Simple question really, I have a plant, that I'm not sure of the species. Every few days I watch its leaves droop (which scares me because I worry the plant has died), but then a few days later I find it's perked right back up. Then a few days later it does the same thing again. I don't think it's dying, in nature documentaries with time lapse I've seen plants do similar things while growing and I was curious what it's called, and why they do it?

It kind of looks like the plants are flapping their leaves, one day they're hanging down drooping, the next they're up in the air.


There's more to come, but here's a photo of what it looks like right now

my pretty plant


I've got a timelapse here I took frames once every hour, for about a week.


Two days ago the big leaves were dropping down the sides of the pot

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    $\begingroup$ Are you observing your plant at the same time every day? Does it receive enough water daily? How stable is it's environment (temperature, humidity, sunlight, etc.)? A plants leaves can droop and wilt when they don't have enough water, and they will perk up again when they are watered, possibly explaining the movement you described. They can also respond to environmental stimuli. These responses are known as tropisms. For example, plants that grow towards a light source exhibit phototropism. $\endgroup$
    – MikeyC
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ I observe it regularly in the morning and the evening, I water it every week. But if I water when it starts wilting, then it just keeps wilting, it seems to wilt and perk up on a regular interval of every week or so. $\endgroup$
    – iggy12345
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ The environment is pretty stable around 70 degrees, same with the humidity, I think. It sits in the window in my dorm room. It gets sunlight for a few hours every day, less than I think I'd like to give it, but it's the best I can do given my limitations of the dorm. Does that help @MikeyC $\endgroup$
    – iggy12345
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ watch sped up footage of plants growing. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ I know, that's what I'm asking about, so you've seen it then? What's it called? @John $\endgroup$
    – iggy12345
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 21:32

1 Answer 1


Having looked at the time-lapse:

I suspect you might get a better answer out of gardening on this one, but I think it is entirely water related and that you are underwatering or watering poorly. It could also be that there is some problem with the pot - it may not be draining properly and the water is pooling in the bottom, which can cause root rotting.

What happens when you let a pot dry out is that when you add water, it takes some time for the soil/potting mix in the pot to hydrate. In fact, the potting mix can even become hydrophobic, so even though you see water flowing through the pot, it isn't actually soaking in.

Water won't be taken up immediately, it takes some time to soak into the potting mix, and then be taken up by the roots and transported to the leaves.

If the pot has holes in the bottom, try soaking the pot in water from the bottom once a week (I suggest about 1h - stand it in a tray), rather than adding water to the top, and/or more regular watering.

The plant you have is a Coleus, which are good pot plants. They do, however need regular watering, about every 2-3 days and good drainage to do their best. There is a good guide to growing them at TheSpruce.com.

I would say, the pale colour of the leaves is an indicator that it is suffering in some manner. There are a few possible causes - it possibly needs a bit more sun, but the few hours in your window should be enough. Having said that, the pale colour could also be from nutrient deficiency, particularly nitrogen, or caused by being too dry. The dry edges/tips on the leaves also indicate that it has been too dry at some point in the past few months.


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