Oxalis plants are a stunning addition to any home due to their vibrant leaves, which mimic that of shamrocks. These plants are a great way to add a pop of color to your home, but they can also easily wilt if you aren’t careful. But what causes this?
Your oxalis is drooping due to inadequate sunlight exposure, improper temperature changes, under/overwatering, or the plant being dormant. Oxalis, or the false shamrock plant, has a dormancy period generally during the summer, where it’ll droop only to return a few months later.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss likely reasons why your oxalis is drooping and ways to combat these issues. Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) is a great beginner plant and relatively easy to care for so long as its needs are met, so it’s essential to learn more about why it droops and how to help prevent this. Let’s get started!
1. Your Oxalis Has Inadequate Sunlight
Oxalis plants require bright indirect sunlight to thrive and often do well in windows with direct light so long as they aren’t overheated. However, if the plant lives outdoors, direct light will be deadly, so the plant would do better in the shade.
Other signs of light deficiency include:
- Stunted growth
- Leggy growth
If you notice any of these signs, a placement adjustment for your oxalis is in order. Along with too little light, too much light can also cause your plant to droop, and it often brings too much heat resulting in a sad plant and burned leaves. So do your best to distinguish between too much and too little light.
How to Fix
Luckily, if your oxalis is drooping due to a lighting issue, there are several ways to manage the problem. Furthermore, this issue is simple to fix as long as you’ve distinguished which lighting issue is at play.
If an oxalis gets too much light, move the plant back into indirect sunlight. Indirect light is somewhere that’s well-illuminated without being in the path of a direct ray of sunlight. You still want to place the plant in a brightly lit room away from harsh sunlight. Places near curtained windows are ideal.
In contrast, if an oxalis is getting too little light, it’s best to move it near a window or even place it in front of an eastern window. You want to avoid western or southern windows that receive intense or constant sunlight throughout the day since that can lead to burnt leaves.
Additionally, the climate you live in will affect where you place your plants, as desert climates tend to be too warm near a window.
Learn more about how to give indoor plants enough light to grow in my other article here: How to Give Indoor Plants Enough Light to Grow
2. Sudden Light Changes Caused Stress
Another problem that can occur, which is also related to lighting, is sudden changes in light amounts. These changes can occur naturally as the days shorten during the winter months, but also because of outside factors, such as trees or new construction blocking light. A long storm front moving in can also be a sudden lighting change for your oxalis.
When the amount of light your plant gets daily suddenly and drastically changes, it can cause drooping. Plants rely on a steady supply of sunlight to create food, so they become stressed when that light becomes inconsistent.
Moving a plant from one location to another with varying amounts of light can also cause issues.
How to Fix
You can prevent and fix sudden light changes in a few ways.
The first and most crucial step is to maintain your plant’s health in the first place. Regularly moving your plant around the home can create inconsistent lighting and strain your oxalis.
If your plant’s regular perch has suddenly become blocked or is receiving less sunlight, you should consider moving it to a location with more light. If the lack of light is due to poor weather, you should set up a grow light with a similar intensity to the natural light your plant is used to.
3. The Temperature Is Outside the Optimum Range
Temperature is another culprit you need to assess if you find your oxalis drooping. These plants prefer temperatures ranging between 60 and 70 °F (15.6-21 °C) during the day and will tolerate 45-55 °F (7-13 °C) at night.
If your plant is regularly experiencing temperatures above or below these marks, it’ll likely begin to droop.
How to Fix
Improper temperature issues are fixable by monitoring your home’s heating and cooling settings. For example, a plant near an air vent will have more difficulty regulating its temperature. So it’s best to move your plants away from vents to prevent chilled or overheated oxalis.
Feeling the plant’s leaves is often a good indicator of its temperature. Keep your plant away from areas where temperatures fluctuate a lot throughout the day, such as near doorways or open windows.
4. You’re Under or Overwatering Your Plant
Because of these plants’ leaves, seeing the soil can be tricky unless you feel it to check the moisture content. Typically, you’ll only have to water your plant every 1-2 weeks, provided the soil is allowed to dry out between waterings.
If overwatering occurs, adverse side effects, such as root rot, are highly likely. If your oxalis roots are attacked, the plant will droop, and other warning signs will appear, such as discoloration. Root rot inhibits oxalis’s ability to absorb nutrients and will kill your plant if it’s not remedied.
When the plant is under-watered, the cells begin to dry out, and food production for the plant slows down, leading to drooping.
How to Fix
Overwatering can be fixed by:
Creating a Watering Schedule
A watering schedule will keep you from watering your plant unnecessarily, and when paired with well-draining soil, you will be less likely to have water sit on your plant’s roots. However, you will need to adjust the schedule accordingly, depending on changes in humidity or temperature.
Checking Your Oxalis’s Soil Before Watering
You should check the plant’s soil for moisture by pressing a finger into the soil and checking for dampness. From there, you can determine whether your plant needs watering.
Oxalis plants are drought-tolerant and will tolerate dryer soil than wet soil. A good indicator that your plant needs water is when the upper half of the potting soil is dry. In larger pots, you can wait until the top 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) are dry enough before watering again.
Switching up Your Watering Methods
One of the best ways to water your oxalis is through the bottom watering method. This method ensures that the soil doesn’t take in more water than it can handle, and it’s pretty easy to do.
Just make sure not to leave your pot soaking in water for too long as it can cause root rot. It usually takes 10-30 minutes, depending on your pot’s size and soil composition. Check the soil using your fingers every few minutes after the 10-minute mark.
If you want to learn more about bottom watering, watch this video by Everything Plants on the process. They do a great job of walking you through how to bottom water and some more reasons why it’s so beneficial:
5. The Plant Has Entered a Dormancy Period
Many oxalis owners are shocked by their plant’s sudden droopy appearance and fear it’s dying. But in actuality, the plant may just be dormant. A significant symptom of plant dormancy is droopy leaves.
Oxalis generally go dormant during summer—especially when temperatures remain above 75 °F (24 °C)—only to return a few months later. However, if the temperatures remain around 70 °F (21 °C) in your home, your plant can skip dormancy.
How to Fix
It’s normal for plants to go dormant for a portion of the year. Dormancy is healthy for most plants, including oxalis, as it allows them to recover from the energy-consuming flowering process. Think of dormancy as your plants’ chance to rest for a moment.
Nevertheless, oxalis plants still need some care during this resting period.
- Move your plant to a slightly shadier area to prevent heat damage.
- Prune the leaves when they dry out entirely.
- Cut back on watering and wait until the plant shows signs of life about 1-3 months later when temperatures become cooler.
6. Your Oxalis Is Experiencing Transplant Shock
If your oxalis has been recently transplanted, there’s a chance the plant is simply in shock. No plant loves to be moved from its home, and oxalis is no exception. If transplantation has occurred recently, the plant will likely droop until it’s feeling better. It can take up to 2-3 weeks for the plant to recover.
Plants like oxalis are prone to shock after transplanting due to the sudden disruption of their environment. Additionally, even gentle transplantation processes cause minor damage to the plant’s root system, which takes time to heal.
Also, the new location where the plant has been moved can lead to light changes and soil with different nutrients or water content. This move is undoubtedly shocking, so minimizing as many changes as possible during a transplant is best.
How to Fix
The most effective way to fix transplant shock is to give your plant time. Your plant needs time to heal its root system and adjust to the new environment. Therefore, you should care for the oxalis as you usually would and give it a few weeks to come out of the shock.
Don’t try and add things like extra fertilizer to compensate for the change, as this will do more harm than good.
7. There’s a Pest Infestation
Unfortunately, many pests that plague oxalis plants are tiny, making them difficult to spot if you aren’t regularly checking in on the plant. If pests have taken up residence in your oxalis, the stress can cause drooping leaves, but there will also be other signs.
Some of the most common oxalis pests include:
- Vine weevils
- Spider mites
- Mealybugs/root mealy bugs
Each pest shows signs of its presence, such as webbing from spider mites or bite marks from other pests. If left unchecked, your plant will have more significant problems than wilting. Infestations damage the plant, causing light and food absorption to slow down and eventually halt, leading to plant death.
Luckily, there are several ways to fix an oxalis pest problem.
How to Fix
Fixing an infestation can be problematic if the bugs aren’t spotted quickly enough. Some pests are more dangerous than others, and some are harder to eliminate. So it’s essential to act once you notice signs of bugs in your oxalis plant.
Here’s how to fix a possible infestation in your oxalis plant:
Inspect the Plant for Pests
Some pests hide under leaves or in the soil around the roots. Others climb down the stems and hide around the pot. You need to look for signs of eggs or other strange markings that don’t belong on the plant.
Identify the Pest Bothering Your Plant
Once you have signs of the pests or have spotted one, it’s time to research the little bugger. After the pest’s identity has been confirmed, you’ll know how to proceed.
It’s also crucial to check your other houseplants for signs of infestations so that you can isolate affected plants and prevent the spread on healthier plants.
Begin Treatment Based on the Bug You Find
The pests on your plant will determine how you proceed. Many oxalis pests are treatable with a generic pesticide like neem oil, but double-checking is always good. A neem oil spray or insecticidal soap works well against the pests that attack oxalis plants. Apply the chosen treatment by carefully following the product label instructions.
Deploy Preventive Measures Against Further Nuisances
Regularly inspecting the plant and using a natural or gentle pesticide can prevent future infestations from happening.
Pruning overgrown foliage, especially as the plant enters dormancy in the summer, and ensuring good air circulation around your oxalis should prevent most pests from infesting your plant.
Isolating new houseplants before introducing them to the bunch will also prevent the spread of diseases.
8. Your Plant Is Diseased
Disease is also a likely cause for a drooping oxalis plant, especially if it’s a new plant that you don’t have a good history with. Unfortunately, as with any plant, the oxalis is prone to several diseases that will cause its leaves to sag and the plant to eventually die.
Some of the most common diseases include:
- Root rot
- Leaf spot
- Powdery mildew
- Southern blight
Disease in plants is caused by exposure to plants or bugs carrying the disease, fungus, or bacteria being introduced to the plant through the air or soil. Overwatered plants are more likely to fall prey to some diseases, such as rot or fungus, since these issues thrive in moist environments.
How to Fix
You can fix diseases in your oxalis plant by determining what kind of disease you’re dealing with. Not all diseases are treatable at different stages of development. Some diseases like root rot will require transplantation and removal of rotted portions of the plant.
I’ve written an in-depth guide on how to treat root rot in houseplants. Check it out! How to Fix Root Rot in Houseplants (Complete Guide)
If you want to learn more about treating common plant diseases, watch this Bath Garden Center & Nursery video on treating common plant diseases. They do a great job of going over common plant illnesses and the best treatment methods:
9. The Humidity Levels Are Too Low
Another essential thing to check when you notice your oxalis leaves drooping is the plant’s humidity levels. Since this plant is native to Brazil, it prefers humidity levels around 50%. However, indoor oxalis plants dry out a little faster since there’s often less moisture in the home’s air.
How to Fix
So how can you easily increase your oxalis plants’ humidity without overdoing it?
Well, adequate watering is a good start. Moist soil will help increase the humidity around the plant easily when sunlight warms up the damp soil. You can also help this process by grouping your oxalis with other houseplants that share the same light, temperature, and humidity needs.
Alternatively, you can set up a humidifier in the area where you keep your houseplants.
10. There’s Dust Accumulation on the Leaves
Oddly enough, dust build-up on leaves can cause your oxalis plant to droop. A plant’s leaves are how they absorb sunlight which they convert to nutrients. If your plant leaves are dirty, this absorption will be disrupted, leading to a malnourished plant. This lack of food will often present as droopy leaves, and it’s important to react quickly.
How to Fix
Fixing dusty leaves is relatively easy but you must be careful when cleaning them. Never use harsh cleaners to get stubborn dust off of leaves. Cleaners will damage the plant’s leaves and cells, further exacerbating the absorption problem.
A damp washcloth is a good tool for removing dust. You can do it once a week—ideally at night when the stomata are closed. This will prevent dust and debris from getting lodged into the leaf pores and inhibit metabolic activities.
Ensure that there’s good air circulation so that the leaves don’t remain wet or moist for too long and invite unwanted pests and diseases.
If you want to learn more about the proper way to clean a house’s leaves, watch Tenney Plants’ video on leaf cleaning. She does a great job of going over the whole process and even teaches you how to shine up the leaves:
11. The Nutrients Are Depleted From the Soil
Your oxalis plant might be drooping due to improper soil nutrients. Over time, plants deplete the nutrients from the soil and need those nutrients refreshed. Additionally, if the oxalis plant is planted in soil without the correct nutrients, drooping will also occur. This plant requires well-draining soil, so a general potting mix will do the trick.
How to Fix
A soil refresh is recommended if you suspect the soil is to blame for your droopy oxalis plant. Use a well-rounded potting soil like Miracle Gro or something similar.
Fertilizers can also be helpful, but please don’t overdo it by adding in too much fertilizer, as this can lead to nitrogen burning up your plant’s roots and eventually killing the plant.
For oxalis plants, a 1/4-strength liquid fertilizer once a month in spring until before the blooming period should suffice. Halt fertilizer applications starting from summer dormancy and all throughout winter.
Ultimately, there are many reasons why oxalis plants start to droop. The first things you need to check out if you notice droopy leaves are:
- Soil Quality
Each of these will hold clues as to what’s currently wrong with your plant. It’s also important to remember that oxalis plants have a dormancy period during the summer, which is normal and healthy.