If your prized Arrowhead plant (Syngonium podophyllum) doesn’t look quite right, with drooping leaves and an unhealthy appearance, this article can help. I’ll help you figure out why your arrowhead plant is hanging, and what you can do to get your plant thriving again.
The most common causes of your arrowhead plant drooping are overwatering and underwatering. Other possible causes are low humidity, insufficient lighting, fertilizer problems or temperature stress. Correctly identifying the problem is critical to correcting your plant.
In general, an arrowhead plant (Syngonium podophyllum) is easy to care for, but if you notice that the leaves on your arrowhead plant are drooping, there is almost certainly a problem with it. Take the time to examine your plant and you should be able to pinpoint what the problem is. This piece will go over the potential causes of the Arrowhead leaves drooping and give you some helpful solutions to find the problem and correct it.
Is your arrowhead plant drooping due to underwatering?
If the leaves are drooping, the first thing to do is check the soil’s moisture level and make sure you’re not underwatering your plant. It’s all too easy to forget to water your houseplants from time to time, and often the result is drooping and wilting foliage.
Thankfully, this is one of the easiest causes to identify, and your plant should recover once normal watering is resumed. Look for the following signs that your Arrowhead plant is becoming underwater;
- The first thing you should do is examine the soil to see how dry it is. Stick your finger into the soil, and if more than the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry, underwatering may be the cause of your arrowhead plant drooping.
- Lift the pot to see how light it feels – dry soil will feel much lighter than wet soil.
- Feel the soil through the bottom drainage holes to see if the soil feels dry all the way to the bottom.
- Look for other symptoms of waterlogging, including dry, brown, crispy leaf edges and tips.
- Keep in mind that your Arrowhead plant will need more water when it is actively growing or in warmer conditions. The soil is likely to dry out faster in the spring and summer than it will in the winter, making waterlogging more likely.
Without water, the roots will dry out and it will not transport moisture to its stems or leaves, resulting in wilting leaves and the entire Arrowhead plant drooping.
Most arrowhead plants will recover when normal watering is resumed. Check your plant every few days and water when the top inch of soil feels dry. All leaves that have turned brown and crispy will not recover, but a healthy plant will soon produce lots of new, healthy leaves. Wait until the plant grows vigorously again before pruning away damaged leaves.
Can you water too much?
Overwatering is an equally common reason for an arrowhead plant to droop, but can have much more serious consequences for your plant. If you overwater your plant, you risk drowning.
Overwatering doesn’t just mean watering too often. Any factor that causes the soil to become waterlogged or poorly aerated for an extended period of time will result in the same result – root rot and a very sick or dying arrowhead plant.
There are several symptoms that you can investigate to see if this is the cause of your Arrowhead’s drooping leaves:
- Wet soil. If the soil does not dry out and still feels wet 10 or more days after you water it, overwatering is the likely cause of your arrowhead plant wilting.
- Generalized leaf yellowing, often starting with the lower leaves first, is a common cause.
- If there is a bad smell coming from your Arrowhead plant and the soil is moist, the water has likely rotted your leaves. Smell the base of the plant to see if this is the case. You need to deal with your plant quickly to prevent it from dying.
- Check your pot and make sure it drains properly; you should always pot your Arrowhead plant in something with drainage holes.
How to properly water your arrowhead plant to prevent it from drooping
- Make sure your plant is planted in a pot with drainage holes and that the potting soil is well-draining. Read my guide to potting soil for more information.
- Avoid watering on a schedule, but monitor soil dryness over time to determine when to water.
- Water your plant well from the top. It is generally better to avoid wetting the leaves if possible.
- Wet the soil completely. If water collects on the surface, stand for one minute to allow the water to sink in.
- Continue watering until the water flows freely from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
- Allow any excess water to drain from the pot before returning your plant to its normal location.
- If you water your plants while they are on a drip tray or in an outdoor decorative pot, don’t forget to drain the excess water after a few minutes. Arrowhead plants hate sitting in damp soil or having a puddle of water at the bottom of the pot. This can lead to root rot.
- If the soil dries out within just a few days, this may be a sign that your plant needs a bigger pot. If the soil is usually still very wet after 10 days, it is at risk of root rot.
- The size of the pot, type of soil, pot drainage, plant water needs and environmental conditions can all have a big impact on how you water your Arrowhead plant. Read my guide to watering houseplants to learn more.
Other reasons why your arrowhead plant is hanging
Arrowhead plants (Syngonium podophyllum) come from warm and humid South and Central America so they are classified as tropical houseplants. Your Arrowhead plant is happiest in a moist environment. Low humidity can cause your Arrowhead plant to droop, especially if accompanied by reduced watering.
If the humidity in your home is <30% and all other aspects of care seem ok, you should increase the humidity of your plant. I use this digital hygrometer/thermometer to monitor the humidity and temperature around my houseplants. It’s a really handy and cheap gadget to help keep your houseplants thriving.
You can improve the humidity in several ways.
- Group your plants together – The increased transpiration will increase the local humidity for all your plants.
- Place your Arrowhead Plant on a moisture tray. As the water evaporates, the humidity in the immediate vicinity of the plant increases. Make sure the bottom of the pot is not in water.
- Use a humidifier to quickly and easily significantly increase air humidity. Imma is generally ineffective.
- Avoid misting your Arrowhead plant, as this is not very effective at increasing humidity and can increase the risk of disease development.
As a top tip, avoid placing your Arrowhead houseplant in a very dry room; keep it away from central heating or vents.
Remember to keep your Arrowhead plant at the desired temperature of 60°F to 85°F (15°C to 29°C). If your room drops below 10ºC (50ºF), it can result in your Arrowhead plant drooping due to temperature stress.
Drafty windows can sometimes cause problems in the winter, even if the rest of your house feels warm. If I suspect a temperature problem, I place my digital thermometer next to the plant for a few days. This records the minimum and maximum temperatures, so I get a good idea if there is a problem.
Fertilizer problems causing drooping
You’re more likely to run into problems with overfertilization than underfertilization, so be sure not to overdo it. Too much fertilizer can damage the roots, prevent them from working properly and result in your arrowhead plant drooping.
Look for white crust on the soil surface as a sign of manure accumulation. Consider how often you’ve fertilized your Arrowhead plant, what you’ve used, and how strong it is.
To fix an over-fertilized arrowhead plant, flush the soil with water. Take your plant to the sink and run water through the soil for 5 minutes or more. This will help flush excess fertilizer salts out of the soil. I usually do this for all my houseplants a few times a year as a precaution.
In the spring and summer, your Arrowhead plant will benefit from monthly fertilizer. Even if your arrowhead doesn’t require a lot of feeding, this will help it grow healthily and keep its leaves perky.
An all-purpose, balanced houseplant fertilizer applied monthly during the growing season will work well. I normally dilute all fertilizers to half the recommended concentration to reduce the risk of over fertilization. There are lots of options when it comes to fertilizing your houseplants, and I go into all of this more here.
Sometimes, if an arrowhead plant has not been replanted or fertilized for several years, it can droop due to under-fertilization. Look for small, light-colored, yellowing leaves, sparse, bony growth. Typically, an under-fertilized arrowhead plant will respond brilliantly to an application of fertilizer, reviving and producing new growth within weeks.
Is your arrowhead plant drooping due to poor lighting?
Arrowhead plants are not overly sensitive to light and can tolerate areas with moderately low light. However, your Arrowhead plant will grow much stronger and produce healthier growth in an area where it receives lots of bright, indirect light.
An arrowhead plant left in a dark corner or room with minimal light will begin to look dull, with sparse growth. Initially, the leaves turn a darker green as they try to absorb as much of the available light as possible. Later the leaves will start to turn yellow and the whole plant may droop and look very sad.
The solution is to move your Arrowhead to a well-lit area. Bright light, without much if any direct sunlight is the best option. Read my article to learn exactly what I mean when I say bright, indirect lightand how to position your houseplants just right.
Is your arrowhead plant still drooping? Consider whether it needs repotting
Sometimes overcrowding in a pot can result in an unfortunate, droopy arrowhead plant, but don’t be tempted to replant your arrowhead unless necessary as they generally grow slowly. You should only need to replant your Arrowhead houseplant every few years.
You’ll know when it outgrows its pot because it will look oversized, have roots growing out of the pot’s drainage holes, and need to be watered very often. Read my guide to transplanting rooted plants for a step-by-step guide on how to properly repot your Arrowhead plant.
If your arrowhead plant is drooping, first check for a watering problem. You should water your Arrowhead plant when the top inch (2.5 cm) dries out. Underwatering will make your Arrowhead plant struggle, but overwatering can be fatal.
If watering problems aren’t the cause of your Arrowhead plant drooping, carefully examine your plant for signs of other management problems. Fixing your plant will be easy if you take the time to correctly identify the problem.
If you want to become a houseplant expert and learn the skills you need to keep your houseplants thriving and trouble free, check out my book, Potted plants in a simple way.