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6 Causes of Curling Philodendron Leaves (And How To Fix)

Live plants truly bring a room to life, filling it with energy and beauty. In today’s chat, we’re diving into a handy guide to tackle a frequent issue faced by lovers of a fantastic houseplant – the philodendron.

When philodendron leaves start curling, the usual suspects are dry air, cold damage, and not enough water. To smooth out those leaves, aim to keep your philodendron in a comfy environment with humidity levels around 60-65%, steer clear of chilly drafts, and water your green buddy only once the topsoil feels semi-dry. Remember, well-draining soil and pots with drainage holes are your best friends here.

1. Low Humidity

Philodendron leaves curled because of excessively dry air.

Philodendron leaves curled because of excessively dry air.

Dry air can wreak havoc on pretty much any plant, but the philodendron is particularly finicky about needing a moist environment. That’s because, in its natural habitat, the philodendron thrives in areas known for their high humidity levels.

To keep your philodendron looking its best, ensuring it has access to humid air is crucial. Without it, you might notice the leaves curling up as a way to minimize moisture loss.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Aim for a room humidity level between 60-70% where your philodendron lives.
  2. Using a humidifier in the same room can be a game-changer for boosting moisture in the air.
  3. It’s best to skip misting the leaves directly, as this can sometimes lead to fungal issues.

2. Cold Draft

Philodendron leaves curled because of cold draft.

Philodendron leaves curled because of cold draft.

Cold temperatures pose a significant challenge for philodendrons. For instance, if you open a window and let in a cold breeze, it could harm the plant, causing its leaves to curl as a protective response.

Similarly, placing your philodendron near a refrigerator, air conditioner, or ice maker can be problematic. Even a short exposure to cold air might distress the plant.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Trim off any leaves that are severely damaged to help the plant focus on new growth.
  2. Keep the room where your philodendron is located at a cozy 70-80°F (20-26°C).
  3. Avoid placing your philodendron near appliances that emit cold or hot air.
  4. Be cautious about moving your philodendron outdoors, especially if nighttime temperatures dip below 55°F (12°C).

3. Underwatering

Philodendron leaves curled because of underwatering.

Philodendron leaves curled because of underwatering.

The philodendron’s large leaves mean it goes through water quickly, so it’s essential to keep its thirst quenched. When the soil stays dry for too long, you’ll notice the leaves drooping and curling inward as the plant tries to conserve moisture.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Make it a daily habit to check the soil’s moisture level.
  2. When the soil feels about 50% dry, that’s your cue to water the philodendron.
  3. Use the deep watering method to ensure the water reaches deep into the soil, encouraging healthy root growth.

4. Root Issues

Overwatering

Philodendron leaves curled because of overwatering.

Another frequent issue causing philodendron leaves to curl is problems with the root system. If the roots are compromised, they can’t efficiently transport water to the leaves, leading to discoloration and curling.

Root troubles stem from a few key issues. Constant overwatering is a prime culprit, as it deprives the roots of necessary oxygen and leads to rot. Similarly, using soil that’s too dense or poorly draining can also cause root rot. Additionally, pots without adequate drainage holes contribute to these problems.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Carefully take the philodendron out of its current pot.
  2. Gently clean the roots, removing any rotted parts.
  3. Apply a 10% hydrogen peroxide solution to the cleaned roots to treat any wounds.
  4. Repot the philodendron in a sterile mix suited for aroids, ensuring the new pot has ample drainage holes.
  5. Water the plant only when the soil is about 50% dry, favoring deep watering methods to encourage healthy root hydration.

5. Direct Sun

Philodendron leaves curled because of sunburn.

Philodendron leaves curled because of sunburn.

Direct sunlight is a big no-no for philodendron and similar aroid plants, primarily because of their natural habitat. In the wild, philodendrons thrive under the shelter of large trees, where the harsh direct sunlight rarely reaches them.

Exposing these plants to direct sunlight can lead to leaf burn, resulting in the leaves curling upwards or downwards, depending on their shape, and developing large, brown spots.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Prune away any leaves that have suffered severe burns.
  2. Relocate your philodendron to a spot where it can enjoy 6-8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily.
  3. Consider setting up artificial lighting if your space doesn’t get enough natural light.

6. Pest Damage

Leafminer

Philodendron leaves curled by leafminer.

Leafminers top the list of pests troubling philodendrons by laying eggs within the leaf itself. Once the larvae emerge, they munch away inside the leaf, leading to erratic leaf distortion and curling. You can spot their activity by the distinctive yellow trails they leave on the green leaves.

Moreover, thrips, aphids, mealybugs, and mites are also known to feast on the sap of philodendron leaves, causing them to curl, yellow, and eventually drop.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. For dealing with aphids, thrips, and similar insects, a good spray down with horticultural oil can help keep your philodendron safe.
  2. For leafminers, opting for a systemic insecticide will offer a more targeted approach to protect your plant.