5 Reasons Why Adenium Leaves Curling (Desert Rose Leaves Curling)

Adenium leaves curling is one of the commonly seen plant problems among adenium owners. Learn everything you should know about adenium leaves curling.

Why Are Your Adenium Leaves Curling

Even though adenium plants are grown mostly for their beautiful flowers, healthy foliage has an important part in keeping the plant an attractive piece.

Adenium leaves curling is one of the commonly seen adenium plant problems among houseplant owners. And, if you are one among them, then this article is for you. 

Read on to learn why your adenium leaves are curling and what actions you should take to fix them and how to prevent them from happening in the future.

Why Are My Adenium Leaves Curling?

Adenium plants (a.k.a desert rose) not receiving enough water is the most frequent cause of leaves curling. In addition to this, there are a few other factors such as lighting issues, nutrient deficiency, humidity stress, pest problems, and chemical damage that might contribute to the curling of adenium leaves.

Since there are quite a few reasons for the adenium leaves curling, it is your responsibility to analyze your adenium plant and its growing environment to find the actual cause.

You must understand the underlying science behind different causes of desert rose leaves curling and address it as soon as possible.

1. Watering Issues

Watering issues include both underwatering and overwatering. 

Even though both of these can cause adenium leaves to curl, underwatering is the most common cause of desert rose leaves curling.

According to a research paper published in Nature.com, whenever you underwater your adenium plant, the leaves will lose a biological element called turgor, which is in charge of rigidifying the living plant tissue.

If the leaves are not rigid, then they will easily curl.

If you are not underwatering, then it’s time to check whether you are overwatering your adenium plant.

The plant won’t receive enough oxygen and other nutrients from the soil if there is too much water in the soil. This causes the root to begin to decay.

The supply chain in the plant body won’t work properly if the roots get rotting.

Less water will be available for stems and leaves because roots won’t be able to draw nutrients and water from the soil. As a result, the leaves start curling.

Fix Watering Issues – Simply determining whether the soil is dry or wet will reveal whether you are overwatering or underwatering your adenium plant. 

Simply insert your index finger 2 inches beneath the top layer of the potting soil; if it seems dry, water your plant. On the other hand, if the soil is wet then wait till the next day to water your plant.

Setting up your watering schedule must be based on analyzing the climatic conditions in your region. 

For example, if you are in a tropical region with a temperature higher than 90oF, then watering daily is a necessity. On the other hand, if you live in a relatively cooler place, then watering once every three or four days is enough.

2. Lighting Issues

If water issues are not the reason for your adenium leaves curling, then lighting issues are the next set of causes you should check.

Light is necessary for plants to perform photosynthesis, or simply put, to breathe. Upon receiving too much light, the photosynthetic cells will be stressed, causing the leaves to curl and eventually dry out.

On the other hand, too little light prevents plant cells from doing photosynthesis, which results in energy depreciation, and as a result, desert rose leaves start to curl.

It is not that hard to find whether your adenium plant is getting too much light or too little light. 

If the curl is towards the light source, then your adenium plant is not getting enough light. On the other hand, if the leaves are curling away from the light source, then the plant is getting too much light.

Fix Light Issues – Fixing light issues is pretty straightforward. If your adenium plant is getting too much light, then you should move the plant to a more shady place.

If moving is not an option, then try to filter the existing light using a photo screen or simply a semi-transparent curtain.

However, if your adenium is not getting enough light, then you should move the plant to a spot where it can get more bright light. If moving is not an option in this case, then you should try to provide a full spectrum of grow light.

3. Nutrient Problems

Just like any other living organism, the adenium plant needs nutrients to thrive.

Nutrient problems are directly related to the quality of the soil and fertilizers you use for the adenium plant.

Based on a greenhouse study, the essential nutrients needed for adenium plants are iron, chlorine, boron, manganese, zinc, copper, molybdenum, and nickel. So, you should make sure that your adenium plant is getting all these nutrients in the form of either fertilizer or soil.

Both over-fertilization and under-fertilization can cause desert rose leaves curling.

Fix Fertilizer Issues – If you were overfertilizing your adenium, then the ideal way to fix your plant is by repotting the plant in fresh soil after removing the old potting soil completely.

On the other hand, if you are not fertilizing your adenium plant, then it is time to consider feeding.

Adenium being a low-maintenance plant requires very less fertilization. Based on a study published in Nature.com, adenium plants do well when you fertilize once a month during summer and spring.

During dormant months, they don’t require fertilizers.

4. Pest Problems

Numerous insects and other pests are frequently observed under the leaves of adenium plants.

If you are giving your plant the care it needs but are still seeing a lot of bugs, this is probably to blame for the way your adenium leaves are curling.

Thes pests and bugs attack both new and existing leaves.

Since these pests suck the plant juices, the leaves are deprived of essential nutrients. If the pest infestation is very severe, then the adenium leaves will start to droop and curl.

Fix Pest Problems – The only way to deal with pests and insects is by using pesticides and insecticides depending on the severity of the infestation.

The first step in treating pest problems is isolating your adenium plant away from other plants that you have so that the infestation does not spread.

If the infestation is low, then you can try using neem oil, a mixture of essential oils, soap water spray, etc. On the other hand, if the infestation is very high you should try out pest-specific chemical-based pesticides.

5. Low Humidity

Adenium plants thrive in regions where the humidity is very high. And we are talking about humidity ranges higher than 70% throughout the year.

Many plants including adenium can absorb moisture from the surrounding air through their leaves. So, when the air is very dry, the adenium leaves will start to curl.

Increase Humidity – As a temporary measure, you can mist the adenium leaves using water in a spray bottle. 

Misting does not increase humidity, but what it does is directly provide moisture content for the leaves to absorb.

If you are looking for a permanent solution, then purchasing a humidifier is the best way to increase the humidity. If you have a lot of different tropical plants like pothos, monstera, calathea, etc, then a humidifier is a good investment.

Adenium Leaves Curling – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Seeing the leaves of your adenium plants curling can trigger many questions in your mind. 

And, in this section, I will be answering some of the most frequently asked questions on the internet regarding adenium leaves curling.

Can adenium leaves recover from curling?

It is possible for the adenium leaves to recover from curling. First, you have to identify what is causing the leaves to curl in the first place. Once the cause is found, follow the expert-recommended solution mentioned above to fix the issue.

Should you cut off curly adenium leaves?

It is not recommended to cut off curly adenium leaves since they can recover if proper action is taken. If only a couple of leaves are having the issue and it’s making the entire plant look ugly, then you can cut them off.

Why are adenium leaves curling upwards?

If all of your adenium leaves are curling only upwards, then it is highly likely that the plant is getting very little light. When the plant is not getting enough light, the leaves start to curl upwards in the direction of the light source.


To back up the information we provide in our articles, the Plantials team only uses high-quality sources published in peer-reviewed university or scientific research journals.

  1. Biological Activities of Adenium obesum (Forssk.) Roem. & Schult: A Concise Review, Malaya Journal Of BioSciences.
  2. Adenium obesum is a new potted flower: growth management, SciElo Journal, Brazil.

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