Anthuriums are among the favorites when it comes to indoor houseplants, and for good reason. These lovely, tropical plants can make any living space more attractive and stress-free, thanks to their glossy, colorful flowers. They are also hardy and super-easy to care for!
However, if an Anthurium’s leaves start curling, it can be cause for serious concern!
Leaf curling in an Anthurium can be due to several issues, ranging from inappropriate watering to pest infestations, and each problem must be addressed differently. So, to fix this issue, it is clearly important that you understand the cause of the curling leaves before you can take effective action.
How do you fix curling Anthurium leaves?
A lack of water is the most common cause of Anthurium leaves curling. If you have been neglecting your plant for some time, then correcting your watering habits might be all you need to get your plant’s beautiful leaves back.
However, if the plant does not respond, you will have to do some detective work to troubleshoot what has caused the leaves to curl. Look for other symptoms such as leaf discoloration, a droopy appearance, soft stems, or mushy roots. These could be signs of damaged roots, sunburn, pest infestations, or plant stress.
If you notice your Anthurium losing its grace and beauty, do not lose hope! Below are some of the common causes and fixes to help you save your plant.
Why are my Anthurium’s leaves curling?
1. Growth of new leaves
Some Anthurium varieties tend to grow new leaves that appear curly. As long as the older leaves do not look wrinkled, your plant should be perfectly fine! Give the young leaves some time to flatten out and it should look as beautiful as before.
2. Low light conditions
If your plant’s leaves are curly and have also become pale, these symptoms are typical of an Anthurium that is not receiving sufficient sunlight.
The light, whether it comes from the sun or an artificial source, helps plants produce food – and thus energy – through the process of photosynthesis. It is also through this process that the Anthurium can maintain the green of its leaves and produce its dazzling flowers.
Anthuriums thrive in areas with medium or indirect sunlight, so if you notice some leaf discoloration and curling, your plant might just need a bit more light to regain its normal leaf color and shape. Just be sure not to expose it to direct sunlight, as this can cause leaf burn. Try moving it closer to a sunny window that has curtains to diffuse the light, or to your balcony where it can enjoy the early morning or late afternoon sun.
Not all gardeners are aware of the damaging effects of overwatering. Anthuriums have huge, fleshy roots that cannot survive in soggy soil. The excess water can severely damage these delicate roots and lead to some serious problems, such as root rot, fungal and bacterial diseases, and nutrient uptake issues.
So, what does an overwatered Anthurium look like? The early signs are usually curling and yellowing of the leaves. Unfortunately, these signs can quite easily be mistaken for underwatering, in which case the common reaction is to give the plant more water. Thus, without understanding the underlying issue, a lot of gardeners, especially those new to the gardening world, can inadvertently send their Anthuriums to an untimely demise.
Here are some tricks to avoid overwatering your plants:
- Water only when the top layer of soil is dry. But do not rely on the visuals – soil can sometimes look dry even if the bottom is still wet! Instead, test the soil using your finger (or a soil moisture probe) to determine whether it is dry enough for the next watering.
- Use a pot with drainage holes, and a soil mix with good aeration. Adding perlite and organic matter to the potting mix does wonders to provide a balance between moisture retention and aeration.
Anthuriums are native to tropical America and are not drought-tolerant, so never neglect their watering needs for too long! If the soil becomes too dry, your plant’s leaves will start to curl upwards or downwards. This is the Anthurium’s (and almost any plant’s) natural reaction to conserve its remaining leaf moisture. Prolonged soil dryness can also lead to wilting of the leaves and defoliation.
How often should you water your Anthurium?
These plants have light to medium watering requirements, so in most cases once a week should suffice. However, you might need to increase the frequency up to three times per week if you live in an area with hot weather. Just make sure to let the soil dry out completely before watering again.
5. Low humidity and temperature stress
Widely varying environmental temperatures can send your Anthurium into shock. If the temperature is outside of its comfort zone, the plant will start to wilt and its leaves will curl. Freezing weather can cause slower growth and yellowing of the leaves, while hot temperatures can burn the leaves and flowers.
Anthuriums prefer temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night. These tropical plants also require more than 50 percent humidity to produce healthy leaves and flowers.
Although temperatures as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit or as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit can be tolerated, you might not see the plant’s full growth potential with continued exposure to such temperatures. As it approaches its maximum tolerance limit, it will eventually start to wilt and die.
There are many options to protect your Anthurium from temperature stress. During summer, you can install fans in your growing area to regulate the indoor temperature. You can also use a humidifier if the air becomes too dry, to ensure that your plant continues to flourish.
6. Pest infestation
Pests can turn your beautiful Anthurium into an ugly mess in a very short time! These pesky bugs take residence on the stems, leaves and flowers of the plant, and reproduce very rapidly. They feed on the sap from the leaves and compete with the plant for nutrients, while also leaving sticky waste substances on the leaves. Over time, you will notice holes, blotches, and marks on the leaves that are unpleasant to look at. The leaves will also start curling in an effort to defend themselves, but without success.
Some of the common pests found on Anthuriums include spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and thrips. But there is no need to panic, as these bugs can be easily removed with insecticidal soap. You can also spray neem oil on the affected plant, focusing on the undersides of the leaves where pests love to hide. Continue the treatment weekly until all the pests are gone.
7. Repotting shock
Repotting leaves your Anthurium vulnerable to stress. The sudden change in soil composition can shock its root system and cause wilting and curling of the leaves. Additionally, if you are not careful during the process, you can damage the delicate roots. Plants with root damage will be less effective at absorbing nutrients and water, which can lead to more problems that manifest as leaf browning, slower growth, and dull-looking leaves.
The best thing you can do is to give your plant time to adjust to its new home while providing it with the best possible care. Anthuriums usually survive repotting stress, so if some of the roots are damaged during the transplant, do not worry! Your plant should be able to grow new roots and regain its health after a short recovery period.
8. Inappropriate pot size
Planting your Anthurium in a container of an inappropriate size can have serious consequences, including leaf curling, wilting, and discolorations.
If the pot is too large, the soil can take too long to dry and, like with overwatering, the excess moisture can encourage fungal growth and lead to root rot.
If the pot is too small, your Anthurium will likely become rootbound as there is not enough space for root expansion. As a result, it will struggle with nutrient uptake and its growth will be stunted.
To avoid these issues, make sure to choose the correct pot size for your plant. If its current pot is too large, consider repotting it in a slightly smaller pot. If you notice roots growing out from the pot’s drainage holes, then consider a pot about two inches larger in diameter than the current one.
9. Poor water quality
Tap water is usually the most convenient source of water for your plants. However, it is actually harmful to houseplants – including the Anthurium – because of its undesirable mineral content, including chlorine, fluoride, and salt. These chemicals can build up in the soil over time and damage the plant’s root system.
An anthurium that constantly receives unfiltered tap water will start to have dry and curly leaves. Of course, this depends to a degree on the quality of tap water where you live, as some is better than others.
If you notice white or yellow crusts forming on top of the soil, this is a sure sign of mineral build-up. To correct the problem, carefully remove the plant from its pot and wash away any build-up that you see on the roots. Then repot your Anthurium in a fresh soil mix.
As much as possible, you should try to use filtered water for your plants. If this is not available, fill a bucket with tap water and let it sit uncovered overnight to allow the minerals to evaporate. You can also collect rain water and use this instead for your plants.
Wrapping it up
If the leaves on your Anthurium are curling, it is usually a sign of plant stress. This could have something to do with inappropriate growing conditions or long-term neglect from the owner.
Fortunately, these lovely plants are tough! If you are able to spot the problem early and act quickly, then your Anthurium should be easily revived. Make sure to identify the source of the problem and get to work immediately on the solution to bring your plant back to full health.
Image: istockphoto.com / BSPollard