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Pothos leaves are a good indicator of the overall health of the plant. It’s easy to tell if something is wrong with pothos. Curling pothos leaves can mean a few different things. It is usually simple to tell which is the underlying cause.
Why Are My Pothos Leaves Curling? Pothos leaves curl in when the plant gets too little water. Overwatering can cause root rot, which also leads to leaf curling. Pothos leaves can also curl in response to very low or very high temperatures, not getting enough sunlight, insect infestations or disease, and too much fertilizer.
Pothos is a brilliant plant for beginner gardeners because they are very hardy and quick to tell you when something is wrong.
Taking care of a pothos plant is a great way to learn how plants respond to different growing conditions. Here, we look at why pothos leaves curl and how to fix the issues that may be causing it.
Why Do Pothos Leaves Curl?
Pothos has become one of the most popular houseplants because it is such a hardy, forgiving plant. They are adaptable to a range of light, temperature, and humidity levels, and they don’t die if you make a mistake with their care here and there.
To tell if a pothos plant is happy, you look at the leaves. What does it mean if the leaves are curling inward?
1. Underwatering Causes Pothos Leaves To Curl In
Pothos are very tolerant of dry conditions (like when you forget to water them for a few weeks). Still, they do have their limits, and they can suffer from underwatering. Leaves curling inward is the most common sign of an underwatered pothos.
Pothos leaf curl is actually a survival adaptation. In water-stressed situations, they curl inward to prevent the plant from losing moisture through its leaves.
Are My Pothos Leaves Curling From Underwatering?
To figure out if your pothos leaves are curled from underwatering, take a look at the soil. If it is dry, even a few inches beneath the soil surface, then your pothos is probably thirsty.
If the soil still feels moist when you dig your finger a few inches deep, then underwatering is probably not the reason for the leaf curl.
2. Root Rot Due To Overwatering Causes Pothos Leaves To Curl
Too little water causes pothos’ leaves to curl, but so does too much water! Overwatering is detrimental to any plant, and pothos is no different.
Pothos are semi-epiphytic plants that evolved in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Naturally, they grow amongst many big trees. Pothos’ aerial roots help them climb up against trees and vines to get more light.
If the roots stay in waterlogged soil for extended periods of time and are not exposed to the air, they will develop root rot.
Root rot is a fungal infection that kills plants’ roots. Because pothos with root rot are unable to absorb the water they need through their roots, they curl in their leaves to conserve water.
Are My Pothos Leaves Curling From Overwatering?
It is simple to see if your pothos is suffering from overwatering-induced root rot – take a look at the stems and leaves:
- Are the leaves yellow?
- Do you see brown spots or leaf margins?
- Is the stem near the bottom of the plant brown and mushy?
- Does the soil have an unpleasant smell?
If pothos has any of the above symptoms, as well as curling leaves, it is likely that overwatering is the issue.
3. Pothos Leaves Curl In Extreme Heat Or Cold
Pothos plants are happiest in a temperature range between 65 and 85°F. As tropical plants, they are sensitive to cold, but they also suffer in extreme heat.
In very hot temperatures, pothos leaves often curl inward to minimize water loss through the foliage. Exposure to extremely cold temperatures causes the tips of pothos leaves to curl.
Are My Pothos Leaves Curled In From Heat Or Cold?
If you know that your pothos’ watering routine is not the problem, and the temperature inside your home has risen above or dropped below pothos’ ideal range, then the curling leaves are probably due to temperature stress.
4. Pothos Leaves Curl When They Do Not Get Enough Sunlight
Pothos are adapted to growing in bright, indirect sunlight because they evolved to grow in the jungle beneath the shade of trees.
Pothos are tolerant of low-light conditions, so they are great plants to grow indoors. They do well above kitchen cabinets, in the bathroom, or on a dresser in your bedroom.
However, if pothos does not get enough sunlight, the leaves start to curl inward.
Are My Pothos Leaves Curling From Too Little Light?
If the pothos’ leaves are unusually light green as well as curled in, then lighting may be the problem. Where do you keep the plant? Does it get about 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day?
5. Insect Infestations Can Cause Pothos Leaves To Curl
Pothos are not particularly prone to insect pests, especially when grown as indoor plants. But when pothos does develop a pest infestation, it causes the leaves to curl inward.
Common insect pests that affect pothos are:
- Aphids – tiny, soft-bodied insects, light green or brown in color. They congregate on pothos’ growing tips and under the leaves.
- Spider mites – little red insects that create a web-like film over the leaves.
- Mealybugs – fuzzy, white, little insects that gather on the stems, petioles, and under leaves.
- Scale – brown, raised dots on pothos’ stems and leaves.
These are all sapsucking pests. They steal all the plant’s sugar-rich sap and stunt the growth. Pothos affected by pests have deformed new growth, and the leaves curl to reduce water loss.
Are My Pothos Leaves Curling Due To Pests?
Pests often affect plants that are already stressed from other factors, like incorrect watering or not enough light. It may be that your pothos’ curling leaves are due to pests and adverse growing conditions.
It is easy to tell if pests are part of the issue because you can spot them with the naked eye. Use a torch to closely inspect the undersides of leaves, stems, petioles, and growing tips.
6. Overfertilizing Can Cause Pothos Leaves To Curl
Pothos does not need very nutrient-rich soil to grow well. You can feed them occasionally to boost their growth during spring and summer, but if you overfertilize pothos, it will stress the plant and cause the leaves to curl inward.
Pothos can only absorb a given amount of nutrients. Extra nutrients in the soil build up as mineral salts. These salts draw water out of plants’ roots, drying them out.
This is why pothos leaves curl when you overfertilize them – they are trying to minimize water loss through the leaves.
Are My Pothos Leaves Curling From Too Much Fertilizer?
To determine if this is the problem, think about how often you feed your pothos? How much fertilizer do you give it, and which type?
These plants don’t really need fertilizer, and if you feed them with quick-release chemical fertilizer, the risk of fertilizer burn and leaf curl is high.
Pothos do best when they are fed with an organic liquid fertilizer. During the growing season, you should only feed them every two weeks to once a month. The fertilizer should be diluted to half strength.
If you feed them more often than this (especially during winter), then overfertilizing may be the reason for the leaf curl.
How To Fix Curling Pothos Leaves
When you notice your pothos leaves curling inward, you should diagnose the problem and treat it as soon as possible. If you act in time, your pothos will bounce back, and the leaves will unfurl again.
Here’s how to revive a pothos with curling leaves:
1. Water Pothos Regularly
If underwatering is the issue, you need to remember to water your pothos more regularly! Check the soil moisture on a weekly basis by using a soil probe or just your finger.
To revive a dehydrated pothos, give it a deep watering. Remember to always empty the saucer under the pot of any excess water.
Pothos prefer getting a thorough watering less frequently, compared to small bits of water more often. It is a good idea to bottom-water your pothos and then wait for the soil to almost dry out before you water again.
If you find it difficult to remember to water your pothos, or you are very busy, look at automatic irrigation solutions. Hollow terracotta plant spikes and glass watering globes are brilliant.
Placing a humidifier near your pothos can help to extend the amount of time between watering sessions. Pothos can absorb water vapor in the air through their leaves.
2. Ensure Good Soil Drainage And Avoid Overwatering
If your pothos has root rot, you need to address the disease and the underlying causes.
First, take the plant from its pot to see the extent of the damage. If the whole root system is brown, you may need to throw the whole plant away. But if there are still healthy white roots, then you can cut away the infected parts and repot the plant into new soil.
Check that the soil is light and aerated enough for water to quickly drain through it. A reliable potting mixture for pothos consists of perlite, bark chips, coco peat, and potting soil.
Also, check that the pot your pothos is growing in has enough drainage holes in the bottom. It is never a good idea to grow a plant in a pot without a drainage hole!
3. Ensure Your Pothos Gets Enough Light
If your pothos leaves are curling because they are starved of light, simply move the plant into a sunnier spot.
Do not move it directly from deep shade to bright sunlight as this will shock the plant. Gradually move it further towards the light every day.
4. Make Sure The Temperature Is Right For Pothos
Make sure that the ambient temperature in the room where pothos is growing stays between 65 and 85°F.
Keep pothos plants away from drafts, heaters, and fireplaces and protect them from frosts during cooler months of the year.
5. Treat The Pests On Your Pothos
If you find that your pothos leaves are curling due to an insect infestation, you need to deal with the pests right away.
For aphids and mealybugs, simply take a cotton ball, soak it in 70% alcohol, and use it to wipe the little bugs off of the plant. Do this every couple of days for two weeks until you see no more pests.
For spider mites and scale insects, mix up a combination of neem oil, water, and dish soap in a spray bottle. Thoroughly spray your pothos, wetting the leaves, every week for a few weeks until you see no more pests.
6. Flush The Soil And Cut Back On Fertilizing Pothos
To revive a pothos suffering from fertilizer burn, you need to get rid of the mineral salts in the soil. You can do this by flushing the soil with water.
Put your pothos in the bathtub or shower, and water it thoroughly so that it drains out of the bottom of the pot. Keep watering it and letting the water drain out.
Avoid feeding your pothos with chemical fertilizer. Consider using organic products, like liquid seaweed or compost tea if you do want to feed pothos. Dilute it to a weak concentration.
When Are Pothos Leaves Curling Not An Issue?
Curling pothos leaves are not always a sign that there is a problem! It is important not to confuse some of the pothos’ naturally curling leaves with signs of stress.
New pothos leaves are tightly curled in at first and then gradually unfurl. Old leaves also naturally curl in, turn yellow, and drop off.
Pothos Leaves Curling Conclusion
Pothos leaf curl can happen for a number of reasons – too much or too little water, not enough drainage, extreme temperatures, not getting enough sunlight, excessive use of fertilizer, or insect infestations.
Luckily, curling pothos leaves are one of the first signs of stress, and you can usually fix the issue quite easily once you’ve identified the underlying cause.