Calathea Leaves Curling or Folding – Causes and Solutions

Calathea plants are renowned for their vibrant foliage and unique patterns, making them a popular choice among plant enthusiasts. However, when Calathea leaves start to curl or fold, it raises concerns among plant owners. This comprehensive guide delves into the various factors contributing to Calathea leaves curling and provides detailed solutions to address these issues effectively.


Calathea plants, with their intricate leaf patterns and striking colors, add a touch of tropical elegance to indoor spaces. The captivating beauty of these plants, however, can be marred when their leaves exhibit signs of curling or folding. This article explores the common causes behind this phenomenon and offers practical insights into resolving the issue to ensure the health and vitality of your Calathea.

Brief Overview of Calathea Plants

Calathea is a genus of tropical plants known for their decorative leaves and preference for indirect light. Native to the rainforests of South America, Calathea plants thrive in humid conditions, making them suitable for indoor cultivation. The family includes various species, each characterized by its unique leaf patterns and colors, adding a touch of natural artistry to homes and offices.

Significance of Calathea Leaves Curling or Folding

The leaves of a Calathea plant serve as a visual indicator of its overall health. When these leaves start to curl or fold, it signals an underlying issue that requires attention. Understanding the causes behind this behavior is crucial for providing the appropriate care and ensuring the continued well-being of your Calathea.

Calathea Leaves Curling or Folding

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Causes of Calathea Leaves Curling

Calathea leaves can exhibit curling for various reasons, ranging from environmental factors to watering practices. Identifying these causes is the first step toward effectively addressing the issue and promoting optimal growth.

Why do Calathea Leaves Curl at Night?

Calathea plants are known for their responsive behavior to changes in light. At night, these plants undergo a natural process known as nyctinasty, where the leaves adjust their position in response to the absence of sunlight. This curling is a protective mechanism to conserve moisture and reduce exposure to potential stressors during the night.

Addressing Nighttime Curling: Creating a Stable Environment

To minimize the impact of nighttime leaf curling, ensure your Calathea is placed in a stable environment with consistent lighting conditions. Avoid sudden changes in light or temperature, as these can trigger more pronounced leaf movements.

Calathea Leaves Curling and Turning Brown

Reasons for Calathea Leaves Curling and Turning Brown

Curling accompanied by browning is often a sign of stress or inadequate care. Several factors contribute to this undesirable condition, including issues with watering, humidity levels, and exposure to direct sunlight.

Resolving Browning and Curling: Adjusting Watering Practices

  1. Evaluate Soil Moisture: Check the moisture level in the soil by inserting your finger up to an inch. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.
  2. Consistent Watering Schedule: Establish a regular watering routine, aiming to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  3. Avoid Watering at Night: Watering in the evening can contribute to excess moisture, increasing the risk of root rot. Opt for morning watering to allow the soil to dry throughout the day.

Calathea Leaves Curling Up After Watering

Paradoxically, overwatering can be as detrimental as underwatering for Calathea plants. If you notice the leaves curling upward shortly after watering, it’s essential to reassess your watering practices.

Overcoming Excessive Moisture: Root Examination and Adjusted Watering

  1. Check Root Health: Gently inspect the roots for signs of rot or decay. If the roots appear unhealthy, consider repotting the Calathea in fresh, well-draining soil.
  2. Revised Watering Frequency: Adjust the watering frequency based on the moisture needs of your specific Calathea species. Some varieties may require more frequent watering than others.

Calathea Leaves Curling Up After Repotting

Repotting is a common practice to provide a fresh growing medium for plants. However, Calathea plants may respond to this process with temporary leaf curling as they acclimate to their new environment.

Facilitating Smooth Transitions: Post-Repotting Care

  1. Gradual Acclimatization: After repotting, gradually introduce the Calathea to its new surroundings. This can be achieved by placing it in partial shade for a few days before returning it to its usual location.
  2. Maintain Consistent Care: Ensure that the plant receives consistent care, including appropriate watering, light levels, and humidity, to minimize stress during the post-repotting period.

Diagnosing Calathea Leaf Curling

Before implementing solutions, it’s crucial to diagnose the specific reasons behind Calathea leaf curling. Differentiating between overwatering, underwatering, and other stressors will guide you in providing targeted care.

Identifying Overwatering in Calathea

Overwatering is a common issue leading to Calathea leaf curling. Recognizing the signs and taking corrective measures is essential for preventing further damage.

Signs of Overwatering: Root Examination and Adjusted Watering

  1. Check Soil Moisture: Use a moisture meter or perform the finger test to assess the dampness of the soil. If it feels excessively wet, overwatering is likely.
  2. Inspect Roots: Lift the plant gently and inspect the roots. Healthy roots are firm and white, while rotting roots are mushy and discolored.
  3. Revise Watering Routine: Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, adjusting the frequency based on the specific needs of your Calathea.

Understanding Signs of Underwatering in Calathea

Insufficient water can also lead to leaf curling in Calathea plants. Recognizing the signs of underwatering is crucial for providing timely hydration.

Indications of Underwatering: Hydration Strategies and Monitoring

  1. Wilting and Drooping: Underwatered Calathea plants may exhibit wilting and drooping leaves. Monitor the overall appearance of the plant for signs of dehydration.
  2. Dry Soil: Check the soil regularly for dryness. Adjust your watering schedule to ensure the soil remains consistently moist.
  3. Humidity Adjustment: Calathea plants thrive in high humidity. Increase humidity levels by using a humidifier or placing a tray of water near the plant.

Observing Changes in Calathea Leaves Pointing Up

Calathea leaves pointing upward may indicate environmental stressors or a natural response to specific conditions. Understanding this behavior is essential for providing the appropriate care.

Addressing Upward Leaf Movement: Environmental Optimization

  1. Assess Light Exposure: Ensure your Calathea receives indirect, filtered light. Direct sunlight can lead to leaf curling and pointing upward as a protective measure.
  2. Optimal Humidity: Calathea plants prefer high humidity. Maintain a humid environment, especially during dry periods, to prevent leaves from pointing up as a response to moisture loss.

Analyzing Curling After Watering: Is it Normal?

Post-watering leaf curling is a common occurrence and may not always indicate a problem. Distinguishing between normal physiological responses and signs of stress is crucial for effective care.

Normal vs. Abnormal Curling: Observation and Adjustment

  1. Observe Behavior Post-Watering: After watering, monitor the plant for a reasonable period. It’s normal for some degree of leaf movement to occur as the plant adjusts to the moisture intake.
  2. Evaluate Other Environmental Factors: Consider other factors such as light, humidity, and temperature to rule out non-watering-related causes of leaf curling.

Solutions and Remedies

Addressing Calathea leaf curling requires targeted solutions based on the identified causes. Implementing these remedies will help restore your plant’s health and prevent further leaf damage.

How to Fix Calathea Leaf Curling

Resolving Calathea leaf curling involves a combination of adjusting environmental conditions, refining watering practices, and providing overall attentive care.

Step-by-Step Guide to Correct Leaf Curling

  1. Evaluate Light Conditions: Ensure your Calathea receives filtered, indirect light. Protect it from direct sunlight, as excessive exposure can lead to leaf curling.
  2. Assess Soil Moisture: Check the soil regularly, adjusting your watering schedule to maintain consistent moisture levels. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
  3. Humidity Management: Increase humidity around the plant using a humidifier or by placing a tray of water nearby. Calatheas thrive in high humidity environments.
  4. Inspect for Pests: Examine the plant for pests, as infestations can contribute to stress and leaf curling. Treat any pest issues promptly using appropriate measures.

Will Calathea Leaves Uncurl? Exploring Possibilities

The potential for Calathea leaves to uncurl depends on the underlying cause and the promptness of corrective actions. Understanding the factors influencing leaf movement is crucial for determining the likelihood of recovery.

Factors Influencing Leaf Uncurling: Patience and Persistence

  1. Correcting Root Issues: If overwatering or root rot is the cause, addressing these issues promptly increases the chances of leaf recovery.
  2. Optimizing Environmental Conditions: Provide a stable and favorable environment, including appropriate lighting, humidity, and temperature. Consistent care encourages healthy leaf development.

Addressing the Issue of Damaged Calathea Leaves

Damaged Calathea leaves can result from various stressors, including mechanical damage, pests, or environmental factors. Addressing these issues is essential for maintaining the plant’s aesthetic appeal.

Remedies for Damaged Leaves: Pruning and Preventative Measures

  1. Pruning Damaged Sections: Trim damaged or discolored sections of leaves using clean, sharp scissors. Ensure the cuts are neat and precise to promote healing.
  2. Preventative Measures: Implement preventive measures such as regular inspection for pests, maintaining optimal environmental conditions, and providing adequate care to prevent further leaf damage.

Steps to Take When Calathea Leaves Curl Inward and Wilt

Inward curling and wilting of Calathea leaves can be indicative of both overwatering and underwatering. Taking prompt action to address these issues is crucial for preventing irreversible damage.

Rescuing Inward-Curling Leaves: Tailored Care Strategies

  1. Assess Soil Moisture: Determine whether the soil is excessively wet or dry. Adjust your watering routine accordingly to achieve a balance that meets the plant’s moisture needs.
  2. Inspect Root Health: If overwatering is suspected, check the roots for signs of rot. Repot the plant if necessary, using fresh, well-draining soil.

Maintenance and Care Tips

Maintaining healthy Calathea plants involves adopting proactive measures and adhering to specific care guidelines. These tips will help you create an optimal environment for your Calathea’s well-being.

Watering Guidelines for Calathea Plants

Calathea plants have specific water requirements that, when met, contribute to their overall health and vitality. Following these watering guidelines ensures your plant receives the appropriate moisture levels.

Calathea Watering Recommendations: A Balanced Approach

  1. Consistent Moisture: Aim for consistently moist soil, but avoid waterlogged conditions. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
  2. Morning Watering: Water your Calathea in the morning to allow the soil to dry throughout the day. Avoid evening watering to prevent excess moisture at night.

Determining Frequency of Watering for Calathea

The frequency of watering for Calathea plants depends on various factors, including environmental conditions, pot size, and the specific needs of the plant. Understanding these considerations helps tailor your watering routine.

Factors Influencing Watering Frequency: Adjusting to Plant Needs

  1. Environmental Humidity: In high-humidity environments, Calatheas may require less frequent watering. Conversely, in drier conditions, more frequent watering may be necessary.
  2. Pot Size: Larger pots retain moisture for a more extended period, influencing the frequency of watering. Adjust your watering schedule based on the size of the pot.

Impact of Tap Water on Calathea Leaves

The quality of water used for watering Calathea plants can influence their overall health. Tap water, in particular, may have certain characteristics that impact the plant’s well-being.

Addressing Tap Water Concerns: Mitigation Strategies

  1. Use Filtered Water: If tap water quality is a concern, consider using filtered water for your Calathea. This helps eliminate potential contaminants that may affect the plant.
  2. Allow Water to Stand: Before using tap water, let it stand for at least 24 hours to allow chlorine and other chemicals to dissipate. This reduces the risk of adverse effects on the plant.

Using Humidifiers to Maintain Optimal Humidity for Calathea

Calathea plants thrive in high humidity environments, resembling their native rainforest habitat. Supplementing humidity through the use of humidifiers is beneficial for promoting healthy growth.

Humidification Strategies: Enhancing Indoor Conditions

  1. Strategic Placement: Position a humidifier near your Calathea to create a localized area of increased humidity. Adjust the settings based on the plant’s requirements.
  2. Grouping Plants: Grouping multiple plants together can create a microclimate with higher humidity levels. Arrange Calatheas alongside other humidity-loving plants for mutual benefit.

Common Queries and Concerns

Addressing common questions and concerns related to Calathea leaf curling provides valuable insights into optimizing care practices and ensuring the longevity of these unique tropical plants.

How to Identify an Underwatered Calathea

Recognizing the signs of underwatering is crucial for preventing stress and damage to Calathea plants. Understanding the visual cues helps you provide timely hydration.

Signs of Underwatering: Visual Indicators and Corrective Measures

  1. Leaf Wilting: Underwatered Calathea leaves may exhibit wilting and drooping. Observe the overall turgidity of the plant to identify signs of dehydration.
  2. Dry Soil Examination: Check the soil for dryness by inserting your finger. If the top inch is dry, adjust your watering schedule to ensure consistent moisture.

Understanding the Bending Phenomenon in Calathea

The bending or leaning of Calathea stems and leaves can be a response to environmental cues or stress. Deciphering the reasons behind this behavior is essential for effective care.

Causes of Bending in Calathea: Environmental Factors and Remedies

  1. Light Imbalance: Uneven exposure to light can cause Calathea stems and leaves to bend. Ensure the plant receives consistent, indirect light to prevent this bending behavior.
  2. Rotate the Plant: Regularly rotate your Calathea to promote even growth and prevent excessive leaning toward the light source.
  1. Evaluate Light Intensity: Adjust the distance from light sources to prevent overexposure. Calatheas prefer filtered, indirect light to thrive.

Dealing with Tap Water and its Effect on Calathea

Tap water, commonly used for watering indoor plants, may have certain components that can impact the health of Calathea plants. Understanding the potential effects and adopting mitigation strategies is crucial.

Potential Issues with Tap Water: Prevention and Remediation

  1. Mineral Buildup: Tap water often contains minerals that can accumulate in the soil over time. Periodically flush the soil with distilled water to reduce mineral buildup.
  2. Leaf Discoloration: Calathea leaves may show signs of discoloration due to tap water impurities. Wipe the leaves regularly to remove any residue and maintain their vibrant appearance.

Exploring the Drama of Calatheas: Why So Dramatic?

The nickname “prayer plant” aptly captures the dramatic daily movements of Calathea leaves. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior adds to the intrigue of these captivating plants.

Nyctinasty in Calatheas: Embracing the Drama

  1. Nocturnal Leaf Movement: Calatheas exhibit nyctinasty, a natural response to changes in light. Leaves curl up at night to conserve moisture and energy.
  2. Role of Environmental Stimuli: Environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity changes, can also trigger dramatic leaf movements in Calatheas.
  3. Admiring the Natural Phenomenon: Rather than perceiving it as a problem, appreciate the drama of Calatheas as a fascinating and adaptive characteristic.

Why Do Calatheas Pray?

The unique behavior of Calatheas, often referred to as “praying,” adds to their allure. Understanding the purpose behind this distinctive movement sheds light on the plant’s adaptability.

Purpose of Praying in Calatheas: Environmental Adaptation

  1. Water Conservation: The praying movement helps Calatheas reduce water loss by minimizing the surface area exposed to air during the night.
  2. Adaptive Mechanism: By adjusting their leaf position, Calatheas adapt to changes in light and environmental conditions, showcasing their resilience.


In conclusion, understanding and addressing Calathea leaves curling or folding involve a holistic approach that considers various environmental factors, watering practices, and the unique characteristics of these tropical plants. By identifying the causes behind leaf curling and implementing targeted solutions, you can ensure the continued health and vibrancy of your Calathea. From adjusting light exposure to fine-tuning watering routines and appreciating the natural drama of these plants, a thoughtful and proactive approach will contribute to a thriving Calathea in your indoor space. Embrace the challenge of caring for these intricate plants, and you’ll be rewarded with the captivating beauty of healthy, unfurled Calathea leaves.

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Amelia Clark

I'm Amelia Clark , a seasoned florist and gardening specialist with more than 15 years of practical expertise. Following the completion of my formal education, I dedicated myself to a flourishing career in floristry, acquiring extensive understanding of diverse flower species and their ideal cultivation requirements. Additionally, I possess exceptional skills as a writer and public speaker, having successfully published numerous works and delivered engaging presentations at various local garden clubs and conferences. Check our Social media Profiles: Facebook Page, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram Tumblr

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