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Philodendron Leaves Curling (Causes and How to Fix It)

Philodendron has a fresh tropical appearance that brightens up our living or working spaces.

It is, however, disheartening when your philodendron leaves curl, and it can be frustrating not knowing what is causing the problem.

Curling Philodendron leaves are caused by dehydration, low humidity, temperature stress, insect infestation, and a lack of nutrition. To prevent the leaves from curling, water when the top 1-2 inches of soil feels dry and maintain a humidity level of 50-60%. To avoid root rot, use soil with good drainage.

But don’t be afraid when this happens. This article will provide you with the solution to this problem.

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

Too much Dry Soil

The fact that Philodendron is a tropical plant means that it frequently requires high levels of moisture and humidity.

As a result, if your plant doesn’t get enough water, its leaves will wilt, curl inward, discolor, and eventually die.

Your philodendron is attempting to reduce the exposed surface area in order to reduce excessive water transpiration by curling the leaves.

That’s why curling leaves are a sign that your Philodendron isn’t getting enough water.

It’s okay if the soil is dry sometimes but consistent dehydration will harm your plant and it will show symptoms

It’s fine if the soil becomes dry from time to time, but chronic dehydration will harm your plant and cause curling leaves.

Indoor potted philodendron plant leaves curling
Philodendron Leaves Curling Because of Too Much Dry Soil

Signs of Underwatering Philodendron

  • Leaves curling inward
  • Leaves turning brown
  • The topsoil is completely dry for a few days
  • Brown leaf tips
  • Leaves drooping
  • Dry and crispy leaves

How to Fix

Soil, lighting, humidity, and temperature are all important factors to consider when watering your Philodendron.

  • If your Philodendron is in bright light and warm environment, it will need more water than if it is in a cooler, low light environment.
  • Allow the top layer of soil to dry out before inserting your finger an inch into the soil to determine when to water your Philodendron. If the soil is moist, you are giving your plant enough water.
  • If your Philodendron is hanging, it will need more water because the soil will dry out faster than those in pots on tables.
  • Avoid a weekly watering schedule. Temperatures change throughout the year, requiring your Philodendron to be watered differently. So, check the soil weekly to see how quickly your Philodendron dries out.
  • You can also lift your pot to check the Philodendron’s weight. When it gets dry, it gets lighter, indicating it needs more water.
  • Water your Philodendron until the water runs out of the drain hole. This shows your soil drains well and your Philodendron is getting water from the roots, not just the soil surface. It also drains excess salts that harm the plant’s roots.

Overfeeding Philodendron With Fertilizer

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

Excess fertilizer can also cause the roots of your Philodendron to shrivel, preventing the plant from absorbing water. Additionally, it can make your plant more susceptible to disease and insects.

Philodendron Leaves Curled Due to Overfeeding

Signs of Overfeeding

  • You will find the crust of fertilizer on the soil surface
  • Leaves turning yellow and drooping
  • Roots get burned and turn black or brown color
  • Leaves curling and eventually fall off

How to Fix

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

  • If you have over-fertilized, you must reduce your fertilizer application and allow the soil to leach. If you have used slow-release fertilizer on your Philodendron, it must be repotted.
  • During the spring and autumn seasons, you should fertilize your Philodendron monthly. However, during the colder winter months, you should fertilize every 6-8 weeks at the very least.
  • It is beneficial to use as a weekly fertilizer or slow-release pellets during the growing season to aid in the growth of your Philodendron.
  • You can also substitute fertilizer by using compost, decomposed leaves, manures, and bone meal emulsions.  These fertilizers do not cause damage and release nutrients slowly.

Temperature Stress

Philodendrons are typically adaptable to a wide range of indoor temperatures. It does not fare well in cold weather.

If you keep your Philodendron at temperatures below 55°F (12°C) for an extended period of time, it will most likely die.

The high temperature causes the plant to lose more water and causes wilting and curling of the leaves.

A cold draft, on the other hand, or even brief exposure to cold air can cause significant damage to your philodendron leaf cells.

A sudden cold draft from an open window or air conditioner can cause the cell sap of leaves to freeze.

Frozen cell sap expands in volume, causing damage to the cell membrane and the death of some cells. As a result of this damage, philodendron leaves curl and develop brown or black spots.

Signs of Cold Damage on Philodendron Leaves

Sings of Temperature Stress

  • Leaves cupping or curling inward
  • Leaf tips turning brown
  • Black or brown spots on leaves
  • Philodendron placed outside or near the window.

How to Fix

  • You should aim to keep your Philodendron at around 60-80°F (15-26°C) during the day.
  • Do not keep your philodendron outside or near an open window if the temperature falls below 55°F (12°C)
  • Remove the damaged leaves because they will not revive.
  • Keep your plant away from heater or air cooler

Root Rot Due to Overwatering

The root system is the primary source of water and nutrients for plants.

Now, if the roots are damaged in any way, your philodendron will be unable to absorb water and other essentials, and the leaves will gradually discolor and curl due to a lack of nutrients and water.

Constantly moist or wet soil is a breeding ground for diseases that cause fungus.

Overwatering and poor drainage cause the roots to suffocate and not receive enough oxygen to function normally, making them vulnerable to fungal attack, which leads to root rot disease.

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. 

Signs of Overwatered Philodendron

Sings of Overwatered Philodendron

  • Leaves drooping
  • Soft and mushy leaves
  • The root appears mushy and has a strong rotten odor.
  • Mold growing on soil

How to Fix

  • Repot your Philodendron with new soil and make sure it has a working drainage system. Clean the roots and remove any brown, soft roots that are dying.
  • Disinsect the remaining healthy roots with 1:3 hydrogen peroxide (3%) and water solution.
  • If you want to reuse the old pot, make sure to disinfect it with a bleach solution to remove any remaining fungus spores.
  • When all 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.

I have written an entire article on How to Save an Overwatered Philodendron (Step by Step).

Water Quality

Minerals such as salts, fluoride, and chlorine are frequently found in tap water. Nutrients become unavailable to the root system as a result of salt buildup.

This can cause your leaves to curl, turn brown, and leave a white crusty surface on your soil. Coldwater can also shock your tropical Philodendron, causing root disease.

Effects of Tap Water

  • Leaf spots
  • Curling of leaf edges
  • The salt crust on topsoil

How to Fix

  • You must use filtered water to avoid this. If you do not have a water filtration system, you can reduce the chlorine content of your water by leaving it in a container overnight.
  • Philodendron only requires lukewarm water because it is a tropical plant. To ensure this, fill a watering can with water and leave it at room temperature for two days.

Too Much Or Too Little Light Exposure

Excessive light exposure can dehydrate your plant, causing the leaves to yellow, curl, or scorch.

Because Philodendrons are tropical plants, they are accustomed to being in more shady environments.

When exposed to too much direct sunlight, its leaves curl in an attempt to reduce exposure.

Insufficient light exposure can cause your Philodendron to become leggy and droopy, as well as cause leaves to grow closer together and stunt root growth.

Its smaller leaves may also curl due to a lack of sunlight.

Philodendron Leaves Curled Due to Sunburn

How to Fix

  • Since because Philodendron is a tropical plant, it should be kept in a shaded area away from direct sunlight, but with enough natural light 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 to ensure an even shape and effective light exposure.
  • Additionally, you should attempt to keep dust off the leaves, as this can clog their pores, impairing their ability to absorb oxygen and light.

Fungal Diseases

A wet environment, high humidity (more than 70%), and a lack of ventilation can all promote fungal infection on leaves. Do not be alarmed if this occurs; many are treatable.

Powdery Mildew is a fungus that causes houseplant leaves to curl upwards and leaves a white powdery layer on the leaves. This is common in hot, humid weather.

Signs of Diseases on Leaves

  • Brown or yellow spots on leaves
  • Leaves curling due to damage to the xylem tissues that transport nutrients and water

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 Cause Leaves Curling

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

Aphids and Thrips suck the juice from the leaves, causing them to curl. The leaves will eventually die as a result of this.

Aphids are tiny insects with pear-shaped bodies and antennae that come in a variety of colors like green, red yellow, and black.

Thrips are dark insects with small wings that can measure up to 2-2.25mm in length which is very hard to see without a close look.

Some Aphid species can inject a toxin into the plant, stunting growth and causing the leaves to curl.

Philodendron Leaves Curled Due to Insect Infestation

Signs of Pest Damage on Philodendron leaves

  • Leaves curling upward and become distorted
  • Leaves turning yellow or brown
  • Spots on leaves

How to Fix

  • The best way to treat these bugs is by applying horticultural oils, neem, and pyrethrin-based insecticides are all effective less toxic options.
  • It is critical to use a systemic insecticide to kill the insects that cause leaf curl. Systemic insecticides are mixed with water when the insects feed on leaves they die.
  • Prune and dispose of any leaves that the insects have infected.

Lack of Nutrition

High pH in the soil can cause nutrient deficiencies. Nutrients may also be ineffectively absorbed as a result of damaged roots or a lack of root growth.

Nitrogen deficiency is a common nutrient deficiency that can cause your plant’s leaves to curl. Nitrogen is required for the production of chlorophyll, which aids in photosynthesis.

Other common symptoms include stunted growth and yellow leaves. Because new leaves aren’t getting enough nitrogen nutrients, it usually affects older leaves first.

Phosphorus deficiency can also cause leaves to curl downwards. Other symptoms are lower leaves turning yellow with potential brown spots.

It typically appears on older leaves at the bottom of the plant before working its way throughout the plant. 

Philodendron Plant Showing Signs of Nutrient Deficiency

How to Fix

  • The pH level of your philodendron should be between 4.5 and 6.0. You must test the soil with a pH tester that is available on the market.
  • Consider adding compost, which is an excellent way to provide moisture and nutrients to the soil while also preventing disease.
  • If your Philodendron is growing slowly, you should fertilize it more. Urea or ammonium sulfate are excellent high-nitrogen fertilizers to use because they allow your Philodendron to absorb nitrogen quickly. 
  • Bone meal supplements are a good way to add phosphorus nutrients to your plant, and you should use them when it is nearly fully grown.

Philodendron Leaves Curl Due to Excessive Low Air Humidity

Since Philodendrons are tropical plants, they do best in moist conditions. Increased humidity will aid in the growth of the plant and the maintenance of its healthy foliage.

If the humidity level is too low, the leaves will turn brown and curl in on themselves.

Your philodendron will lose more water through transpiration if the air humidity is too low. Transpiration is a natural physiological process that occurs as part of the food production system of plants.

When your plant loses more water than it needs, its natural defense system kicks in.

Curling the leaves of your philodendron is an attempt to conserve water. The interesting fact is some of the signs of low humidity are similar to underwatering.

Signs of Low Humidity on Philodendron Leaves

Signs of Low Humidity

  • Philodendron leaf edges turn brown and crispy
  • leaves drooping and fall off eventually
  • Leaves curling
  • Leaves turning yellow

How to Fix

  • You can place a pebble tray under the plant to increase humidity levels.
  • A room humidifier is an excellent tool for ensuring that indoor plants retain their humidity.
  • Misting instantly maintains humidity. But I advise against it because it may encourage fungus growth.

Soil Type

Your Philodendron’s leaves may curl as a result of the type of soil in which it grows.

Keep your philodendron in a well-drained, nutrient-rich, and permeable soil. Contrary to popular belief, potting soil is not synonymous with potting mix.

Potting soil is composed of dirt and is much denser than regular soil due to its high moisture retention capacity. Potting mix is a type of indoor plant growing medium.

It contains decomposing organic matter and minerals that can be detrimental to the root system of houseplants, causing root rot.

Philodendron leaves may curl as a result of nutrient deficiency in the soil. As a result, selecting the appropriate soil type is critical.

How to Fix

An indoor potting mix is a good soil to use for your Philodendron. It should typically include peat moss as well as a variety of soilless mediums such as perlite, coconut/wood fiber, and vermiculite.

The combination of these organic materials allows for good water retention as well as improved aeration and drainage. You are less likely to overwater your plant if your soil drains well.

Leaf Curling Can Also Be Caused by Pot Size

Finally, your Philodendron may be in a pot that is too small for it to thrive. Philodendrons are plants that grow quickly.

Depending on the type of Philodendron you have, some can grow up to 3 (1m) to 8 feet (2.5m), so it is critical to repot your plant on a regular basis if you want it to grow effectively.

A plant can become root-bound if its pot is too small. This can make it difficult for the root system to perform its normal functions, such as 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 must repot philodendron at least once a year, depending on how quickly they grow. When the plant’s roots start to grow out of the pot, it’s time to repot it.

Make sure there is a layer for drainage and that the soil is firmly pressed down when potting the plant. For the next two weeks, do not fertilize the soil.

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.


Why are my philodendron leaves drooping?

One of the most common causes is insufficient or excessive watering. Check to see if you’re overwatering or underwatering your plant.

You should consider the environmental factors and temperature of the room in which your Philodendron is located. This problem can be caused by root rot diseases, insect infestation, or a lack of nutrients.

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 be done differently for your Philodendron depending on the temperature, soil, and lighting. Before watering your Philodendron, always check the soil moisture.

In general, water your plant every 1-2 weeks during the summer and every 3-4 weeks during the winter. Make sure your soil is moist, but don’t overwater, as this will encourage fungal growth and root rot.

Read this article to learn in details about the frequency of watering Philodendron.

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