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Why are the Leaves on My Prayer Plant Curling?

The curling leaves of the Prayer plant can be confusing as the plant easily withers with the slightest care mishaps.

Often too much or too little water is the main culprit behind the curling leaves of the Prayer plant. But factors like low water quality, low humidity, temperature extremities and direct sun exposure can also cause curling leaves.

Typically, the curling leaves bounce back with proper action in correspondence with the main culprit.

Thus, read on to learn the proper ways of diagnosing and treating of curling leaves of the Prayer plant.

Is it Normal for Prayer Plant Leaves to Curl?

The Prayer plant got its name from how its leaves fold like praying hands after sunset due to the phenomenon called Nictinasty.

So, do not worry if your plant folds at night and regains its shape during the day.

Moreover, the new leaves of the Prayer plant are curled at first, but they gradually spread with time.

Other than that, if your Prayer plant has curled leaves despite the ideal care, they require your attention.

For better identification, you can observe your Prayer Plant leaves at mid-day, when leaves are entirely flat.

Why are the Leaves on My Prayer Plant Curling?

Prayer plant curling leaves generally signifies improper care, but watering issues and low humidity are often the main culprits.

1. Poor Watering Habits

The Prayer Plant is quite picky about its water requirements. Give it more or give it less, and it rebels.

Consequently, this is the most common reason for the curling of leaves of the Prayer Plant.

Overwatered Prayer plants often look sick, with wilted, yellowing leaves alongside curling leaves.

Meanwhile, lack of moisture causes drooping leaves with browning edges and curling.

Thus, aside from watering the Maranta plant every ten days, aim to use well-draining soil that does not get retain moisture for too long.

To ensure flawless watering, you can use a soak-water or bottom-watering approach aided with an occasional overhead shower.

Things to Ensure while Watering a Prayer Plant

  • Allow the soil to dry out halfway before watering. You can stick your finger into the soil to check if the top 1-2 inches of soil has dried out.
  • Cut back watering in winter as the Prayer plant undergoes dormancy with low water intake.
  • Aim to use a moisture meter before watering to know how much water the plant needs.
  • Ensure the pot has multiple drain holes to let out excess water.
  • Always ensure to water your Prayer plant in the morning hours.

2. Poor Water Quality

The amount and the quality of water are both crucial for Prayer Plants.

They are sensitive to Chloride, Fluoride, salts, and minerals in the water. Exposure to such water can cause the Prayer plant leaves to curl.

The salt and mineral build-up blocks the water pathway to the overall plant parts, causing dehydration.

Meanwhile, Chloride accumulates in the leaf tissue, which causes burns. Similarly, excessive fluoride hampers photosynthesis.

Tips to Maintain the Water Quality

  • Use rainwater or distilled water to avoid chemical build-up in the soil.
  • Only use tap water after letting it sit for a night or two.
  • Aim to water the Prayer plant with water that is at room temperature.
  • Check the water quality using different water quality test kits.

3. Root Bound

Prayer Plants aren’t much prone to root-bound as they have a shallow root system.

But if the pot is small and it has been a while since you have repotted the Prayer plant, root-bound could be the reason for the curling of leaves.

When the plant is root bound, it cannot function fully and goes under stress. In this condition, leaves may start to curl.

Besides that, root-bound Prayer plant often has roots poking out from the drain holes and take a long time to soak water.

How to Save Prayer Plants from Root Bound Condition?

  • Immediately repot the rootbound Prayer plant in a slightly bigger container.
  • Use a fresh potting mix with good aeration and drainage with moderate water retention.
  • Carefully trim the root ball and reduce the root density while aiming for damaged roots first.
  • Manually untangle the roots and apply fungicides if necessary.
  • Ensure the new pot is not too big, as it can induce stress in the Prayer plant, causing more curling and drooping leaves.
  • Thoroughly soak the soil mix after repotting to lower stress.

4. Low Humidity

Being a fellow tropical plant, the Prayer plant prefers to sit in a relatively humid room.

If the surrounding humidity is lower than 40%, the Prayer plant begins to droop, turn yellow, curl and eventually can drop off.

Prayer Plant prefers a humidity level of 50% or more. However, some varieties can also withstand low humidity.

The transpiration rate is higher in low-humid conditions, causing the plant to dehydrate much faster.

The Prayer plant saves the remaining water by curling its leaves as a defensive mechanism.

Tips to Maintain the Humidity

  • Regularly mist the Prayer plant in the morning using chemical-free water.
  • Invest in a humidifier to maintain the humidity level in check.
  • Incorporate a pebble tray next to or under the plant pot to keep optimal moisture content.
  • Group the houseplants like Areca palm and Prayer plants to boost natural humidity.
  • Avoid misting plants in the evening or night times.

5. Temperature Extremities

The Prayer plant can not stand the fluctuating temperature and can perish from cold temperatures.

Generally, temperature dipping below 55°F is considered too severe for Prayer plants as they begin to turn yellow, curl and wilt.

yellowing, curling leaves of Prayer plant
Sudden temperature rise or drop can induce temperature shock in the Prayer plants, resulting in curling leaves.

On the contrary, excess heat causes rapid transportation, leading the plant to droop and curl.

The ideal temperature for the Prayer plant lies between 65°F and 75°F, so always aim for that range.

Tips to Reduce Temperature Stress

  • Relocate the plant somewhere far from the drafty or open windows during winter.
  • If possible, move in the outdoor Prayer plants when the temperature drops below 55°F.
  • Using frost blankets and heat pads underneath the plant pot keeps them warm.
  • Otherwise, use organic straws or mulches to trap heat.
  • Use heating appliances to keep the room temperature within the ideal range but beware of keeping plants too near them.

6. Direct Sunlight

Prayer Plant, in nature, grows under the canopy of large trees in well-lighted areas. Thus it prefers bright indirect sunlight.

In excess direct sun exposure, the Prayer plant loses too much moisture too fast, and as a defense, the plant curls up its leaves to preserve moisture.

Besides curling, scorched leaves are often yellow with brown spots and dry, crispy leaf tips.

Thus, ensure your Prayer plant receives 6-8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight by placing them 3-5 feet away from the east or south window.

Moreover, use sheer curtains to lower the direct sunlight intensity and aim for grow lights under low light conditions.

7. Infestation of Pests

Even with ideal care, if your Prayer plants still have curling leaves, look closely as pests could be the one.

Sap-sucking insects such as aphids, scale, mealy bugs, etc., cause the leaves to curl as they continuously suck nutrients from the plant.

PestsSigns and Symptoms
AphidsRed or green masses of soft, pear-shaped insects
Curled, yellow or dead leaves
ScalesCottony, cushion-like insects
Leaf drop, blemishes on leaves
Mealy buysWhite, fuzzy, cottony masses
Stunted plant, yellow leaves

If the pest infestation has left the plant leaves yellow with brown spots, you can remove them using a sterilized pruner.

What to do in case of pest infestation?

  • Discard the plant if the infestation is severe and can not be salvaged.
  • You can use Diatomaceous earth(DE), an organic material that kills aphids.
  • Beware! Do not use DE during the plant blooming period, as it can hamper the bloom.
  • Manually take out the pests if the infestation is not dense.
  • You can go for horticultural or neem oil as they do not affect plants severely.
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol can work great against scales and mealybugs. Dip a cotton ball in the alcohol and gently rub the leaves.
  • Regularly wipe the leaves using a soapy water solution to keep leaves dust-free.
  • Avoid overwatering your Prayer plant and maintain humidity within the ideal range.

8. Other Possible Reasons

Apart from the major reasons, the Prayer plant also curls when you overfertilize them.

Excess nutrient accumulation in the soil causes chemical burns and chokes the root disabling them from performing osmosis.

Consequently, the plant remains thirsty, causing the leaves to curl. On the contrary, a lack of phosphorus and calcium can cause the plant to curl downward.

Furthermore, a lack of magnesium can make Prayer plant leaves curl upward.

Alternatively, transplant shock can also cause curling leaves that bounce back.

From Editorial Team

Wait! Before Removing the Curling Leaves!

If not caused by pests or fungal infections, the Prayer plant’s curling leaves can revert to their prime green state.

Carefully diagnose the root cause to revive curling leaves and proceed with the respective immediate solutions.

Happy Gardening!

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