From the forests of China to the United States, the Pilea plant's journey has been remarkable. Pilea is well-known as the Chinese money plant, missionary plant, friendship plant, and UFO plant. The plant's round and dark green leaves give it a unique look compared to other indoor plants.
Because of their easy maintenance and evergreen nature, Pilea plants are popular among interior gardeners. Plant them in an attractive pot near a bright window and water regularly.
They will never disappoint you.
The flat and round leaves are their most eye-catching features. Pilea leaves curling is a condition that could drain your plant's health and make it look unattractive. Leaf curling happens because of many reasons.
You have to figure out your plant's issue in order to fix it fast. Let us look at the possible causes behind the Pilea leaves curling and how we can fix them.
Common Causes for Pilea Leaves Curling & Remedies
1. Too much water on your plant
As much as the plant needs water to survive, be careful not to overwater the houseplants. Most of the plants curl their leaves when it lacks water.
So it is natural that we water the plant more when we cite leaf curling. But in the case of Pilea, it is the overwatering which causes the leaves to curl inwards. There is no routine for watering the plant. Check the top inch of the soil before watering.
If it is dry, then your plant needs some water. It also greatly depends on the temperature of your country and the light plant receives. You can use a soil probe to check the moisture level in roots. Water more frequently in the summer season than in winter.
Avoid watering in the evening.
Nighttime is cool than daytime when sunlight is available. If you water in the evening, the excess moisture will be there in the plants, and it eventually causes root rotting and yellowing of leaves.
Why do Pilea leaves are droop?
Drooping of leaves is the way your plant asks for more water. The leaves become thin if they don't get enough water. If you don't have time for watering daily, try deep watering once a week.
2. Drainage problems
Lack of a proper drainage system creates the same problems as overwatering. The excess moisture in the pot will lead to severe issues like root rotting. It is good to choose a pot with proper drainage facilities to plant your Pilea plant.
The size of the pot should be proportional to the size of the plant. If you plant small plants in a big pot, the moisture retained in the soil will be too much for the plant.
Terracotta pots are better than plastic pots.
It is comparatively difficult for the moisture to escape from a plastic pot. After choosing the pot, the next thing you should pay attention to is the soil. The soil should be good enough to drain the excess water immediately.
Use little pebbles at the bottom of the pot to prevent soil from blocking drainage holes. But make sure that the pebbles don't block the holes.
To improve the drainage system, mix the soil with perlite. Take 1 cup of perlite and mix it with 9 cups of soil to create the potting mix.
How to save the pilea plant from root rots?
Regularly check whether the drainage holes are blocked or not.
Remove impermeable items from the soil. If the case is serious, it is better to re-pot the plant and remove the rotten roots.
First, loosen the soil with a pencil or a chopstick and pick up the plant. Clean the roots of the plant under running water to wash away the soil. It helps us to examine and remove the rotten roots. Do not disturb the healthy roots.
If you had to cut down a lot of rots, trim a few leaves too. Sterilize the tools before using them on the plant. Now you can plant it on a brand new pot with a better drainage system.
The plant will adjust to the new pot within few days.
Coming from the forests of China, Pilea leaves love a humid atmosphere. They tend to curl their leaves if the air is too dry. The air conditioner inside the room creates dry air and makes it hard for Pilea leaves.
To adjust humidity, you can spray or mist water on the leaves. Make sure to mist in the morning itself. The moisture landing on the leaves should evaporate before nightfall. The leaves should not be damp all the time.
Another method to increase the humidity is placing the plant on a tray with water and pebbles. The pebbles will prevent water from entering the pot. The evaporating water from the tray will increase the humidity around plants.
Change the tray water accordingly, once or twice a week. Keeping a humidifier in the room is a more time-saving method. Some humidifier has in-built monitor, so you don't have to worry about fixing the right humidity anymore.
4. Proper lighting
Pilea plants need good lighting and temperature to grow happily.
If your Pilea leaves are curling, it might be because of the insufficient lighting. The leaves will also curl if the light is too strong. You have to place the pot near a window which provides good lighting.
The windows on the east side will be ideal for Pilea plants. If the plant is near a southside window, draw the blinds to avoid high-intensity light. Open the windows to get fresh air blowing from outside.
As they are delicate plants, they won't survive excess heat from the scorching sun. If you are not sure about the right temperature in the room, use a thermometer to measure the temperature near the plant. Keep the temperature around 15 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius.
Make sure to rotate the pot occasionally. This will help all the leaves in the plant to get enough light.
5. Deficiency of nutrients
You might be wondering why the leaves are curling even after you took care of watering, drainage, humidity, and lighting!
In that case, your plant might be lacking the nutrients it needs to grow well. You are doing good by providing carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen through proper watering and providing good conditions. What your plant needs now is some nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
A good fertilizer can provide these three macronutrients that are highly essential for plant growth. The leaves will curl and turn yellow if the plant is nitrogen deficient. We often get confused between sunburn and potassium deficiency.
The symptoms of both of these problems are burnt and yellow leaves. Do not fertilize in winter as the Pilea plant doesn't grow much during the winter season.
How to choose the right fertilizer?
While choosing the fertilizer, look at the descriptions given in the packet.
There will be three numbers (Ex: 20-20-20) on the packet suggesting the percentage of each macronutrient in it. Nitrogen will be the first one in the order and then phosphorous and potassium.
6. Root bounding
Root bounding is a common problem for every houseplant. It happens when the roots grow much and there is not enough room for the roots in the pot. The healthy roots will hold the soil in the pot.
But once it is overcrowded, the roots will look tangled and brown. Root crowding eventually leads to root rotting. This can even kill your plant.
Re-potting is the best method to prevent root bounding and rotting. Houseplants should be repotted once in two years. You can re-pot it into a bigger container, this will give more space for the roots. But do not take a pot too much bigger than the previous pot. Or you can take the plant, prune the roots, and re-pot it in the same container.
The best time to re-pot the plant is either spring or summer season.
7. Pest invasions
Houseplants also suffer from pest invasions. Some of these suck plant sap and cause leaf curling. Check your plant regularly to keep an eye on the infestations. Pests like whiteflies attack Pilea plants and cause leaf curling and dark spots on them.
You can use an insecticide soap to kill whiteflies. To kill all the insects, you should use the soap multiple times. Check under the leaves for their eggs and destroy them. Don't worry about the white spots under Pilea leaves. It is not a fungus infection, but their stomata.
These are the possible conditions why your Pilea leaves are curling. But don't be disheartened and never give up on your plant. First, you have to try changing the conditions around the plant and find the exact problem.
Check the root health regularly as a routine to keep your plant healthy. If you are taking good care of it, the plant will be your friend for many years. No more curling and drooping, only smiling leaves. Brighten up the room with more houseplants.