Polka Dot Plants are tropical plants that have become common in the house plant world. They are perennials with stunning variegation on their leaves that often look red, pink, or white. They are more often known for their leaves than their flowers, though they can flower.
Since their leaves are often the main attraction of these plants, it can be surprising when their leaves shrivel up and start to curl or cup.
This curling and cupping usually indicate something is wrong with the plant. Most of the time, it is a simple issue with their environment, such as too much light or water, but sometimes it can be more serious, like pests or diseases.
To fix curled leaves on a Polka Dot Plant, you can move it to an area with indirect sunlight, only water when the top half inch of soil is dry, and use fungicides and insecticides if pests appear.
Why Are My Polka Dot Leaves Curling?
Most of the time, when leaves are curling on a plant, it is due to the plant trying to protect its leaves. Plants have pore-like structures on their leaves known as stomata. These pores release oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. They also release a little water as a vapor from these pores.
While they can close and open these pores based on when they need them, keeping them closed for too long hurts the plant. They aren’t able to gather more water until they release water vapor out, and they don’t have a way to bring in the necessary carbon dioxide.
When they are in areas too windy, hot, or dry, the leaves will often curl up. This prevents them from dehydrating by releasing too much water vapor. It also helps to protect the leaves, as they can become damaged from too much sun.
Depending on the problem, leaves on plants curl in different ways. For example, if your Polka Dot Plant has leaves that are curling inward, the most likely cause is heat and wind stress. Sometimes, a lack of breeze for air exchange can also cause upward curling.
An upward leaf curl is usually a sign that the plant isn’t getting enough water and is trying to retain as much moisture as possible. This usually looks like the leaves are trying to turn into a cup.
If the leaves are curling down, that can be a sign of overwatering. If just the tips are curling downwards, that could be a sign of overfeeding.
Have I Overwatered My Polka Dot Plant?
In addition to Polka Dot Plants having leaves that curl downwards, the leaves will also start to turn yellow. Sometimes, bumps and blisters may also appear on the leaves.
Polka Dot Plants don’t need a lot of water, so it is relatively easy to overwater them. Usually, you only have to water about twice a week. However, it can be hard to get right, as they like to have the soil moist but not overly wet.
The best time to water Polka Dot Plants is when the top ½ inch (1.27 cm) of soil is dry. That allows them to keep moist while not being overwatered easily.
Can Plants Recover From Leaf Curl?
Curled leaves on plants can be fixed. As long as the problem is fixed, your plant has the potential to recover from curling leaves. For example, if your plant is getting too much sun, you must move it to a shadier area. Then, the plant should be able to uncurl its leaves and recover.
How Do You Fix Curled Plant Leaves?
To fix curled plant leaves, all you have to do is fix the situation they are in. If you are overwatering them, take the time to let them dry a little before watering. If you are underwatering, giving them a little water can help.
Additionally, moving Polka Dot Plants so they don’t get as much direct sunlight can help. Polka Dot Plants like bright or medium light. While they can handle a little direct light, they can’t handle much of it, so they prefer only to get a little direct light in the morning and a lot more indirect light throughout the day.
They prefer to have about eight hours of bright or medium light daily.
Most plants don’t like windy conditions. While they need a light breeze, so there is air movement, they don’t want a lot of wind. Too little or too much of a breeze can damage the leaves. Try to find a place where the air is moving but not very strong.
Finally, while your plants must get the nutrients they need from the soil, you don’t want to give them too much. You can fertilize them about once every two weeks during their growing season, but you can cut back or stop entirely during fall and winter when they aren’t growing as much. Any standard liquid fertilizer for plants works fine, as they don’t have specific nutrient requirements.
What Is Leaf Curl Disease?
Though your Polka Dot Plant may have curling leaves, that doesn’t mean it has leaf curl disease. Leaf curl disease usually only affects plants that produce fruit and nuts. The most common plants affected are peaches and nectarines, though almonds and apricots are also common.
It is caused by a fungus and is usually present wherever peaches and nectarines can be grown. However, it doesn’t often affect other plants. While keeping any healthy plant away from infected ones is always good, it is doubtful that your Polka Dot Plant has been affected by leaf curl disease.
However, that doesn’t mean that your Polka Dot Plant doesn’t have a disease or pest causing the leaves to curl. Root rot is common with overwatering and is caused by a fungus.
The most common pests and disease problems that your Polka Dot Plant can experience are root rot, powdery mildew, and aphids.
How Do You Treat Leaf Curls Naturally?
While fungicides and insecticides are the options readily available from the store, they are full of chemicals and products that could potentially harm your plant as well as what you are trying to kill.
For fungi like root rot and powdery mildew, there are natural fungicides that you can find in the store. However, if you want to make your own, things like sulfur, copper, neem oils, and baking soda are all excellent options.
Most must be correctly diluted, and some don’t work for all plants or conditions. For example, while neem oil is great, some trees can be sensitive to the oils, and high humidity and temperature can increase the toxicity of the oils. Plants like raspberries don’t do well with sulfur, and it can cause a lot of damage to plants in hotter climates.
Using beneficial insects like lacewings or ladybugs can help attack more harmful insects like aphids.
For both of these problems, prevention is better than treatment. Ensure your plant’s environment isn’t too wet and humid and your plant isn’t stressed. Both of these can bring in pests and diseases. Additionally, ensure to weed and prune your plant often, getting rid of dying or decaying parts of your Polka Dot Plant.
How Often Do You Spray For Curly Leaves?
Most of the preventatives and treatments you use for bugs and fungus can be done in spray form. If you are using them as a preventative, spraying once or twice a year before and after the growing season is plenty.
However, if you are using it to try and treat the plant, you may want to look at doing it about once every two weeks. This causes minimal damage to the plant while still treating them. The time can sometimes be extended for indoor plants, as rain and wind aren’t removing the spray from the plants.
Polka Dot Plants are well known for their beautiful variegated leaves. That’s why it can be alarming when these leaves start to shrivel and curl up. Since curling leaves usually indicate something is wrong, it is good to be alarmed and act quickly when you see this.
To fix curled leaves on a Polka Dot Plant, first determine the problem; most of the time, a simple solution like moving the plant to a shadier area or reducing watering can be all you need, but fungicides and insecticides can also help.
Most of the time, leaf curl is an environmental stressor due to the wrong amount of sunlight or water. However, sometimes, pests and diseases can cause leaves to curl. Trying the above solutions, will help ensure your Polka Dot Plant grows and thrives in your home or garden!