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6 Causes of Caladium Leaf Curling (And How To Fix It)

Caladiums boast big, vibrant leaves that really catch the eye. These tropical plants love a moist, humid environment. Let’s dive into some common problems with their leaves and how you can nurse your caladium back to perfect health.

Your caladium’s leaves might be curling up for several reasons. It could be feeling the strain of its surroundings, not getting the right amount of water, or facing an attack from pests. Each issue has its own signature – a curled leaf might mean it’s thirsty, begging for consistent warmth, or dealing with bugs.

1. Too Much Sun

Caladium leaves curling

Caladium leaves curled because of sunburn.

Leaves curling is a natural way for the plant to shield itself from too much sun and wind. Caladiums aren’t fans of prolonged direct sunlight and usually only handle a bit of direct exposure early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

This is especially true for caladium varieties with see-through leaves. By curling up, they can prevent the sun and wind from harming the leaf surface.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Place your caladium in a spot where it receives plenty of light but is protected from direct sun.
  2. Try exposing it to an hour of sunlight in the morning and evening to see how it fares.

2. Not Enough Water

Caladium leaves curling

Caladium leaves curled because of underwatering.

If caladiums are left in dry soil for too long, they might start to wilt from stress. Their stems may droop instead of standing tall and firm. The leaves will curl inward because there isn’t enough water in the plant to keep them stiff. Thankfully, after addressing this issue, it usually takes about 5 minutes for the leaves and stems to return to their normal state.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Thoroughly water the soil until you see water running out from the bottom of the pot.
  2. Make it a habit to check the soil moisture with your finger, and water the plant whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.

3. Soil Issues

Caladiums thrive in well-draining soil similar to potting mix consistency. If they’re grown in soil that’s either too sandy or too heavy with clay, they may find it hard to absorb nutrients, leading to their leaves starting to curl.

Soil pH plays a crucial role in determining which nutrients become available to the plant, influenced by the chemical reactions occurring within the soil. You can easily test your soil’s pH with an affordable soil testing kit. For optimal growth, aim for a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.5.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Repot them into soil that mimics the consistency of potting mix.
  2. Make sure the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot are clear.

4. Temperature Stress

Caladium leaves curling

Caladium leaves curled because of cold draft.

Caladiums originate from the tropical areas of South America, so they flourish in warm, tropical-like environments. They might have a hard time in very cold or extremely dry conditions, which is often reflected in their leaves curling.

This curling usually happens before the leaves turn crispy, dry, and brown, or before the plant experiences stunted growth.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Maintain daytime temperatures around room temperature, approximately 70 °F (21 °C).
  2. Avoid placing them in spots where the temperature drops below 60 °F (15 °C).
  3. Ensure they’re in an environment where humidity stays above 50%.

5. Overwatering

Caladium leaves curling

Caladium leaves curled because of overwatering.

While caladiums prefer humid conditions, overly wet, waterlogged soil can lead to root rot. This compromises their ability to absorb moisture and nutrients, leaving the plant undernourished and dehydrated.

Symptoms of this issue include yellow spots on the leaves, along with curling and browning at the edges.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Water your caladium only when the top half of the soil feels dry to the touch.
  2. Ensure the pot has unblocked drainage holes to let excess water escape freely.
  3. Avoid letting water sit in the drip tray for more than a day.

6. Pests

Indoor caladiums aren’t typically bug magnets, but they can become infested now and then. You’re likely to spot these pests on the stems and leaves, particularly on the underside, where they prefer to hide. The usual culprits include scale, mealybugs, and aphids.

These insects damage the plant by biting into the leaves and stems to draw out nutrients. Mealybugs, for instance, are found on the underside of leaves, leaving behind bite marks surrounded by dead tissue. As the plant loses nutrients, the leaves may curl, turn brown, and eventually fall off.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Treat the entire plant with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.
  2. For a more targeted approach, use a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to dab directly on the insects.