What Is Guttation – Learn About The Causes Of Guttation In Plants

Close Up Of Green Leaf With Water Droplet At
(Image credit: HelenL100)

Guttation is the appearance of little droplets of liquid on the leaves of plants. Some people notice it on their houseplants and expect the worst. Although unsettling the first time it happens, guttation in plants is completely natural and not harmful. Keep reading to find out more about the causes of guttation.

What is Guttation?

Plants gather a lot of the moisture and nutrients they need to survive through their roots. In order to move these things upward, the plant has tiny holes in its leaves called stomata. Evaporation of moisture through these holes creates a vacuum that pulls water and nutrients in the roots up against the pull of gravity and throughout the plant. This process is called transpiration. Transpiration stops at night when the stomata close, but the plant compensates by drawing in extra moisture through the roots and building up pressure to force nutrients upward. Day or night, there is constant motion inside a plant. So, when does guttation occur? The plant doesn’t always need the same amount of moisture. At night, when temperatures are cool or when the air is humid, less moisture evaporates from the leaves. However, the same amount of moisture is still drawn up from the roots. The pressure of this new moisture pushes out the moisture that is already in the leaves, resulting in those little beads of water.

Guttation vs. Dew Drops

Occasionally, guttation is confused with dew drops on outdoor plants. There is a difference between the two. Simply put, dew is formed on the plant’s surface from the condensation of moisture in the air. Guttation, on the other hand, is moisture emitted from the plant itself.

Other Conditions for Guttation in Plants

Most people’s gut reaction is that guttation is a sign of overwatering. While it could be, it is also a sign of a perfectly healthy plant, so you shouldn’t cut down on watering if you notice it. Guttation in plants can really only be harmful if you are overfertilizing. If this is the case, minerals from the fertilizer can build up over time on the leaf tips and burn them. If you notice small, white deposits on your leaf tips, you should cut down on your fertilizing.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.