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Why Are Your Pilea Leaves Curling And How To Fix Them

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

Curling and drooping leaves are one of the biggest struggles Pilea lovers go through.

We have received a lot of questions from all of you about this topic, so here are some reasons why your plant leaves are getting sad!

1. Overwatering

Overwatering is a common problem with Pilea.

If you think you gave your green friend too much water, allow the plant to dry out. Then, slowly increase the amount of water as you see the plant recovering.

Then, make sure you are watering only when the top inch of the soil is dry; try sticking your finger in it to check. You can also try to touch the leaves to feel if they are hard and thick or soft and thin – if they are thin, probably your plant is ready to be watered.


And remember: during winter, you want to allow the plant to dry out longer between each watering. You could water once a fortnight in the colder months, while during the summer, Pilea might need a bit more water.


This can change, however, based on your home environment. Adjust your watering, based on external and internal temperature conditions and the amount of lighting in your home.

Get to know your plant with time and patience, and try different solutions to find out what works best!



2. Not Enough Drainage

The plant could suffer the same symptoms of over-watering if the pot or the soil don't have enough drainage.


Excess water should drain away quickly, so first of all, make sure to choose a well-draining soil. The best soil for Pilea is peat moss or fiber coco peat mixed with some perlite (1 part perlite to 9 part soil).


Also, don't put small plants in big containers, because the soil will hold extra moisture.


When watering, make sure your pot has drainage holes and no pebbles at the bottom so the water can easily get through the soil. If your favorite pot doesn't have a hole, you can make it by following this tutorial. And be patient: allow your Pilea to drain before returning to its position!



3. Not Enough Humidity

Pilea loves humid environments, but most of the times our houses are on the dry side.

Keep in mind that the heater and the air conditioning can cause the air to become drier.


Placing a humidifier near your plant is the best way to increase humidity.


Another solution can be spraying or misting the leaves twice a week, or placing the plant into a humidity tray.


You can also consider buying an indoor humidity monitor or a moisture sensor to help you managing humidity levels.



4. Light Or Heat Stress

Your plant could be too close to high-intensity light, or it might be in a room where temperatures are persistently above 80 degrees F (27 degrees C).


Remember to monitor the temperature: not just in the room, but also around the plant. Generally, Pilea thrives in temperatures between 57 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit (13 and 25 degrees Celsius). Maintain constant ventilation and leave enough space between your Pilea and the light source.

Also, place your Pilea near to a North or East-facing window or use sheers or blinds if facing South or West windows.



5. Nutrient Deficiency

Plants need six macro-nutrients to survive. They get carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen from air and water, but they also need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. That is why we need to feed them with some fertilizer.


On every fertilizer label, you can notice three numbers, such as 20-20-20. These numbers may vary depending on the fertilizer and show you what proportion of each macro-nutrient the fertilizer contains. The first number is always nitrogen, the second is phosphorus, and the third is potassium.


Nitrogen deficiency, for example, will make your bottom leaves curl and get yellow. In this case, you can give your Pilea a high-nitrogen nutrient formula. You may consider adding a regular dose of an amino-acid supplement to your monthly feeding program: it can help the plant to get all the nitrogen it needs.


Generally, feeding your Pilea once a month will help your plant to stay healthy. For your Pilea, we suggest using an all-purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer diluted to half strength.



6. Unhealthy Root System

Check the roots of your Pilea regularly, to make sure they are healthy.


Healthy roots should look white, numerous, hardy and long enough to hold the soil in the shape of the pot. Every once in a while, remove the plant from its pot and cut away any circled or tangled root.


If you see that the roots are mainly brown, mushy or crumbly, your plant might be suffering from root rot.



7. Bugs Disease

Gnats usually gather underneath the foliage, and then they invade the soil. They suck fluids from it, causing the yellowing and drooping.

Take a closer look underneath your Pilea's leaves and in the soil to make sure no flies have invaded your plant.


Pests could kill your Pilea if left untreated, so you should cure the plant as soon as possible.

Apply either Neem Oil or Silicon Dioxide (also known as diatomaceous earth - a type of powder) for 7 days; both products are organic insecticides that can be found in most garden centers and are perfectly safe.


Spray the oil or sprinkle the powder on your plant so that there is a light layer on the leaves and the soil. The bugs will walk through it and die shortly after contact.



Extra Tip

So many different reasons can cause the leaves to curl that it can be tricky to identify the problem quickly.

Too much light, too much water, not enough drainage, root rotting, or even a pest invasion!


Our suggestion is to start making small adjustments to your plant's growing conditions (water less frequently, change the spot where it's placed...) and see what happens.


And, always check the root system before jumping to conclusions!



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