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Why Are My Plumeria Leaves Curling? (And How to Fix It)

Culled leaves on plumeria is a common issue that you may encounter. It is critical to first determine the root causes of the problem before taking any action.

Underwatering or low humidity is the most common cause of plumeria leaves curling. Excessive light exposure, temperature stress, insect infestation, and fungal diseases such as root rot are also factors. To solve the problem, water the plant thoroughly and fertilize it every 4-6 weeks to keep it healthy and pest-resistant.

However, there is no cause for concern. In this article, I’ll go over the possible causes of leaf curling and how to fix them.

Indoor potted plumeria plant leaves showing curling signs.

Causes of Plumeria Leaves Curling

To determine the cause, you must carefully observe the plant and its surroundings.

Also, before you make any decisions, keep in mind the ever-increasing requirements.

Here are the possible causes of plumeria leaves curling and solutions:

Under-watering

Under-watering and excessive heat cause the plumeria leaves to curl downward. You may also notice that your plants are drooping. All they need is to drink. 

Remember, water is a basic necessity for plants, so that means they get thirsty, too! This is a defensive mechanism for plants by reducing the transpiration process.

Solution

Water your plumeria if you find the signs like dry soil, leaf tips brown, etc. In a few hours, you should see it bounce back to normal.

I recommend you water your plant once every 7-10 days. On warmer days, water them 2-3 times weekly. Note that a consistent watering schedule is key!

Read this article to know about the treatment, causes, and prevention of brown spots on plumeria leaves.

Overfeeding with Fertilizer

At some point, you may think that putting in vast amounts of fertilizer will give you the best results.

Unfortunately, it’s the other way around. Excessive amounts of fertilizer will cause soil salinity.  

This can inhibit the ability of the root system to intake water and other essentials. You will notice the symptoms on leaves as well as other parts of your plumeria.

You can be sure if there is any type of crust forming on the top surface of the potting mix.

Excess salinity hurts the beneficial microbes within the soil. We don’t want that, do we?

Solution

The best way to deal with this problem is to water the soil. This flushes the excess nutrients down from it.

But be careful, you don’t want the water to run off as it can harm other plants.

Nutrient Deficiency

Plants need essential nutrients for energy production. It allows them to become healthy and continue to grow.

These nutrients include nitrogen, magnesium, copper, and potassium. An insufficient amount of nutrients results in stunted growth, wilting, and discoloration and foliage of leaves.

Solution

Put fresh organic matter and voila, it saves the day! You can opt to add small amounts of fertilizer. Make sure not to overfeed your plant. Overfeeding would give you another problem.

Temperature Stress

The first thing you should do is to check the surrounding temperature. On warm days, plants curl their leaves to avoid sunlight and maintain their moisture.

They do so by pumping the water back to their stem and roots, causing the leaves to curl. 

Solution

Leaf curling is harmless on warm days. (Nothing to worry about!) However, you can move your plant into a much cooler spot. Make sure to place them under the shade and cooler areas of your home. 

They thrive and bloom in temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C). I highly recommend using a thermometer to determine the temperature accurately.

Roots Rotting from Over-Watering

Always make sure that the soil is never soggy. This is a huge NO for your plant. Its roots die because of a lack of oxygen. 

Solution

Check the color of your plant root. Healthy roots are white. If they’re black and mushy, then they’re rotting. 

However, you can still save it by replanting it on healthy soil. You can only do this if the rotting has not spread to the entire root system yet. Otherwise, you can still save the plant by propagation.

Water quality

Just like soil quality, water quality affects your plants. Hard water contains high amounts of salt and minerals while soft water contains less. 

Hard water causes salt formation on top of the soil. Thus, instead of absorbing, the soil repels the water.

Solution

Rainwater is the best water source for your plants. It is rich in minerals, which is needed for them to grow and develop. 

It is natural and free! You can collect rainwater in barrels or buckets in your home. Filtered water is another option. However, this may cost you some cents.

Excessive Sunlight

Too much exposure to sunlight can dehydrate your plant. Leaf curling helps plants to lessen photosynthesis. This allows them to reduce transpiration and retain their moisture content.

Solution

Secure your plant in a spot with shade. Keep in mind that you want this area to be shadier, but will also allow enough light for your plant to grow. Do not forget to water it.

Lack of Light

Just like other plants, plumerias thrive when they receive proper care and nourishment. Plants obtain energy from sunlight. 

It is important to provide them with adequate amounts of light for them to absorb and use for photosynthesis.

If your plumeria is not getting enough light to produce the necessary food for the leaves then it may show curling signs.

Solution

Mirrors help in increasing natural lighting! However, if you don’t have enough room for it, you can just place your plant near a light-colored surface (it can be near a wall). This allows natural light to bounce back to your plant.

If you need extra help, artificial lighting can assist in your plant’s growth. You can install light-emitting diode (LED) lighting or fluorescent tubes (this is much cheaper) in the room.

Furthermore, is your plant small? Take advantage of it by hanging it near a light source.    

Diseases of Plumeria

Yes, you read it right—plants are prone to diseases, too! This includes plumeria rust, a serious problem among plumeria plants.

Early signs include curling of leaves and yellow spots. When leaves turn yellow, it makes them brittle and falls off.!

Solution

Inspect the leaves and identify where rust spores are. Remove the infected leaves. (Warning: Do not compost!)

Since rust spores can spread, these can infect your healthy neighboring plants. You have to dispose of them properly and immediately!

If the disease seems to infect the remaining leaves still, you can use a fungicide to control the rust. Test it first in a small infected area. If it does not cause injury, you can use it for your entire plant.

For safety measures, always check the fungicide’s label and follow its instructions (if there are any). You should handle and apply it properly. (Be careful, use small amounts!)

Insect Infestation

Sometimes, leaf curling is the effect of insect infestation. Pestering insects feed on a plant’s leaves, taking up its nutrients. Insect-infested leaves are dry and brittle. They also have the tendency to curl inwards. 

Solution

Take a cotton ball. Put an ample amount of alcohol and dab the infected leaves. Neem oil with soap water is another great option.

Mix small amounts of dishwashing soap with water. Put it in a bottle and spray it on the infected areas.

Low Humidity

Humidity is one factor to consider for your plant growth. At low humidity, moisture from plants easily leaves their system.

This allows them to cool off. However, this leads to leaf curling and defoliation.

Solution

There are ways to increase humidity. You can try installing a humidifier to give the room more moisture.

If you are on a tight budget, I suggest you make a humidity tray, also known as the pebble tray method. 

Take a container and fill it with gravel. Put water in the container. Then, place your plant on top. This method increases moisture around your plant.

Plumeria Leaves Curling After Repotting

Plant shock is common after repotting. This is similar to when a child experiences culture shock after suddenly moving to a place far from their old home. 

There are various reasons why plant shock happens. This includes soil quality, the transplant process, and repotting at the wrong time.

Solution

Give your plant the same soil it has lived in. One factor that affects its growth is soil quality.

Secure your plant in the same spot where it receives the same conditions (lighting, temperature, etc.).

Water your plant. Remove the dead leaves. Give it some love! Remember, plants need it, too! 

Key Takeaways

There you go! The mystery of the curling leaves has been solved. Now that you have understood why that happens, here are a few things to remember:

  • When your plumeria leaves are curling, this means that your plant is suffering from distress.
  • Always check for signs and symptoms. Are the leaves curling inward? Do they have yellow spots?
  • Find the right treatment for your plant. Each problem requires appropriate treatment. Again, it is important to find out first the cause of your plant’s leaf curling.
  • Last but not the least, do not be afraid to ask. If some things are bugging you, getting help is always the key!