Guttation = Crying Plants – Why They Tear or Cry?

guttation is the tears coming from leaf ends

Have you ever woke up in the morning to see your plants – crying tears (guttation) – or dripping water from the ends of their leaves?

Rest assured this is not uncommon. Let’s look at those – crying leaves – and try to stay away from being too technical.

What Is Guttation?

The “crying” is called Guttation – Some refer to this as transpiration, but what you are seeing is specifically called guttation.

They are closely related, lets look at transpiration and guttation

Transpiration

Transpiration can take place through the exposed surface of cell walls but the greatest amount takes place through the stomates.

These are specialized guard cells controlling the size of tiny pores, stomata, for gas exchange and the release of water vapor.

We have the movement of moisture or sap from the roots to the leaves.

This movement supplies the food-manufacturing cells with water needed for photosynthesis and provides the moisture necessary for dispersing carbon dioxide into and oxygen out of these cells.

Various factors influence the transpiration rate. Photosynthesis, induced by light, has the effect of increasing the water pressure in the cells bordering each stomate.

The widening of the stomate increases water loss.

Low humidity promotes the dispersing of water vapor from the air passages inside the leaf into the outside air. A lack of water in the soil cuts down the water supply to the cells, thus limiting expansion of the cells.

Transpiration is highest on a bright, dry day and lowest at night or in drought conditions. It all gets down to the fact plants must get rid of the excess water in their leaves.

Guttation

When leaves lose water as a liquid phase through special cells called hydathodes it is referred to as guttation.

These guttation "tears" appear at the leaf tips or margins and contain various salts, sugars and other organic substances.


This action can also lead to the penetration of unwanted bacteria that can cause plant disease problems. The use of some leaf cleaners and leaf shines can also plug up the hydathodes and cause browning tips.

One question that always comes up is will the – tears – hurt my floor, or carpet, etc.

I would recommend wiping up these tear droplets – you never know what is in the salts and sugars that could stain these objects.

I hope we haven’t gotten too technical but – crying plants – is a natural occurrence.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

rose June 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

Thank you for the info about Hydathodes! I just recently purchased a beautiful plant called Alocasia. Unfortunately, the info was a bit late to avoid damage to my furniture :-( The droplets left water spots on the wood surface. I now have a sheet of glass under it to protect my furniture. I was an Arizona resident now residing in FL and really appreciate all the knowledge you have and are sharing in your daily newsletter….