Why Are My Philodendron Leaves Curling? (Causes and Solutions)


Indoor potted philodendron plant leaves curling

Philodendron displays a fresh tropical look that livens up our living or working spaces. However, it is disheartening when our plant becomes unhealthy and it can be frustrating not knowing what is causing the issue.

Philodendron leaves curling is a common issue for many of us, but don’t be afraid when this happens. This article will provide you with the solution for this problem.

One of the main reason your Philodendron leaves are curling is lack of watering. Philodendron is a tropical plant therefore, its best-suited environment is with a lot of moisture, bright light, and warm conditions. Other reasons for philodendron leaves curling include temperature stress, insect infestation, and lack of nutrition.

Read on and I will go through each potential issue with solutions.

Causes of Philodendron Leaves Curling

Below I have listed the most common reasons and solutions as to why this is happening to your Philodendron plant. 

Underwatering 

As I stated above, under watering is one of the most common issues as to why your Philodendrons leaves may be curling or wilting.

Since Philodendron is a tropical plant, it often requires a lot of moisture and humidity.

Therefore, when your plant is not receiving enough water, it will cause your leaves to wilt, curl, darken, and begin to die.

Brown leaves and wilting often indicates your Philodendron is being under-watered.

How to Fix

There are several factors to consider when watering your Philodendron such as soil, lighting, humidity, and the temperature it is in.

⦿If your Philodendron is in bright light and warm conditions it will require more water than those in cooler, low light environments.

⦿To know when to water your Philodendron, allow the top layer of the soil to dry out and place your finger an inch into the soil. If the soil is moist, then you are providing your plant with enough water.

⦿If your Philodendron is hanging, it will also require more water as the soil is more likely to dry out quicker than those in pots on tables.

⦿Avoid having a fixed watering schedule every week. Throughout the year temperatures change meaning your Philodendron will require different amounts of watering. Therefore, you must maintain a weekly schedule of checking your plant’s soil for watering to know how quickly your Philodendron dries out.

⦿You can also lift your pot to determine the weight of your Philodendron. When it is dry, it will become lighter, indicating you must give it more water.

⦿You should water your Philodendron until it exits the drain hole below the pot. This shows your soil has good drainage, and that your Philodendron has received the water through the roots and not just the surface of the soil. It also drains excess salts which cause root injury to the plant.

Overfeeding Philodendron With Fertilizer

Another common issue as to why your Philodendron leaves are curling is due to over-fertilization.

Too much fertilizer can damage your plant. A major visual indication of this is when its leaves curl downward and start turning brown or have brown spots.

Over-fertilization can also cause your Philodendron’s roots to shrivel, which prevents it from absorbing water. It can also lead your plant to be more prone to disease and insects.

How to Fix

You must read the instructions of your fertilizer as each fertilizer has different requirements for each plant.

⦿If you have over-fertilized, you must reduce the amount of fertilizer you have used, and leach the soil. You must repot your Philodendron if you have used slow-release fertilizer.

⦿You should fertilize your Philodendron every month during the spring and autumn periods. However, in colder winter periods you should fertilize at least every 6-8 weeks.

⦿During the growing season, it is good to use as weekly fertilizer or slow-release pellets to support your Philodendron’s growth.

⦿You can test your soil to check if any nutrients are lacking before adding additional fertilizer.

⦿You can also substitute fertilizer by using compost, decomposed leaves, manures, and bone meal emulsions.  

Lack of Nutrition

Nutrient deficiencies can come from high pH in the soil. Nutrients may also not be absorbed effectively due to damaged roots or lack of root growth.

A common nutrient deficiency that can cause your plant leaves to curl is Nitrogen deficiency. 

Nitrogen is necessary to produce chlorophyll which helps in photosynthesis. 

Other typical signs of this are stunted growth and yellow leaves. It typically affects older leaves first, as new leaves aren’t getting enough nitrogen nutrients. 

Phosphorus deficiency can also cause leaves to curl downwards. Other symptoms are lower leaves turning a dark green or blue and shiny color, with potential brown spots. It typically appears on older leaves at the bottom of the plant before working its way throughout the plant. 

How to Fix

⦿The ideal pH levels your philodendron should be is between 4.5-6.0. You need to test the soil with help of a pH tester available in the market.

⦿Consider adding compost which is a great way of supplying moisture and nutrients to the soil, as well as avoid diseases.

⦿You should add more fertilizer if your Philodendron is showing slow growth. Urea or ammonium sulfate are good high-nitrogen based fertilizers to use that will allow your Philodendron to absorb the nitrogen quickly. 

⦿Bone meal supplements are good to add phosphorus nutrients and you should add this when your plant is nearly at its full size. 

Temperature Stress

Temperature stress is another common reason for Philodendron leaves curling. The very high temperature will cause the plant to lose more water and it will cause wilting and curling of leaves. 

Philodendron is usually adaptable to most home temperatures. It does not survive well in cold temperatures. Your Philodendron is likely to die if you keep under 55°F (12°C) for a long period. 

How to Fix

⦿You should aim to keep your Philodendron at around 60-80°F (15-26°C) during the day.

⦿Try to keep your Philodendron in a room with bright, indirect sunlight.

⦿Keep your plant away from radiator heat. 

⦿It is important to keep the soil moist during winter periods as the soil is more likely to dry out. 

Root Rot From Overwatering

Soils that do not allow proper drainage can cause your philodendron roots to rot. It will affect the capacity of your Philodendron to absorb sufficient moisture and nutrients. 

Consequently, your philodendron shows symptoms like curling or discoloration of leaves. Often if your soil smells rotten or sour, it can indicate the presence of root rot. 

How to Fix

⦿Repot your Philodendron with fresh new soil and ensure there is a functioning drainage system. Clean the roots and clip away any brown soft roots that are dying.

⦿When the roots are mushy, you must discard your Philodendron. However, if it still has white firm roots, you can save it.

⦿Ensure your Philodendron is in a well-drained pot. Only water your plant when the soil is dry and push back soil to allow proper aeration. 

Water Quality

Often tap water contains certain minerals such as salts, fluoride, and chlorine. Due to salt accumulation, nutrients become unavailable to the root system. 

This can cause your leaves to curl, turn brown, and may leave a white crusty surface to your soil. Cold water can also shock your tropical Philodendron which can lead to root disease. 

How to Fix

⦿To prevent this, you need to use filtered water. However, if you do not have a water filtration system you can reduce the chlorine in the water by leaving water in a container overnight.

⦿Since Philodendron is a tropical plant it is important to water it with lukewarm water. To ensure this, you may fill a watering can and leave it for 2 days at room temperature.

Too Much Or Too Little Light Exposure

Too much light exposure can dehydrate your plant causing the leaves to turn yellow, curl, or become scorched.

Since Philodendrons are tropical plants they are used to being in more shaded areas. Too much direct sunlight will cause its leaves to curl as an attempt to reduce sunlight exposure.

Too little light exposure can cause your Philodendron to become leggy and droopy, cause leaves to grow closer together, and stunt root growth. Lack of sunlight may also cause its smaller leaves to curl.

How to Fix

⦿Since Philodendron is a tropical plant, it is best to keep in shaded areas without direct sunlight, but allow enough natural light for it to thrive.

⦿Ensure your plant is getting enough sunlight each day and keep it in bright rooms, especially during the winter periods.

⦿You should rotate your Philodendron for an even shape and effective exposure to light.

⦿You should also try to keep dust off the leaves which can clog its pores, affecting its absorption of oxygen and light.

Diseases

Although environmental causes are more common when affecting your Philodendron, there is a possibility your plant may have contracted a disease. Do not be afraid when this happens as many are curable.

Powdery Mildew is a common fungus amongst houseplants that causes leaves to curl upwards and leaves a white powdery layer on the leaves. This often happens in high humid conditions.

How to Fix

To avoid Powdery Mildew, keep your Philodendron in areas with good air ventilation and try not to overwater it. You need to remove the affected plant leaves to stop further infection.

Insect infestation

If issues persist with your Philodendron it could be due to an insect infestation. 

Generally, Philodendron is not prone to insects. However, they are still susceptible to certain insects such as Aphids, and Thrips.

Aphids and Thrips suck the juice from the leaves resulting in them in curling. This will eventually cause the leaves to die. Aphids are very tiny insects that can range in different colors and have pear-shaped bodies with antennae. 

You can identify Thrips as dark insects with small wings that can be up to  2-2.25mm long.  Some Aphid species can inject a toxin in the plant which stunts growth and triggers the leaf to curl. 

How to Fix

⦿The best way to treat these bugs is often with a non-toxic soap that can be applied to the leaves.

⦿In leaf curl, it is important that you apply a systemic insecticide to kill the insects since they are more protected by the curled leaves.

⦿Prune and dispose of any leaves which the insects have infected.

Low Humidity

Philodendrons are tropical plants, they thrive in humid environments. Higher humidity will promote its growth and healthy foliage.  If the humidity is too low it will cause the leaves to turn brown and curl.

How to Fix

⦿To increase the humidity, you can use a pebble tray under the plant 

⦿Misting is also a great way to maintain humidity. It should be done every 2 days when in the growing season, and every 3-4 days during colder winter periods.

⦿A room humidifier is a great way to maintain the humidity of indoor plants.

Soil Type

Your Philodendron leaves may be curling due to the type of soil it is in. Philodendron should be kept in a light, nutritious and permeable soil.

You should be careful not to confuse potting soil with potting mix. Potting soil uses dirt and is much denser as it is made to retain a lot of moisture. 

Potting mix is a growing medium and designed for indoor plants. It has decaying organic matter and minerals.

This can cause an adverse effect on the houseplant root system leading to root-rot. Lack of nutrients in the soil can result in philodendron leaves to curl. So selecting the proper type of soil is also important.

How to Fix

A good soil to use for your Philodendron is an indoor potting mix. Usually, it should contain peat moss with a range of soilless mediums such as perlite, coconut/wood fiber and vermiculite. 

The mixture of these organic matters allows for good water retention, and generally has better aeration and drainage. If your soil drains well, you are less likely to overwater your plant.

Pot size

Lastly, your Philodendron could be living in a pot that is too small for it  to thrive.

Philodendrons are fast-growing plants. Depending on the type of Philodendron you have, some can grow up to 3 (1m) to 8 feet (2.5m) therefore, it is important to repot your plant regularly for it to grow effectively. 

A pot that is too small can make the plant root-bound. This can limit the root system from doing its normal function like absorbing water and nutrients. 

An overly large pot can have stagnant water problems and take longer for your soil to dry which can cause philodendron root rot. 

How to Fix

⦿You have to repot Philodendron at least every year or depending on how quickly it is growing. Usually repot the plant when the roots start to grow out of the pot.

⦿When potting the plant, ensure there is a layer for drainage, and the soil is firmly pressed down. You should not fertilize the soil for 2 weeks.

You May Also Enjoy: Can Plants Use Artificial Light for Photosynthesis?

How to Prevent Philodendron Leaves Curling

⦿Water your plant regularly with room temperature or filtered water to keep the soil moist.

⦿Ensure a lot of indirect light. You can ensure proper lighting with an artificial light system.

⦿Fertilize when needed especially during growing seasons.

⦿Repot your plant when growing, and maintain a good quality soil.

FAQs

Why are my philodendron leaves drooping?

One of the most common reasons is due to too little, or too much watering. Ensure you are not over watering or under watering your plant. You should take into account the environmental factors and temperature of the room your Philodendron is in. Root rot diseases, insect infestation or lack of nutrients can trigger this issue. 

Why are my philodendron leaves turning brown and falling off?

Low humidity and lack of moisture can cause your Philodendrons leaves to turn brown and fall off. It is important to keep your Philodendron in a room that is above 50°F (10°C) and ensure that it is receiving enough water and moisture to thrive.

How often should you water a philodendron?

Watering should vary for your Philodendron depending on the temperature, soil, and lighting it is receiving. Always check your soil moisture before watering your Philodendron. Generally, you should water your plant every 1-2 weeks during summer and 3-4 weeks in winter. Check that your soil is moist, but do not overwater, it will encourage fungal growth and cause root rot.

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

Recent Content