New leaves can look mature and healthy but still be small. There are a number of reasons why a plant might not produce a leaf the size you expect it to.
Small leaves can be seen as a symptom of more serious problems such as nutrient deficiencies and heat or water stress. Smaller leaves imply that one or more than one thing, such as light, water, or fertilizer, is lacking. Over-watering and frequent fertilizing can also cause this immaturity of leaves.
In this article, you’ll learn the reasons why your new leaves are small and what you can do to prevent it.
What Causes Small Plant Leaves?
There are many factors that can influence the size of leaves. Environmental and nutritional coupled with physical factors such as pot size can cause a plant to produce smaller leaves than usual.
Monitoring these factors and noticing the signs of deficiencies can effectively help you to determine the causal factor and corrections needed to prevent smaller leaves.
The mentioned causal factors include:
Inadequate sunlight or growing light may cause this issue. Discoloration of leaves is a clear sign of inadequate light.
Plants love indirect sunlight and partial shade.
When plants don’t receive the required amount of sunlight because of their lack of knowledge about their proper location to carry on the process of photosynthesis, the plants cannot but bend towards the direction of sunlight.
It results in the smaller growth of plant leaves.
Similarly, when you count on a growing light, it may often happen such that all the parts of the plant don’t get enough of it. It, too, can be a major reason.
Secondly comes improper watering. More often than not, you care not to see whether your potting soil is already soggy or not. At your leisure, you simply shower water on your plants.
Again sometimes, you forget about watering them for days. This under-watering causes soil to run dry and plant leaves to droop whilst over-watering makes the roots rot and gives allowance to fungi.
Under these circumstances, how will the plant get enough nutrients to help its leaves grow to their fullest?
Pro Tip: Try bottom watering your plants. It provides water to the entire mass of soil without the risk of overwatering.
Too Much Fertilizer
Check if there is any problem with the fertilizer. Over-fertilization may cause soil crust. If you find such, do make out that either this or the lack of nutrient-rich fertilizer is causing small leaves.
Nutrient deficiency can also cause your new leaves to be small. Nutrients are vital for a young leaf to develop correctly.
If your seedlings or young plants have small, yellowing, or otherwise unhealthy-looking leaves it could be due to a lack of nutrients in the soil.
This can happen if you use plain potting soil or if you’ve used too rich of a soil mix for your young plants.
Examine your plants’ nutrient levels by testing your soil with an inexpensive kit that can be purchased at any hardware store or online.
The color chart provided will tell you what nutrients are lacking in your soil and how much to add to remedy the problem.
I have used a cost-effective Liquid Fertilizer called Purived to help strengthen my plant leaves, stems, and their overall health. You can find it by clicking here!
Temperature and Humidity
Temperature and humidity also come on the list. If the temperature is too high and the air is not humid, the soil will get too dry which stunts the further growth of plants.
Plants generally grow best at 4-8Â°C (39-46Â°F), but some species thrive at higher temperatures (6-9Â°C [42-48Â°F]).
The Pot Is Too Small
If there is not enough accommodation in the pot new leaves might sprout out but they will not grow much. They will be smaller than usual.
Bigger pots can allow for plants to grow larger than they would if they were placed into a smaller pot.
The recommended pot size for transplanting is between 2 to 4 inches larger in diameter from the pot that the plant was planted in.
This gives the roots enough space to spread and absorb more water and nutrients. Excessively larger Pots will have higher water retention and require more nutrients for plants to grow.
How To Get Bigger Leaves on Plants?
Well, a few things stimulate the growth of big plant leaves. Hence, you will just have to keep them in mind for the sake of the aesthetic growth of your plants. Find them below.
It is the paramount thing that assists in plant growth by helping in Photosynthesis in the plant leaves. The plants, therefore, should be kept at a place where they can easily receive 6-8 hours of steady sunlight.
You can put them at the south-facing windows too. If you want you can leave them in sunlight throughout the morning but avoid it at noon.
Don’t forget to rotate the plant to make sure that the whole of the plant receives ample sunlight. But never make the mistake of keeping them in direct sunlight which may burn leaves.
In case there is not enough sunlight in your place you may rely on LED lights. It helps in overall plant growth.
Water your plants only when the soil runs bone dry. Watering once a week might work pretty well for them.
To avoid the chances of over-watering check out the humidity of the soil by digging your finger into it. If the air around your plant is too dry you can use a humidifier or mist your plants regularly to meet their need for moisture.
Another thing, filter out the tap water before using it on the soil. Because the salt remaining in tap water may cause salt build-up in the soil that can burn the foliages.
Use a fertilizer that contains an equal proportion of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (N-P-K). Small leaves of plants are much benefitted if you use Nitrogen-rich fertilizers.
Ensure the presence of trace elements as they are vital too.
- If your plant is overgrowing, it’s high time to report it to help them grasp nutrients.
- To get rid of sneaky pests and bacteria, wipe the plant leaves with alcohol. Cut out distressed leaves to see a better result.
I have had the best results from using Miracle-Gro Soluble fertilizer. It’s great value for money and will last a long time. You can find it by clicking here.
Will Smaller Leaves Affect The Entire Plant?
Yeah, they may but that’s not too much.
It just causes a low rate of the major procedure Photosynthesis.
The small surface of the leaves cannot retain enough sunlight having minimum chloroplast.
At the same time, the rate of gaseous exchange is also low when there are a few stomata on the leaf. This is how the rate of photosynthesis is affected. It might therefore affect the plant growth.
But, did you know about the positive role of smaller plant leaves?
Yes, positive role. The fewer stomata in small leaves help to reduce transpiration or water loss in simple words.
Should Smaller Leaves be Cut Off?
Every plant has an aesthetic and a personality. Every plant is different. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Cutting small leaves off your plants is a good idea in larger plants such as fiddle leaf figs and Monsteras. The reason is that the plant becomes less efficient at removing and dispersing nutrients, thus decreasing the plant’s ability to reproduce.
If you make the step in removing smaller leaves then you can either place them into a compost bin or even bury them into the soil beneath the plant.
Leaves when decomposed will release nutrients back into the soil for the plant to use.
For a more detailed explanation for reducing leaf count see our post on cutting leaves in half.
While new growth is normally a sign of healthy plants, new leaves that are smaller than normal can be a symptom of more serious problems such as nutrient deficiencies and heat or water stress. A lack of light, water or fertilizer can cause immature leaves. Over-watering and frequent fertilizing can also cause this immaturity of leaves.
Besides providing plants with the required amount of sunlight, water, fertilizer, and nutrients, pruning the plant and helping it grow upwards climbing a pole may also trigger the growth of leaves.