Why does my Air Plant have curling leaves?

Last Updated: October 24, 2022

Loved for their unique ability to grow without soil, one of the most common problems plant parents face with Air Plants is curling leaves. This can happen for a multitude of different reasons which can sometimes make diagnosing the issue difficult. 

However, if you have noticed that your Air Plant has started to develop curling leaves then you have come to the right place. Below we will go through each of the different factors so that you can not only successfully diagnose the issue but treat it and stop it from causing more issues for your plant in future.

A lack of moisture cause curling Air Plant leaves

Too little moisture is the most common reason why Air Plants start curling up their leaves. As they don’t grow in soil, they can’t be watered in the same ways as you would with your other houseplants. This can often mean plant parents forget to bathe or mist their plant because it doesn’t fit in with their other care routines. 

However, it’s crucial that Air Plants are sufficiently bathed and misted or they will dry out. The first sign of trouble is often curling leaves but if the issue progresses it can cause brown leaves and plant death. 

You want to make sure that you are misting your plant once a day or every other day at the least to keep it from crisping and curling up. Alongside regular misting, make sure that you are bathing your plant every so often. During summer that can be as frequently as once a week but during winter we recommend cutting that to once or twice per month. 

How to fix the issue and prevent further curling leaves on your Air Plant

Give your plant a soak. We recommend soaking for about 5-10 minutes each time so that your plant has enough time to take in some water but doesn’t start to rot. 

Adjust your misting schedule moving forward so that you are misting more frequently.

Monitor the environment to pick up on any fluctuations that might mean your plant is drying out quicker (low humidity, higher temperatures and more sunlight).

Low humidity levels can also cause curling leaves

For similar reasons to a lack of moisture, Air Plants need high humidity to thrive. Although slightly dry air won’t immediately kill your plant it can cause curling leaves and brown leaf tips.

Below are some of the cheapest and easiest ways to raise the humidity for all of your humidity-loving houseplants. 

  1. Mist the leaves

    This is something we mentioned above but we could never say it too many times. Regularly misting is the key to keeping your Air Plant healthy and you should build this into your regular plant care routine as it’s really great for their overall health. One top tip we have is to avoid misting the leaves in the evenings as the leaves are more susceptible to rotting when the temperatures are lower.

  2. Shower your Air Plant

    One simple trick that raises the humidity in an instant is showering your plant. It’s also a super easy way to get rid of any dust on your plant. This is slightly different to bathing your plant as you just give it a quick rinse to boost the humidity rather than bathing it for 10+ minutes. Make sure to use lukewarm water so you don’t shock or burn the plant.

  3. Think about plant placement 

    If you have good levels of natural sunlight in your kitchen or bathroom then we always recommend moving your Air Plant in there if it’s struggling with a lack of humidity. Showering and cooking release a lot of steam which means those two rooms are often slightly higher in hudmiity than the rest of your home. This means you won’t have to mist your plant as much and won’t need to worry about curling leaves much in future!

  4. Invest in a humidifier

    Humidifiers are a must-have for any plant parent and are one of the greatest tools to keep your Air Plant thriving. They keep the room nice and humid (without you having to lift a finger) and the boost in humidity is not only great for your plants but also for you. A real win-win situation!

Curling Air Plant leaves can indicate low temperatures

Air Plants like to grow in temperatures that mimic their native environment. If your plant is exposed to cold temperatures, particularly consistent cold drafts, it can start curling up to avoid too much moisture loss.

The best temperature for your Air Plant is between 60-85°F (16-29°C). Using a digital thermometer can help keep track of any large fluctuations that might be causing the curling leaves and allow you to find the perfect spot for your plant. 

When it comes to plant placement, there are quite a lot of things that can cause temperature extremes that you need to consider (both for hot and cold extremes). For example, heating vents, radiators, air conditioning units and cookers can all cause hotspots which can dry out your plant pretty quickly.

The average room temperature on your thermostat doesn’t always reflect the actual temperature of where your Air Plant is sitting. This is why it’s important to get a portable thermometer that you can place next to your plant to check for any fluctuations. Place it next to your plant for a few days as this will allow you to spot whether it gets particularly cold at night or really hot in the afternoon for example. They are very affordable little devices and have saved us a lot of heartache when it comes to preventing plant issues. 

Those are the most common reasons why Air Plants develop curling leaves and leaf tips. The most important thing when diagnosing and treating problems is to catch and start solving them as early as possible. To do this, we recommend giving your plants a regular check-up to help spot any early warning signs. 

To learn more about how to keep your plant thriving, check out our Air Plant care guide.

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