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Plant Leaves Curling Down — What’s Wrong?

Plant Leaves Curling Down — What’s Wrong?

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Whether you use them to add some life to your house or some color to your garden, plants are an amazing addition to anyone’s life. 

It has been estimated that there are almost 400,000 different types of plants in the world and they come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes. 

Everyone likes to see their plants thriving and at their healthiest, but what if you notice the leaves of your plant aren’t at their best?

In this article, I’m going to explain all about why plant leaves curl down, and what to do about it – so read on to find out!


Plant leaves curling down

Plant leaves that are curling down could be a result of overwatering, pests infestation, nutrient deficiency, or even too much sunlight. Each problem needs to be treated differently, by using pesticides, adjusting the necessary care, or completely repotting your plant.



If your plant is in the early stages of overwatering, the tips of the leaves will begin to change color and wilt. 

In most cases, overwatering your plant just a little will not harm it, and I would suggest leaving your plant in a warm area that has indirect sunlight and letting the soil dry out naturally.

However, progressive overwatering can result in root rot

This is where fungus in the soil attacks the roots leaving them unable to provide and take in nutrients that your plant vitally needs. 

If the overwatering has been consistent, the leaves will be almost fully yellow and they will all be curling downwards. 

Depending on the plant variety you have, the leaves may also feel moist to touch and have a shiny or wet look, due to having too much water stored in them. 

Sometimes, this can lead to the death of the leaves, making them drop off. 

I would advise that a severely overwatered plant is not left out to dry naturally, as this could result in further damage, especially if suspect your plant has contracted root rot. 

Transplanting your plant into fresh and soil that has not been watered is the best option, and I would additionally advise removing any rotten or mushy roots before repotting your plant. 



Many species of pests attack plant leaves. Some of the most common are aphids and whiteflies, which reside on the undersides of leaves and feed off of the sap inside them. 

As the pests begin to feed on the leaves of your plant, they will curl downwards at the edges and may even be crispy and dry to touch. 

Pest infestations that are left unattended will result in the leaves becoming stripped of all their energy and nutrients. This can cause leaves to come distorted and turn a yellow color.

I like to inspect all of my plants every time I water them, to check for any signs of bugs or insects. 

I would also suggest regularly checking the soil, as it is often the case that young bugs and larvae live and feed there before making their way up to the stems and leaves. 

Many chemical pesticides on the market can treat pests quickly, but I personally choose to use organic solutions. 

I found that a mix of 2 cups of vegetable or Neem oil, mixed with water and a dash of liquid soap is perfect for getting rid of pests.

Place the mixture in a spray bottle and apply this to your plant weekly or after heavy rainfall, and you should start to see improvement within under a fortnight. 


Nitrogen deficiency

Nitrogen is a vital plant nutrient that aids the growth of leaves and foliage. Without nitrogen, your plant will be left with either very little leaf growth or none at all. 

The remaining leaves on your plant will begin to lose their saturated coloring, and they will turn yellow and spindly. 

In some cases, the stems of your plant may become a purple or pinkish color.

Nitrogen deficiency is likely to be a result of a lack of fertilization, or the result of using a fertilizer that doesn’t have a good level of nitrogen in it. 

It could be possible that this has been caused by recent heavy rainfall, as this can also strip the soil of nutrients. 

There are several ways to fix nitrogen deficiency in plants, and once treated recovery should be almost immediate. 

One option is purchasing a nitrate-based fertilizer, and adding this into the soil. 

I would suggest purchasing a liquid fertilizer that includes all three NPK nutrients, as this will help the leaves to revive themselves and recover. 

Top tip – Although your plant is in much need of nitrogen, you should still only use the recommended amount of fertilizer that is advised. 

Over-fertilizing your plant will cause further and in some cases irreversible damage.


Potassium deficiency

Potassium is another nutrient that is very important to your plant’s health. 

It plays an important role in keeping your plant strong enough to fight off any diseases and can also help to increase crop yields. 

Without potassium, your plant will become weak and very susceptible to infection. Typical symptoms of potassium deficiency include leaves that turn yellow and curl from the tips. 

Eventually, they may even become a dark brown color, and look like they have been burnt along the edges. 

To treat potassium deficiency in plants, you should look for a fertilizer that is high in either potassium or potash. 

You can also add natural materials that are high in potassium to the soil. I have had success with using banana peels and mixing wood ash into the topsoil.

After reintroducing potassium to the soil, you should start to see signs of improvement within as little as a week. 

Although mature leaves that are extensively damaged have a very slim chance of recovery, younger or new growth should revive itself almost instantly. 


Too much light

Most plants love sunlight, and in most cases, high light levels play a pivotal part in keeping your plant healthy and thriving. 

However, a plant can receive too much light, and this can often result in damage being done to the leaves.

Light is great for your plant, but only in the quantities that it needs.  If your plant has fallen victim to overexposure to light, the leaves become yellow and the edges will curl downwards. 

Another indicator of this is the soil becoming dry quickly, meaning you have had to water your plant much more often than usual. 

The best way to know how much light your plant needs is by researching in the right places. Most plants will have their required light levels stated on the pot after purchase. 

Ensure that you stick to these requirements, and if you think that your plant is suffering from too much sunlight I would suggest that you move it into a shadier location for a few days, and water it regularly until you see signs of improvement. 


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Plant Leaves Curling Down


Should I remove leaves that are curling down from my plant?

I wouldn’t suggest removing any leaves that are curling downwards from your plant unless they are dead or they haven’t recovered after treatment. It is likely that especially younger leaves will revive themselves, but in some cases, more mature leaves will not.