Whether in your house or your garden, we always want to see our prayer plant thriving and looking like it’s at its peak. Of course, as plant owners, we’d immediately worry if we see it struggling.
One common issue that prayer plants experience is the curling of their foliage.
So, if you’re wondering: why are my prayer plant leaves curling? Well, it might be because your plant is experiencing a pest infestation or you’ve overwatered it.
However, those are only a few of the causes as to why it happens. That said, read on to discover other reasons why your prayer plant leaves curl!
When your prayer plant leaves curl, it only means it’s experiencing a significant problem that’s affecting its health. Below are some of the common reasons:
If you always leave the soil or the foliage of your prayer plant moist, it can attract all kinds of pests.
Aphids are one of the most common types of pests that can infest your plant. These tiny-bodied insects suck the sap of the shrub through the phloem vessels.
Mealybugs also do the same to your prayer plant. When they infest, they remove the sap by sucking.
Unfortunately, they tend to reproduce quickly. Many aphids can develop from newborn nymphs to full-grown adults in only a week.
When the infestation worsens, the prayer plant’s foliage will start curling. On top of that, it’ll experience stunted growth, and it has a chance of wilting.
Even though prayer plants generally enjoy warmer climates, too much sun exposure can harm them.
Excess sunlight will cause the leaves to curl and protect themselves from the harsh rays. It’s their safety measure to ensure they don’t run out of moisture.
It’s because whenever it gets too hot, they transpire constantly. As such, the curling of the foliage becomes their defense mechanism.
Additionally, you’ll know that your prayer plant became overexposed to the sun when it starts developing scorch marks. It means that it’s also experiencing sunburn.
No matter how excellent your soil is, if you don’t have a proper watering schedule for your prayer plant, there’s a high chance that it can become overwatered.
When there’s too much water in the soil, to the extent that the roots can no longer absorb liquid, your plant gets suffocated.
If you leave your prayer plant suffocated for a long time, its foliage will start curling upwards. On top of that, the roots won’t be able to absorb the necessary nutrients to thrive and survive.
Lastly, the foliage will turn yellow, and the stem will become soggy. In worst cases, mold growth might occur on the soil.
Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for a prayer plant because it helps regulate its growth and development. Moreover, it plays a vital role in the structure of the shrub.
The thing is, nitrogen is also a crucial component in chlorophyll, a pigment that makes the plant turn green. Plus, the shrub uses this to make food during photosynthesis.
As such, when your prayer plant suffers from nitrogen deficiency, it’ll experience stunted growth.
On top of that, the plant will divert its reserved nitrogen to newer foliage. Older leaves tend to lack essential nutrients, so they start curling up.
The foliage will likely turn brown, too, and eventually die if left untreated.
Root rot is a consequence of overwatering and poor drainage to your prayer plant. Unfortunately, it’s irreversible, so it’s challenging to address.
When it happens, the prayer plant’s roots go bad, to the point wherein it can no longer absorb any nutrients and water.
You’ll know that your plant suffers from root rot when its leaves start curling upwards. Additionally, the foliage will wilt and turn yellow.
The prayer plant will also experience stunted growth. The soil won’t dry out and will stay damp even if days have passed.
Lastly, the roots will become highly fragile and mushy. It’ll eventually lead to the plant’s death.
As we all know, prayer plants thrive in warmer climates because they’re tropical plants. As such, any abrupt temperature change will put them in shock.
The ideal temperature for prayer plants is between 55°F and 75°F. Anything higher or lower than that will severely harm them.
So, if you live in an area where temperature constantly fluctuates, your prayer plants’ foliage will curl. There’s also a chance that their leaves will become brittle and turn brown.
Additionally, your prayer plants will likely develop scorch marks if it’s scalding outside.
If you often use herbicides to get rid of unwanted weeds in your garden, there’s a high chance that you’ve accidentally sprayed your prayer plants.
While it’s a common mistake that most people make, you should be extremely cautious because it severely damages your prayer plants’ foliage.
According to Utah State University, phenoxy herbicides containing 2,4-D, mecoprop, and dicamba cause petioles and leaves to curl up when sprayed directly or indirectly onto the plant.
Moreover, the same results will happen if you happen to use Glyphosate, a herbicide that inhibits the plants from making specific proteins essential for their growth.
Like humans, plants also experience viral infections. Most of them are incurable, and their effects can spread throughout their whole bodies in a span of a few days.
A common viral infection that most Marantas or prayer plants experience is the Cucumber mosaic virus. While the virus may seem like it only happens to cucumbers, it also occurs in various shrubs.
The Cucumber mosaic virus occurs when aphids that are carrying the virus start infesting your shrub. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for this, so your plant will live with it until it withers.
When your prayer plants get this viral infection, their leaves curl downwards. They’ll also reduce in size and become distorted.
Additionally, the foliage will develop yellowish patches, almost resembling the skin of a cucumber.
Your prayer plants experience stress whenever they’re growing in undesirable growth conditions. There are abiotic and biotic factors that make this possible.
Abiotic factors include light, water, and temperature. On the other hand, biotic factors include pests and pathogens.
Unfortunately, when you combine these factors, your prayer plants start wilting. Plus, the foliage will curl, turn black, and even burn.
If you notice curling foliage that doesn’t have any discoloration, it’s probably growing leaves. This is normal because they’ll eventually unfurl as they mature.
As such, you should leave these plants as is. Just ensure that they’re getting the proper nutrients they need for them to grow properly.
Yes, your prayer plant leaves will definitely uncurl if you treat the problem that’s causing it.
The following are various methods that you can try in order to make your prayer plant leaves uncurl:
If you see holes and discolorations in the foliage aside from curling, then your plant might be experiencing pest infestation.
You should regularly inspect your prayer plants to ensure there are no pest infestations. In case aphids or mealybugs have already inhabited the shrub, get rid of them immediately.
The easiest method is to use pesticides or insecticidal soap. Alternatively, you can use horticultural oil if you don’t want to use harsh chemicals.
You shouldn’t let your prayer plant’s soil get overly dry because you’ll most likely water it to the extent that you’re drowning the shrub.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t water the substrate when it’s still moist because you’ll also put it at risk of getting overwatered.
As such, it’s best if you set a schedule on what day you’re going to water your prayer plant.
Ideally, you should only water the prayer plant every one or two weeks. You should let the soil dry out halfway down before you make it damp again.
On top of that, you shouldn’t use hard tap water to avoid mineral buildup on the soil. It can lead to other health issues too, aside from the curling of the foliage.
As mentioned earlier, the prayer plant is sensitive to extreme temperatures.
If you’ve placed your prayer plant in an area that receives an absurd amount of direct sunlight, consider relocating it.
The thing is, if it receives too much light, its leaves will curl and develop scorch marks. The same thing will happen if the plant is in an area with a colder climate.
If your concern is the plant’s overexposure to sunlight, the best place where you can place your plant is near a window. Said area receives indirect light, and it provides the perfect amount of shade for your plant.
On the other hand, if your concern is the cold climate, you should relocate your plant to an area with a lamp or any light source. It’ll give your plant the perfect warmth during freezing days.
If your plant is nitrogen-deficient, you should treat it immediately by feeding it nitrogen-rich food. Examples are Alfalfa meal, Bone and Blood meal, or even coffee grounds.
Alternatively, you can mulch your soil. It’ll help decrease leaching—the process of water carrying salts and other soluble substances through the rock or substrate.
You have two options for mulch: organic and inorganic. For the former, you can use wood chips, hardwood bark, cocoa hulls, and even compost mixes.
Organic mulch decomposes, but it improves your soil quality.
You can use stone, pulverized rubber, geotextile fabric, or lava rocks if you want to use inorganic mulch. However, the downside of this is that it doesn’t improve soil structure, and it doesn’t decompose, so you have to replenish it often.
So, why are my prayer plant leaves curling? The quick answer is that your plant is experiencing a health issue.
It might be receiving too much sunlight, or you’ve overwatered it. There’s also a possibility that pests have infested the plant, so you should check it immediately.
Of course, you can try different methods to solve this problem.
For example, you can get rid of pests using a pesticide. If the problem occurs because of the light, then you should relocate your plant.
Alternatively, you can treat the nitrogen deficiency by mulching the soil. You shouldn’t forget to water your plant too!
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.