Prayer plant leaves curling is a sign that something is not right with this plant. Also known as Maranta leuconeura, its beautiful green leaves with red veins will start to curl whenever there is a lapse in the prayer plant care from your end.
Read this complete expert guide to learn all the possible causes, and know how to solve all of them.
What Causes Prayer Plant Leaves Curling?
Some common reasons why your prayer plant might have curled leaves are dry soil, direct sunlight, low levels of humidity, and using tap water. Some less commonly occurring reasons are pest attacks, temperatures that are too high or too low, or overwatering.
Find out the details in the upcoming sections.
– The Soil Is Too Dry
Soil that stays dry for long periods of time might be the primary cause behind prayer plant leaves curling and turning brown at the edges. This plant likes consistently moist soil at all times. It cannot tolerate dry soil and will begin to die soon after.
There are two main reasons why your soil might be extremely dry.
– It Is Being Underwatered
Your soil will dry out if you are not watering your plant according to a regular schedule. The same goes for when too little water is used. This plant likes abundant watering each time.
– It Has No Moisture-retentive Elements
Components like sphagnum moss and peat are the moisture-retentive elements of your soil. These materials act like a sponge to absorb water during watering. Afterward, they slowly release it. This way, your soil stays moist for a relatively long time.
– Exposure to Direct Sunlight
Prayer plants are prone to getting sunburnt under direct light. You will notice their foliage curling, and the leaves will also start turning yellow and appearing dry and wrinkly.
This can happen if these plants are being kept outdoors without shade. Even indoors, the southern-facing window receives harsh enough light to cause sunburn too.
– Inadequate Humidity Levels
This plant needs more than 60 percent humidity at all times, especially during the hot summer months. Humidity levels lower than this will cause its leaves to dry out. They will begin to fold inwards.
It is best to buy and keep a hygrometer in your home. This cool gadget will tell you accurately what the levels of humidity in your house are.
– Poor Water Quality
If you use common tap water, it could be the culprit behind your prayer plant leaves curling inwards . Your water should be the next thing to investigate if dehydration persists despite adhering to a regular watering regime.
Tap water is filled with salts and minerals like chlorine, fluorine, etc. that are not exactly healthy for the plants. These ions and minerals attach to the roots of the plant and prevent the absorption of water. They can also cause harmful chemical burns to the tiny tertiary roots.
You can have your water checked from a local laboratory to check for the presence of these chemicals. Just send them a sample, and in a couple of weeks, they will send you back a detailed report.
– Plant Being Root Bound
Being root bound means that the root system of your plant has outgrown its current pot. You will be able to see it with your own eyes too. Roots will start coming out of the plant’s drainage hole and upper rims.
Apart from prayer plant curling, a root bound plant also shows other symptoms. These are stunted growth, small-sized newer leaves, as well as wilting and yellowing of the foliage.
The reason why this happens is that the space within the pot is no longer able to support the roots. They begin to suffer from lack of oxygen, water and nutrient deficiency.
– Pest Attacks
Prayer plant leaves curling and turning yellow is a tell-tale sign of a pest infestation. Most pests that attack household plants are those that suck the nutrition-rich sap from the plant’s veins.
Find out what the most common ones are and how to identify them below.
These are white, cotton-like bugs. They will be seen moving slowly across the plant.
The rresence of a sticky substance called honeydew on the plant’s leaves are the main signs of a mealybug infestation. Yellowing and curling of the leaves, as well as puncture marks on the surface of the leaves will also be observed.
– Spider Mites
These are very small bugs that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Under a magnifying glass, they appear as spider-like pests in varying colors.
The presence of spider web-like white substance under the leaves is something you will have to look out for. Yellowing and curling of foliage, as well as leaf drop and weakening of the plant will follow.
– Scale Insects
These are very small, flat and numbing bugs. They look like brown spots on the leaves.
The leaves will start to turn brown and curl at the edges when infested with these insects. The appearance of yellow spots will also be prominent.
– Temperature Extremes
Around 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature range for this plant. Any change in temperature, whether it’s an increase or a decrease, will lead to adverse effects.
– Cold Temperatures
Temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit are not well tolerated. You will notice that your plant has curled, brown leaves. The leaves might also start to droop.
Under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it will undergo frost shock. In this condition, an alarming leaf fall starts, or the plant simply stops growing.
– High Temperatures
When temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, your plant begins to lose water at a rapid rate. Curling leaves is a response to decrease the surface area of the leaves to prevent too much moisture loss. That is why it is important to provide regular water and air moisture during high temperatures.
This condition is usually seen during winters when most plant owners move this plant indoors. Inside, heaters maintain the temperatures well but produce dryness that then leads to this condition.
– Prayer Plant Leaves Curling at Night
All prayer plants curl and fold their leaves up at night. This is a special property exhibited by some plants called nyctinasty. The plant senses a drop in light intensity and temperature at night time and begins to curl inwards.
This is a totally normal thing. In fact, this property can help distinguish the prayer plant from other similar-looking plants like furry feather Calatheas and stromanthes.
– Prayer Plant Leaves Curling After Repotting
After repotting, your plant might temporarily exhibit some curling. This is temporary, so make sure to follow their care guide thoroughly in the meantime.
How To Stop Leaf Curling
Will prayer plant leaves uncurl? The answer to this is yes. Read below to learn how.
– Maintain a Regular Watering Schedule
You must improve your watering habits to prevent and treat the curling of leaves. It cannot tolerate conditions of drought at all. This is especially true during the hot summertime season. Proper watering is a must for its survival.
Keep a close eye on the soil. When the top one percent becomes dry, water the plant. Always use a large volume of water and keep pouring until water starts to come out of the drainage hole.
– How To Tell if Your Soil Is Dry?
Here are some ways to tell if your plant’s soil is dry:
- Use a moisture meter.
- Insert a stick or a finger in the soil and see how dry it comes out.
- One loose estimate is by lifting the pot. It will feel lighter than usual.
– Soak-Water Your Plants
If your soil has been dried out all the way through, then normal watering won’t do. You will have to soak the soil in water for some time. Here is how you can carry this procedure out.
- Take the pot to a sink without its pan and fill the sink halfway with water.
- Keep the plant there. Allow the water to soak through the drainage hole into the soil. It will take a while.
- After a couple of hours, touch the surface of the soil. When it begins to feel moist, it means that water has been soaked all the way through.
- Now drain the water from the sink, but let the pot sit there for a while until the extra water drains off.
– Grow Under Indirect Light
Keep your plants away from direct sunlight. If they are placed outdoors, then move them under the shade of a larger tree or plant, or place them along a north-facing wall.
Similarly, inside the house, keep them at least three feet away from the southern-facing window. Place a sheer curtain over the eastern and the western windows during the morning and evening hours, respectively. This will save your plant from sunburn.
– Improve Humidity
If the leaves of your prayer-plants are folding in due to low humidity levels, then there are several ways to increase humidity around them. You need to make sure that humidity is above 60 percent from now on.
– How to Artificially Improve Humidity Levels
Here are some steps you can follow to increase humidity:
- Move your prayer plant to a bathroom or the kitchen. These are usually the two most humid rooms in the house.
- Mist the plant lightly in the morning every three days. Remember, misting doesn’t mean bathing the plant!
- Always mist in the morning or midday. The water droplets will evaporate over the day and improve the humidity levels of your plant.
- Invest in a high-quality humidifier. Install it in the same room as the prayer plants.
- Make your own DIY pebble tray. Fill a shallow tray with water and pebbles and place the pot on top of the pebbles such that it doesn’t actually touch the water. The evaporating water from the tray will increase the moisture levels around your plant.
– Stop Using Common Tap Water
Ideally, we recommend using distilled water for all sorts of plants. It is the purest form of water without any minerals and salts in it. You can also use filtered or reverse osmosis water instead.
Sometimes, however, you have no option but to use tap water. In this case, let the water sit in an open glass or container overnight before use. This at least allows the chlorine to evaporate.
– Repot Your Plant
Aside from the curling of leaves, if your plant is also showing other symptoms of being root bound, then you should repot it.
– When Should You Repot the Red Prayer Plant?
Ideally, this plant should be repotted every year because of its rather high growth rate. The most suitable time for this is during spring or early summer. This gives its roots plenty of time to establish themselves before the winter dormancy period.
– How to Safely Repot a Plant
Here are the steps to follow:
- It is best to water the soil with a large volume of water before repotting. This will soften it and make it easier to take the plant out.
- Take a knife and move it around the sides of the pot to loosen the soil from it.
- Lift the plant very gently from the soil. Don’t pull it up. Take a rake to remove the soil around the tertiary roots as you lift the stem.
- As a general rule, the new pot should be two to three inches larger in diameter than the root ball of the plant.
- Fill it with properly mixed soil and replant the plant in it.
– Get Rid Of Pests
Make your plant insect-free by washing it, applying neem oil, and using insecticide spray.
– Wash the Plant
Remove as many pests manually as you can. Wash the plant with soap and water. You can also use a toothbrush to scrub them off.
– Use Neem Oil
Neem oil is a natural insecticide. Use a Q-tip to apply a few drops to the pest colonies.
– Use Milk and Water
Mix one part of the milk with three parts of water. This mixture is also a very effective insecticide.
– Apply Insecticide
Use a good quality insecticide to get rid of pests. Don’t forget to wear protective eyewear and gloves during spraying.
Here is a brief recap of everything we learned in this guide:
- The prayer plant has gorgeous red-veined leaves. These leaves start folding around the edges under stressful cultural conditions. The top reasons for this are dry soil, tap water, and low humidity.
- Pests, direct light, extreme temperatures, and transplant shock might also be responsible.
- This plant has the ability to naturally close its leaves during nighttime and open them again during the day. This property is called nyctinasty.
If you see your prayer plants curling their elegant foliage, take a deep breath and don’t panic! You now know what to do to solve this problem.
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