If you’ve been keeping an eye on your dieffenbachia plants, you may have noticed that their leaves have started to curl. Curling leaves can be a sign of several different problems, so it’s important to know what to look for and how to fix the problem.
In this article, we’ll talk about why dieffenbachia leaves curl, how you can fix them, and how to avoid it from happening in the future. Keep reading for more information!
Why Do Dieffenbachia Leaves Curl?
There are a number of potential reasons why dieffenbachia leaves may curl, but some are more likely than others. The most likely causes of curling leaves are improper lighting, watering issues, and temperature stress.
Although these are the most common reasons for leaves curling, they aren’t the only possibility. Two other less common causes of curling leaves include using too much fertilizer, and pests or disease.
Rest assured, no matter what the cause is, there is almost always a solution. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
1 – Underwatering or Overwatering
Water is essential for any plant, and dieffenbachias are no exception. If your plant is not getting enough water, the leaves will start to droop as the plant tries to conserve moisture.
On the other hand, if you’re watering your dieffenbachia too much, the leaves may start to curl as a result of root rot.
Root rot is caused by overwatering, which leads to fungi or bacteria growing in the soil and impacting the roots, restricting the plant’s ability to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil.
To fix this issue, it’s important to water your dieffenbachia only when the soil is dry to the touch. Be sure to check the soil before watering, and only add enough water so that it moistens the top inch or two of soil.
It’s also a good idea to use a pot with drainage holes to help excess water escape and prevent the roots from sitting in water. When watering, always water thoroughly, until you see water drip into the drip tray.
Then empty the drip tray so that the roots never stand in water—this is a surefire way to trigger a stress response in your dieffenbachia.
2 – Improper Lighting
Dieffenbachias are known for being able to tolerate low light conditions, but dieffenbachias need bright, indirect light to thrive, so if your plant is not getting enough light, the plant will start to grow leggy and taller in search of light.
If you think this might be the problem, try moving your dieffenbachia to a spot where it will get more light.
However, be sure not to put it in direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves. On the other hand, if your dieffenbachia is receiving too much light, you will start to notice the leaves curling.
The older, more mature leaves will curl at the tips, and the younger leaves might get thin brown edges.
This is simply a sign that you need to move your plant into a location that offers more shade or less filtered light. If you keep it next to a window but out of direct sunlight and the leaves are starting to curl, try moving your plant back further into the room.
This will help limit the amount of light it gets throughout the day.
3 – Temperature Stress
Just like humans, plants can experience stress when the temperature is too hot or too cold. Dieffenbachias prefer temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so if the temperature drops below or rises above this range, the leaves may start to curl as a result.
In most cases, this is simply a sign that the plant is not comfortable and is trying to protect itself from the extreme conditions.
If you think this might be the problem, try moving your dieffenbachia to a spot where the temperature is more moderate. Plants that are grown indoors in controlled climates have no way of telling whether or not they should go to sleep.
Outdoor plants have the luxury of gradual temperature changes, but when a plant grows indoors and suddenly experiences a severe cold, it sends signals to the plant that it needs to go dormant.
So whether you keep your air conditioning ice cold, or like to keep windows open throughout the winter, make sure your dieffenbachia stays nice and cozy by isolating it from sudden changes in temperature.
4 – Using Too Much Fertilizer
Fertilizing your dieffenbachia is important for promoting healthy growth, but it’s possible to overdo it. If you use too much fertilizer, or if the fertilizer you’re using is too strong, you may notice the leaves curling. This usually happens because the roots are being burned by the chemicals in the fertilizer.
To fix this problem, flush out the fertilizer by watering as much as the soil will hold for a few days. This won’t drown the plant immediately, but it’s an important step to take if you think you have used too much fertilizer.
After a few days, you can start fertilizing again, but be sure to use half the amount of fertilizer that you normally would.
Fertilizing dieffenbachia can be tricky because there’s no established rules for frequency. A good rule to go by is to only fertilize when the plant is actively growing.
That means you should fertilize more in the spring and summer, and less (or not at all) in the fall and winter, when the plant should be dormant.
Fertilizing during the growing months should only occur once every two to four weeks, if not less often. This will obviously depend on how much you want your plant to grow during these periods.
If you’re not sure when to fertilize, it’s better to err on the side of caution and fertilize less often rather than too much.
5 – Pests
If your dieffenbachia leaves are curling, it might be because of pests. Two common pests that affect dieffenbachias are mealybugs and spider mites.
Mealybugs are small white insects that feed on plant sap. They congregate in groups on the stems and underside of leaves, which can cause the leaves to curl as a result of stress.
To get rid of mealybugs, start by isolating any affected plants from your other houseplants. Then, you can either wipe them off with a damp cloth or use an insecticidal soap. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully.
Spider mites are tiny red or green insects that spin webs on the undersides of leaves. Like mealybugs, they feed on plant sap and can cause stress-related leaf curling.
To get rid of spider mites, start by isolating any affected plants and then spraying them with water and insecticide every few days. This will help to reduce the population of spider mites.
You can also use an insecticidal soap, but be sure to follow the instructions.
6 – Disease
Although dieffenbachias are generally quite hearty plants, they can be susceptible to disease, especially if they’re not cared for properly.
One of the most common diseases that affects dieffenbachias is called root rot. This happens when the roots of the plant are damaged and start to decay.
The leaves may start to curl as a result of stress from lack of water and nutrients. If you think your plant has root rot, it’s important to act quickly.
Remove the plant from its pot and check the roots for signs of decay. If they’re mushy or black, they’re probably rotten. Cut away any affected roots and repot the plant in fresh soil.
Be sure to water it regularly and fertilize it every few weeks to help it recover. Other diseases that would cause your dieffenbachia’s leaves to curl include Xanthomonas Leaf Spot, Anthracnose Leaf Spot, or other bacterial diseases.
Common Misconceptions About Curling Leaves
If you see the leaves of your dieffenbachia plants start to curl, there’s a chance you’ll start to worry, overthink, and over analyze the problem. This has led to some common misconceptions about what curling leaves mean.
Let’s go over some of the most common misconceptions so that you can have a better understanding of what’s really going on.
First and foremost, curling leaves are not necessarily a sign that your plant is dying. Although it may be true in some cases, it’s important to remember that there are many other potential causes of curling leaves.
If you see the leaves of your dieffenbachia plant start to curl, don’t immediately assume that the worst has happened.
Another common misconception is that curling leaves are always caused by a lack of water. Although it’s true that underwatering can cause curling leaves, there are other potential causes as well.
Overwatering is just as likely, if not more likely than underwatering—especially among new indoor plant enthusiasts.
It’s easy to get into a habit of watering daily, but that will quickly drown your plant. Dieffenbachia only needs to be watered once every two weeks. More than that (or less) will lead to stress on the plant, resulting in the curling of its leaves.
How to Treat Curling Leaves on Dieffenbachia Plants
If you see the leaves of your dieffenbachia plant start to curl, the first thing you should do is check for pests. Mealybugs and spider mites are common culprits.
If you see any insects on the plant, you can either wipe them off with a damp cloth or use an insecticidal soap. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully.
Once you’ve ruled out pests, the next most likely cause of curling leaves is improper watering. Dieffenbachia plants like to stay evenly moist, but not soggy. Let the top inch or so of soil dry out between waterings.
If the leaves are curling because the plant is too dry, you should see them start to uncurl within a day or two after watering.
If the leaves are still curling even though you’re watering correctly, it’s possible that the plant is getting too much sun. Dieffenbachias prefer bright indirect light but can tolerate low light levels.
Move your plant to a spot where it will get some protection from direct sunlight and see if that makes a difference.
Should I Cut Off Curling Leaves?
The simple answer is no. Just because the leaves have started to curl doesn’t mean they are dead and should be disposed of. In most cases, curled leaves can still recover if you take the proper steps to fix the problem.
If you want to get rid of curled leaves for aesthetic reasons, you can snip them off with a pair of sharp scissors. Just be sure not to cut too close to the base of the leaf or you may damage the plant.
Why Are My Dieffenbachia Leaves Turning Yellow?
Leaves curling is usually the first sign that something is wrong with your dieffenbachia plant. Yellowing leaves are a sign of a later stage of your plant’s problem.
There are a few different reasons why your plant’s leaves may turn yellow. One possibility is that the plant is not getting enough water. Another is that it’s getting too much sun. Or, it could be a nutrient deficiency.
If you see the leaves of your dieffenbachia plant start to turn yellow, check the soil to see if it’s dry. If it is, water the plant and see if that helps. If the soil is already moist, try moving the plant to a spot with less light.
How to Prevent Dieffenbachia Leaves From Curling
The best way to prevent dieffenbachia leaves from curling is to keep an eye on the plant and catch any problems early. Check it regularly for pests and diseases and be sure to water it properly.
If you notice the leaves starting to curl, take a look at the plant’s environment and see if you can figure out what might be causing the problem. Once you know what the issue is, you can take steps to fix it.
If you see the leaves of your dieffenbachia plant start to curl, don’t panic! In most cases, it’s a problem that can be easily fixed.
First, check for pests. If you don’t see any insects, the next most likely cause is improper watering. Be sure to water the plant evenly and let the top inch or so of soil dry out between waterings (every two weeks).
If the leaves are still curling, it may be getting too much sun. Move it to a spot with less light and see if that helps. With a little care, you should have your plant looking as good as new in no time!
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.