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Why is My Pothos Leaves Curling? (Causes Solutions)

Unseen hostile forces sometimes can deform Pothos’ foliage beyond repair, and the most common type is the curling of leaves.

Generally, inadequate watering, light issues, pests, diseases, humidity, temperature, and repotting stresses are the reason behind the curling of Pothos leaves.

So, if you want to learn about curled Pothos leaves, stand by and keep reading!

Is It Normal for Pothos Leaves to Curl?

Different Pothos varieties have various levels of undulation in their leaves. Some leaves show considerable curving, while others are plain and almost flat.

Usually, healthy or young Pothos leaves are slightly curling at the tip.

Image represents young leaves of Pothos
Young and developing leaves of Pothos are naturally rolled up.

However, the leaves only attain a slight curve when they mature.

When the Pothos’ leaves are young, they appear to be rolled up and are light green.

Similarly, Pothos leaves also show curling during aging. It takes 5 to 10 years for any variety of Pothos to get old and develop curled leaves.

However, if you see any kind of uncanny leaves that curl out of the blue, it might be a distress call.

These leaf curling crises arise from improper watering, temperature and light issues, and even pest or disease attacks.

Moreover, addressing the direction of leaves curling in your Pothos is vital.

How Do You Fix Curled Pothos Leaves? (Causes and Solutions)

Before we can fix the leaves curling in Pothos, it is critical to understand the causes behind the curling issue.

Let’s get into the causes and solutions to fix the issues immediately.

1. Improper Watering 

Underwatering and overwatering causes are the most common culprits behind leaves curling in Pothos.

If you see shrunken potting soil with edges separated from the brim of the pot or cracked soil surfaces, it’s a sign of underwatering.

The curling of leaves is a final desperate attempt of the plant to preserve its remaining moisture.

Although underwatering is a severe issue for your Pothos, overwatering can kill the plant faster.

You can notice the hint of overwatering by the downward curling of the leaves’ edges.

However, curling can occur even if you water properly due to water containing chloride, fluoride, etc. 

Treatment and Preventive Measures

  • Water your pothos every 2-3 days during summer and spring when soil is 2-3 inches dry.
  • If the soil is extremely dry, apply the bottom watering method.
  • Use moisture meters to get an idea of the watering schedule. Water your Pothos when the moisture meter reads 3 to 4.
  • Always use a terracotta pot and regularly check the drainage holes and potting soil. 
  • Use filtered, distilled, or rainwater with temperatures between 25°C and 26°C and pH between 6.1 and 6.5.
  • Stop watering immediately when the water seeps out from the drainage holes in the pot, and discard the excess water from the saucer.

2. Light Issues

Typically, healthy leaves of Pothos are broad, flat, and face towards the light source.

Light-deficient Pothos curl their leaves upwards, whereas excessive light causes the edges of the leaves to curl downwards.

Also, high direct sunlight might burn the leaves, and the soil can rapidly lose water resulting in leaf curl.

Treatment and Preventive Measures  

  • Place the Pothos in an area with dappling sunlight for 12 or more hours daily or to an east-facing window covered with transparent drapes.
Image represents potted Pothos plant near an east-facing window
Place the Pothos near an east-facing window to give it ample sunlight.
  • If you grow Pothos under artificial lights, use red and blue spectrum bulbs in sync for 12 hours daily.
  • Ensure to provide a light intensity between 10,000 and 20,000 lux for indoor Pothos plants.

3. Improper Temperature

Heat stress can cause the leaves of your precious Pothos plant to curl unusually.

The average temperature demand for Pothos is between 18°C and 29°C.

Both high and low-temperature stress cause the tips of the leaves to curl down.

More likely, the curling due to the temperature stress resembles wilting symptoms, with dangling leaves to preserve moisture.  

Treatment and Preventive Measures  

  • Remove the leaves damaged by heat burn using sharp and sterilized pruners.
  • Apply two to three inches of mulch on the soil’s surface to keep the plant cool during heat spells.
  • Always pay attention to the room’s temperature using indoor thermometers.
  • Place the plant away from north-facing windows or use frost blankets to protect it from cold drafts in winter.
  • Keep your potted plant away from the heating vents, coolers, fireplace, or radiators to avoid temperature fluctuation.

4. Improper Humidity

Pothos is an evergreen and tropical plant that loves high humidity, so a humidity level between 50% and 70% works best for the Pothos.

However, in very low humidity, Pothos shows stress by curling leaves with brown and brittle margins.

Image represents the effect of low humidity in Pothos
Low humidity can damage the leaf margin of Pothos.

Treatment and Preventive Measures 

  • Place Pothos in the kitchen, bathroom, greenhouse, or beside a humidifier.
  • Give your plant gentle sprays of water a few times until the leaves regain their jazz.
  • Keep a tray filled with water and some pebbles below your potted Pothos to provide enough humidity in summer.
  • Group the Pothos with other houseplants to raise the humidity from the transpiration.
  • Use hygrometers to monitor humidity and regularly mist them once a week or when humidity levels are below 50%.

5. Overfertilization Issues

Pothos requires balanced liquid NPK fertilizer from early spring to early fall once a month.

However, don’t feed them in winter to prevent fertilizer burn and leaf curling. 

Follow-up symptoms include leaves attaining a dark green color and becoming unusually small. Soon, the leaves turn yellow, then brown, and develop spots.

Treatment and Preventive Measures 

  • Consider flushing the soil 4 to 5 times with room temperature water or keep them in summer rain for an hour to discard excess fertilizer.
  • Scratch the excess fertilizer salts from the soil surface using a trowel to minimize the fertilizer load.
  • Change the potting mix and provide balanced liquid fertilizer every month during the growing season.
  • Fertilize Pothos on a bright sunny day and avoid getting fertilizer on the leaves.

6. Common Pests

Although Pothos is a hardy plant, pests may still annoy them occasionally, making the leaves curl, distort, and droop.

Be prepared to fight the infestation of mealybugs, soft scales, thrips, aphids, gnats, and spider mites if you own any Pothos varieties.

Image represents Pothos leaf attacked by scale insects
Scale insects suck the sap from the leaves and distort their appearance. 
Pests can harm your Pothos by eating or sucking out the sap from the leaves, making them weak, curl, droop, and finally die.

But, before solving the infestation, know about these pests and how they attack your plant.

Common InsectsSigns and Symptoms
Spider MitesYellow to brown spots with curled and distorted leaves.

Mealybugs Resemble small white cottony balls without wings where leaves are attached.
WhitefliesLeave sticky droppings called honeydews.
Soft ScalesResemble oval bumps on leaf surface which misshape leaves.
ThripsPapery thin and distorted leaves.
AphidsWhite to green oval shaped insects that causes leaves to curl.
Fungus GnatsSmall, white insects that indirectly curl the leaves by boring holes in the roots.

Treatment and Preventive Measures 

  • First, separate the infested Pothos from the other houseplants to prevent spreading and clear away their droppings.
  • Take q-tips dipped in a dilute solution of isopropyl alcohol and rub them at the infestation site on the plant.
  • Use gentle water sprays, to blast off the pests hiding under the leaves.
  • Uproot the plant to check for any damage to the roots if you witness any Gnat larvae.
  • Continue the treatment every once or twice a week until the leaves regain a glossy shine.
  • If the plant is beyond saving, burn or discard it immediately.

7. Horticultural Diseases

Bacterial or fungal diseases like leaf spots and blight like root rot, leaf spots, and blight can often be the culprit behind the curling of leaves.

When you pay less attention to your plant, these diseases may increase unexpectedly.

By knowing the sign of the disease, you can apply the right care for your Pothos.

DiseasesCausative AgentsSymptoms
Bacterial Leaf Spot

Pseudomonas cichoriiSmall, round, brown or black water-soaked spots on the surface of the leaves that later get a yellow outline and spread to the leaves' margin causing leaf curl.

Bacterial Leaf Wilt

Ralstonia solanacearumLeaf and stem veins turn black with wilted and curled leaves.
Fungal Root Rot

Rhizoctonia sp., Phytopthora sp., or Pythium sp.Slimy roots with necrotic tissues that occurs curling and yellowing of leaves.
Foul smell from soil.

Treatment and Preventive Measures 

Fortunately, your unwell Pothos can return to its gleeful state if you take quick action. 

  • First, isolate your diseased plant from the rest of the plants to prevent the spread of the infestation.
  • Place the plant in a cool room and avoid increasing the temperature around your plant.
  • Use sterilized pruners, snip any diseased leaves, stems, or vines, and spray neem oil to prevent spreading.
  • If the roots are in bad condition, remove the slimy and black portions and repot.
Image represents rotting roots in Pothos
Root rot is caused by fungal infections, which occur due to overwatering.
  • Control pest growth and apply suitable fungicides or bacteriocides every 7-14 days.

8. Repotting Stress

Pothos need repotting when it has become root bound and outgrown its current container.

Normally, repot your Pothos once in one to two years in a new container 2 inches in diameter bigger than the previous one.

However, after repotting, the leaves of Pothos may curl due to transplant shock, which may also result in leaf fall and even death.

Treatment and Preventive Measures  

  • Keep the repotted Pothos in indirect light for a week until the plant adjusts.
  • Keep the soil moist and wait four to six weeks before feeding your plant.
  • Trim off any diseased or damaged leaves so the plant can focus its energy on producing new leaves.
  • Always use a fresh potting mix so that the plant can adjust quickly.
  • Prune the roots once a year to reduce the root-bound Stress for your plant.
  • To prevent the change in soil pH over time, use terracotta or plastic planters and avoid using clay pots.

Check the video to learn about applying neem oil to your infected Pothos!

From Editorial team

Leaf Curl may also Arise in Pothos Growing in Hydroponics

If you witness a leaf curl in your pothos growing in hydroponics, it may be due to water temperature.

Use room temperature water to grow your pothos in hydroponics and avoid any hot or cold drafts to prevent it from shock.

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