plant in office

One of the most common questions that people have about their houseplant is…

“Why are my plant’s leaves falling off?”

In some cases, this is actually completely normal, with some plants naturally shedding their leaves in the winter months. However, with other plants, dropping leaves could be a sign of stress or a pest infestation, making it important for you to understand exactly what’s going on.

Is Your Plant in Shock?

woman potting plants

One of the most common causes for leaf drop in houseplants is shock, meaning a sudden change in conditions. This could be due to anything from bringing a houseplant indoors when the weather gets colder to changing light or watering levels to simply repotting - some plants can be pretty sensitive!

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about shock. Your plant needs to now adjust to its new conditions - just try to keep things stable while it does so.

Is Your Plant Getting Enough Light?

plant by window

Plants get their energy from the light, which is why lower light levels in the winter can sometimes be a cause for leaf drop. Some plants, such as the Snake Plant Laurentii, do fine in low light, but others, like the Calathea White Fusion, prefer a brighter environment.

The easiest way to solve this is by moving your plant to a sunnier window. Alternatively, you may need to provide it with some artificial lighting until your days start getting longer again.

Is Your Plant Getting the Right Amount of Water?


Some plants, such as the Stromanthe Triostar, need to be watered around once a week, while others, such as the ZZ Plant, only need to be watered a couple of times a month. If a plant gets either too much or too little water, it will often respond by shedding its leaves.

Doing a little research into your plant’s water requirements, and then adjusting your care based on this, should help your plant to get back to perfect health in no time.

Is Your Plant Getting Enough Nutrients?

If you noticed that the leaves on your plant turned yellow before falling off, then this could be a sign of a nutritional deficiency. This is quite common with houseplants, as many do benefit from a regular fertilizer feed.

Increasing your feeding schedule should help, especially in the spring and summer, but remember to drop this back down again during the colder months.

Does Your Plant Have Pests?

spider mites on leaf

Not all houseplant pests can be easily seen. Tiny spider mites, scale insects and mealybugs can be tough to spot with the naked eye, especially since they usually tend to hide on the underside of leaves.

Inspect your plant thoroughly to check for pests. If you notice any, remove them immediately, either with a cotton swab, water, or a spray. You will then need to put some preventative measures in place to prevent those pests from returning.

Houseplants can be quite finicky, and a loss of leaves can often be a sign that your plant needs some extra help. Whether it’s asking for more light, less water, or a little bit of pest control, working out the exact cause of your plant’s leaf drop will enable you to solve the problem so much faster.

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