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5 Common Causes Of Spotted Laurel Drooping (And Fixes)

5 Common Causes Of Spotted Laurel Drooping (And Fixes)

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Spotted laurels are tough, but they can droop if they’re not taken care of properly. There are many explanations for dropping, wilting, or otherwise damaged laurel leaves. In some cases, the stems and branches wilt with the leaves.

Common causes of a Spotted Laurel drooping include root rot, acidic soil, or a lack of sunlight. Additionally, not having enough soil drainage will flood the roots, increasing bacterial growth and wilting the leaves. Failure to water a spotted laurel will also make the leaves droop.

In this post, we’ll explain why your spotted laurel is drooping, what you can do about it, and how to prevent it from happening again.

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Rotting Roots

Root rot is one of the main reasons a spotted laurel will wilt or droop its leaves. Root rot happens when the roots get infected and mushy.

While there’s no way to remove root rot permanently, there are many methods you can use to prevent it from worsening and save the rest of the plant.

How To Fix

If your spotted laurel has root rot, here’s what you can do:

  1. Trim each of the infected leaves, stems, and roots (they’ll look black, slimy, and droopy).
  2. Use an antifungal spray around the base of the laurel to prevent other diseases from worsening the root rot.
  3. Remove excess moisture from the soil with lime or by diverting water to prevent pooling.
  4. Add a new layer of topsoil, aerate it, then add water.

You’ll have to prune exposed, wounded, and infected portions of the spotted laurel for the rest of its lifespan.

Root rot doesn’t go away, so it’s a non-stop back-and-forth battle to protect your plant.

Acidic Soil pH

Spotted laurels can survive in a wide pH range, though they can’t grow very well in extremely acidic dirt. When the soil has a very low pH, it scorches the roots, preventing them from absorbing enough moisture. A lack of hydration means the stems and leaves can’t stay hydrated, so they’ll droop.

My daughter purchased one of these pH soil meters (link to Amazon) and it’s great for quickly checking pH levels. It also measures moisture and sunlight.

This soil meter that my daughter purchased measures pH, moisture, and sunlight.

How To Fix

Try one or more of these solutions to fix your soil’s pH:

  1. Mix crushed eggshells in the topsoil surrounding the spotted laurel.
  2. Sprinkle agricultural lime around the laurel (keep in mind that this will also remove some of the moisture from the soil).
  3. Aerate the soil, then water it with a garden hose (most city water supplies have a higher pH).

You could also dig and replace all of the dirt around the spotted laurel. This will increase the pH, return oxygen to the soil, and solve most of the drainage problems. However, it’s important to avoid cutting or damaging the roots.

Not Enough Sunlight

Without enough sunlight, your spotted laurel won’t be able to produce chlorophyll. The leaves will reach toward the ground rather than the sun, so they’ll look droopy.

This process also makes the leaves feel fragile, crumbly, and easy to tear. While you can move potted plants, it’s not always easy to fix this problem if your laurel is in the ground.

How To Fix

A spotted laurel should get a minimum of two hours of direct sunlight daily (source). Consider using artificial UV lights in your garden if it doesn’t get enough sunlight during the winter. You can also use protective burlap sheets to warm the roots and the base of the spotted laurel.

The only other option is to transplant the spotted laurel or move shading plants away from the laurel. This method is time-consuming, but it can save your spotted laurel from drooping or rotting. Pruning your spotted laurel might also help quite a bit of the upper portion is shading the lower leaves, though.

But here’s the deal. Your Spotted Laurel doesn’t need all day direct sunlight. It should get a maximum of 6 hours direct sunlight. So while it’s possible that your plant isn’t getting enough sunlight, don’t think transplanting it to a full-sun location is the answer.

Moderation is important. Look for a location that provides balance of direct sunlight and shade throughout the day.

Improper Soil Drainage

Spotted laurels need soil that drains fairly quickly. If water stays near the roots for too long, it’ll drown them. The leaves will droop. They’ll also feel damp and thin.

Fixing the soil drainage almost always reverses this issue, bringing your spotted laurel back to life. Unfortunately, neglecting soil drainage problems can lead to root rot.

How To Fix

Improving the soil’s drainage requires these three steps:

  1. Aerate the soil. You can do this by spiking it with a shovel, using boot aerator straps, or a manual aerator. (See our 5-step guide to amending compacted clay soil).
  2. Add mulch to the top of the soil. Mulch allows the water to flow slowly into the dirt rather than flooding it all at once.
  3. If all else fails, move your spotted laurel to a new location. You can transplant it, repair the soil, and grow a new laurel in its place if desired.

It’s much easier to transplant a spotted laurel when it’s young. Older spotted laurels have dense root structures that can be damaged in the process.

Incorrect Watering Schedule

Watering your spotted laurel too often or not enough can damage its roots. When the roots can’t properly absorb moisture and nutrients, the leaves droop and wilt. See What Are The Signs Of Overwatering Plants?

It’s important to maintain a reliable, healthy watering schedule throughout the year (especially in the winter when many people forget to water their plants enough).

How To Fix

Consider these suggestions to optimize your spotted laurel watering schedule:

  • Test the soil’s moisture content before adding water. It shouldn’t feel wet more than four inches below the surface if you want to hydrate it.
  • Water your spotted laurel weekly. If the leaves feel dry and the soil is compact, water the plant every four to five days.
  • Try automatic water globes. They’re great for spotted laurels in pots, but they also work for any plant in your yard.

The Wyndham 3-piece watering globe set (link to Amazon) slowly trickles moisture into the soil. This is especially important for spotted laurels because their roots are prone to flooding. They can be used in pots, gardens, and boxed planters.

For larger plants, consider setting up an automatic watering system like the one we demonstrated using a plain old water hose and an inexpensive outdoor faucet timer (link to Amazon).

Final Thoughts

Spotted laurels will last many years under proper soil conditions. If the soil is too compact, loose, acidic, or alkaline, it won’t support the laurel for long.

Almost all spotted laurel drooping problems stem from something out of balance with the soil. Fix that and you fix the drooping.

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Willie Moore
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