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Why is Your Pothos Leaves Curling? Common Causes and Solutions

Hey there, plant lovers! Have you ever looked at your beloved Pothos plant and thought, "Wait, why do my Pothos leaves look like they just got a perm?" If so, don't worry; you're not alone! Pothos are notorious for their curly cues, but sometimes those curls can indicate something is amiss.

So why are your Pothos leaves curling up like a bad 80s hairdo? Well, a few reasons could be causing this phenomenon, so let's dive in and figure out what's happening.

Pothos curling leaves

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Why is Your Pothos Leaves Curling?


The Pothos plant has several common names, including Devil's ivy, Silvervinee, Money plant, or Golden Pothos, depending on the coloration of their foliage.

First, it's important to note that some curling in your Pothos leaves is typical. Pothos plants naturally grow in a vine-like fashion, so some slight curling or twisting is to be expected. However, if the curling seems excessive or is accompanied by other symptoms, it could be a sign that your plant is stressed.


1. Check the Light

While these plants can tolerate various lighting conditions, direct sunlight can be too intense for them and cause their leaves to curl and wilt.

  • If your Pothos is sitting in a sunny spot, try moving it to a shadier area and see if that helps.

On the other hand, too little light can also be a problem. Pothos plants need bright, indirect light to thrive, and if they don't get enough, they may become leggy, meaning they will have long, weak stems with sparse foliage.

The correct lighting for your Pothos?

  • Place your Pothos near a north or east-facing window where it can receive bright, indirect light for most of the day.

  • Use artificial lighting to supplement your plant's needs (if you don't have a space that gets enough natural light).

When using artificial lighting, it's necessary to choose the right type of bulb.

LED grow lights are an excellent option for Pothos plants because they provide the full spectrum of light they need to grow while being energy-efficient and long-lasting.


2. Check for Underwatering

If you've been neglecting your watering duties or your plant has outgrown its current pot, it could suffer from thirst.

When the plant doesn't receive enough water, it can cause stress and make the leaves curl as a defense mechanism to conserve moisture.

If these signs accompany the curling, your plant is underwatered:

  • Dry soil

If the soil around your Pothos feels dry (gently press your finger into the soil up to your knuckle), it's a clear sign that your plant needs water.

  • Droopy leaves

The leaves become limp and droopy because the plant is trying to conserve water by reducing the surface area of its leaves.

  • Yellowing leaves

When a plant doesn't get enough water, it will shed its older leaves to conserve resources for the newer ones. Part of that process involves pulling resources from older leaves, resulting in a yellow color.

  • Stunted growth

When a plant doesn't get enough water, it will focus its energy on survival rather than growth.

How do you fix an underwatered Pothos?

Water your plant thoroughly and let any excess water drain from the pot to prevent soggy roots.

To prevent underwatering, ensure that you are watering your Pothos:

  • Regularly and consistently.

  • When the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

Once you have established a consistent watering routine, your plant should show signs of recovery and healthier foliage.


3. Check for Overwatering

Overwatering occurs when the soil is saturated with water and doesn't allow proper drainage, leading to root rot and other issues.

To check if your Pothos plant is overwatered:

  • Gently lift the pot and check the weight.

If it feels heavy and the soil is saturated, you've likely been watering too much.

  • Next, check the ground by sticking your finger into it.

If the soil feels consistently wet, it's a sign of overwatering.

  • Mushy or black roots.

The roots have been waterlogged for too long and are starting to rot.

  • Fungus gnats (small, flying insects).

Overwatering can create a moist environment perfect for pests like fungus gnats.

To prevent overwatering, ensure you are:

  • Watering your plant on a consistent schedule.

  • Clearing the drip tray to prevent your Pothos from standing in water for extended periods.

  • Giving your Pothos good drainage and well-draining potting mix.

If your plant suffers from root rot:

  • Remove the plant from its pot.

  • Trim any rotted roots.

  • Repot it into a fresh potting mix.

Give the plant time to recover before watering again, and monitor it closely to avoid future overwatering issues.


4. Check the Temperature and Humidity Levels

Pothos plants are also sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. Pothos thrives in a humid environment; if the air around your plant is too dry or cold, it could cause stress and curled leaves.

The ideal humidity level for a Pothos is between 50% to 70%. However, they can tolerate lower humidity levels as long as the soil is not too dry.

Here are some ways you can check the humidity levels:

  • Hygrometer - Place the hygrometer near your Pothos and check the reading to determine the humidity levels.

  • Touch - The humidity levels are likely low if the air feels dry. On the other hand, if the air feels heavy and moist, the humidity levels may be too high.

  • DIY method - Place a few drops of water on a flat surface, such as a plate or saucer. Leave it for a few hours and check if the water has evaporated quickly; it's a sign that the air is dry. If the water has not disappeared or has evaporated very slowly, it's a sign that the air is humid.

To combat low humidity levels:

  • Mist your plant regularly.

  • Use a humidifier.

  • Place a tray of water near the plant.

  • Group plants together to create a microclimate.

Additionally, ensure your Pothos is not exposed to:

  • Extreme temperatures.

  • Drafts from air conditioning units or heating vents.

Consistent and ideal room temperature conditions (65°F - 85°F or 18°C - 29°C) will allow your Pothos to flourish and maintain healthy leaves.


5. Check for Pests

Pests like spider mites or mealybugs can also cause leaf curling as they feed on the plant's sap.

Here's how it happens:

  • Damage to leaves

Spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids can damage the leaves of your Pothos by feeding on them.

  • Loss of nutrients

When pests feed on the leaves of your Pothos, they consume the nutrients the plant needs to thrive.

  • Stress

Pests cause stress to your Pothos. As it's trying to survive on reduced resources and physical damage, the leaves curl as a defense mechanism.

  • Transmission of diseases

Some pests, such as whiteflies, can transmit diseases to your Pothos, causing the leaves to curl and become distorted as the plant fights the infection.

If you suspect pests are causing your Pothos plant's leaves to curl, scrutinize the plant for signs of infestation:

  • Tiny webs

  • Speckling

  • Small insects

You can also use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to treat plants and eliminate pests.


The Bottom Line

There are a few reasons why your Pothos leaves might be curling, including too much light, underwatering, and changes in temperature and humidity. But don't worry; with some troubleshooting and TLC, your Pothos plant will return to its leafy, green self in no time.


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