Why does my Watermelon Peperomia have curling leaves?

Last Updated: September 20, 2022

Curling leaves is one of the most common issues with Watermelon Peperomia plants as there are quite a lot of issues that have that impact on your plant. However, if you’ve spotted curling leaves then you’ve come to the right place as in this article we will go through not only the factors that cause them but will guide you through how to treat and prevent the issue in the long term.  

Underwatering can quickly cause curling leaves

A consistent lack of moisture in the potting mix is the most common reason why Watermelon Peperomia plants start curling up their leaves. You’ll be pleased to know though that curling leaves are often one of the earliest signs of trouble so hopefully you have caught the problem early. 

Other signs of underwatering to look out for are dry brown leaves or spots, a drooping plant and very light-coloured potting mix which has come away from the sides of the pot. 

The reason that underwatering causes curling leaves on a Watermelon Peperomia is because this is a mechanism that most plant types use to reduce the loss of moisture.

There are several reasons for drought stress that can cause your Watermelon Peperomia leaves to curl inwards:

Firstly, watering your Watermelon Peperomia too lightly causes the potting mix to dry out very quickly. Secondly, you might not be watering frequently enough and may need to increase it during heatwaves and hot months. The third factor is that your Watermelon Peperomia is growing in water-repellent soil. This can happen if you are using a peat-based potting mix as it can repel the water and dry out very quickly. 

The best way to diagnose and confirm that underwatering is causing your Watermelon Peperomia to start curling is to remove it from its pot and inspect the soil and root system. If you notice that the roots have turned dry and crispy then this indicates underwatering.

How to fix the issue and prevent further curling leaves on your Watermelon Peperomia

  1. Give your Watermelon Peperomia a soak.

    This will ensure the root system takes up the water rather than it just running out of the drainage holes. We recommend soaking your plant for about 5-10 minutes at first so that your plant has enough time to take in some water but it doesn’t leave the whole soil waterlogged.

  2. Adjust your watering schedule.

    So that you are watering more generously and don’t let it dry out for extended periods of time. 

  3. Monitor the environment around your plant.

    Check for any fluctuations that might mean your plant is drying out quicker (low humidity, higher temperatures and more intense sunlight).

Curling leaves can also suggest low humidity

Watermelon Peperomias like the humidity level to be a little above average and can struggle in homes with really dry air. This can be especially damaging in the winter months when we often have the heating on for several hours a day and ventilate a lot less. When this happens, plants start curling to reduce moisture loss through their leaves. 

Humidity can be a difficult thing to properly diagnose because it’s less obvious than water and light levels so the best way to do this is to use a humidity monitor. You can often get humidity and temperature meters in the same device and that is every plant parent’s best friend! They can really help you spot any fluctuations before it’s impacting your plant’s health and mean you can find the perfect spot for each of your houseplants.

Once you have diagnosed the issue as being caused by dry air, it’s important you take a few steps to increase the humidity for your Watermelon Peperomia. Firstly, get into the habit of misting your plant every few days with a spray bottle and this should help prevent the plant from drying out. Then we also recommend investing in a humidifier to help keep a nice stable humidity level for your plant.

Heat stress can cause the leaves to curl up and crack

Another factor that can cause curling and cracked leaves on a Watermelon Peperomia is high temperatures. This links in with some of the other issues above as if your plant is exposed to a lot of warm air, it will dry up quickly and your plant will curl its leaves to save moisture. As the leaves can become very dry and brittle as a result, not only will they start to curl but you may start seeing cracks in the leaves. 

Using a thermometer is the best way to spot any changes in temperature as it might be that your plant is too close to a window that gets the afternoon sun and is therefore sitting in a hotspot for half of the day. Cookers, heating vents and radiators can also cause your plant to be exposed to really high temperatures so look out for the proximity to those as well when finding the best spot for your plant. 

Curling Watermelon Peperomia leaves can suggest low light

Another factor that can cause your plant to develop curling leaves is low light. This tends to impact new leaves and can lead to quite leggy sporadic and small growth as well so that should help you when diagnosing the issue.

This tends to be more common in winter as the sun is a lot weaker and out for less of the day so you might need to move your plant closer to the window during winter to solve the issue.

If there isn’t a better spot for your plant then you might need to buy an LED grow light to supplement light levels and stop the leaves on your Watermelon Peperomia from curling. They are a great investment for plant parents as they will help your plants get through the winter and are super useful for propagating seeds and cuttings. 

Nutrient deficiency could also be to blame

If nothing else seems to be fitting what you are seeing on your Watermelon Peperomia, then a rarer and harder-to-diagnose cause of curling leaves is a nutrient deficiency. A great way to combat this is by changing out two-thirds of the potting mix each year or feeding with a well-baalnced water-soluble fertiliser a few times in spring and summer. 

Those are the most common reasons why Watermelon Peperomia plants develop curling leaves. As there are a wide range of factors that can have this effect, we recommend going through each of them one by one whilst inspecting your plant, its potting mix and root system to figure out which best suits what’s happening with your Watermelon Peperomia. Then, once you have made any changes to solve the problem, keep a very close eye on your plant over the upcoming weeks to ensure that more leaves aren’t curling. 

Check out our Watermelon Peperomia care guide to learn more about how to keep your plant thriving.

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