How to Fix Droopy Caladiums (Causes and Actionable Solutions)

There are few things more breathtaking than a prolific Caladium with a full set of leaves – especially if you are lucky enough to have one of those pink variegated leaves varieties. So, when a Caladium looks unhappy it is hard not to notice. There are many causes that can result in Caladium leaves drooping, like:

  • incorrect watering leading to water stress,
  • inappropriate living conditions like lack of light or humidity levels, or even
  • poor soil conditions like fertilization or the roots are bound.
Caladium Leaves Drooping

With so many potential causes of your droopy leaves, how can you pinpoint the actual direct problem without spending weeks repeating a process of trial and error?

At the Garden Bench Top, we like to take a unique approach to troubleshooting indoor plant problems. We like to channel our inner Sherlock Holmes!

How to Solve the Case of the Mysterious Caladium Leaves Drooping

Other websites generally take the conventional (and to be honest, boring) approach of listing ‘probable’ causes of your sad looking Caladium, often leaving you guessing and none-the-wiser at the end of the exercise. Not today!

credit: giphy

We are going to take a unique angle at solving this mystery.

Like a true detective, we’ll take a bottom-up approach to solving this case. Instead of starting from the causes:

  1. we will begin by looking at the symptoms, and gathering clues to help us solve the riddle of your drooping leaves.
  2. From there we can then deduce the most probable cause,
  3. thereby arriving at our conclusion (a happy thriving plant) quickly and efficiently.

So, without a moment’s delay, let’s begin the case.

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Caladium Symptoms (and Clues)

Caladium Drooping Leaves Symptoms

First Clue Identified – Droopy Leaves

Believe it or not, you may be a natural detective. Just by being here researching what Caladium leaves drooping can mean, shows that you have already embraced your inner Dr Holmes.

There is one instance that will cause a Caladium to droop without exhibiting any other symptoms. Caladium drooping after repotting is a common occurrence and is primarily due to your Caladium suffering from transplant shock. It can be scary for newer houseplant owners who have never experienced it before.

Give your Caladium time to recover from the shock. Provide it with a good watering, place it in a position that receives plenty of indirect light, and it’ll be back to its old self in no time.

Generally speaking, however, drooping leaves alone are not enough to diagnose the main problem. We need more clues and evidence in order to narrow down our list of likely culprits for your droopy leaves.

So let’s continue.

Symptom – Caladium Leaves Curling and Brown

Caladium Leaves Browning
credit: reddit

If you notice your Caladium leaves are droopy, curling with browning edges, your Caladium may be dehydrated.

This is usually the result of neglect, in other words you have forgotten to water your Caladium. It is nothing to be ashamed about, we have all been there and life gets in the way.

However, dehydration can also result from other factors. Your Caladium may be dehydrated because it is root bound, or the soil is too dense and compact. It can also be due to the water evaporating too quickly due to heat.

To remedy your dehydrated Caladium, we recommend employing a technique that helps us to monitor the moisture levels in the soil. We use a technique called the moisture test. It is a simple, yet reliable test where you stick your finger into the top layer of soil to determine if there is moisture or not. To read more about the soil moisture finger test, check out the instructions HERE.

Repotting your Caladium will help to resolve the other dehydration issues. If you find your Caladium is root bound, upgrade the pot to a planter with proper drainage that is 1-2 inches wider than the previous one.

Ensuring you are using a fresh potting mixture that is suitable for Caladiums will help to keep the soil loose and aerated.If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you may like to try making your own DIY potting mix. We use a specific recipe for indoor plants that has the perfect water retention and drainage properties.

Symptoms – Caladium Leaves Drooping, Soft and Turning Yellow

Leaves that are beginning to turn yellow and droopy tend to suggest your Caladium is overwatered. A simple test you can perform is to see if the soil is wet and soggy.

Using the finger soil moisture test described above, check the moisture levels of the top layer of soil. If it feels too wet (and looks too wet) your Caladium may be at risk of developing root rot. Believe us when we say, this is something you want to avoid at all costs.

soil moisture test for Caladiums

Not only that, moist soil also prevents your Caladium’s roots from receiving the necessary oxygen that it requires, as well as attracting unwanted pests like fungus gnats.

Similar to the solution for under watering your plants, we like to use the moisture test to help guide us when to water our houseplants. Alternatively, for those of you who don’t like to get your fingers dirty, you can purchase soil moisture meters online at Amazon or at your local nursery.

Symptom – Caladium Leaves Droopy, Brown, Shrivelling and Crispy

Plants communicate via their leaves.

A happy Caladium will display vibrant, bright leaves that will take your breath away. Whereas if something is not quite right, they will use their leaves to tell us that something needs correcting.

If you notice your Caladium leaves browning at the tips, it could be a sign of leaf scorch (or leaf burn). Your Caladium leaves may also begin to shrivel or curl, rather than extending out in their usual manner. All of these symptoms indicate that low humidity is causing issues for your beloved plant.

Caladiums require environments that have medium levels of humidity (50% or above) in order to survive.

If you suspect your Caladium is suffering from low humidity levels, there are a few options available to you.

You can purchase a humidifier and run it during the night when the humidity levels tend to drop. What’s handy is if you decide to use a soil moisture meter, they usually have an in-built hygrometer which also measures humidity levels.

If you are not a fan of large, noisy humidifiers, we have some other suggestions. Our favorite solution is placing your Caladium on a humidity tray. This not only delivers an instant humidity boost. It also helps to catch any excess water that drains out of your planter.

You can also naturally boost your humidity by grouping your indoor plants. Did you know water evaporates from the leaves of your houseplants via a process called stomata? So, by keeping a lot of plants in proximity to one another, their collective evaporation creates a self-made humid environment, keeping you and your plants happy

Symptom – Caladium Leaves Appear Dull and Limp

Lifeless Caladium Plant
credit: reddit

When your Caladium plant’s leaves begin to look dull, droopy and the colors appear muted, your issue could potentially be a lack of light.

In their natural environments, Caladiums are tropical plants that are ground dwelling plants which grow on open forest floors or in open spaces on river banks. This means they love plenty of light.

Caladiums love bright indirect light. In fact, they will thrive in positions that receive 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight.

They can tolerate a bit of direct sunlight. However, it should only be dappled with sunlight in the early morning or late evening. Any prolonged period of exposure to midday or afternoon sunlight will risk your Caladium suffering from leaf burn or dehydration.

Symptom – Spots and Insects on Caladium Leaves

If you notice unusual brown or black spots on the leaves of your Caladium, warning bells should be going off in your head. Immediately check the underside of your droopy leaves. If you see any insects or bugs, your Caladium may be suffering from a pest or disease attack.

Common Caladium pests include aphids and caterpillars. Aphids will feed on the sap of your Caladium, weakening it to the point where it is vulnerable to disease.

Caterpillars will feed on your Caladium leaves, eating chunks out of your beautiful foliage. In fact, when left uninterrupted, caterpillars can be quite devastating to leaves, annihilating a whole leaf within a day.

Caladium Leaf Pests

Fast action is the best way to deal with a pest infestation.

Manual removal is the first step. Inspecting your plant on a regular basis will ensure you catch any pests quickly, and dispose of them efficiently before they can breed.

Secondly, consistently applying a weekly dose of an organic insecticide (like Neem oil) will help to keep any pests under control.

Caladium Leaves Drooping – Other Things to Consider

The last point we’ll factor into this case is the fact that even though Caladiums are tropical perennials, they do have dormant periods in the year.

Caladiums will enter their dormant periods as the autumn months wear on, and the daylight begins to wane each day towards winter. Cold spells will also trigger their dormant periods, so you can try to extend their growing seasons by bringing them indoors.

However, caladiums will naturally die back, and their leaves will become soft and droopy. They will also lose their color and eventually wilt down.

The best practice is to cut the yellowing leaves close to the base of the stem. Pulling them out may dislodge the bulbs.

The Case of the Mysterious Caladium Leaves Drooping (SOLVED)

By now your investigations and identification of the clues in this case, the answer should be elementary my dear Watson.

Through the careful deduction of symptoms displayed by your plant, the answer to the case of the drooping Caladium leaves should reveal itself.

Was it overwatering? Under watering? Pest or disease related? Or was your Caladium unhappy with the immediate environment, such as light and / or humidity?

Let us know how your case went and what solution you used to restore your Caladium to a vibrant happy houseplant.