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Why Are My Chinese Evergreen Leaves Curling? (Causes+How To Fix)

Aglaonema, or the Chinese evergreen, is a tropical plant loved for its unique patterned foliage. It can become a problem when you start seeing these leaves curl without knowing what to do about it. 

So, in this article, we shall understand why are your chinese evergreen leaves curling and how can we fix the same.

The primary cause of curly leaves in the Chinese evergreen plant is dehydration. It can be caused by lack of water due to underwatering or incapability to absorb water due to root rot and overwatering. Low humidity, pest problem, and too much sun are other problems leading to curly leaves.

Identifying the problem is the first way of fixing curled leaves. Once you can get to the problem, you can fix them with the help of the solutions I am going to state in the article. Keep reading!

Chinese evergreen curling 2

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Why are the leaves on my aglaonema curling?

Chinese evergreen is a highly tolerant houseplant which makes it suitable for beginners. You will find this plant in the offices due to its tolerance to low light conditions. 

However, it is not unusual to notice curling leaves if the plant does not have the right living conditions. 

Since various reasons can cause the curling of leaves, it can become challenging to identify the exact issue with your Chinese evergreen. That is where this article can help you. 

Here are all the possible reasons that might be causing curled leaves on your Chinese evergreen.

  • Direct sunlight 
  • Overwatering 
  • Underwatering 
  • Poor water quality 
  • Temperature 
  • Low humidity levels 
  • Overfertilization 
  • Lack of nutrients
  • Acclimation 
  • Pest infestation 
  • Diseases 
  • Old leaves

Without wasting any time, let’s get into the details. 

Direct sunlight

Chinese evergreen sunlight

If you consider the natural habitat of a Chinese evergreen plant, you will notice that it is habituated with dappled sunlight and is not exposed to direct sunlight. 

Even as indoor plants, a Chinese evergreen will require indirect sunlight and not react well to the direct intense rays of the sun. 

However, if your Chinese evergreen is exposed to direct sunlight, the leaves will get sunburned and curl. 

You can fix this by moving your Chinese evergreen plant to a spot that doesn’t receive direct sunlight but has enough indirect light. You can also use artificial lights as Chinese evergreens do well under that. 

You must also remove the damaged leaves as the scorched leaves do not become healthy even if you stop exposing the plant to direct sunlight.

Also read: How Much Light Does A Chinese Evergreen Need? (Light Requirements)

Overwatering

Although not one of the primary signs of overwatering, leaves can still curl if you give excess water to your Chinese evergreen. 

Overwatering is common in these plants as they require slightly moist soil, but their owners often overwater by mistake. 

Overwatering can also be the reason for poorly draining soil, low light, or a pot with no drainage holes.

If overwatering persists for long, it can give rise to root rot that can even kill your Chinese evergreen. If you suspect overwatering behind the curling leaves, stop watering and follow these steps:

  • If you notice any standing water, tilt the pot and get rid of that water. 
  • Place the plant in a sunny location to let the soil get dry.
  • Provide proper air circulation around the plant so that the soil dries up on time.
  • Check the potting soil’s moisture level before you water the next time and ensure that the top inches of the soil is dry. 
  • If you sense root rot, take the plant out of the pot and inspect the roots. 
  • Remove the roots that appear soft and brown. 
  • Repot the Chinese evergreen in a new pot with fresh potting soil. 
  • Prepare soil that supports proper drainage. 
  • Use a pot that has drainage holes.
  • Don’t follow a watering routine blindly without checking the soil.

Also read: How Much Water Does A Chinese Evergreen Need? (How Often+Summer & Winter)


Looking for a readymade indoor plant soil mix that you can open and pour? Check out rePotme. They offer a wide range of readymade soil premixes for all your indoor plants.


Underwatering

Chinese evergreen plants don’t appreciate overwatering but will not enjoy underwatering either. They want the soil to remain evenly moist at all times.

When you don’t water your Chinese evergreen and keep it thirsty for too long, the soil becomes compact and bone dry. The leaves start curling and become crisp.

You can improve the condition by watering the plant but follow these steps to ensure that the plant gets enough water and doesn’t get underwatered again.

  • Give some water to the soil and let it soak up the water.
  • Once the water gets soaked, water the plant thoroughly till the excess water starts running out of the drainage holes.
  • You can poke holes into the soil before watering as the soil gets compact without enough water.
  • Try bottom watering by taking the plant out of the pot and placing the soil in a shallow container filled with water. This will let the soil soak up the water.
  • Maintain a calendar that will remind you to check on the plant, so you don’t forget to water it.
  • If you don’t have enough time to check on your plants or water them, use self-watering pots to avoid underwatering.

Poor water quality

Although Chinese evergreen is not very sensitive to the quality of the water but too many harsh minerals in the water can affect the leaves.

If you use regular tap water to water the Chinese evergreen, the excess mineral content of the water can cause curling leaves. I am referring to chlorine, fluorine, and other bicarbonates that harm the leaves of the houseplants.

You can send the tap water for testing to check its mineral content.

  • You can switch to filtered water.
  • You can use rainwater to water the Chinese evergreen.
  • You can fill a bucket with tap water and leave it overnight to let the minerals evaporate. You can then water your Chinese evergreen with it.

Temperature

Chinese evergreen comes from the tropical regions of Asia where the temperatures remain high. Even if you can’t provide high temperatures to the plant, you must keep the temperatures warm.

Chinese evergreen prefers temperatures between 68-77°F. And if the temperatures start going low, the plant can get damaged. 

If you live in the colder region or during winter, the temperatures can go below average room temperatures, and that can cause curling leaves. Due to lower temperatures, the leaves curl up to save themselves from damages.

Low temperatures and fluctuations can damage your Chinese evergreen and cause curling leaves. But you can protect the plant from this.

  • Keep the Chinese evergreen away from frosty windows.
  • Don’t take the plant outside when the temperatures are lower than its preference.
  • Protect the plant from cold and hot drafts.
  • Don’t place it too close to any fireplace, heater, or other heating source.
  • Keep the plant away from the direct air of the AC.
  • Don’t keep the Chinese evergreen near windows and doors that are closed and opened too frequently.

Also read: How Cold Can Chinese Evergreens Tolerate? (Chinese Evergreen Cold Tolerance)

Low humidity levels

Chinese evergreen temperature and humidity

Low humidity is often a common reason behind the curling of leaves in Chinese evergreen plants. These plants prefer high humidity that helps them thrive.

Although Chinese evergreen is tolerant to low humidity levels, it doesn’t mean there will not be any problems. Due to low humidity levels, the leaves lose their moisture and curl.

If you think low humidity is the reason behind the curling of your Chinese evergreen, increase it.

  • Install a humidifier and place your Chinese evergreen near it.
  • Group your Chinese evergreen with other moisture-loving plants. The humidity levels will increase due to the transpiration of these plants.
  • Use a pebble tray by adding some pebbles to a tray and water. Place the Chinese evergreen on it.
  • Relocate the Chinese evergreen to the bathroom with more humidity than the other rooms.
  • If you have an aquarium, place the Chinese evergreen near it.

Also read: Should I Mist My Chinese Evergreen? (+Humidity Guide)

Overfertilization

Chinese evergreen requires little fertilizers for thriving. It doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer as that can damage the plant.

Overfertilization is common in Chinese evergreen plants as people mistake fertilizing it too often or with a higher dose. This leads to a salt build-up on the soil, damaging the roots.

When you overfeed the Chinese evergreen, the damaged roots fail to function, and thus, the leaves become unhealthy and start curling.

Follow these to avoid overfertilizing your Chinese evergreen:

  • Flush the soil to remove the excess salt build-up. Do it multiple times to get rid of all the salt.
  • Dilute the fertilizer you give to your Chinese evergreen to make it half-strength.
  • Avoid fertilizing during the winter season.
  • Water the plant before fertilizing to get it evenly spread in the soil.
  • Fertilize the plant 1-2 times during the growing season.

Also read: Does Chinese Evergreen Plant Needs Fertilizer? (How Often+Best Fertilizer)

Lack of nutrients

Although Chinese evergreen doesn’t require a lot of feeding, the curling leaves might also be the reason behind the lack of nutrients.

A lack of nutrients is caused due to lack of fertilization or a lack of repotting. The soil loses all its nutrients over time and fails to absorb the nutrients you provide in fertilizers.

Sometimes the pH level of the soil can also be a problem. Chinese evergreens prefer slightly acidic soil, but if the pH level gets altered and the soil becomes alkaline, it will not provide enough nutrients to the plant.

  • Add compost if the soil’s pH level is unsuitable for the plant.
  • If you don’t fertilize your Chinese evergreen, start fertilizing it with a diluted dose of fertilizer during the growing season.
  • You must repot the Chinese evergreen with a fresh potting mix if you haven’t repotted it for a long time.


Acclimation

After you bring a Chinese evergreen home, it goes through some stress due to the change of environment. During this time, you may find discolored leaves, curling leaves, and even loss of leaves. 

This is natural and not something to get worried about. You must give the plant some time to adjust to the changes and provide the right conditions. 

After the plant gets adjusted to the new environment, it will stop producing damaged leaves and produce healthy growth.

Pest infestation

Pests can cause a lot of damage, including curled and distorted leaves. Your Chinese evergreen might be infested with mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites.

While most pests will come to your Chinese evergreen when you overwater it, pests like spider mites will prefer dry conditions where you don’t give enough water or humidity to the plant.

The pests are tiny and hard to spot, and they feed on your Chinese evergreen, making it weak. However, if you can identify the early signs, you can remove the pests before it causes much damage to the plant.

  • Isolate the plant so the pests can’t travel from one plant to another.
  • Take a diluted alcohol solution and dip a cotton ball in it. Wipe the affected areas with it to kill the pests.
  • Spray a neem oil solution on your Chinese evergreen for at least 2 weeks.

Also read: Do Chinese Evergreen Get Bugs? (Common Bugs+How To Get Rid Of Them)

Diseases

Bacterial and fungal diseases are rare but can occur if you keep your Chinese evergreen in moist environments. And these diseases can cause the curling of leaves on your plant.

Fungal or bacterial diseases are hard to get rid of. You must eliminate all the affected parts of your plant and dispose of those. You can try using fungicides to treat diseases and infections.

However, prevention is the best way of dealing with fungal and bacterial diseases.

Old leaves

One natural cause of curling leaves is age. When the leaves complete their life cycle, they lose their color and shape before falling off.

Therefore, noticing curled leaves is nothing unusual if the leaves have aged. Leave these leaves on the plant and let them fall off naturally.

Final words

Chinese evergreen is a tolerant tropical plant and can endure diverse conditions. Gathering some knowledge about the plant before you get one can help you avoid different problems.

If you still notice curled leaves on your Aglaonema, you shouldn’t panic and find a way to identify the issue. Once you know what is wrong, you can fix it. You can then start treating the plant, and soon you’ll notice that your Chinese evergreen has recovered.

It is necessary to set realistic goals with your Chinese evergreen. You can’t expect that the plant won’t have any problems ever. But you should try to keep it healthy so that you can prevent most problems in the first place.


Reference: WikipediaNasa clean air studyMissouri Botanical GardenThe University of KansasNC State University.