Is my plant crying?
Is my plant sweating?
Why is my plant dripping water?
These are common questions we see in our Houseplant Addicts community!
Many people wonder why their houseplant is crying. Some plant parents have passed along the rumor that plants “cry” for various reasons, such as fear, lack of water or even a reaction to salt deposits from our hard water. However, there do exist some real reasons for this phenomenon which merit investigation by the plant owner.
First of all, plant weeping is not a result of salt damage or lack of water. It arises from the presence of excess chloride ions in the plant tissue which causes special cells to break open and excrete fluid. The fluid might contain various waste materials depending upon the type of cell involved, but it always contains high concentrations of potassium. This fluid often accumulates around the base of the plant or collects on nearby windowsills.
Why does water sometimes drip out of the stems or leaves of plants?
This phenomenon is called guttation, and it occurs on a wide variety of plants under certain conditions. In some cases, the cells on leaves and stems lose water during plant transpiration. When the cells become too filled with water, an increase of pressure occurs which spreads to other adjacent vessels. When this excess pressure is transmitted throughout the root system, it causes a reverse flow of sap within root-bearing tissue; that is, upward movement rather than downward. This reverse movement can be observed by removing the soil from around the stem of a plant in order to see sap moving upwards.
The water that collects on leaves and stems may come directly from transpiration or it may be dew that is blown onto plants by wind, which has been condensed by cold surfaces. Plants in windy locations often have their excess fluids blown from their leaves, giving them a lacelike appearance. When the air is very dry, plants lose water so rapidly that they can’t take in enough to replace it and some fluid may be exuded as a result. If you’ve watered your plant too frequently, the excess water pressure could also induce weeping.
Guttation should not be confused with another type of leaking which is not as desirable. This occurs when a plant’s roots, usually confined to the soil, are damaged and begin leaking sap that contains nutrients. The tree will most likely die from this type of root damage and the plant owner should promptly take remedial action by removing the dead or dying part of the stem while sterilizing the area into which the sap is leaking.
Leaking of sap from broken branches is not guttation, although it may resemble that phenomenon. It does hold one similarity: it often occurs during periods when the air and soil are dry. However, it does not produce excess potassium in the plant tissue since no water escapes from healthy cells.
What is guttation?
Plants release excess water from special cells called hydathodes. This accounts for the dripping that can be observed on many different types of plants, including cacti and succulents, palms, ficus trees (figs), spider plants and others. The liquid produced is actually water mixed with natural plant sugars, hormones and mineral salts. Plants produce guttation fluid when transpiration, the evaporation of water from plants and leaves, causes a high concentration of solutes in the leaf.
The effect of wind or other environmental factors may cause cells to lose too much water, leading to an increase in pressure within those cells. The excess water is then secreted through specialized pores called hydathodes. The high sugar content of the fluid may prevent it from flowing freely in all cases, making guttation more visible on some leaves than others.
Guttation fluid has been observed to contain sugars, hormones and natural plant antibiotics, and may play a role in preventing insects from entering the leaf or stem that bears it.
Why is my plant crying?
The actual reason for a plant’s tears remains somewhat of a mystery. The liquid involved in the weepy process is naturally produced by plants and it appears that this secretion provides them with some type of benefits, although exactly why they seem to benefit from water leakage has yet to be determined.
How does it happen?
Plants secrete excess water through their leaves to relieve internal pressure. This fluid is quite different from the “sap” commonly found when a stem or branch has been injured and leaks nutrients. The sap when cut or broken off contains minerals that can help propagate fungi and other disease in your plants, while guttation fluid secreted by the hydathodes is pure water with sugars and other organic compounds.
It seems that guttation is a response to stress; it most often occurs in dry conditions when the plant is under stress due to lack of soil moisture, high heat or excessive wind. It also often happens after night time exposures to cold temperatures, especially when humidity levels are high. Ficus plants, in particular, often weep when their leaves are brushed against or exposed to too much cold.
Examples of plants that produce guttation fluid
There are many plants which will exude this fluid on their leaves, stems and even roots. Some of the more common plants you might see with this condition include: ficus trees (figs), dracaena (dragon plants), weeping figs, palms, aloe plants, staghorn ferns and air plants. However, guttation is not unique to house plants, but is also often found on wild growing specimens that are native to tropical or subtropical regions of the world.
Guttation fluid can vary in color from clear with a slight yellowish tint to golden brown and even reddish hues. Transpiration effects seem to magnify when humidity levels are high and this may contribute to the color of these secretions.
Plants that don’t produce guttation fluid
There are certain plants though, that do not exhibit this phenomenon. Succulent and cacti plants for example will not exude fluid from their leaves even when they are subjected to conditions of drought or other stress related situations. It’s important to understand the difference between guttation and a plant “sweating”. Some species of bromeliads for example, accumulate large reservoirs of water in their leaves which then trickle into the soil to provide a regular supply of moisture to the plant’s roots. This type of water loss through “sweating” is not the same as guttation since these plants do not secrete fluid from their leaves.
Benefits to humans and the environment
Guttation fluid is composed mainly of water with organic compounds and sugars secreted by the plant. A clear viscous liquid, it contains hormones and other substances produced as a result of stress conditions such as drought or cold temperatures. The presence of these compounds may deter predators such as insects from targeting the plant as well as inhibit microbial growth which could damage the plant tissue.
The sugars and other compounds in guttation fluid can actually be beneficial to humans, but that’s not the only benefit these tiny water leaks provide. As raindrops fall onto leaves covered with this liquid; they will often accumulate droplets which run along the leaf surface until they drip off of the end. This process is known as guttation and is said to contribute to the water supply of plants in some ways.
It’s also thought that guttation can provide added protection against cold temperatures allowing plants which produce this fluid to grow in climates where frost is present, providing additional insulation. Since insects are often attracted to sweet tastes it is possible that they may avoid guttation fluid when it is present, which may in turn act as a defense against insect infestation.
Guttation is a liquid that comes out of the leaves and stems. It can be seen as droplets on surfaces beneath plants, or as wet spots on the ground below them. Plants use guttation to regulate their water content through evaporation from these areas.
Guttation works by water droplets forming on the underside of a leaf and then dripping off. The formed droplet can be seen as an indicator that your plant needs more moisture in its environment because this means that there are not enough external sources for watering. It also happens when plants are experiencing stress or lack of sunlight – both environmental factors that might cause them to cry too.