Syngonium Leaves Curling

Syngonium Leaves Curling

Syngonium is a beautiful, easy-to-care-for indoor plant, loved by gardeners for its characteristic spade-shaped foliage as well as its ability to purify indoor air. No wonder it has become a firm favorite for indoor decor in so many households!

Unfortunately, there are certain conditions that can cause this plant’s leaves to curl and lose their beauty. The most common culprits are low humidity and wrong watering habits, but other factors like pests, temperature extremes, nutrient problems, a rootbound state, and overfertilization might also cause the problem.

If you are looking for a solution for your Syngonium’s curling leaves, you might find this guide helpful. Read on to get some insights into common Syngonium plant problems and what you can do to fix them.

Common causes of curling Syngonium leaves

1. Incorrect watering habits 

Curling leaves is a classic sign of an underwatered Syngonium. Although these plants are relatively drought-tolerant, they still require a moderate amount of moisture to function and thrive, as they would get in their native habitat. Water is also essential to maintain plant rigidity and move the soil nutrients up to the plant’s stem and leaves. Hence, underwatering your Syngonium can bring about several other problems like stunted growth, dry leaf tips, defoliation, and wilting.

It can sometimes be tricky for gardeners to get their watering habits just right. Weather conditions and climates can vary, so it is not simply a case of having a fixed watering schedule for your plant. 

Overwatering is also a common mistake of which almost all growers, beginner or experienced, are guilty. Syngoniums that sit in waterlogged soil will suffer from oxygen deprivation, leading to decayed roots and overall loss of vigor. 

Curling and yellowing leaves are just some of the obvious signs of an overwatered Syngonium. If you take the plant out of its pot, you will notice dark, mushy roots that emit a slightly sulphurous smell – these are rotten.

To ensure that your plant is neither under- nor overwatered, here are some tips you can follow:

  • Check the moisture of the soil, at about two inches deep, using your finger. Water only if the soil feels dry. You can also use a soil moisture meter to automate the job for you.
  • Use a pot with good drainage.
  • Use a soil mix with good aeration.
  • Do not plant your Syngonium in an oversized pot.
  • Limit your watering during the plant’s dormant season.

2. Rootbound issues

Syngoniums do not like to be root-bound. There will not be enough space for the roots to grow and expand, causing problems with moisture and nutrient uptake for the plant. The most common symptoms of a rootbound plant are curling leaves, browning or yellowing, leaves drop, and wilting. 

Thankfully, a rootbound Syngonium can be saved – the key is early intervention. If you can repot your plant into a correctly-sized pot with adequate space and hydration, it should be able to recover fairly soon. Select a pot that is about two inches wider in diameter than the original one. You can also prune away some roots and leaves if you do not want your plant to grow bigger.

3. Too much fertilizer

When it comes to fertilizing Syngoniums, novice gardeners can sometimes fall into bad habits! Too much fertilizer will not make your plant grow bigger. On the contrary, the excess fertilizer turns into salts in the soil, and the build-up causes serious damage to the root system. This is called fertilizer burn.

Saving an overfertilized Syngonium plant is possible, but it depends on how quickly you spot the problem and intervene. A slightly damaged plant may start to wilt and its leaves will curl upwards or downwards. If the plant has been overfertilized for quite some time, you might notice brown leaf tips and margins – a typical sign of fertilizer burn. Other symptoms include slow growth, defoliation, blackened and limp roots, and white, salty crusts on the soil’s surface.

To help your plant recover, flush out the excess salts by giving your potted plant a good shower. The volume of water should be enough to remove all of the accumulated fertilizer from around the roots. Make sure that the pot is well drained afterwards, because any standing water might drown the already-stressed roots. 

4. Nutrient deficiencies

If you are not supplementing your plant with sufficient nutrients, it may not flourish quite as you expected. Neglectful or forgetful gardeners can easily skip fertilizing a bit too often, causing nutrient deficiencies that can damage the plant over the long term. Its leaves will begin to curl and turn yellow, which is neither healthy nor aesthetically pleasing. 

Although Syngoniums are not naturally heavy feeders, they do need an occasional boost to maintain their beautiful foliage. Unlike in their original habitat where they get their nutrients through natural compost, indoor plants are limited to what is available in their little container. This is why it is extremely important to supplement the soil with a good quality fertilizer to ensure that your plant receives all the essential macro and micro nutrients it needs to thrive.

Slow-release, balanced fertilizers are a good fit for your Syngonium. As with all houseplants, make sure to feed your plant only during the growing season. Start by applying a diluted fertilizer once a month, then gradually increase the dosage as your plant starts to grow. Liquid fertilizers with a 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) ratio should help make your Syngonium green and bushy.

5. Pest infestation

Just like other houseplants, your Syngonium is not immune to pest infestations. Bugs like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale can wreak havoc on your beloved plant, and it will develop curling leaves as it becomes weakened.

Getting rid of this nuisance is relatively easy, as long as you are able to spot the problem early. Depending on the type of infestation, solutions like neem oil or insecticidal soap are usually sufficient to kill the bugs, larvae, and eggs. Spray the solution on the affected leaves and stems weekly, continuing until all the pests are gone.

6. Leaf spot disease

Leaf spot diseases are caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal pathogens that appear as spots or lesions on the plant’s leaves, and curling leaves might just be an early sign of an affected Syngonium. As the disease progresses, the discoloured spots will begin to engulf the entire leaf, causing it to rot and emit a foul odor.

If you are worried that your Syngonium is struggling with leaf spot disease, here are some tips to save your plant:

  • Isolate the affected plant to prevent the disease from spreading.
  • Trim off leaves that are severely damaged.
  • Apply neem oil or fungicide on the remaining leaves.
  • Make sure the leaves are not moist or wet for prolonged periods, because pathogenic organisms love humid and moist environments.
  • Continue treatment until the plant has fully recovered. 

7. Exposure to high temperatures

Elevated temperatures can reduce the moisture content of leaves and cause them to burn. Syngoniums exposed to intense heat are not exempt from such damage, and the burnt leaves will appear curly and droopy as the plant tries to conserve the remaining moisture within its leaves.

Syngoniums prefer temperatures between 45 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid temperature stress, make sure that your plant’s environment remains within this temperature range, or move it to another location with more shade and cooler temperatures. You might also need to increase your watering in hot weather to protect your plant from the blistering heat – but make sure never to overwater it!

8. Inappropriate humidity

Syngoniums are native to tropical regions, and require at least 50 percent humidity to grow well. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to maintain such a humid environment indoors. Without adequate humidity, your Syngonium will begin to display curled, yellow or brown leaves, which are symptoms very similar to those of underwatering. This is because the low humidity level will promote more than usual water loss from the leaves, effectively dehydrating the plant.

Although there are many possible ways to protect your plant from dry air, installing a humidifier is by far the most convenient and effective. An electric humidifier can easily help maintain the desired humidity inside your home, especially during winter seasons, to keep all of your plants happy.

9. Lack of sunlight 

Syngonium plants grow well in medium, indirect sunlight. They do not do well under low light conditions as this inhibits the process of photosynthesis, an essential physiological activity required for plant growth and survival. Hence, without proper light, the plant will stop growing and the leaves will begin to curl and yellow.

The best way to save a light-deprived Syngonium is to move it to a place where it can get adequate bright but indirect sunlight. East-facing windows are usually the perfect spot, but you can also choose a covered patio or balcony. 

However, do not place your Syngonium outside and unprotected from the scorching heat of the sun. It is also best to avoid south-facing windows, as these also tend to receive full sunlight throughout the day.

10. Unfiltered tap water

Tap water might seem the most convenient source of water for your plants if you are not aware of its harmful effects. Common household water sources generally contain excessive amounts of chemicals like chlorine, fluoride, and certain minerals that are toxic to plants. So, if you have been watering your Syngonium with tap water for a long time, this might be the reason its leaves are curling and turning brown.

The best solution is to filter the water before using it on your Syngonium. If you do not have a filtration system at home, you can fill a bucket with tap water and let it sit for about 24 hours before using it. Using charcoal filters might also help remove some chemicals, but they might not be effective at reducing minerals and contaminants.


Curling Syngonium leaves is a common manifestation of plant stress. If you can determine the specific cause right away, you can apply a timely and appropriate fix to revive your plant. Over and above the specific remedy, also make sure you give your plant the best possible care and growing conditions to help it recover quickly and prevent future problems.

Image: / Karin de Mamiel