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Why is My Pothos Leaves Curling? (Causes & Solutions)

Pothos are famous for their sheer tenacity in keeping the leaves glossy green even after pitfalls.

However, unseen hostile forces sometimes can deform Pothos’ foliage beyond repair, and the most common type is the distressing issue of leaf curl!

In general, Pothos leaves curling is a consequence of watering and light issues, pests and diseases, humidity, temperature, and repotting stresses. To prevent the leaves from curling, provide adequate water, maintain the right temperature, and watch out for diseases and pests.   

Image represents the curling of leaves in Pothos
Leaves of Pothos may curl due to natural and unnatural causes.

While growing up with kittens and Pothos, I inherited the gardening lifestyle from my pop.

Whenever our Pothos falls sick, I am always there to call action and revive them. Once my Father tested my knowledge of differentiating between normal and alarming Pothos leaves curling which I passed successfully.

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

Is It Normal for Pothos Leaves to Curl?

Pothos are noteworthy for their heart-shaped, waxy, thick, and green leaves, and some varieties also boast speckles of yellow and white on their surface.

But, the leaf’s color is not the only thing intriguing about Pothos.

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

Normally, healthy or young Pothos leaves are slightly curved 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 in color.

Similarly, Pothos leaves also show curling when the plant attains an old age or at the end of its cycle. It takes a good 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, it is important to address the direction of leaf curling.

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

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

Each issue can result in different forms of curling in Pothos.

So, without further ado, let’s get into these causes, and I will give some solutions to fix the issues along the way.   

1. Watering Issues

Improper watering is one of the common culprits of the leaves curling in Pothos.

Most people make their first mistake by unknowingly giving their plants too much or too little water.

Hence, this issue contains both underwatering and overwatering causes.

Underwatering

Pothos have thicker and wider leaves as they can retain water easily, so they can still thrive even if you forget to give them a drink once or twice.

But don’t occasionally make it a habit, though!

Pothos is a trailing vine that can live for 2-3 weeks without water, but not forever.

If you have skipped watering sessions, Pothos may show discomfort by curling its leaves’ edges.

Some of the additional symptoms that follow include drooping and wilting of the leaves.

Image represents wilting of the Pothos leaves due to underwatering
Underwatering causes the leaves of Pothos to wilt and droop.

Moreover, the leaves become crispy in texture, like it’s dry and lacking water. In the later stages, the leaves may also attain a yellow tinge on the surface.

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

But, the leaves are not the only place where the effect of underwatering is visible.

Check the level of the potting soil. You can see that the soil has shrunk, and its edges have separated from the brim of the pot.

You may also witness some cracks on the surface of the soil.

Regardless of these conditions, you can revive your Pothos again. So, stop whining and take quick action!

Treatment and Preventive Measures 
  • Pothos require frequent sips of water in summer. So, adjust the watering schedule by being mindful of the climate and weather.
  • Check the top 2-3 inches of soil by using a finger dip test to see if it’s dry. You can then water your Pothos accordingly.
  • Make the soil evenly moist while watering so that the water can get to every nook and cranny of the soil in the pot.
  • Dip the entire pot up to the plant’s base in water for half an hour, and then drain the excess water.
  • Following this, check the soil up to 2 to 3 inches using a toothpick to see if it has gained back its moisture.
  • Place the potted Pothos in a saucer containing water to feed it by using a bottom-up approach for 24 hours. Remember, this is only applicable to terracotta containers.

Overwatering

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

Pothos hates getting “wet feet,” and long-term soggy situations in the soil can be fatal for the plant in many ways.

The first thing you can notice in an overwatered Pothos is the leaves’ edges curl downwards.

Image represents curling of Pothos leaves
Too much water in the soil can also cause the leaves of Pothos to curl.

This is followed by the yellowing of lower leaves and the appearance of black or brown speckles on the surface.

Additionally, the leaves become soft and droopy, and they may develop water-soaked lesions called edema.

Lastly, the leaves fall off, and the plant dies.

However, the greatest threat comes from below the soil. Too much water can lead to root rot.

This happens because overwatering causes the plant to choke, and the roots cannot get enough oxygen.

Thus, in a final desperate attempt, your Pothos curls its leaves to preserve the moisture.

Treatment and Preventive Measures 

Unfortunately, leaf curling due to overwatering cannot be reverted back.

But, you can prevent the overwatering conditions from the beginning.

  • In the beginning, solve the overwatering problem by placing the potted plant in sunlight for a few hours to dry the soil.
  • Water your Pothos only when the top 50% to 75% of the soil is dry.
  • Use moisture meters to get an idea of the watering schedule. Give water to your Pothos when the moisture meter reads 3 to 4.
  • Always use a terracotta pot that has drainage holes. Check regularly if the holes are blocked, and use a pencil to open them carefully.
  • If the soil is heavily soggy, poke holes at the surface of the soil using a pencil to aerate it.
  • Check for moldy and white growth on the soil’s surface or fishy odor coming from the mix. If any of the condition is evident, change the potting soil immediately.

Poor Water Quality

The decline in the water quality can also compel Pothos to roll its foliage, so the water you give to your Pothos must be of the right temperature and correct pH.

Additionally, the water must also contain ample amounts of nutrients.

Any more or fewer nutrients can make the plant uncomfortable, and the first symptom is seen in the leaves.

Image represents curled leaves of Satin Pothos
Satin Pothos dislikes tap water and complains about this by curling its leaves.

Tap water contains excess minerals such as sodium, chloride, and fluoride that make the water hard in chemical composition.

Such type of water is unsuitable for Pothos and can lead to excess salt build-up in the soil.

And it takes away the absorption ability of the plant from the roots.

Tips for Watering Pothos Properly

  • Don’t let the water stand in the saucer or pan below the pot; throw away the excess water before or after the watering sessions.
  • Use filtered, distilled, or rainwater every time while watering.
  • Ensure that the water temperature is the same as the room’s temperature (between 25°C and 26°C) where you keep your Pothos.
  • Always maintain the pH levels of water between 6.1 and 6.5.
  • Reduce watering frequency in winter and stick to scheduled watering once every two weeks during this dormant phase.
  • If you place your plant indoors under low light, give it less water than usual. Brighter locations demand more water for your plant.
  • Water thoroughly at the base to prevent the water from falling on the lower leaves of the plant.
  • Stop watering immediately when the water seeps out from the drainage holes in the pot.

2. Light Issues

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

If there is too little sunlight for the plant, the leaves edges curl upwards in search of light.

Similarly, the edges of the leaves move away from the light or curl downwards when there is too much light. This is because, as a houseplant, Pothos needs bright but indirect sunlight.

Image represents Pothos plant placed near a window
Leaves of Pothos love bright but indirect sunlight.

However, slightly less or low light won’t harm your plant but avoid direct sunlight, which might burn the leaves.

Moreover, high sunlight also can raise another problem of increasing temperature. This can make the soil rapidly lose water, and the leaves can curl similarly as in underwatering.

But you can regain the charm of your Pothos leaves by choosing the correct place to keep the plant.

Treatment Measures  

  • Place the Pothos in an area that welcomes dappling sunlight for 12 or more hours daily.
  • Move your Pothos plant to an east-facing window if it is receiving less light than normal.
  • Place your Pothos plant at least 3 feet away from the west-facing window if it is getting too much light.
  • If you keep your Pothos outside in a pot, protect them from direct sunlight exposure by moving them occasionally.
  • Shade your outdoor Pothos plant to prevent it from direct sunlight in summer or during hot days.
Image represents potted Pothos plant near an east-facing window
Place the Pothos near an east-facing window to give it ample sunlight.

Preventive Measures  

Taking action on the spur shall revive the leaves, but you also have to think long-term and prevent the curling of the leaves in the future.

  • Place your potted Pothos plant in front of windows covered with transparent drapes or curtains to provide it with dappling lights.
  • Avoid your hanging basket Pothos from creeping near indoor light sources.
  • 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 lux and 20,000 lux for indoor Pothos plants.

3. Improper Temperature

Heat stress can cause the leaves of your precious Pothos plant to curl in an unusual way.

The normal temperature needed for Pothos to survive is between 18°C and 29°C.

Temperature below or above this optimum range is harmful to the plant overall. High temperatures due to overheating or low-temperature Stress cause the tips of the leaves to curl down.

More likely, the curling due to the temperature stress looks like symptoms of wilting, with dangling leaves.

Image represents leaves of Pothos drooping due to excess temperature
Excessive surrounding temperature can cause the Pothos leaves to droop and curl.

Later, the leaves turn crisp and brown before finally giving up.

Actually, this curling of leaves is a response of the plant to preserve moisture.

The curling of the leaves due to improper temperature matches the curling that takes place when the plant is exposed to bright light.

So, the issue of temperature-related curling can easily be solved by moving the plant to a region of correct light exposure.  

Treatment Measures  

  • Move your Pothos immediately away from direct sunlight to a cooler or shady location.
  • If the soil is dry due to too much heat exposure, moist the soil surface evenly with water.
  • Give pleasant sprays of water to your Pothos on the leaves so as to give it a fresh start.
  • Remove the leaves that were damaged by heat burn using sharp and sterilized pruners.
  • Apply two to three inches of mulch on the surface of the soil so as to keep the plant cool during heat spells.

Tips for Maintaining Proper Temperature

  • Always pay attention to the room’s temperature using indoor thermometers.
  • Use frost blankets to cover your garden-growing Pothos in winter.
  • Keep your potted plant away from the heating vents, coolers, fireplace, or radiators to avoid temperature fluctuation.
Image represents overcrowding Pothos plant
Unravel the vines to maintain proper airflow for Pothos and prevent overheating.
  • Untangle the overgrown vines from time to time so that air flows through the plant and keeps the leaves cool.
  • Place the plant away from north-facing windows to protect it from cold drafts in winter.

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.

Many varieties can thrive well in humidity levels lower than this.

However, the problem arises when the humidity levels in the surroundings get dangerously low.

Low humidity means that there is less water in the air for your Pothos. This generates similar conditions of high-temperature Stress.

It can dehydrate your Pothos faster, causing their leaves to curl, and the margin of the leaves also turns brown and brittle.

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

Plus, the potting mix also dries quickly, and cracks may appear in it.

It is the time when you should genuinely be alarmed for your plant and take measures to revive its leaves promptly.

Treatment Measures 

  • Place Pothos in more humid indoor areas, such as in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Give your plant gentle sprays of water a few times from then on until the leaves regain their jazz.
  • If the above steps do not work, place your plant beside a humidifier straight away.
  • You can also place your Pothos in a greenhouse to keep it surrounded by optimum humidity at all times.
  • Open the doors and windows to maintain airflow around your Pothos.
Image represents Pothos inside greenhouse
Greenhouses are great for providing humidity for tropical plants like Pothos.

Tips for Maintaining Proper Humidity

  • Keep a tray filled with water and some pebbles below your potted Pothos to provide it with enough humidity in summer.
  • Or group the Pothos with other houseplants to raise the humidity from the transpiration.
  • Use hygrometers to monitor humidity regularly.
  • Mist your Pothos plant every now and then when the humidity levels decline below 50%.
  • Make a habit of misting your Pothos once a week under normal situations.

5. Overfertilizing

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

However, cut back on fertilizer application in winter when the plant enters a dormant phase.

Most people mistakenly fertilize their Pothos in winter, too, so overfertilization can lead to excess salt build-up in the potting soil.

Additionally, the plant may suffer from fertilizer burn, which is omnipresent on the leaves whose tips begin to curl down.

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

Image represents excessive salt crust formation of the surface of the potting soil
Overfertilization can deposit salty crust on the surface of the potting mix.

Also, too much fertilizer salts accumulate on the potting mix, which is seen as a crusty, white layer on the surface.

But no worries, as an overfertilized Pothos can easily be treated to perk up the leaves back to normal again.

Treatment Measures 

  • Consider flushing the soil 4 to 5 times by Vpouring lots of room temperature water and then leaching the excess from the drainage holes.
  • Snip the damaged leaves using sterilized pruners.
  • Scratch off the excessive fertilizer salts from the soil surface using a trowel to minimize the fertilizer load.
  • An alternative is to keep your troubled Pothos under summer rain for an hour to wash off the settled fertilizer from the potting mix.
  • If the leaf curling still persists, change the potting mix as a final resort.

Tips for Fertilizing the Pothos Properly 

  • Fertilize Pothos once a month from March to September and stop it when the plant enters a dormant phase in winter.
  • Provide balanced liquid fertilizer by mixing one teaspoon of the mixture in two cups of water and feeding the plant once every month in the growing season.
Image represents a potted Pothos plant
Place pebbles over the surface of the potting mix for slow release of fertilizer.
  • Place pebbles over the surface of the potting soil to form a control line that can slowly release the fertilizer to the roots every time you fertilize your Pothos.
  • Try to fertilize Pothos on a bright sunny day and refrain from rainy days.
  • Use a watering can to feed your Pothos around the root zone and avoid getting fertilizer on the leaves.

6. Common Pests

Although Pothos is a hardy plant, pests still may annoy them from time to time.

These pests can make the leaves curl, distort, and droop.

Plus, most of the varieties, such as Silver Pothos, Satin Pothos, and Golden Pothos, are equally under threat.

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

Image represents Pothos leaf attacked by scale insects
Scale insects suck the sap from the leaves and distort their appearance.

The ways by which these pests can harm your Pothos is by eating or sucking out the sap from the leaves.

As time passes, leaves become weak, begin to curl, droop, and finally die off.

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

You can take some guidance from the table to get an idea about the signs and symptoms of pest infestation in your Pothos.

Common InsectsSigns and Symptoms
Spider MitesMites appear as small yellow to brown spots on the leaves that look like tiny spiders.

They hide and suck out the sap from underside of the leaves making them curled and distorted.
MealybugsThese bugs resemble small and white cotton balls that lack wings.

They suck out the sap right from the point where leaves are attached to the stem and cause them to curl.
WhitefliesThey are winged and triangular-shaped flies that stay in groups under the leaves.

They contort the leaves by drinking all the juices and leave behind sticky droppings called honeydews.
Soft ScalesScale bugs appear as small and oval bumps on the surface of the stem and leaves.

They misshape the leaves by guzzling the sap out from them.
ThripsThrips are tiny and slender, black to brown insects present on the surface of the leaves.

They puncture the epidermal layer of the leaves and suck all the juices out making the leaves papery, thin, and distorted.
AphidsAphids are white to green, oval or pear-shaped insects that perfectly hide themselves on the surface of the leaves.

They have pair of tubes on their belly that they use to suck the sap from the leaves and stems causing them to curl.
Fungus GnatsGnat larvae are small, white and hide inside the moist soil.

They indirectly curl the leaves by boring holes in the roots and killing the plant from within.

Treatment Measures 

  • First, separate the infested Pothos from the other houseplants to prevent the spread.
  • Take q-tips dipped in a dilute solution of isopropyl alcohol and rub them at the site of infestation on the plant.
  • Use gentle sprays of water to blast off the pests hiding under the leaves.
  • If you want to try something organic, use neem oil.
  • You can also spray insecticidal soaps on the trailing vines where the infestation is present.
  • Gnat larvae are hard to see, so before you can witness them, it may already be too late. It is better to uproot the plant to check for any damage to the roots.
  • Cut away the damaged portions using sterilized pruners and then repot your Pothos with fresh soil.
  • Continue the treatment every once or twice a week until the leaves regain their glossy shine.

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

Preventive Measures

If you resent seeing your Pothos in agony every time when a pest infestation occurs, keep your plant well prepared by these methods.

  • Spray neem oil twice a month to prevent pest infestation in the future.
  • Keep the soil relatively dry between watering sessions to avoid the growth of fungus gnats.
  • Use clean water and sterilized tools while cleaning or pruning the leaves and stems of the plant.
  • Check for infection before buying a plant from the store.
  • Keep gaps between Pothos and other plants for constant circulation of air between them.
  • If the plant is beyond saving, burn or discard it immediately.
  • After removing the pests, try to clear away their droppings to prevent the growth of other diseases.

7. Horticultural Diseases

Bacterial or fungal diseases can often be the culprit behind the curling of leaves.

Some diseases like root rot, leaf spots, and blight are the reasons for the curling or drooping of leaves in your Pothos.

These diseases may crop up unexpectedly when you pay less attention to your plant.

Image represents brown spot on the leaf of Pothos
Brown leaf spot is a bacterial disease that can harm the leaves of Pothos.

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 appear on the surface of the leaves.

These spots later get a yellow outline and spread to the leaves' margin.

The margins begin to distort and the leaves curl.
Bacterial Leaf Wilt

Ralstonia solanacearumLeaf and stem veins turn black.

Conducting vessels of the leaves and stems get filled with bacterial ooze.

Finally, the leaves curl and wilt.
Fungal Root Rot

Rhizoctonia sp., Phytopthora sp., or Pythium sp.Roots become slimy and the tissues become necrotic.

Foul smell starts to come from the potting soil.

Roots die off and cannot uptake water leading to curling and yellowing of the leaves.

Treatment Measures 

Fortunately, your unwell Pothos can return to its gleeful state if you take quick action. Follow these steps to recover your plant.

  • First, isolate your diseased plant from the rest of the plants to prevent the spread of the infestation.
  • Bring the plant to a cool room and avoid increasing the temperature around your plant.
  • Use sterilized pruners and snip any diseased leaves, stems, or vines.
  • Spray neem oil on the leaves to prevent the extent of any more pathogens to other parts.
  • You can also makeshift making a cidal soap solution by mixing one teaspoon of detergent in 1 liter of water and pour on the Pothos.
  • Check for below-ground infection by uprooting the plant and then inspecting the roots.
  • If the roots are in bad condition, remove the slimy and black portions and repot.
  • Finally, spray a final time with the prepared solution as a measure to stop the spread in the future.
Image represents rotting roots in Pothos
Root rot is caused by fungal infections, which occur due to overwatering.

Preventive Measures

  • Regularly monitor for any odd symptoms the plant may give to take quick rescue action later.
  • Control pest growth, as a lot of diseases, can easily be prevented if you look out for pests.
  • Use disinfected pruners while trimming and ply sterilized soil during repotting.
  • Keep the potting soil dry most of the time and water only when it is essential for the plant.
  • Avoid using tap water as pathogenic spores can easily make their way to your plant, so use rain or distilled water.
  • Use room temperature water and refrain from using too cold or too hot water while watering.
  • Apply fungicides or bacteriocides when it’s calm or cloudy. Late afternoon to dusk works well as it promotes slow drying.
  • Drizzle fungicides or bacteriocides once in 7 to 14 days to give full protection to your Pothos.

8. Repotting Stress

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

Normally, repotting can be done once in one to two years in a new container that is 2-inch in diameter than the previous one.

Image represents root bound condition of Pothos
Repot Pothos when the roots become overcrowded and outgrow their current pot.

However, after repotting, the leaves of Pothos may curl or even change their shade and turn yellow or brown.

This happens because some Pothos cannot handle the transplant shock. Mostly the plant can recover from this, and leaves return to normal, but sometimes the damage is permanent.

Pothos leaves may even fall off, and the whole plant may die.

Treatment Measures  

Follow these steps to flare the leaves of your Pothos back to life!

  • Provide your Pothos with all the basic care of lighting and watering that you normally do after repotting.
  • Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  • Unblock the drainage holes by poking them with a pencil.
  • Trim off any diseased or damaged leaves so that the plant can focus its energy on producing new leaves.
  • Wait for four to six weeks before you can feed your plant.
  • Always use fresh potting mix, but prepare it using the same recipe so that the plant can adjust quickly.

Tips for Growing Pothos with Healthy Repotting

If you properly repot your Pothos in the first place, you don’t have to disturb it often.

So, follow these methods of correctly repotting your plant.

  • Check for signs like roots outgrowing from the drainage holes or roots extending out from the soil’s surface.
  • Use coffee filters to veil the drainage holes in the new pot before transplanting to prevent the soil’s seepage.
healthy-pothos-plants-in-pots
It is ideal to repot the Pothos in spring and summer.
  • 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.

Conclusion

Leaves of Pothos are its most attractive feature but can lose all their charm due to deformity.

The curling of Pothos leaves is an outcome of watering and lighting issues, temperature and repotting stresses, pests, and as well as diseases.

If one can pay close attention to symptoms and know what to do at the right moment, the leaves can bounce back to their jovial state.

I have given most of the remedies to solve the problems of leaf curling in Pothos. Be sure to make the correct choice and save your plant.

Do you suspect that root rot is troubling your Pothos? If so, immediately treat your pothos by getting into the “root” of the issue!

Happy Gardening!

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