We get plants to transplant in our garden from our friends and family. Or we buy it from a nursery or garden center. But we sometimes find that the leaves start drooping.

Your plant leaves are drooping after transplant because of transplant shock. The plant faces stress because of transplant to a different environment when it comes to water, sunlight, wind, heat, and soil. You can prevent this by hardening the plant before the transplant outdoors.

I’ve written a lot more details that will help you understand what is the source of this problem. And how you can fix it so the plant’s leaves are healthy again.

Underwatering or overwatering

If the plant does not get the required water, the leaves will begin drooping. This can happen either because of underwatering or overwatering.

The plant will not get enough moisture if you forget to water the soil. It can happen if the roots get damaged during transplant. Or if the soil has too much sand that causes it to dry out fast.

This will lead to the problem of underwatering. But this is a temporary problem and your plant leaves will bounce back once you water the plant well.

holy basil wilting
My holy basil plant that was wilting due to underwatering

Overwatering is a problem that happens when you give too much water after a transplant. This can happen because you’re not checking the moisture in the soil. It can happen because the roots have been damaged or the soil does not have good drainage. 

Overwatering is a serious problem as it can cause the roots to rot. Once this happens, you need to take the plant out and trim the rotting roots. Then transplant the plant to another suitable location in your garden.

I suggest checking the moisture in the soil every morning when you inspect your plant. Stick your finger 1-2 inches in the soil and check the tip of your finger. If there is no soil sticking to it, that’s a sign you need to water the plant.

Transplant shock

Another common problem when you transplant is the stress on the plant due to transplant shock. This can cause the plant leaves to droop as a result.

The plants you buy from a nursery or garden center are grown in a protected environment. Many times they may have been grown indoors.

These plants are not used to outdoor conditions. So if you try to transplant them in your garden, they can find it difficult to adjust. They may not get used to the sunlight, wind, rain, and heat present in your garden.

You can avoid this problem of transplant shock by hardening the plant before you move it to your garden. The easiest way to do this is to keep your plant outside for a few hours every day for a week.

Make sure to keep the plant away from harsh sunlight, wind, rain, and heat when you place it outside. After a week, your plant will be ready to be transplanted in the garden. 

Root damage

It’s quite easy to damage the roots when you transplant. You may pick the plant out of the container it came in and lose a few roots.

This will cause the plant to stress out and the lack of roots can also cause a drop in the moisture reaching the leaves. They will start drooping as a result.

You need to be very careful during the transplant. You can gently tap the entire root ball out of the container. If that does not work, you may need to break open the container so the roots don’t get damaged.

When buying the plant at the nursery, take the plant out of the container and check the roots. If the plant is root-bound to the container, you should not pick that one.

Root-bound is a condition where the plant roots have outgrown the container and have circled inside it for lack of space to grow.

Lack of sunlight

Lack of sunlight caused Red Amaranth to die
Lack of sunlight caused my Red Amaranth seedlings to grow spindly and die

If you transplant the plant in your garden to a location that does not get the required sunlight, the leaves will start drooping.

You should pick the spot in the garden based on the plant’s needs. If the plant needs full sun, you should transplant it in a location that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.

If the plant needs partial sun or shade, then pick a location in the garden that is shaded by a wall, fence, or tall plants.

If you have already transplanted and faced this problem, you can remove the plant and move it to a suitable location in your garden.

Lack of nutrients

If the plant does not get the required nutrients after a transplant, it may show the effect of stress by drooping leaves.

You want to make sure the soil in your garden has the right amount of organic materials. It’s best to add some compost when you are preparing garden soil.

Once you have transplanted the plant, you should add the necessary organic fertilizer to the soil. Make sure to wait a few days before doing this.

organic fertilizer
Organic fertilizer I use for my plants

You don’t want to add the nutrients as soon as you transplant because this may add more stress to the plant that already has a new environment.

When using the fertilizer, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It will give you details on how much fertilizer to use and how often.

If the soil gets too much fertilizer, it can burn the roots and cause even more problems to the health of the plant.

Too much heat

If your plant gets too much heat when you transplant it in the garden, the leaves will try to protect themselves. They may start curling and drooping as a result.

This is a temporary problem and the leaves will bounce back once the temperature returns to normal levels.

You must get the plant hardened before you plant it outdoors. This helps it deal better even with a little heat.

But you also need to protect the plant from too much heat when growing outside. You can use a row cover to protect it from the heat of the sun.

If you’re growing the plant in a container, you can move it to a location that gets shade at least in the afternoon.

The heat may dry out the soil faster so you can add mulch. The mulch will insulate the soil and prevent rapid loss of moisture. You can use a layer of organic material such as grass clippings, dried leaves, straw, or wood chips as mulch.

Lack of space

If your plant does not get enough growing space for its roots, there will be a lack of nutrients and moisture. This will show up in the leaves as they start to droop and wilt.

You want to make sure the plant has enough space in the garden for the transplant. It’s best to learn about this space requirement of the plant beforehand. You can get this information by researching on the Internet.

If the plant is growing too close to another one, they start competing for nutrients and moisture. This may also create a humid condition that can attract fungal problems.

If you have already done the transplant, you will need to take the plant out and move it to a better location in your garden that has enough space.

Poor soil

If you transplant the plant in soil that has too much sand or clay, it will cause problems in the nutrients reaching the leaves, and they may droop.

You need to understand the type of plant you’re growing and provide the right soil. Some plants need good soil that has the right balance of sand and clay. It should have a good texture that retains enough moisture but drains out the excess.

Some other plants are hardy and need more desert-like conditions where the soil contains more sand and the plant has to reach deep to find the nutrients and moisture.

If the plant does not get the required type of soil it will grow weak due to a lack of such nutrients and moisture.

If you’ve already transplanted the plant and facing this problem, you can amend the soil based on the plant’s needs.

If the soil contains too much clay or sand, you can keep mixing in organic compost that will improve the soil texture gradually.

Pests and diseases

If the plant that you bought from the nursery or garden center already has some pest or disease problem, the leaves will start drooping as a sign of stress.

You must check the plant well before you bring it home for the transplant. Make sure no insects are flying around the plant as that’s a bad sign.

Check every part of the plant including the overside and underside of the leaves. Make sure there are no pests or signs of disease on the foliage. Ensure the leaves are dark and vibrant and not light which indicates a sign of stress.

You should take the plant out of the container and check the roots for signs of root rot or any damage. Make sure the plant is not root-bound due to outgrowing the pot.

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