yard and take away from the appeal of your home. Many assume that wilting leaves always indicate the need for water. This is one of the common garden myths that often detract from the real issue, as some individuals solely consider this the problem.

    Although dehydration can be the reason for wilting leaves, other causes can arise. Let’s debunk this garden myth and review some of the common issues below.

    Your Plant Needs Water

    There is no doubt that plants need water. Without this vital source, plants are unable to move nutrients from the soil to their leaves and other critical areas that require it. Hence, when underwatered, plants will collapse due to dehydration and a low supply of water.

    Water strengthens plants and keeps them erect. An absence of water hinders the roots from absorbing water correctly. It also impacts the correct movement and density of water in the plant. Therefore, adequate water pressure is needed for strength and to minimize wilting.

    Poor Soil Conditions & Wilting Leaves

    Although water is necessary for your plants, too much water can create a deplorable environment. Heavy soil or dirt that is overly saturated with water causes roots not to function well. Oxygen is not able to make its way through the dense soil, and thus water cannot be absorbed. Without water, leaves begin to wilt.

    Extreme cold or hot temperatures can also influence the health of the soil. Icy weather conditions immobilize the water in the soil as it freezes. In more humid conditions, heat and winds pull water out of the dirt, making it difficult for plants to flourish.

    Too much fertilizer in your soil can also be detrimental. Similar to the adverse effects of excessive water, extreme fertilizer also has its flaws. It causes an imbalance of salt content, which is harmful to the soil and health of the plant.

    Diseases & Pests


    Plant infections can impactful, and it can cause a variety of terrible outcomes. However, one of the most common wilt diseases is Fusarium Wilt. Deadly fungi invade the root of the plant, affecting how water moves through it. As this fungi spreads and attacks the stems and leaves, the water supply is restricted, resulting in wilted leaves and an alteration in color.

    Another common fungus is Verticillium, which adopts comparable characteristics. It also attacks elements of the plant that are responsible for the transport of water. Once these tissues are infected, one side of the plant begins to wilt and turn yellow. Plant cells become plugged, inhibiting the flow of water.


    Small insect pests can also be the cause of wilting. Despite their size, these miniature creatures can create havoc on your plants. Aphids, spider mites, and thrips are just some of the insects that cause damage and spread viruses in plants.

    These bugs deprive plants of their nutrients by sucking sap and fluids from the leaves. Their actions cause plants to deteriorate, collapse, and become discolored. Once they have made a meal out of your plants, they begin to populate. Therefore, acting quickly is key to removing them.

    Further Issues That Cause Wilting Leaves

    Other problems that can affect your landscaping are root-bound plants. If you have potted plants as a part of your landscape and you notice that they are wilting, it may be because they have outgrown the pot. Limited space can hinder growing roots causing them to droop due to a shortage of nutrients. A larger flower pot may be required to improve the plants living conditions.

    High Prairie Outdoors Can Help with Your Landscaping Needs

    Caring for your landscape on your own can be challenging. If you have a large yard, upkeeping outdoor living spaces can be quite the task. Also, not knowing how to care for your plants correctly can be difficult.

    Hence, seeing your plants wilt can lead you to assume that it lacks water. However, as mentioned, there can be other reasons that are more detrimental than just replenishing it with some H2O.

    Need help caring for your complex landscape? Click “Get Started” now.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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