Calathea plants are popular houseplants known for their beautifully patterned, colorful leaves. However, you may notice the leaves on your Calathea begin to curl under or roll up at the edges. There are a few reasons why this happens and things you can do to fix it.
Low Humidity Causes Calathea Leaves Curling
One of the most common causes of curled Calathea leaves is low humidity. Calatheas prefer high humidity levels of 50% or higher. In dry indoor air, the moisture gets pulled out of the leaves faster than the plant can absorb it through the roots. This causes the leaves to curl up and try to conserve moisture.
To boost the humidity around your Calathea, try these tips:
- Place a humidifier near the plant and keep it running during the day. Target at least 50% humidity if possible.
- Put the plant pot on a pebble tray filled with water. The evaporating water will increase humidity.
- Mist the leaves frequently with suitable temperature water.
- Move the Calathea to a bathroom or kitchen where humidity tends to be higher.
Dry Soil Causes Calathea Leaves Curling
Allowing the soil to dry out too much between waterings can also cause leaves to curl. Calatheas need consistently moist soil. When the soil gets too dry, the roots can’t take up enough water and the leaves start to dehydrate and curl.
Check the soil moisture daily by inserting your finger into the top few inches of soil. Water thoroughly when the top inch or two of soil is dry. The soil should never be allowed to dry out completely.
As tropical plants, Calatheas also prefer slightly warmer water. Let water sit out overnight to come to room temperature before watering your Calathea.
Light Exposure Causes Calathea Leaves Curling
Getting too much direct sun can cause Calathea leaves to curl. These plants prefer indirect light. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, especially in the hot afternoon sun.
If your Calathea is placed in a sunny window, diffuse the light with a sheer curtain. Or move it back a few feet from the window so the sunlight is filtered through the glass. An east or west-facing window is ideal for these plants.
Cold Drafts Causes Calathea Leaves Curling
Exposure to cold drafts from air conditioning vents, open doors/windows, or cold outdoor air can also make Calathea leaves curl. These tropical plants prefer temperatures between 70-80°F. Provide a portable space heater to raise the temperature if needed.
Improper Watering Causes Calathea Leaves Curling
Both underwatering and overwatering can cause leaves to curl. Overwatering essentially drowns the roots, preventing them from functioning properly. Roots need both moisture and air circulation.
To avoid overwatering:
- Allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings.
- Ensure the pot has drainage holes and that excess water can flow out.
- Use a well-draining potting mix, not heavy soil that stays wet.
- Water only when the top few inches of soil are dry.
- Pour water until it drains from the bottom, then stop. Don’t let the plant sit in a full drainage saucer.
Too Much Fertilizer Causes Calathea Leaves Curling
Heavy fertilization can damage Calathea roots and cause leaves to curl or brown on the edges. These plants are light feeders. At most, fertilize monthly during the growing season with a balanced, diluted liquid fertilizer. Remember to reduce or stop fertilizing in winter when growth slows.
If you suspect the reason about leaves to curl is fertilizer, stop feeding the plant. Flush the soil by watering thoroughly to dissolve the buildup. Switch to distilled or rainwater until the plant recovers.
Natural Changes in Calathea Leaves Growth
As part of their natural growth cycle, Calatheas will shed their oldest leaves. Newer leaves may start out tightly curled and then uncurl as they mature. So some minor curling is normal, especially in new growth.
But if leaves that were previously flat start curling unexpectedly, it points to an underlying cultural issue, like humidity, light, or watering. Focus on adjusting the plant’s care to prevent further curling rather than living with curled leaves long-term.
When to Worry About Curling Leaves ?
- Occasional temporary curling due to changing seasons or growth phases is normal. But leaves that remain tightly curled or are curling worse over time indicate a problem.
- Don’t just live with curled leaves long term as it will affect the plant’s health and growth. If you’ve ruled out the common issues above, a disease or pest problem could be the culprit.
- Leaf curling accompanied by spots, yellowing, or browning may indicate a fungal or bacterial infection. Check closely under leaves for pests like spider mites. Consider repotting the plant in fresh potting mix if fungal issues are suspected in the soil.
- If no cause can be found and adjustments don’t improve the leaf curling after a few weeks, the plant may be too far gone. It’s best to discard plants with severe leaf damage or disease to avoid infecting other plants. Start over with a new, healthy Calathea and follow proper care tips to prevent future leaf curling issues.
After reading this article, you may have a more detailed understanding of the reasons why Calathea leaves curl. I hope your plants are growing healthily, and if you have any other Calathea plant questions, welcome to leave your comment.