What Causes Garden Plants Leaf Drop

Correcting leaf drop in garden plants with these methods

Plant Leaves

Installing a garden can really give your home a makeover enhancing its appearance and increase your properties value, how beautiful it is to have a garden that is just bursting with colors giving such a calm and inviting feeling.

This has been my experience over the years working on many garden projects, the transformation that it brought was much delight to the homeowner as they were blow-away with a landscape that was fit for a king and a queen of cost.

But what happens when your garden plants begin to decline because of leaf drop? what was your response, what did you do? I remembered many years ago I had the awesome task of taking care of a bed of hibiscus which was really doing great and then out of nowhere those beds of hibiscus which was doing so well begin to decline.

And what added to the frustration was I could not put my had on the problem as I went through the process of elimination. I could not figure out what was going on, this went on for almost a week as far as I could remember then I finally discover the problem.

On doing a closer inspection I found a lot of tiny red and black garden insect pests on the underside of the leaves and on the stems. These were the culprits that were doing the damage (Thrips) which I treated, it was a lot of work but in the end, I WON!

What causes garden plants leaf drop

Garden insect pests are one reason what causes leaf drop, but what happens if insects are not the culprit but there are some other underlying factors where do you go? well, I am so happy that you, ve decided to continue reading to get to the root of the problem so you can once again have plants that are filled will lots of nice leaves causing your garden plants to look full and healthy.

1. Overwatering- In my last post we looked at reasons why plants have leaf drop and what we discussed was the matter of overwatering, while we can all agree that plants need water even then there is a limit to this and if you go beyond this limit your garden plants will suffer at your hand.

Overwatering can do much damage because when a garden plant is receiving more than its share of water what will happen is the leaves will become limp and drop which is also a sign of root rot. Get to know your garden plant’s watering need and if it is discovered that you are watering too much then cut back on the amount of water you’re giving your plant.

If your plant is installed in a container, ensure that the container has drain holes, you may have to change the soil by repotting your plant in good fresh dry clean garden soil. If your plant is installed directly into the ground besides cutting back on watering you may also have to use a soil drench (Fungicide) to eliminate fungus which encourages root rot.

2. A lack of water- again as we discussed in my last post can also contribute to leaf drop. Garden plants need water in order to survive which is an established fact but different species of garden plants water requirements differ. For example, there are groups of plants that are known as high maintenance which means they need more water than drought tolerance plants (Plants that require less water). If you are not giving that high maintenance plant the required amount of water your garden plants will experience leaf drop.

3. Insufficient Lighting- This is another factor that can lead to leaf drop especially when caring for indoor plants. While different species of plants require different amounts of light one thing that we can agree on and that is all plants need light to help with the manufacturing of their food. If you install a plant that thrives best in low or filtered light and places in full light will cause the leaves to burn.

The opposite is true if you take a plant that requires full light and place it in low or filtered light will encourage leaf drop. So ensure that your garden plants whether in or outdoors are getting the recommended light.

4. Environmental Factors also play an important part in the health of garden plants, factors such as windy conditions, extreme cold, rainy conditions are beyond our control which can and will contribute to leaf drop.

5. A natural process- As a part of the natural process of life at some point because of age your garden plant has no choice but to drop or shed leaves to make way for younger or new leaves to emerge.

6. Deciduous vs Evergreen Leafs- Evergreen plants are plants that keep their leaves year-round whereas deciduous plants are plants that lose their leaves in the fall and winter months but when spring arrives new leaves emerge. This is also a natural process that is beyond our control so get to know your garden plants so you can know the difference.

7. Mixing chemicals to strong when seeking to eliminate garden insect pests can have a negative effect, on the plant leaves which can lead to leaf drop.

8. Spraying garden plants when the temperature is 80 degrees or higher can cause the leaves to burn and drop which is known as phototoxic.

9. Spraying garden plants with more than the recommended rate can lead to leaf drop, and an example of this is if the treatment is stating to wait until seven days before applying another application of insecticide but instead you decide to spray your garden plants every two days. This can cause leaf drop, follow the manufactures direction.

10. A lack of or overusing fertilizers will lead to leaf drop, ensure that you read and follow the manufactures direction on the label.

11. Humidity-When the air is extremely dry can lead to leaf drop. To help plants that are facing this condition group plants together or providing a humidity tray with a layer of wet pebbles are effective.

12. As discussed earlier garden insect pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, scales, thrips whiteflies, etc.. which use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to extract the plant’s fluids will cause leaf drop. Keep an eye out for these pests and treat them right away.

13. Plant shock will also cause a garden plant to drop leaves. Transplanting a plant from one area to the next or dividing your plant from the root ball will encourage leaf drop.

14. If you’re using a container that is too small where your plant’s roots can’t expand nor take up sufficient water will lead to leaf drop.

15. Plant disease can also lead to leaf drop, therefore, treat your garden plant right away if it has a disease.

16. Moving a plant from the shade or and an area that gets filtered light and placing it directly and immediately in the full sunlight will encourage leaf drop.

17. Garden shrubs that grow dense or thick where the sunlight can not get to the lower leaves can cause leaf drop. It is best to thin out some of the lower leaves from the inside so sunlight can reach those leaves at the bottom.

18. The use of a weed killer under windy conditions where there is drift off or where the winds carry the spray to nearby garden plants will also lead to leaf drop. Wait until the winds have calm before attempting to eliminate weeds will a weed killer.

The final word

I am so happy that you have decided to stick around to the end, now that you are armed with this knowledge you are better able to know the difference by keeping your garden plants grow their best. So go ahead and implement these methods which will work wonders.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

4 thoughts on “What Causes Garden Plants Leaf Drop”

  1. Oh my goodness! Going through the list of causes make the plants seem like they are so fragile! 🙂  In my experience though, just leaving them alone usually ensures they do fine.  In one instance though, I had an aphid attack on a small crop of vegetables.  I was really reluctant to use any form of insecticide since I wanted to harvest them eventually.  In the end, I tried something like a mild soap and lemon solution but the aphids kept coming back.

    Unlike your story, I lost the battle in the end when I had to go on a trip and the vegetables were sucked dry in my absence!  It was only later that I read about planting “companion” plants such as garlic or onions nearby to discourage aphid attack.  Excellent and thorough article though, I think fewer people would think of fertiliser having the reverse effect!

    • Hello so happy to meet you but I am so sorry to hear about your garden. It is good to know that you have the upper hand now, Glad to help, all the best to you and have a good day.

  2. For a couple of years I have been trying, with terrible results, to get some products from my small garden. I was now arriving at the point of giving up until I came across this post. I discovered practically all the evils that plagued my plants and thanks to Norman’s advice I can start again for the next season hoping to be able to enjoy the fruits of my garden.


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