Why Are My Prayer Plant Leaves Curling? [Reasons & How to Fix]

Prayer plants got their name from their unique foliage that folds as though in prayer when left in the dark. However, don’t mistake curling for the natural folding of leaves at night. The curling of prayer plant leaves is typically a sign of distress.

Prayer plant leaves curl when there is a bright light, cold drafts, and not enough humidity in the room. They also curl when they can’t absorb enough water from the soil. Addressing these problems will often resolve the issue of leaf curling as long as the leaves haven’t dried up yet.

In the rest of the article, I will explain why your prayer plant leaves are curling, how to fix the issues, and how to prevent them. Read on!

Reasons Why Your Prayer Plant Leaves Are Curling

Prayer plants are famous for their colorful leaf patterns and nightly routine of folding in prayer. Plant parents can easily tell if their prayer plants have issues based on the appearance of their leaves.

Here are some possible reasons why your prayer plant leaves are curling:

Bright Light

Maranta species thrive in filtered or low-light conditions in their natural environment under the shade of tall tree canopies. It is a crucial trait for their survival, and they seek similar conditions even when planted outside their native habitat. As a result, they will do poorly when grown in bright areas with direct sunlight.

That’s why it’s best to grow prayer plants in areas where they can receive partial shade or filtered light for around six hours a day. Otherwise, the leaves will curl. In extreme cases, they may even turn yellow or brown and eventually dry up, making the affected leaves unsalvageable.

How To Fix

If you suspect that your prayer plant leaves are curling due to bright light, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Move your plant to a location with better shade, such as a north-facing window.
  2. Drape a darker curtain next to your plant to reduce the amount of light it receives if there aren’t better locations in your home.
  3. Avoid putting your plant in total darkness as it still needs sufficient light to grow. Remember that although prayer plants like partial shade, they still need a good amount of sunlight. Depriving them of it will present new problems.
  4. Snip off yellowing or dried leaves because they won’t recover anymore.
  5. Allow your plant to recuperate for one to two weeks and see if there are any improvements.

Cold Drafts

Placing your prayer plant pot next to an open window during the cold season can cause the leaves to curl. This tropical plant can’t handle temperatures below 55 °F (12.8 °C). If you leave your plant in such a condition for too long, it will eventually die.

Prayer plants need good air circulation, but it’s best to keep them away from cold drafts or places in your home where temperatures can drastically change throughout the day.

How To Fix

Keep the window next to your prayer plant closed during the cold season. If you need to open that window for better ventilation in your home, relocate your pot to an area where the plant can benefit from a stable temperature between 65 and 70 °F (18.3 and 21.1 °C).

Low Humidity

Prayer plants can’t grow well with low humidity because they have adapted to the naturally humid environment of the swampy forests of Brazil. The leaves will shrivel and die if you leave your plant in a room with less than 50% humidity for too long.

How To Fix

Switch on a humidifier next to your prayer plants to improve the air quality around them. Avoid misting the leaves, as it can cause new problems for your plant.

Since the leaves are curling, the water droplets from your spray might not dry or slide quickly enough, providing airborne pathogens with a suitable area to increase. As a result, it will cause a microbial infection that can spread from one plant to another.

Watering Problems

Too much and too little water can cause your prayer plant leaves to curl. With too much water, the roots become more susceptible to fungal infections leading to root rot. When such a condition occurs, the roots won’t be able to absorb enough moisture and nutrients anymore.

As a result, the leaves will curl. However, overwatering can also present several other symptoms to help you determine if it is the cause. For instance, the leaves might have water-soaked lesions and the brown spots don’t appear dry.

On the other hand, if there isn’t enough water in the soil, the leaves will become wrinkly as they curl. You will also notice drying and browning along the edges of the leaves.

How To Fix

If the issue is due to overwatering with a high chance of root rot, you must re-pot the plant.

Here’s how:

  1. Dig out the prayer plant carefully from the soil. Remove as much debris as possible.
  2. Inspect the extent of the damage. Remember that prayer plants have shallow roots, which may be unsalvageable if the rot has spread wide enough. Healthy roots should be white and fleshy.
  3. Snip off rotten roots using sterile scissors. If you feel that your prayer plant can still be saved, you can cut off the damaged roots.
  4. Remove damaged leaves. If you are removing much of the root, you must also cut off enough leaves to reduce the plant’s stress. Fewer roots can support fewer leaves. So if you snip off 20% of the roots, you’ll also have to prune 20% of the leaves.
  5. Dry the roots on a clean towel. You can also dip the roots in diluted neem oil before replanting the prayer plant in a fresh, moist, and well-draining potting mix.

On the other hand, if your plant’s leaves are curling due to underwatering, saturate the soil with water and allow it to drain. If it drains too quickly, you can amend the soil by adding peat moss to improve water retention.

How To Prevent Prayer Plant Leaves From Curling

Not all leaf problems of prayer plants are reversible. If the curling is accompanied by discoloration, drying, or infection symptoms, it may be challenging or even impossible to revive your plant.

Therefore, it’s best to avoid such problems before they can cause irreversible damage to your plant. Check out the tips below:

Avoid Exposing Your Prayer Plant to Bright Direct Light

Place white curtains to filter the light if you want to grow your prayer plants next to an east-facing window. Try to avoid the south-facing window as much as possible. Such an area receives the most amount of light throughout the day.

If you live in USDA zones 11 or 12, including Florida and Hawaii, you can grow your prayer plant outdoors. However, you must place them under roofed structures or next to the wall or tall fences to provide enough shade during the day. Doing so can prevent your prayer plant leaves from curling or drying.

Ensure That the Room Has Over 50% Humidity

During the cold and dry months, managing the humidity in your home can be challenging as it can increase your energy consumption. The good thing is that you don’t need very high humidity for your tropical plants, like Maranta species, to thrive.

Humidity levels over 70% may be okay for prayer plants, but they can make your home appealing to moisture-loving pests. Molds and other fungi also thrive well in highly humid areas. Keeping the room’s humidity above 50% is often enough to keep your prayer plant happy.

Although prayer plants enjoy daily misting, you must ensure the leaves are in good condition before spraying them with water. Sick-looking leaves may harbor fungi and bacteria, which can multiply and spread when sprayed with water.

Sometimes, placing the pot on a tray of wet pebbles also helps improve the humidity. However, this process yields slow and uncertain results. It can also be troublesome to maintain the cleanliness of the water in the pebble tray.

Choose a Suitable Spot in Your Home for the Prayer Plant

Depending on the season, you may need to move your prayer plant pot at certain times during the year. Choose a suitable place for your prayer plant by considering the following factors below:

  • Keep the prayer plant away from air vents where it’d be exposed to cold drafts or warm air.
  • Place it next to a closed and curtained window to filter the amount of sunlight it receives.
  • Position it close to an area with higher humidity, such as the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Move your pots outdoors in spring or summer under sufficient shade and warm temperatures.
  • Avoid placing your pot next to the door where it may be exposed to sudden gusts of cold wind.

Water Your Plant Adequately

Ensure that your prayer plant is well-watered. If you’ve had the plant in the same substrate for several years, it may be time to re-pot it. Potting mixes degrade over time and lose essential qualities like drainage and water retention.

Checking the soil’s condition once a year and applying necessary amendments can go a long way to avoiding costly and troublesome fixes due to poor watering issues.

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Final Thoughts

Various reasons can cause your prayer plant leaves to curl. The symptom often goes away when you fix the issue that caused it.

However, suppose there are other symptoms, such as decaying roots, discolored leaves, or stunted growth. In that case, you may need to give your plant a thorough inspection to address the problem before it becomes irreversible.

You can also practice adequate plant care to prevent the same problem from happening in the future. Remember to water your plant adequately, ensure it has enough humidity, and protect it from bright and direct sunlight.

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