It was frustrating to see the leaves of my pothos curling.
If you are a plant parent, you probably know how it feels to see our plant in distress even after giving the best possible care, at least to our knowledge.
But that was not the case. When I went further deep into the research mode to find the actual causes, I found that I was not providing the optimal care as I was supposed to.
So, if you are also worried about why your pothos leaves are curling then be sure to understand that any of the following reasons might be the cause.
The most common reason for the curling of the pothos leaves is the fact that your plant is not getting enough water. Apart from this, a few other reasons including root rot, overfeeding, heat and light stress, pest attacks, etc can also cause curling of pothos leaves. It is highly essential that you understand the botany behind this and fix the problem in the early stages itself.
7 Reasons Why Your Pothos Leaves Are Curling
Even though Pothos is considered to be a low maintenance plant, it is not so uncommon to see it’s leaves curling.
You don’t need to worry about this. Just sit and relax near your pothos and check for the below causes. If you find one, then it’s time to fix the issue with the solution recommended by expert gardeners.
So, let’s get into it.
Based on my research underwatering is the most common cause for pothos leaves curling.
It is a well-known fact that the quantity of water you feed to a plant is directly related to how well the plant grows. As a plant owner, you should know how often to water your pothos as a priority.
If you are underwatering your pothos, the plant will lose a biological component called turgor which is responsible for making the living plant tissue rigid. If the tissue in leaves is not rigid, then it starts curling.
How to find out whether you are underwatering or not?
In order to find whether you are underwatering your pothos plant, all you have to do is check whether the soil is dry. Just push your index finger 2 inches below the surface and if it’s super dry then it’s time to water your plant.
How to fix the underwatering problem?
If you find that you are underwatering your pothos plant, then it’s time to develop a proper watering schedule.
At first, you may be tempted to water every now and then. But this may lead to overwatering which will cause some serious issues that we’ll discuss next.
Based on your external climatic conditions, water your plants weekly once or twice. Before watering, always ensure that the top two inches of the soil is completely dry.
Also, it is highly recommended to keep track of the watering cycle of your pothos plant in a journal and keep it in a place where you can always see it so that you never forget.
2. Root Rot
This is the exact opposite of what we’ve discussed so far.
Whenever people find that they are underwatering their pothos plant, the natural tendency is to water every now and then which results in overwatering.
Overwatering causes root rot which is a far more serious issue than just curling of leaves. If you fail to address root rot in the earlier stages, then there is a high chance that your plant will wilt and die.
If there is excess water in the soil, then the plant won’t get enough oxygen and other soil nutrients. As a result of this, the root starts to rot.
Once the roots are rotten, the supply chain in the plant body will not function properly. Roots will not be able to suck nutrients and water from the soil which results in less water available for stems and leaves.
How to find whether your pothos’ curly leaves are due to root rot?
Just by looking at your pothos plant, it’s not possible to check whether it is affected by root rot or not. There are a few signs like yellowing leaves and rotten smell in the soil that you can look for, but none of them confirms whether your pothos is affected or not.
If you want to make 100% sure that your pothos plant is affected by root rot, then you need to unearth the plant from the soil and examine it. If the roots are mushy and black (or dark brown) then there is a high possibility that your pothos is a victim of root rot.
How to fix pothos’ curly leaves due to root rot?
Fixing a pothos plant that got affected by root rot is not very easy. It highly depends on the severity of the rot.
If more than 80 percent of the roots are already rotten, then there is a high chance that your pothos plant won’t survive even if you try to fix them.
But if the root rot is in the beginning stage, then you can try repotting your pothos plant. Before repotting, make sure that you cut all the rotten roots using a sterilized knife so that the infection does not spread.
Also, if the rot is severe then after cutting all the affected roots treat the healthy roots with hydrogen peroxide solution.
It is highly recommended that you use a pot with enough drainage holes so that a little bit of overwatering will be tolerated by your plant.
Pothos is a plant that does not require too much fertilizer, but needs it regularly.
It is recommended that you fertilize your pothos plant twice a month. If you are currently over-fertilizing and seeing curly leaves, then there is a high chance that over-fertilization may be one of the reasons.
Over fertilization will force metabolism on the plants and as a result the plant parts work too much in the short time. And as a result of this, the root and stem will become very delicate and overtime they lack the ability to suck and transport the nutrients from soil to leaves.
How to find whether your pothos’ curly leaves are due to over fertilization?
You don’t need to do any calculations here. Just ask yourself how many times you fertilized your pothos plant last month? If the answer is more than 2, then you are over fertilizing and you need to stop it right away.
Sometimes, even if you fertilize once a month the quantity of the fertilizer may be very high for your specific plant. If that’s the case, you will notice white crust (mineral buildup) on top of the soil.
How to fix pothos’ curly leaves due to over fertilization?
If you find that you are over fertilizing only a little bit, then you don’t need to take any drastic steps. All you have to do is stop feeding your pothos plant for a few months.
Once the plant comes back to normal, start feeding very low quantity and then increase quantity proportional to the plant growth.
On the other hand, if you were feeding a lot more fertilizer than what is needed then you should uproot the pothos from the soil, remove all the soil from the root using a brush and then repot the pothos plant in a well drained soil.
Also, you should refrain from adding fertilizers to newly repotted plants for a few months because the roots will already have a lot of fertilizer stored inside.
4. Too Much Light Exposure
Incorrect light exposure can cause the leaves of pothos plants to curl. It may not be the sole reason for the issue, but it is recommended to have a check on this.
Pothos is a plant that prefers moderate indirect light because of its origin in French Polynesia where the forests are completely covered by tall trees.
If your plant is indoor, then try to avoid direct harsh lighting. If it’s outdoors, then put it in a spot where it gets shade but enough light.
Incorrect light exposure includes too much light, very little light, direct harsh light, etc.
As we all know light is essential for the plants to do photosynthesis or in simple words, to breathe. Too much harsh light can damage the photosynthesis cells of the leaves and it starts curling and eventually dry.
On the contrary, too little light will not trigger plant cells to do photosynthesis and it causes not just leaves but the entire plant to look dull.
How to find whether your pothos’ curly leaves are due to light stress?
It is pretty simple to find whether your pothos curling leaves are due to light stress or not. All you have to do is simply examine the direction of the curl in the leaves.
If the curl is stretched towards the light source, then your pothos plant is not getting enough light. On the contrary, if they are curling away from the light source then it’s getting too much light.
How to fix pothos’ curly leaves due to light stress?
Fixing the light issue for the pothos plant is also straightforward.
If the plant is getting too much direct light, try to move it away from the light source. If moving your pothos is not an option, then try to diffuse the light before it reaches the plant.
On the other side, if your plant is getting very little light, then move it near a window where it gets moderate light. It is recommended to filter and diffuse the light through a curtain.
5. Temperature Stress
If your pothos plant is exposed to high heat, then it may also cause curling of leaves due to dehydration.
Pothos is a plant that thrives in the temperature range of 70 to 90 0F. Even though it will grow in slightly higher temperature conditions, anything beyond 110 0F constant needs to be avoided.
High temperature surroundings will dry up the moisture content in the soil quickly and as a result, plant dehydration occurs and less water is available to the plant for functioning.
Also, such high temperatures makes the leaves curl themselves to save from the possible heat damage to the photosynthesis cells.
How to find whether your pothos’ curly leaves are due to temperature stress?
Just by looking at the plant, you cannot find whether your pothos leaves are curly due to temperature stress. On;y external factors like outside temperature, proximity to heaters, radiators, etc can only give an indication.
How to fix pothos’ curly leaves due to temperature stress?
If your plant is outdoors in direct harsh sunlight, then try to move it to a location where it gets shade for the majority of the day.
If it’s indoors, try to move your plant away from any possible heat radiators like room heaters, induction burners, ovens, etc.
6. Pest Attacks
It is very common to see a lot of insects and pests under the leaves of pothos plants.
Even though it is very common, it is not good for your pothos plant especially if the pests and insects are found under newly growing leaves.
If you are providing proper care for your plant and still see a substantial amount of pests, then this is most likely the culprit for curling your pothos leaves.
These pets and insects feed on plant sap and suck out all the essential nutrients needed for the healthy growth of leaves. If the infection is severe, they might entirely cut the nutrient supply from stem to leaves and make the leaves droop and curl.
How to find whether your pothos’ curly leaves are due to pests?
Mealybugs, scale insects and spider mites are a few of the common insects and pests that you can find in pothos plants.
Most of the time, they stay underneath the leaves and you won’t find them easily. It is recommended to purchase a portable LED flashlight to inspect the plants occasionally.
Since spider mites are very small, it may be a better idea to use a magnifying glass while examining your pothos.
How to fix pest attacks and infection?
The first step in controlling the pests and insects is providing the ideal environment for your pothos plants. But in practice, it’s easier than said.
If you find insects and pests in your pothos, you can remove them with natural products or artificial chemical pesticides.
I recommend staying away from chemical pesticides until the infection is very severe. If it’s in the starting stage, the natural pest repellants like garlic spray, neem spray, soap or dishwasher liquid, etc can clean up the mess easily.
But if the infection is very severe, you may have to use a chemical pesticide to treat it.
You can check out this resource to know more about removing pests and bugs from your garden.
7. Natural Curling
Even though the most obvious reason for pothos leaves curling is any one of the 7 reasons stated above, sometimes you may need to take a step back and assess.
If your plant is not suffering from any of the above issues, then the curling of the leaves may be a natural process.
Whenever a plant is pushing out a lot of new growth, it starts focussing less on matured old leaves. And the old leaves get very little water and nutrients compared to the newly growing leaves.
As a result of this, the matured older leaves tend to curl and then wilt.
How to find whether your pothos’ curly leaves are natural?
If you are seeing a lot of new growth lately, then it may be an indication of naturally curling matured and older leaves.
How to fix naturally curling pothos leaves?
Since it is a natural process, there is very little you can do to prevent or reverse this phenomenon.
If you feel like your plant is looking bad due to this and want to clean up, then feel free to cut the curly leaves and let the plant use all of its energy and nutrients to grow new leaves.
Pothos Leaves Curling – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In this section, I will answer some of the common questions people asked on the internet regarding the pothos leaves curling issue.
Why are my pothos plant leaves curling?
The most common reason for the pothos plant leaves curling is the fact that your plant is not getting enough water. Either you are underwatering your plant or other issues are not letting the plant get the water it needs. These factors include root rot, temperature and light stress, over fertilization, etc causing the dehydration in the plant leaves.
Is it natural for Pothos to curl leaves?
If your pothos plant is not showing any symptoms of issues like root rot, underwatering, pest attack, over fertilization, temperature and light stress then there is a high chance that the curling of leaves is natural.
When a pothos plant pushes out a lot of new growth, it starts focusing less on matured older leaves. And as a result of this, these mature older leaves get very little water and start curling.
With that being said, I’ve covered everything I learned about pothos curling leaves.
In short, underwatering is the most common cause for curling leaves in the Pothos plant. But you should not nullify other possible causes like root rot, temperature, light and humidity stress, overfeeding with fertilizer, etc.
Now it’s time for you to analyze what is the reason for your pothos plant’s curly leaves and immediately follow the fix that I recommended to keep your plant healthy.
Check out our other articles to learn more about Pothos plant care and fixing the issues that arise over time.
For now, thanks for reading. Enjoy plant parenting.