The Aglaonema, or Chinese evergreen, is an easy-to-care-for houseplant with big glossy leaves that add vibrance to every indoor space.
In optimal conditions, you might also see this plant blooming and growing white flowers in the spring and summer.
Yet, you might notice that your plant’s foliage doesn’t look as healthy as it should.
So, why are my Chinese evergreen leaves curling? Is there anything I can do to save my plant?
Luckily, you’ve come across this post if you ask these questions.
I will explain the common causes of the curling of the leaves and how to save this plant. So, let’s dive in.
The leaves of the Chinese evergreen or poison dart plant curl because of improper watering, bad water quality, inadequate temperature or humidity, improper light exposure, bad feeding habits, or being attacked by pests and diseases.
However, these aren’t the only reasons. You might also see the leaves of this plant curling if it’s old.
It’s crucial to understand the reason why your plant doesn’t have healthy leaves to be able to address the problem.
The Chinese evergreen plant thrives in moist conditions. However, in compact and water-logged soil, this plant will suffer.
You’ll notice that the leaves are curling and yellowing, and the plant will lose its healthy look.
If you approach the plant pot, you might notice a foul odor because of root rot. Unfortunately, your plant might eventually die if you don’t do anything about it.
This happens because compact soil retains too much water that suffocates the plant roots.
Moreover, you might water the plant according to a preset schedule, so you water it while the soil is still wet.
But this isn’t the only issue you might face with improper watering.
Underwatering is just as bad because the plant will be dehydrated.
Without enough water, the leaves of your Chinese evergreen will curl, wilt, turn yellow, and then die.
It’s crucial to check the soil for moisture before you water your plant. If you suspect that your Chinese evergreen plant is overwatered, you can use a moisture meter to ensure that the top inch of the soil is dry before you water it again.
You must adjust your watering schedule based on the weather conditions and light exposure. So, ideally, you should water your plant less often in winter.
If you suspect your plant is suffering from root rot, you should remove the plant from the current pot and examine the roots.
Healthy roots should be white and firm. If they look brown, mushy, and smell foul, trim them and transfer your Chinese evergreen plant to a new pot with fresh soil.
When the plant is severely dehydrated, you can revive it by putting the pot in a tray filled with water.
The water will travel through the roots and straighten up the curled leaves. You should also maintain a suitable watering schedule where you don’t let the soil become bone dry.
However, if the leaves are already crisp and brown, then it’s better to trim them off. This will help the plant redirect its energy to growing new healthy leaves.
In addition to bad watering habits, impaired water quality can harm your plant and make the leaves curl.
When tap water contains high levels of chlorine and fluoride, you’ll notice that the plant doesn’t look healthy. You might also see salt deposits on the soil.
You can use fresh rainwater or distilled water for your plants. You can also use spring or filtered water.
It’s best to avoid well water and municipal tap water because they contain too many minerals and chemicals.
If you must use tap water, let it sit for 24 hours, as this will allow the harmful chemicals to evaporate.
The Chinese evergreen is a tropical perennial that thrives in warm temperatures with high humidity levels.
It thrives in a temperature range between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and when the temperature falls below 70 degrees, the plant’s leaves will curl and experience stunted growth.
Hot and cold drafts will harm the plant, and it will respond by curling its leaves. However, some cultivars can be more resistant to the cold.
Low humidity levels can also stress the plant, causing the curling of the leaves.
Typically, this plant won’t suffer in normal household humidity levels. But the weather gets dry in winter, and the leaves might show some curling.
You should never keep your plant outside if the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, as it will die.
If the temperature drops below 70 degrees, you can try to keep the plant in the warmest part of the house.
Keep your plant away from vents to avoid cold and hot drafts. You can also shield it by placing the pot next to a taller plant.
If the humidity is too low, try grouping your plants, as the transpiration will increase the humidity levels.
Misting your plants also works and will increase the humidity. You can also consider using a humidifier.
Being scorched by too much light is one of the most common problems you might encounter with your Chinese evergreen plant.
The leaves curl as they try to decrease water evaporation to retain some moisture, and they start turning yellow.
Unless you do something about it, they will become too crisp and eventually fall off the plant.
On the other hand, too little light is also bad for your Aglaonema.
These plants don’t tolerate direct sunlight; however, many homeowners make the mistake of keeping them in full shade.
Although this plant is sensitive to intense light, it still needs some light exposure to thrive.
It grows best in partial shade and will suffer if it doesn’t receive any light, especially if you’re growing a variegated variety.
Choosing the suitable plant variety and location for the plant pot is crucial.
Chinese evergreen plants thrive in partial shade, so place your plant next to a west or south-facing window to get all the light needed for photosynthesis.
Use a sheer curtain and keep the plant at least one foot away from the window to avoid burning the leaves.
If you don’t receive enough light, you should avoid growing a variegated variety because these varieties require more light.
Chinese evergreen plants aren’t heavy feeders. But when grown in a pot, the nutrients eventually get depleted, and your plant might be underfed.
Although this isn’t common, under fertilization might be why the leaves of your Chinese evergreen plant curl.
Overfertilization is more common and happens when you feed your plant too often.
The salts accumulate in the soil, depriving the plant of absorbing water, so the leaves curl and turn brown.
Feeding your plant twice a year using slow-release pellets will keep it properly fed. Ideally, you should feed it at the beginning and the end of the growing season for optimal growth.
Dilute the fertilizer according to the label’s instructions and avoid feeding in the cool months when the plant isn’t actively growing.
If you’ve added too much fertilizer, consider flushing the soil until the water runs out of the pot’s drainage holes, and go easy on feeding.
Pests and diseases don’t easily attack Chinese evergreen plants. However, you might notice that aphids and spider mites are damaging the leaves.
These pests suck the sap and weaken the foliage, so the leaves start curling.
In overly moist conditions, these plants can suffer from fungal diseases. Viral and bacterial infections are rare but can also affect your plant.
The sooner you address the problem, the better.
Getting rid of pests isn’t that challenging if you act fast.
Aphids move slowly, so you can remove them by hand. Spider mites are relatively small, so you can use diluted rubbing alcohol on the leaves to eliminate them.
You can also use diluted insecticidal soap to keep these annoying pests at bay.
For fungal infections, remove the infected leaves and burn them because they might infect nearby plants, then use a suitable fungicide.
You should also keep the plant dry.
Bacterial and viral diseases are more challenging to deal with, and sometimes, you’ll have to remove the sick plant to save the rest.
It’s normal for Chinese evergreen plants to have curled leaves as the plant gets older.
This natural phenomenon doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with your plant.
Just let the plant be. If the leaves don’t look nice, you can remove them, but they will naturally fall off.
Chinese evergreen plants are popular and easy-to-maintain houseplants, but seeing their curling leaves might be alarming.
This might happen due to an issue with the plant’s care routine or because of natural aging.
Luckily, adjusting the watering and feeding schedule, exposing the plant to enough light, using good water, and maintaining adequate temperature and humidity levels will help the plant restore its healthy foliage.
Most pests and fungal diseases can also be dealt with, although viral and bacterial diseases are more challenging.
If the problem is caused by natural aging, you can just let the plant be, and it will focus on growing new healthy foliage.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.