Why are my Philodendron Leaves Curling?

Philodendrons are a very low-maintenance plant, but this doesn’t mean you won’t face any problems while growing the plant.

One of the common issues the plant might face if not properly taken care of is the curling of leaves.

There is no need to panic since curling leaves are generally not a serious issue and can be solved with extra effort.

Philodendron leaves curl when they are not appropriately watered, have insufficient lighting or humidity, and are under/over-fertilized. Having pests infestation can also be the reason behind the curls.

Potted Philodendron Burle Marx
Potted Philodendron Burle Marx (Source: Etsy)

So without any delay, let’s dive down to know about the possible causes, how to diagnose them and what you can do to solve them and keep your plant healthy.

Is it Normal for Philodendron Leaves to Curl?

So, let’s get straightforward. No, it isn’t okay for your Philodendron leaves to start curling.

If you start noticing your Philodendron leaves curling, sometimes it could be a minor issue, but other times there might be other underlying issues in addition to the leaves curling that might harm your plant.

Philodendrons leaves curling
Philodendrons with curled leaves

However, it might not be a massive problem if the plant is actively growing and has only a few curling leaves without any other symptoms.

Why are my Philodendron Leaves Curling?

1. Underwatering Issues

One of the most common causes of Philodendron leaves curling is Underwatering. Being a tropical plant, the water and humidity requirements are high.

Also, due to its large leaves, the plant evaporates a lot of water and thus has a constant need for hydration.

Water the plant when required.
Water the plant when required (Source: Tenor)

If the plant doesn’t get enough water, the leaves will start to wilt and curl inwards, enabling the plant to control the water transpiration from the leaves.

Dry soil is also a big NO if you want to grow a healthy Philodendron plant in your home.

Occasionally, the soil can get dry between each watering, but regular underwatering will harm your plant’s health.

Other signs of an underwatered Philodendron include,

  • leaves turning brown,
  • the soil drying out,
  • brown leaf tips,
  • drooping leaves, and
  • dry and crispy leaves.

Tips to Save an Underwatered Philodendron

The bottom-watering method is one way to help save an underwatered plant.

  • Place the plant in a tray or a sink filled with water.
  • Let the soil absorb all the water from the pot’s drainage holes.
  • After about 20-30 minutes, the soil will have absorbed the exact amount of water.
  • Feel the topsoil with your finger to check if the soil has absorbed water. It should get moist without being too soggy.
  • Finally, place your plant back in its dry saucer.

Check the topsoil every week to prevent underwatering. The topsoil should get slightly dry between each watering.

Interested in knowing about the benefits behind the hard work as a plant parent? Here is an article that might interest you, “10 Science-Backed Benefits of Indoor Plants

2. Water Quality

Just watering the plant might not be enough for your plant’s growth. Water quality will also play a negative role in your plant growing journey.

Most of us use regular tap water to water our plants, which might lead to the leaves curling or some other issues.

Tap water is full of minerals like fluoride, chlorine, and salt. Over time, salt build-up around the roots will lead to poor water absorption, discoloration, and leaves curling.

Don’t just water your plants for the sake of watering your plant. Poor water quality can lead to discoloration and curling of leaves and causes a salt buildup in the soil.

Using cold water can also stress the plant and stunt its growth.

Tips to Water your Philodendron Properly

  • Use distilled water which contains very few minerals, preventing any salt buildup on the soil.
  • Rainwater is naturally soft and also helps you flush out the minerals. It is also a good source of Nitrogen which helps the plants grow greener.
  • Use filtered water to reduce the chlorine content in the water. You can also leave the water in a container overnight to reduce the chlorine content.
  • Cold or very hot water can also damage the plant. Use lukewarm or room temperature water to help the plant grow efficiently.

3. Overwatering Issues

Unlike underwatering, the Philodendron leaves curl downward due to overwatering as well. Overwatering can also cause root rot, yellowing, drooping leaves, and even brown spots on the leaves.

If you notice the leaf curling due to overwatering, it could also signify root rot.

Overwatering the Snake Plant
Overwatering the Plant (Source: tenor)

In case of root rot, the water will not get to the leaves, generally resulting in curling of leaves and even discoloration. Potting soil getting smelly is also a tell-tale sign of root rot.

Overwatering and poor drainage or aeration can lead to the roots not receiving enough oxygen and being vulnerable to fungal infections leading to root rot.

Tips to Save an Overwatered Philodendron

  • Let the soil dry out sufficiently in between waterings.
  • Check for root rot and remove any decayed/dead roots and damaged leaves.
  • If the root rot is excessive, transplant it into a new sterile potting mix.
  • Water only when the topsoil starts getting slightly dry.

4. Light Issues

We all know how crucial light is for growing any plant. Philodendrons, too, love to stay under bright indirect light.

Too much light or too little light can affect the plant and lead to the leaves curling or other adverse effects.

Exposure to too much light or direct sunlight will lead to sunburn, and the leaves will start curling to save the plant from water transpiration from the leaves.

Damage Due to Light Issues
Damage Due to Light Issues (Source: Royal City Nursery)

Excess light also leads to the plant getting dehydrated.

Philodendron leaves can also start curling due to insufficient light. The plan requires about 7-8 hours of bright indirect light to grow properly.

In addition to curled leaves, too little light will also slow down the plant’s growth, and you might also start noticing leggy growth towards a light source.

Tips to Fix Light Issues

  • Get grow lights to substitute for the lack of bright indirect sunlight.
  • Move the plant to a bright, shaded area.
  • Dust the leaves for better sunlight exposure.
  • Water the plant thoroughly to rehydrate the plant and avoid any wilting and curling leaves.

Did you know about the light color impact on plant growth? Well, here it is, detailedly explained: What Light Color is Best for the Plant’s Growth?

5. Temperature Stress

Temperature fluctuations or extreme temperatures can stress or harm your Philodendron. It is also one of the reasons why the Philodendron leaf tips curl inwards.

In case of too much heat, usually under direct sunlight, the leaves will start curling inwards also because the plant evaporates too much moisture and gets dehydrated.

Soil temperature range
Appropriate soil temperature range (Source: University of British Columbia)

Never keep your Philodendron plant at temperatures below 55°F. Ideal temperatures for Philodendron would be from 60°F to 80°F.

Low temperatures will also lead to the leaves curling inwards but it is less likely. Prolonged low temperatures could even kill your plant.

It can even lead to the sap of leaves freezing, which expands in volume leading to cell membrane damage and even death of some cells.

Not just the temperature fluctuations, a sudden cold draft from a window, an air conditioner, or a refrigerator also can be the reason behind those curls.

Tips to Fix/Avoid Leaves Curling due to Temperature Stress

  • Regulate the temperature around 60-80°F for your Philodendron.
  • Avoid sudden changes in the temperature (drops and spikes).
  • Remove the damaged leaves as they won’t revive.
  • Don’t place your plant near an open window, air conditioner, or refrigerator.
  • Avoid keeping the plant outdoors during winters or cold nights.
  • Relocate to a different spot with indirect sunlight and it will recover from the stress.

6. Low Humidity

Being a tropical plant, humidity is required for Philodendrons to grow efficiently. High humidity will help the plant sustain its growth and healthy dark green foliage.

Philodendron grows best in humidity levels ranging from 60% to 80%, and humidity below 40% can affect the plant and lead to the leaves curling.

If you start noticing the leaves curling in, turning yellow or brown, and looking dull, it is generally a sign of low humidity.

The leaves start curling to reduce water loss, similar to the underwatering issue.

Tips to Provide High Humidity

Room humidifier for plants
Room humidifier (Source: Amazon)
  • Mist your plants often, about twice every week.
  • Group the plants to boost the humidity levels naturally, but keep the plants and the surroundings sanitized to control the spread of diseases.
  • Place the plant on a pebble tray.
  • Move the plant to more humid rooms like the bathroom and kitchen, but make sure the plant receives enough bright indirect light.

Why are the Leaves on my Prayer Plant Curling? is here to answer the curling questions for your Maranta.

7. Improper Fertilizing

Fertilization is key to the growth of most plants, but improper fertilizing can get detrimental to the plant’s health.

Overfertilization will lead to the curling of leaves, and in the worst case can cause the roots and leaves to burn. The excess fertilizer will also build upon the soil surface and make it more acidic.

Whereas minimal feeding also leads to Philodendron leaves curling either upwards or downwards.

Leaves curling downward can result from magnesium deficiency, whereas the leaves generally curl upwards for phosphorus deficiency.

Tips to Properly Feed your Philodendron

  • Fertilize once a month with a balanced 20:20:20 NPK fertilizer.
  • Dilute the strength to 50% before fertilizing.
  • Avoid fertilizing during winter.
  • Constantly water your plant before fertilizing, which will ensure the fertilizer gets adequately absorbed.

In case of overfertilization, stop fertilizing immediately and wash your Philodendron so that the excess fertilized gets flushed away. Repot your plant if required.

8. Pests Infestation

Pest infestation is also one of the reasons for curling Philodendron leaves. The plant is susceptible to pest infestations like spider mites, mealy bugs, aphids, thrips, and scales.

Insecticides are very effective in killing the pest and their eggs
Insecticides are very effective in killing the pest and their eggs (Source: Pixabay)

The sap-sucking pests like aphids and thrips suck water and nutrition out from the plant’s leaves, causing them to curl, turn yellow and even fall off.

The pests also lay eggs on the leaf blades, and when the larva hatches, they start eating the leaf leading to deformation of the leaves, which results in upward curling.

Check the underside of the leaves for the tiny dots or humps on the leaves as a pest signs in your plants before any significant damage.

Tips to Treat and Prevent Pest Infestation

  • Splash the plant with a force of water which might also help you get rid of the pests. But make sure to wipe the leaves dry to avoid any spread of diseases.
  • Treat the plant with neem oil.
  • Apply low-toxic insecticide Pyrethrin or insecticidal soap to remove pests effectively.
  • Prune and discard the leaves with significant pest damage
  • Use the certified aphid-free potting mix to keep aphids at bay.

Putting It All Together

Now, you might have figured out the possible causes of your Philodendron leaves curling and how to solve it and keep the plant healthy.

You can grow a healthy and curl-free Philodendron in your home with minimal effort. Providing suitable conditions and proper care is essential to keep them healthy and happy.

If you find your Philodendron leaves curling, monitor your plant’s health regularly and follow the guide to take care of your Philodendron plant.

I hope you will be able to fix your Philodendron leaves from curling and keep your plant in top-notch condition.

Happy Growing!

Similar problem woth your Snake Plant, there you go with Snake Plant Leaves Curling: Reasons, Solutions & Prevention

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