Curling Leaves on a Chinese Evergreen? Causes and Solutions

Last Updated: August 24, 2022

Chinese Evergreens are fairly hardy plants that can be really easy to care for. However, if you do start to notice that your Chinese Evergreen’s leaves are curling, this may be a symptom of incorrect care or environment. The main reasons why your Chinese Evergreen’s leaves are curling are over-or underwatering, dry air, pest infection or a sudden change of environment.

In this article, we will go through each of those causes as well as how to diagnose the issue, treat it and prevent it from causing more curling leaves on your Chinese Evergreen.

Overwatering may be causing the curling leaves

Improper watering is one of the biggest issues for most houseplants and Chinese Evergreen plants are no different. They might be easier to caare for than some other plant types, but incorrect watering patterns can cause some big problems over time. One of the most common issues caused by overwatering your Chinese Evergreen is curling leaves, so we recommend this as the first issue to look into when trying to diagnose the problem.

Chinese Evergreen plants hate it when their soil is too damp for extended periods of time and overwatering will cause their leaves to start curling upwards. This is one of the earlier signs of trouble so if this is the only symptom, it suggests you may have caught the issue early on which makes treating it a lot easier. 

When it comes to the right amount of water, you want to be watering your Chinese Evergreen no more than once a week during the growth months. During the colder months, once a month is definitely enough.

There are a few different techniques you can use to understand when your plant needs water. As well as checking the moisture at the top of the soil before watering, we also recommend picking up your Chinese Evergreen before and after watering so you get an idea of much your plant will weigh when it needs water. 

You can also remove your Chinese Evergreen from its pot to inspect the soil and figure out if overwatering is causing the curling leaves. If your Chinese Evergreen’s soil is waterlogged, we recommend replacing it and adjusting your watering pattern. This should hopefully stop your Chinese Evergreen’s leaves from curling drastically.

Using a moisture meter is also a great way to take the guessing out of watering your Chinese Evergreen. You just pop them in the soil and it’ll tell you how dry or damp the soil is. These will really help prevent the problem from reoccurring. 

Underwatering can also cause leaf curl in Chinese Evergreens

Too little water can also cause your Chinese Evergreen’s leaves to start curling. Although Chinese Evergreens hate their soil being soggy, they also cannot deal with dry soil for too long.  A lack of moisture can cause your Chinese Evergreen to go into shock and its leaves will start curling up as a result.

If you find that your Chinese Evergreen’s soil is bone dry, then underwatering is probably what is causing the curling leaves. The best thing to do is soak your plant for about 20-30 minutes. This allows the potting mix to take up as much water as it needs, without risking overwatering or having the water just run straight out of the drainage holes.

If the air is too dry, your Chinese Evergreen’s leaves will curl

Chinese Evergreens like quite humid environments and can struggle in homes with dry air. This can be especially damaging in the winter months as central heating really dries out the air. 

A lack of humidity in the air can cause your Chinese Evergreen’s leaves to curl, and eventually maybe even fall off. This happens because curling the leaves is a mechanism plants use to retain as much water as possible.

Use a humidity monitor to confirm that dry air is causing the curling leaves. To treat the issue, start by misting your Chinese Evergreen every few days with a spray bottle. If you want an even easier solution to humidity issues, consider investing in a humidifier. These affordable little devices make it super easy to keep a more consistent increased humidity level.

Check out our houseplant humidity guide for more information on humidity levels and how you can really easily raise or lower the humidity depending on your plant’s needs.

A pest infestation may also be causing your Chinese Evergreen’s curling leaves

Whilst it is pretty rare for your Chinese Evergreen to be suffering from a pest infestation, it is vital that you check the leaves every so often, even if your plant looks super healthy as pests can be a cause of curling leaves in Chinese Evergreens! 

Note that if you have been growing your Chinese Evergreen outdoors for some of the year, the likelihood of pests is a lot higher. 

If you find bugs, wipe each leaf with warm soapy water to try and remove as many as possible. We recommend giving your plants a shower but make sure the water pressure isn’t on full or this could damage the leaves. If this doesn’t get rid of the pests, you can treat your Chinese Evergreen with neem oil to fight the infestation. 

Make sure to check over your other plants in the room to see if any other plants have pests. It is vital that you keep your infected Chinese Evergreen (and other infected plants) a good distance away from any of your other houseplants as you don’t want the pests to spread.

Heat stress can also cause curling leaves

If your Chinese Evergreen is growing close to the window during summer, or is near to any radiators, heaters or heating vents then it might be heat stress that is causing the leaves to curl. This is because the intense heat will dry out the leaves, causing them to curl to try to retain moisture. 

More often than not, the leaves will also begin turning crispy and brown so look out for this alongside the leaf curl. Using a thermometer is the best way to establish whether temperature fluctuations are to blame. They’ll also help you spot any changes in temperature before they start impacting your plants so are a great investment for any plant parent.

A sudden change in environment can often cause curling leaves

Much like humans, houseplants can get pretty stressed out by change! Things like repotting, propagating or moving to a new spot can cause your Chinese Evergreen to get a little shocked and the leaves may start curling.

This is nothing to worry about and it will just take some time for it to return to normal and for the leaves to naturally uncurl.

One thing to make sure of if you have moved your Chinese Evergreen to a new spot is that the conditions are the same, if not better than the one it was previously in. Your Chinese Evergreen will probably survive if the conditions are less suited to its requirements but it may just grow a little slower than before. The best way to determine if the environment is right is by using a light meter, as well as a thermometer and humidity gauge.

Luckily curling leaves is often one of the earlier signs of stress among houseplants so it should mean that you have caught the issue early! This will really help when it comes to fixing the issue and the road to recovery will be a lot quicker and simpler.  

Chinese Evergreens won’t die on you suddenly if something isn’t right so just make sure to keep an eye on its environment and your care for a few weeks to spot any glaring problems. 

Check out our Chinese Evergreen care guide for more information on other common problems as well as general care tips to help keep your plant healthy and happy!

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