A houseplant is generally less stressful and requires little maintenance. If it’s properly lit, properly watered, and fertilized, it should thrive without issue.
Once the leaves of your indoor plant become discolored or curl, it’s time to give them some attention.
If you notice curling leaves on a plant, there is something wrong. For indoor plants, it could be anything from pests to inadequate lighting to heat stress to nutrient deficiencies or even over-watering. This is why it’s important to balance all these factors in order for your plant to thrive.
What is Leaf Curl?
Curled leaves are often the result of several different fungi, bacteria or deficiencies in the plant. In worst cases, this leads to a reduction in leaves, fruits, and flowers or can lead to the complete destruction of the plant.
You can extend the life of your plants by choosing the right form of treatment or remedy when you understand the signs, symptoms, and possible causes.
Why Do Indoor Plant Leaves Curl?
The sight of curled leaves on your houseplants can be alarming, but it does not necessarily mean you should panic. Consider taking a deep breath and doing some detective work to determine what your plants’ curls are trying to tell you. Here are four reasons why your houseplant’s leaves may curl and what you should do about each one:
Apartment Botanist’s Alessia Resta suggests that curling leaves indicate that the soil is dry, which means that you should water the plant. A plant designer and the author of Wild Interiors Wild at Home, Hilton Carter, supports this sentiment. The leaves of an underwatered plant will change color in addition to curling or developing small brown spots on the ends of the foliage when they are thirsty.
Therefore, if you see curling leaves or other signs that the plant has been underwatered like pale, spotty leaves, make sure you stick your fingers into the soil. When the soil is completely dry in the top two inches, give your plant enough water to moisten the soil completely. Make no mistake about it, the plant does not like to be overwatered either. Be sure your pot has drainage holes or pebbles so that water doesn’t collect at the bottom and cause root rot.
It has pests
The presence of pests on plants often causes issues, with curling leaves being one of them. Leaves with holes or speckling, as well as pale or yellowing leaves, can also serve as warning indicators. Curled leaves are usually due to insects, such as aphids, which suck sap from plants. Make sure you examine your plants’ leaves closely for signs of pests; you should be able to see them with the naked eye.
Using water and a touch of dish soap will help you remove them from your plants. Spray water afterward to remove all soap residue, then spritz a mist of diluted neem oil with water.
Common Pests for Indoor Plants
Plants are susceptible to many pests, causing their leaves to curl. The curling in your plants is due to viruses, bacteria, and fungi carried by these insects. Pests most commonly encountered in homes include:
Aphids. These pests are small and cluster on upper surfaces of leaves. They come in different colors. To survive, the sap is sucked out of the leaves, causing the plant to yellow and curl. It is also possible for aphids to transmit viruses between different plants. It’s not uncommon for them to reproduce up to 12 to 20 offspring per day, so once you catch them on your plant, you should isolate it as soon as possible to stop the spread of the parasite.
How to Fix? An aphid’s protective exoskeleton is made of wax, spraying potassium salts on it weakens the wax and kills the insect. The treatment should be repeated weekly until you no longer see any aphids on the plant.
Thrips. Thrips may cause leaf curling, but they may also cause leaves to dry out and eventually crumble. Their appearance is similar to that of threads, and they are brown and black. Its presence is difficult to recognize due to its microscopical size. They eat plant sap and eventually dry the plant out.
How to Fix? Spray the plants affected with neem oil. Thrips will not develop normally if this solution is used. Make sure to repeat the treatment no less than twice or thrice every seven to ten days so that not only the eggs but also the hatchlings don’t survive.
Spidermites. The species are closely related to spiders and possess four pairs of legs, no antennas, and a tooth that makes them able to pierce through plants and suck out their nutrients. Consequently, the leaf becomes discolored, and eventually curls up when the sap is running out.
How to Fix? You can spray the plants with insecticides specifically designed to kill arachnids. These insecticides contain enough formula to kill eggs and larvae. You should spray in moderation.
It’s getting too much light
Plants do not necessarily require direct sunlight, and many thrive without it. It is possible for your plants to need a little shade if they are looking scorched, curled, or crispy, especially if they are in direct sunlight.
Try moving the plant into a shadier area of your house and see how it does. If you want to know what sunlight type a particular plant prefers, you can search Google for that information.
Its soil is impacted
Finally, if all of the above has failed to stop the curling, you need to check the soil. If the curling persists after you water, the soil may not be functioning properly, and the roots may not be receiving enough water. You can loosen the roots of the plant by pulling it gently out of its pot, but if the soil is too dense around the roots, you’ll need to add fresh soil.
Other Plant Deficiencies
In order to keep your plants healthy, you can look out for some symptoms of nutrient deficiencies and take the appropriate measures.
Newer leaves are affected first by this deficiency. When they do not receive enough nutrients, the existing leaves absorb it from the older ones. A plant that bears fruit will typically have this deficiency, since it puts most of its energy into producing fruit.
Symptoms. In older leaves, the green color fades, they become soft and curl inwards until they eventually fall off.
Remedy. The soil should be fertilized with high-nitrogen fertilizers. This is very effective and quickly absorbed. To prevent nitrogen deficiency, incorporate an amino acid supplement into your routine.
Similar to nitrogen deficiency, affected leaves are the first to succumb to this deficiency, which eventually affects the remainder of the plant when left untreated.
Symptoms. The leaves of mature trees have bluish colors, a glossy sheen, and curl downwards. They may also have brown spots.
Remedy. When the first symptoms appear, bone-meal supplements that contain high amounts of phosphorus are the best treatment. It is important to keep the climate controlled in order to prevent this deficiency. At cooler temperatures, the plants cannot absorb phosphorus. It is ideal to maintain the temperature between 65 o and 75 o F.
Whenever the plant comes into bloom, you can be sure that nutrients would be distributed to them specifically. Potassium in particular would be drawn from the rest of the plant and given to the flowers.
Symptoms. As a result of the dark brown coloration of the leaves and curled edges, the plants’ outer portions appear burned. In contrast, the veins and surrounding areas remain green.
Remedy. Plants that produce fruit or flowers should be fertilized with high-potassium fertilizer. The pH of the fertilizer should also be adequate, anything above or below would not be absorbed by the plant. pH levels within 5.5 to 6.5 are ideal for soil based plants, while soil pH levels should not exceed 7.0 for aquatic plants.
In order to ensure a healthy growth of your plants, it is essential to understand their specific needs.
Depending on the variety or species, different care techniques would apply.
The ability to provide your houseplant with what it needs reduces your worries and makes the houseplant one that is happier and healthier overall.
Are curling leaves always cause for concern?
Usually, they are not. Once you’ve identified the problem, all you have to do is get your plants back to their normal state as soon as possible. If you can’t remove them, it’s better to remove the curled leaves so your plant can conserve energy for its healthy leaves.
When your plants’ leaves curl, check the plants’ water supply, soil and lighting, and the leaves for insect infestations. If you notice curling leaves, don’t forget to remove any pests that may be there. In no time, your plant should return to its former glory once you make the necessary repairs or simply remove the curled leaves.