A widespread issue that gardeners complain of is indoor plants dripping water. However, it’s not something worth complaining about unless it is extreme.
So, in this article, we will dive deeper into the process and understand why is your indoor plant dripping water.
Dripping water in houseplants, also known as guttation, is the plant’s natural way to get rid of the excess water and nutrients through the leaves. Another process is transpiration. In this method, plant leaves feel wet and sweaty, releases water, and clean and purify the air around them.
If you wish you know why your indoor plant is dripping water, stick to this article till the end. We have also covered information regarding preventing the dripping of water from the houseplants.
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Why do indoor plants drip water?
Dripping water is the plant’s way to remain clean and healthy. The indoor plants are seen dripping water, especially in the morning. It is a natural process called guttation.
In guttation, the root system pressures and pushes out xylem fluid from the leaf pores, namely hydathodes. Guttation is not a problem in your plant. It keeps the plant hardy.
Guttation helps release all the excess water and fluid from the plants, keeping the plants strong.
Guttation is a typical process found in many herbaceous plants and succulents like Echeveria, Jade plant, Senecio, Kalanchoe.
Other houseplants include Monstera, Dieffenbachia, Ficus, Philodendron, Peace Lily, ZZ plant, and some members of Dracaena. All of these drip water.
Orchids also face guttation. But there’s a difference. Orchids have their hydathodes on the leaf surface, so the leaves release water on the leaf surface, not on the tips and edges.
Another process where plants release water is transpiration. But in this process, the plants don’t drip water. The leaves feel wet and sweaty.
Here, the water is released through the stomata as water vapors to clean the air we breathe. Unlike guttation, the water released in transpiration is entirely pure.
Composition of guttation fluid
The fluid or the water released from plants through guttation consists of organic and inorganic components.
The fluid composition also relies upon the fertility of the soil and the plant. If the soil has high nitrogen content, the guttation fluid dripping from the leaves can burn the leaves.
There are a lot of components present in the guttation fluid, other than just water or Nitrogen:
- Minerals like potassium, iron, salt, manganese, calcium, etc.
- Sugar components like glucose, amino acids, and galactose nutrients.
- Bacteria, fungus, and viruses, both dormant and active ones, of course, depend on your plant type.
- The plant itself uses proteins and compounds for defense.
- The plant itself expels toxins and contaminants.
Mainly the fluid contents depend upon the type of plant, its growing stage, and conditions, soil, seasons, climate, temperature, etc.
Guttation vs. Dew
When we find plants dripping water every morning, it is confusing to understand whether it is guttation or dew. They might look the same, but there is a difference between the two.
In guttation, it is the plant that releases the excess water. But in dew, the water comes from the atmosphere condensing on the plant’s surface.
Identifying is not much difficult. In dew, water is mainly found on the leaf surface. But in guttation, only the leaf tips and edges have water droplets.
However, dew will rarely occur in the houseplants because they remain indoors. But if you keep the plant near an open window or balcony, then there are some chances of seeing dewdrops in the houseplants.
When do the indoor plants drip water?
The plants don’t drip water constantly. There are some specific situations for dripping water. Mostly, it is guttation due to which the plants are dripping water. It almost looks like the plant is crying.
In transpiration, water doesn’t drip. Instead, the leaves are sweaty all over the surface.
Not let’s see when dripping happens.
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Early morning or during the night
In the daytime, the plants transpire and evaporate to release the water. This is not visible as it happens at the molecular level. This process stops during the night or early morning because the stomata close their pores.
The plant starts the process of guttation to release the excess water and minerals through the hydathodes in leaves. It is when the water drips from the leaf margins.
To release the water, the plants push the water upwards with the help of the root system. For this, the roots use some chemicals to attract water from the soil.
This whole thing creates pressure in the plants, and the plants manage to push up the sap and minerals. This, in turn, causes the plant to release the water from the tips and edges.
During the days of high moisture and humidity
When the relative humidity is higher than 80-90%, it becomes impossible for the plants to transpire. The movement of saps through general processes becomes difficult for the plants.
That is why they release water through guttation. You will find your indoor plants dripping water from the leaves.
Along with high humidity, high moisture will also cause the plants to drip water. Transpiration and evaporation seem difficult in high moisture levels around the plant. So the indoor plants will use the method of guttation, which results in leaves dripping water.
Guttation also helps the plants to continue breathing in conditions of high humidity and high moisture days.
Also read: How Often Should Indoor Plants Be Misted? (Ideal Humidity+How To Maintain)
Excess moisture in the soil
Excess moisture in the soil will also cause the houseplant leaves to drip water. However, some plants like remaining in moist or damp soil, which does not mean they will enjoy overwatering.
When your indoor plants are dripping too much water, it is time for you to reconsider and change your watering routine.
Overwatering can occur due to many factors – frequent watering, poor drainage, type of plant, etc.
The best way to stop this is by constantly keeping the soil moisture in check. Allow the top 1-2 inch soil to dry out well before opting for the next watering.
Though the plant will release the excess water through transpiration or guttation, you will still have to keep the watering in check to prevent excess water droplets.
Stop watering for some days until dripping water in your plant decreases.
- How Often Should You Water Indoor Plants? (Indoor Plants Watering Guide)
- Why Is My Indoor Plant Soil Not Drying? (+8 Effective Ways To Dry The Soil)
Young plants drip more water
The young plants and the newly grown seedlings tend to drip more water than the adult and mature ones. This is also normal. So, you must not worry about it.
Is it wrong for indoor plants to drip water?
Dripping water from the indoor plants is a natural aspect where the plants release the excess water either by vapor or water droplets. This keeps them healthy. So speaking in general, dripping water due to guttation or transpiration is not bad for indoor plants.
However, some gardeners think that dripping too much water indicates terrible health in the houseplants. Let’s see why they say that.
Indicates stress in the plant
Some growers think that dripping water signifies that the plant is under some unfavorable growing conditions and stress.
The reason for such kind of stress can be overwatering. Constant dripping is a sign that you have overwatered your plant, and they are constantly expelling this excess water through guttation.
Signs of overfertilization
Excessive dripping of water can be severe when you overfertilize your plant or use complex fertilizers.
When your plant gets a lot of minerals and nutrients, it will build up a white substance when the water in xylem sap evaporates.
As a result, your houseplant leaves will have some brown spots and patches. This can even burn the leaves.
For this reason, you should use less fertilizer. Using less quantity is much better than using high quantity and causing some severe damage.
Can promote fungus infestation
Dripping water can promote fungal infections because while transpiring or guttating, the pores on the leaves and stems remain open. This opening can serve as reproducing and staying area for the fungus.
Closing pores lie on the plant’s hand. But you can try stopping the fungal infections from reaching your plant. Make sure that the plant is getting good ventilation.
A good amount of airflow will stop the fungal infections from attacking the plants, especially during hot, humid conditions.
Also read: Why Do Indoor Plants Get Moldy? (8 Effective Ways To Get Rid)
Can leave white spots
When your plant drips too much water, they leave white spots on the surface of the leaves. These white spots are the minerals from the water.
The spots remain on leaves when the water dries up. It indicates that you are using bad quality water for your plants.
Most probably, this happens when you use tap water. It contains a lot of hard minerals like chlorine, fluorine, bicarbonates, and other minerals.
These minerals accumulate and start damaging the leaf cells, forming brown patches, looking like leaf burns.
But the dripping water is not harmful to pets and furniture
When the plants are dripping water, the water might fall over your floor or furniture. It won’t harm your furniture as it won’t leave any stains.
The water is not even harmful when it drops on the floor, and the pets are mistakenly ingesting them. The dripping water doesn’t contain anything toxic.
How to prevent dripping water?
Even though dripping water is good and healthy for indoor plants, it is crucial to stop it due to some risks of excess water.
I have compiled a list of ways by which you can prevent dripping of water from the plants to some extent:
Avoid watering during the evening or night.
Transpiration stops occurring during the nighttime. It is guttation due to which the houseplant leaves drip water.
When you water your plant in the morning, it gets sunlight the whole day to dry a little, not entirely, though.
But during the night, there is no such thing. The soil remains moist, and the roots keep absorbing water from it from the morning watering.
If you water during the evening or night, the plant won’t absorb that water. It will not dry out too. This will cause overwatering.
If you overwater your plant, the plant will release more water, giving rise to some risks. So the rule is not to water the plants during the evening or night.
Water your plant in the morning, between 7 am to 10 am.
Don’t use tap water
Tap water contains hard minerals like chlorine, fluorine, and chloramines. These minerals can increase the potential of guttation.
Besides, when these minerals get discharged along with water, it creates a white spot.
You can use rainwater or distilled water. They are pure and completely free from all types of minerals.
If you want to use tap water, let the water sit overnight at room temperature for 24 hours. This will allow the minerals to get evaporated in the air.
After this, the water will be harmless and beneficial for the plants.
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Never overfertilize your plant. If you are confused, use fewer amounts. You can use slow-release fertilizers. They are the best because they are very effective, safe, and long-lasting.
You don’t have to fertilize regularly. Most houseplants go to a dormant stage during winters. You might skip fertilizing them during that time.
Overfertilization will make the plant drip excess water too much due to excessive nutrients in them.
It will further create white spots when xylem sap evaporates. This will damage the leaf cells and burn them.
So, it is better to use less than using more and destroying the plant. You can also use less concentrated fertilizers. That, too, can save your plant from over-fertilization.
Also read: How Often Do You Fertilize Indoor Plants? (When+What To Use)
Wipe the guttation spots
When the plants drip water due to guttation, you will need to wipe them off. As the water released from the plants contains minerals and nutrients from bad water and fertilizers, respectively, wiping them will prevent further browning and burning.
In transpiration, the leaves only sweat and don’t drip much, whereas, in guttation, the leaves create water droplets and drips off from the leaf edges and tips. That is why guttation is given more stress when it comes to houseplant leaves “dripping water.”
Dews also leads to water droplets in the leaves, but it is not much happening to the houseplants unless it is kept near an open window or open balcony.
So, summarising, the dripping of water from the indoor plants is not at all harmful unless the dripping is extreme. It is the plant’s natural way to keep them healthy by expelling out the excess water, minerals, and nutrients which is necessary.
When excessive dripping happens, follow the preventive measures to stop your plant from dripping and keep them happening and healthy.
Source: University of Illinois, Growing Indoor Plants with Success, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, University of California, Missouri Botanical Garden.
How do you suggest removing the stains which result from philodendron drip tips. If I don’t wipe up it results in a reddish brown stain on furniture. I get this stain on my clothes from outdoor plants also. Thanks you.
To remove stains caused by philodendron drip tips on your furniture, try blotting the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel as soon as possible. If that doesn’t work, mix equal parts white vinegar and water and gently dab the stain with the solution. If the stain is stubborn, you can use a commercial stain remover designed for upholstery. Just be sure to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first.