What Causes Water Droplets on Indoor Plant Leaves?

Water droplet on a leaf

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Do plants cry? You may think your indoor plants are shedding tears when you see them dripping water, but just like outdoor plants, they can form dew drops on leaves, particularly when they are under stress or in growing conditions that are less than ideal.

Even when you think you are doing everything right by your plants, they may have trouble adjusting. Sometimes they can adapt to conditions indoors and sometimes they can't. Dripping leaves is one way houseplants attempt to regulate their growing conditions on their own.

Water Droplets on Leaves

When houseplant leaves develop droplets of water on their tips, it is probably just transpiration as water moves through the plant and evaporates from its leaves, stem, and flowers. Leaves dripping water is a natural occurrence, just like people sweating. 

If it's humid or dewy out, water droplets collect on leaves. This generally occurs in the summer, especially if windows are open. The humidity during the day and the moisture in the air when the dew settles in the morning are all absorbed, to some degree, by plant leaves. Usually, this is a good thing. However, when a plant is already saturated, it needs to release the excess moisture, and it does so by transpiration through its leaves.

You won't see a flood of water being released, just a droplet or two on the tips. This will fall off or evaporate, and you won't see it happen again until conditions are once again right.

This transpiration is not hurting your plants, but it might be harming your furniture or floors. There's an easy way to stop the dripping leaves: Cut back on how much you water your plants.

The leaves are dripping because they already have as much moisture as they can hold and cannot absorb any additional water through their leaves. During humid spells, most plants will not need as much water as they normally would. Let your plants be your guide and adjust the amount of water you give them accordingly. Cut back from weekly watering to every other week or so and monitor the plants to see if they still drip or if you have gone too far in the other direction and they are now wilting between waterings. The amount of water needed will change throughout the year.

Calla Lily Leaves Dripping Water

There is another reason why indoor plants may have water dripping from their leaves: guttation. This phenomenon occurs when droplets of xylem sap are released from the tips or edges of a plant's leaves. This sap is often mistaken for water by indoor gardeners, but it's something entirely different.

While guttation can occur with many vascular plants, grasses, and several species of fungi, indoors it is particularly common with calla lilies. When guttation occurs, it's a sign that you have over-watered your plant––the saturated roots create pressure on the rest of the plant, which forces it to exude moisture in the form of sap. Cut back on watering and your plant should stop releasing sap.