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Why are my Pilea Leaves Curling?

The Pilea plant serves you with many aesthetic and health benefits. But it’s a topic of concern when its coin-shaped leaves curl, losing all their charm.

Generally, the main reason Pilea leaves curling is overwatering. However, there may be other underlying reasons, such as heat and light stress, lack of humidity and nutrients, and problems with diseases and pests.

So, if you are searching for solutions to make your plant back to normal, go through this article till the end. 

Is it Normal for Pilea Leaves to Curl?

It is not normal for any indoor plant’s leaves to curl in a broader sense. However, leaves in this plant also curl up when they are new.

The leaves may curl inwards due to excess temperature and nutrient deficiency, but sometimes they curl outwards because of overwatering or low light.

Let the natural process continue if the leaves curl due to aging, but if they are curling due to transplant shock, wait until the plant heals on its own. 

Why are my Pilea Leaves Curling?

Apart from overwatering, there may be several underlying reasons for curling your Pilea leaves, and the threat can be severe if you delay the treatment.

Here are some of the reasons behind your Pilea leaves curing.

1. Excessive Watering

Overwatering makes your Pilea suffer from root rot, which causes the plant leaves to curl.

Other symptoms of overwatered Pilea include discolored, droopy leaves, yellow leaves, etc.

Usually, cupping in Pilea is due to overwatering, but it may be a sign of dryness if they are doming.

However, sometimes your plant may face mixed cupping, which may signify various problems.

Solution and Preventive Measures

It would prove best if you watered your Pilea when the top inch of the soil is dry. Sometimes due to excess water, the leaves in Pilea start to curl.
Watering habits to save Pilea from leaf curl
You can make your Pilea happy by keeping the soil moist during summer and dry during winter.
  • Follow the appropriate watering habits to prevent your plants from root rot.
  • But to prevent overwatering, you must not wholly deprive your plant of water, or it may develop signs like brown tips and droopy leaves.
  • Move the pot to somewhere warm and let it dry for some time. The curled leaves will also get back to form with the drying soil.
  • Check the drainage hole of the plant to see if it is clogged. Remove the obstructions, if any.
  • Always use a pot of appropriate size, and the potting mix of peat moss or coco fiber with perlite in a ratio of 9:1 can be suitable.
  • In summer, your plant may need more water than usual. However, water once every two weeks during winter.

2. Inadequate Sunlight

Pilea is originated from tropical and subtropical regions of China and thus prefers a bright and warm temperature.

However, it demands indirect or dappled sunlight to continue its daily plant functions.

If your Pilea receives too much direct sunlight, your plant’s leaves may curl up. That is this plant’s way of showing stress.

In low-light situations, the leaves expose as much of their surface area as possible to the available light to enhance photosynthesis.

Light dimesions play vital role in leaf curl
Bleached and curling leaves indicate that your Pilea is receiving too much light.

On the other hand, your plant may also face problems due to extreme sunlight, like yellowing, drooping, scorching, and many more.

Solution and Preventive Measures

  • Keep your Pilea in a bright room, a few inches from an east-facing window, or use appropriate curtains and drapes.
  • For even light distribution, rotate the plant occasionally and use grow lights if the light is meager. 
  • To speed up the recovery of your Pilea plant, move it to an area with bright but diffused sunlight rather than direct sunlight.

3. Temperature Stress and Cold Drafts

As a tropical plant, Pilea prefers a warmer temperature for proper functioning.

Generally, Pilea loves a temperature between 55-75°F (13-25°C), but if it exceeds 80°F (27°C), the plant leaves may curl up due to stress.

Excess temperature makes the water in the plant evaporate more quickly than it would normally.

However, in freezing temperatures, the plant loses a lot of moisture via leaves resulting in the curling of the leaves.

Pilea leaves curling due to temperature stress.
Pilea leaves curl due to temperature changes due to their high sensitivity.

Solution and Preventive Measures

  • Always keep your plant away from drafty windows during winter.
  • When the temperature is shallow during winter, you can provide a frost blanket or heating pads.

4. Low Humidity

Pilea thrives in moderately humid conditions, but at times, our living space may not be able to provide the optimal growing environment.

Pilea plant grows optimally in humidity ranging from 50-75%. Below this, the plant will curl its leaves to protect moisture content.

Insufficient moisture can lead to issues such as browning leaf edges, yellowing of leaves, plant dehydration, and similar problems.

Solution and Preventive Measures

  • Never use air conditioners and heaters, as they suck out moisture. Instead, a humidifier or a wet pebble tray works better to maintain humidity.
  • Furthermore, mist your plant once every two weeks to maintain the humidity.
  • Alternatively, you can also group it with other plants to share moisture, but there may be a risk of spreading pathogens.

5. Lack of Nutrients

Pilea is known for being a low-maintenance plant that doesn’t require frequent fertilization.

However, there are some instances where your Pilea may benefit from a little extra nutrient boost.

The nutrient-deficient Pilea will curl up its bottom leaves, and you must fulfill its nutrient demands by adding fertilizers.

However, among the six macronutrients, Pilea gets Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Carbon from nature. But you have to fulfill their Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium demands.

Role of NPK fertilizer to treat Pilea leaves curling.
Only feed Pilea with NPK fertilizer on its active growth stage.

Solution and Preventive Measures

  • Feed your plant a high-nitrogen fertilizer with added amino-acid supplement to fulfill nitrogen demands.
  • Always maintain the soil pH range between 5-6. Alkaline soil may slow down nutrient uptake resulting in leaf curl.
  • Sometimes, overfeeding may be the reason for the curling of Pilea leaves. Flush the plant’s base if such an issue arises.
To treat curled leaves due to insufficient nutrition, a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer, diluted to half strength once a month, is enough. 

6. Root Rot

Root rot is a dangerous reason for Leaf curl in your Pilea plant, occurring primarily due to overwatering or pathogenic issues.

Due to overwatering or various kinds of fungi, Pilea’s root turns mushy and brown, and that phenomenon directly affects the leaves of the plant leaves, making them curl.

Usually, healthy roots are white and stiff but can quickly lose that structure if the care is not up to the mark.

Excessive watering can cause root infections and dysfunction, forcing leaves to curl for moisture protection.

Besides root rot, leaves may also curl due to root bounding, and repotting solves both problems.

Solutions and Preventive Measures

  • First, check if your plant has root rot or is root-bound by carefully removing it from the pot and examining the roots.
  • Remove the soil and untangle the roots.
  • Then, select a larger pot and fill 70% with well-draining soil.
  • Place the plant in the new pot and fill the rest with soil.
  • Remember to leave space for future fertilization.
  • Resume regular care to promote healthy growth.

7. Pest Infestations

The attractive foliage of Pilea can attract any pests, but you can always protect your plant with a timely diagnosis.

Some pests like Aphids, Spider mites, and Mealybugs feed upon Pilea’s leaves and stems, and the leaves curling occurs, showing signs of stress.

Let’s look at how to identify these pests.

Aphids (Pear-shaped, green insects)Foliage looks crinkled or stunted
Spider Mites (Spider-like mites shrouded with webbings)Lower side of leaves have spidery webs
Mealybugs (White, cottony masses)Plant wilts, discolor and curl
Fungus Gnat (Larvae of Gnat flies crawling in the potting soil)Plants will grow poorly and have foliage loss

Solutions and Preventive Measures

  • If the pests are visible to the naked eye, wear gloves and handpick them.
  • You can catch fungus gnats with yellow sticky tapes.
  • Dilute isopropyl alcohol with equal water and apply it to the leaves if any insect eggs are visible.
  • Check the roots properly and apply insecticides by soil drenching to protect them.
  • Horticultural neem oil suffocates the pests. Use them to get rid of pests.
  • Regularly examine the roots of the plant as part of your routine care. This will help you detect potential issues early on and take necessary measures to address them.

From Editorial Team

Some Tips

Ensure your Pilea plant receives adequate ventilation and light to meet its needs.

Sometimes, Pilea may face leaf curl due to lack of air circulation. Ensure that the soil provides the proper air circulation to its roots. 

Also, remember that curled leaves can’t be revived, so pruning them with sterilized equipment will be helpful to save the plant’s energy.

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