Why Are My Carnations Drooping? | Top 6 Causes and Solutions

Carnations will droop if they are overwatered, growing in poor soil, have poor drainage, are suffering from pest attack or if they are not getting enough sun. Carnations can recover from drooping if the problem is identified and dealt with quickly. Check the soil to see if it is moist or dry and check the underside of the leaves for bugs.

Each of the causes of carnations drooping can be dealt with and the plant will repair quickly. If the problem is caught before the leaves turn brown, then they can return to green.

This article will explore the top causes of carnations drooping, what you can do to solve each one and how to prevent it happening again.

Carnations Drooping – Top 6 Causes

Here are the top causes of drooping carnation leaves and flower stems. Read through each one and check to see if any of these are affecting your plants.

1. Too much water

Carnations that are overwatered can droop over in response. If they are growing in a pot with poor drainage, or has been planted in heavy, clay soil then they may be getting too much water. Overwatering can cause the soil to become compact and lose oxygen.

When plants have been overwatered for a longer period of time, the roots can develop fungal root rot. When the roots are damaged, they will not be able to absorb the water, oxygen or nutrients they need. The plant will suffer causing the leaves to droop.

Overwatering can also wash away essential nutrients including nitrogen which can slow carnation growth.

Solution for drooping carnations growing in the ground

If you suspect that your carnations in the ground have been overwatered, top dress with a thin layer of compost and aged cow manure. If the plants have developed yellow leaves as well as drooping, add a handful of pelleted chicken manure to help to replace nitrogen.

Surround the plant with mulch and water it gently. Reduce your watering schedule only when the soil is dry 1-2 inches below the surface.

Solution for carnations growing in pots

Overwatered carnations in pots should be repotted if the soil has developed mold on the surface or if the soil level has dropped significantly. Get a new pot or disinfect the pot that it is in. Get some new potting soil and transplant it.

Adding new soil will help to add back nutrients, oxygen, organic matter and can help the plant to recover quick. If potting soil has been overwatered for a period of time, it is best to refresh it.

2. Soil drainage

Poor draining ground soil can cause carnations to droop.  Heavy clay soils can hold water for too long and can make it difficult for the plants to absorb the nutrients they need.  

Before planting carnations in clay soil, mix through some compost and aged cow manure. This will help to add nutrients and improve drainage. Mix through gypsum which will help to break up the clay.

3. Not enough sun

Carnations that are not getting enough sun can droop over. Flower stems can stretch up to reach out for more light, getting longer, weaker and eventually drooping over.

Carnations like to grow in full sun and will grow more flowers, stronger roots, more leaves and strong flower stems.

If your carnations are drooping, move them gradually into a sunny position. Morning sun is best and they can tolerate full sun in the afternoon if you live in a cool or temperate climate.

If your carnations have been growing in shade for a while, move them over into full sun over a 2 week period. Hot sun can cause brown leaf tips to develop if they are not used to it.

4. Poor soils – lack of nutrients

Carnations growing in poor soil can struggle to grow well, droop over, develop yellow leaves and will not produce flowers as well.

Before planting carnations, mix compost and aged cow manure through the soil. This will lighten the soil help the roots to grow strong and provide a range of nutrients the plant needs.

After planting new carnation plants, fertilize them with a gentle, slow release fertilizer like pelleted chicken manure. After 4 weeks, follow this up with some potash or flower promoting fertilizer. This will keep your carnations happy and producing flowers through spring, summer and into fall.

5. Dry soil

When carnations dry out too much it can cause the leaves and flower stems to droop. Check the soil to see if it is dry 2 inches below the surface. If the weather has been warm and the soil is dry then it is likely to be the cause.

If your carnations in pots have dried out then you can rapidly rehydrate them by soaking them in a bucket of water and a dash of seaweed solution.

Carnations in the soil can be watered deeply with your hose. Surround the carnations with bark mulch to help to keep the water in the soil for longer.

6. Pest attack

Pests that are attacking carnation leaves can cause them to bend and droop over. Sap sucking insects such as aphid, thrips and spider mite can attack the leaf veins, sucking out the sap and causing damage.

These sap sucking insects are easy to get rid of with neem oil. Just spray a dilute mix onto the leaves and repeat after a week if they are still there.

Leaves that have drooped can recover if the bugs are dealt with quickly. If there are only a few aphids, then spray them off with your hose or spray them with some soapy water.

Why Are My Carnations Drooping? | Summary

Carnations can droop if they are overwatered, underwatered, growing in poor soil and lacking nutrients or if they have been attacked by sap sucking pests. Check the plant thoroughly and the soil to see if there are any bugs or if the soil is wet or dry. Carnations can recover if they get the nutrients and water they need and if the pests have been dealt with.

Carnations are quickly becoming my new favorite flower because they are bright and have adorable flowers. I will be looking out for more colors to add to my collection.