Philodendron Leaves Curling: What You Should Know

Are you confronted with your philodendron leaves curling? This common phenomenon often signals an imbalance in its growing conditions – be it water, humidity, temperature, or improper fertilization.

Philodendrons are generally low maintenance, but they still crave an optimal environment to flourish. Indeed, understanding the signs like Philodendron leaves curling is crucial to maintaining their health.

Why is Philodendron Leaves Curling?

Philodendron leaves can curl due to a variety of reasons. Some of these causes are simple to remedy, while others could indicate a more serious issue. Let’s explore some of the most frequent culprits behind the curling of philodendron leaves:

Cause 1: Fungal diseases

One prominent sign that your philodendron is suffering from a fungal disease is leaf curling. Additionally, if you observe yellow or brown discoloration, or if your plant stops growing entirely, these could be telltale signs of a fungal infection.

Excessive humidity and a lack of ventilation can promote fungal infection on leaves. One common example is Powdery Mildew, a fungus that causes houseplant leaves to curl upwards, leaving a white powdery layer on the leaves. This typically occurs in hot, humid weather.

How to fix:

To manage these fungal diseases, consider moderating the humidity levels around your philodendrons. High humidity, especially when combined with inadequate ventilation, can create a perfect environment for fungal growth. Therefore, ensure your philodendron is situated in a location with appropriate air circulation and avoid overwatering.

In severe instances, where the disease has wholly affected your plant, it might be best to remove the affected plant to ensure the safety of your other houseplants.

Cause 2: Water and humidity issues

Water quality

The composition of the water you use for your Philodendron could be a significant factor behind its leaf’s curling. Tap water is often riddled with minerals such as salts, fluoride, and chlorine, which can lead to salt buildup in the soil, rendering the essential nutrients inaccessible to the plant’s roots.

Furthermore, using cold water can shock your tropical Philodendron, potentially inducing root disease.

Excessive Watering

Underwatering is one of the most common culprits behind Philodendron leaves curling. When the plant is dehydrated, its leaves curl to reduce transpiration and water loss. This adaptive response, while super important for survival in short-term drought conditions, can become problematic if the plant is consistently denied the hydration it requires.

On the other hand, overwatering your Philodendron can also lead to curling leaves, along with other issues like brown leaf spots, drooping foliage, yellowing, and root rot. Root rot can inhibit the plant’s ability to transport water to the foliage, further causing leaf curling and possible discoloration. Balancing the water needs of your Philodendron is therefore crucial to preventing curling leaves and promoting healthy growth.

How to fix:

  1. Understand the Environment: The amount of water your Philodendron needs largely depends on its environment. Plants situated in bright, warm spots will need more water than those in cooler, low-light areas.
  2. Check Soil Moisture: Allow the top layer of soil to dry out before testing it. Insert your finger about an inch into the soil – if it’s moist, your plant has sufficient water.
  3. Consider Plant Placement: Hanging Philodendrons may require more water, as their soil dries out faster than plants in pots on tables.
  4. Adapt to Seasons: Avoid adhering strictly to a weekly watering schedule. As temperatures change throughout the year, so too should your watering routine. Checking the soil’s moisture level weekly can guide you on how often to water your Philodendron.
  5. Assess the Weight: The weight of the pot can give you clues about when to water your Philodendron. When it feels light, it may be time to water.
  6. Water Until It Drains: Water your Philodendron until water seeps out of the drainage hole. This ensures your plant is receiving water from its roots, not just the soil surface, and also helps flush out excess salts harmful to the plant.
  7. Increase humidity: placing a tray filled with pebbles and water under your plant, use a room humidifier, and misting. It should be done judiciously, ensuring that the plant is not left overly wet for extended periods.

Insufficient Watering and low humidity

Philodendrons, with their large leaves, have a high rate of water evaporation, necessitating constant hydration. Should the humidity levels fall too low, you may notice the leaves of your Philodendron turning brown and curling inward. This happens because, in conditions of low humidity, the plant loses more water through transpiration.

In response to excessive water loss, the plant’s natural defense mechanisms get activated. The curling of Philodendron leaves is a plant’s effort to conserve water, a response akin to underwatering.

While Philodendrons can tolerate partially dry soil briefly, persistent dryness will significantly impact the plant’s health. Therefore, it’s essential to avoid letting the soil in the pot dry out completely, especially during summer months when evaporation rates are high.

Philodendron leaves curled because of low humidity

Cause 3: Too much or too little light exposure

Despite their preference for partial shade, philodendrons require a significant amount of light for optimal growth. They thrive best in bright but indirect sunlight, ideally in a south-facing room. If a lack of light is an issue, the leaves may elongate and become sluggish. Or if exposed to direct sunlight, the leaves can burn, curl up or down depending on the leaf’s shape, and develop large brown spots.

Symptoms of Sun Exposure

  • Leaf curling either downward or upward.
  • Presence of brown burns on the leaves.
  • Plant exposed to direct sunlight.

How to fix:

  • Remove the badly burned leaves.
  • Relocate the philodendron to a place with 6-8 hours of indirect but bright sunlight.
  • Install artificial light if natural light is lacking.

Cause 4: Root rot due to overwatering

Philodendrons, widely admired for their lush foliage, rely heavily on their root system for absorbing water and nutrients.

Hence, when the roots sustain damage, it negatively impacts the overall health of the plant, leading to visible symptoms on the leaves, such as discoloration and curling.

Various factors can contribute to root damage, with the most prevalent ones being overwatering, insufficient soil drainage, and inadequate drainage in the pot. Persistent moisture in the soil provides a conducive environment for diseases and fungi to thrive, leading to root rot.

If you notice signs such as leaf discoloration, curling, drooping, or the presence of a sour or rotten smell from the soil, it might indicate root rot.

How to fix:

In case your philodendron displays symptoms of root rot, it’s crucial to act promptly and effectively to rescue the plant. Follow this step-by-step guide to tackle the issue:

  • Repotting: Carefully remove your philodendron from the pot and inspect the roots. Cut away any brown, soft, or dying roots and disinfect the remaining healthy ones with a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide (3%) to 3 parts water.
  • Disinfection: If you plan to reuse the pot, thoroughly clean it using a bleach solution to remove any lingering fungus spores.
  • Replanting: If all the roots are mushy and decaying, unfortunately, you might need to discard the plant. However, if there are still white, firm roots present, your philodendron can be saved. Plant it in new, well-draining soil and ensure that the pot has an efficient drainage system.
  • Water Management: To avoid future root rot issues, only water your plant when the top layer of the soil feels dry. Additionally, implement deep watering techniques rather than surface watering to encourage healthier root growth and soil aeration.

Cause 5: Temperature stress

Philodendrons are tropical plants that flourish in warm environments, ideally within a temperature bracket of 60-85°F. They possess a certain adaptability to various indoor temperature ranges. However, enduring exposure to cold or abrupt temperature changes may induce stress, leading to noticeable alterations in their appearance like drooping leaves, brown spots, and dieback.

Extended exposure to temperatures lower than 55°F (12°C) might put your philodendron at risk of dying.

Conversely, high temperatures can cause excessive water loss leading to leaf wilting and curling. Sudden cold drafts, even if brief, can damage leaf cells significantly. Frozen cell sap, caused by a cold draft, expands in volume, damaging the cell membrane, and leading to leaf curling and brown or black spots.

How to fix:

Managing temperature stress in philodendrons involves both corrective and preventive actions. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Temperature Regulation: Keep the daytime temperature for your Philodendron within a range of 60-82°F.
  2. Location Management: Avoid placing your philodendron outside or near open windows if temperatures are expected to drop below 55°F (12°C). Also, keep it away from direct heat sources such as radiators or air coolers.
  3. Leaf Care: Remove any damaged leaves, as these won’t recover and can drain the plant’s energy.

Philodendron leaves curled because of low temperature

Cause 6: Fertilizer issues

Understanding and Managing Fertilizer Issues in Philodendrons: Overfeeding with fertilizer and nutrient deficiency, fertilizer.

Overfeeding with fertilizer

Excessive use of fertilizers can detrimentally affect the health of your Philodendron plant. This misuse often results in damage to both the plant’s root system and leaf cells. The signs of this damage are typically evident, with the plant’s leaves curling downward, turning brown, or developing brown spots.

Moreover, over-fertilization can lead to the shriveling of your Philodendron’s roots. This inhibits the plant’s ability to absorb water, rendering it more susceptible to diseases and pest attacks.

If your Philodendron exhibits symptoms of over-fertilization, you may want to implement the following remedies:

How to fix:
If your Philodendron exhibits symptoms of over-fertilization, you may want to implement the following remedies:

  1. Read the instructions on your fertilizer packaging carefully. Each fertilizer has different application requirements for each type of plant.
  2. Reduce the frequency of your fertilizer application and allow the soil to leach, or drain excess water and nutrients.
  3. If you have used a slow-release fertilizer, consider repotting your Philodendron.

In terms of regular fertilization, during the growth-promoting seasons of spring and autumn, fertilize your Philodendron monthly. Conversely, during the colder winter months, it’s recommended to fertilize every 6-8 weeks.

You might also consider using weekly fertilizers or slow-release pellets during the growing season to support the growth of your Philodendron. An alternative to traditional fertilizers could be organic options like compost, decomposed leaves, manure, and bone meal emulsions. These alternatives do not cause damage and release nutrients slowly.

Nutrient deficiency, fertilizer

Factors potentially leading to nutrient deficiencies might encompass inadequate sunlight exposure, improper watering, substandard soil quality, not administering balanced fertilizers, diseases, or pest invasions.

Manifestations of nutrient deficiency can differ based on the particular nutrient or mineral in short supply. Nonetheless, common indications typically involve leaf drop, hindered growth, wilting leaves, yellowing, and curling.

How to fix:

To treat nutrient deficiency in your Philodendron, use a balanced plant fertilizer. Apply half the suggested dosage to avoid over-fertilization and potential fertilizer burn.

Additionally, refrain from using tap water, as it could cause additional damage. Regular monitoring of your plant’s condition, coupled with appropriate fertilizer usage, can ensure your Philodendron remains healthy and vibrant.

Philodendron leaves curled because of deficiency fertilizer

Cause 7: Insect infestation

The pests you may encounter on your Philodendron include Aphids and Thrips which are known for siphoning off the juices from the leaves. This leads to curling and eventual death of the leaves.

Aphids are minute insects, that appear in a variety of hues such as yellow, green, black, and red.

Conversely, thrips are winged insects that are minuscule in size, making them hard to spot without a thorough inspection.

Recognizing the Signs of Insect Damage:

Key signs of pest damage on Philodendron leaves include upward curling and distortion, yellowing or browning, and spots on leaves. However, an even more menacing insect is the leafminer, which lays its eggs within the leaf blade. As the larvae hatch, they devour the leaf from the inside, leading to irregular deformation and upward curling. A tell-tale sign of leafminer activity is the presence of yellow tracks on the green leaf.

How to fix:

Controlling these pests often involves the use of less toxic but effective solutions like horticultural oils, neem, and insecticides.

For mites, an acaricide should be employed. Furthermore, any leaves infected by these insects should be pruned and discarded.

It is important to stay vigilant about the health of your Philodendron plants and act quickly at the first signs of infestation to prevent any lasting damage. Regular inspection and maintenance will ensure that your Philodendrons remain healthy and free from harmful insects.

Related: Brown Spots On Philodendron Leaves: Causes – Solutions

Pro Tips for Preventing curling philodendron leaves

Philodendron leaves curling can be a disheartening sight for any plant enthusiast. This curling is often a symptom of underlying issues such as improper watering, inadequate light, temperature stress, or insect infestation. However, by following these pro tips, you can avert these problems and keep your Philodendron lush and healthy.

  • Optimal Watering Routine: A important part of plant care, water is essential for your Philodendron’s well-being. Water your plant consistently with room-temperature or filtered water, maintaining soil moisture. Overwatering or underwatering can both lead to leaf curling. If you notice the leaves curling due to excessive watering, allow the topsoil to dry out before the next watering. Conversely, if inadequate watering is the issue, increase the water volume but ensure the soil has good drainage to prevent waterlogging.
  • Providing Adequate Light: Philodendrons need plenty of indirect light. If the plant is not receiving sufficient sunlight, it might start becoming leggy, and the leaves will curl. Relocate your Philodendron to a spot where it can get bright, indirect light, or consider using an artificial light system to supplement natural light.
  • Regular Fertilization: Fertilizing your Philodendron, particularly during the growing seasons, is necessary for its healthy growth. Regularly providing nutrients will support the plant’s health and prevent leaf curling caused by nutrient deficiencies.
  • Maintaining Ideal Temperature: Temperature stress can result in leaf curling. Philodendrons thrive in a temperature range of 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep your plant in a location where the temperature stays within this range to avoid temperature-induced leaf curling.
  • Timely Repotting and Soil Quality: As your plant grows, it will need more space to spread its roots. Timely repotting and the use of good-quality soil can prevent leaf curling due to root congestion or poor soil conditions.
  • Regular Pest Inspection: Insects like mealybugs, aphids, and others can infest your plant and cause leaf curling by feeding on the plant’s juices. Regularly inspect your plant for signs of pest infestation and treat it with an appropriate insecticide.

By following these pro tips, you can prevent curling leaves in your Philodendron plant and ensure it remains healthy and vibrant.


Understanding the issue of “Philodendron Leaves Curling: What You Should Know” is crucial in maintaining the health of your plants. At FamiPlants, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and tools to quickly identify and resolve such problems. While issues like leaf curling can be worrying, timely identification and implementation of our suggested solutions can restore your Philodendron to its peak health. Remember, immediate action is vital, especially in severe cases like root rot, to save your plant effectively.



Hi, I'm Cathleen Clemens. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in plant science. I gained detailed knowledge about various kinds of plants and how to properly care for them. My experience has enabled me to easily detect any issues such as pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, or signs of diseases in the plants.

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