Why Do Spider Plant Leaves Curl & Bend?

  • By: Carl Adams
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Spider plants make an all-around great house plant that anyone would want to have in their homes. However, that does not mean that they are without their issues. A common problem often seen in spider plants is leaf curling.

Why do spider plant leaves curl? The primary cause of spider plant leaves bending or curling is stress. Stress factors for spider plants include too little or excessive watering, other common causes include the use of the wrong fertilizers, exposure to too much lighting, and the presence of pests.

Spider Plant Leaves Curling Explained

This is a more in-depth look at some of the reasons why spider plant leaves bend and curl.

Reasons Spider Plant Leaves Curl or Bend

Too little water

Bending leaves of spider plants typically appear during the hot, summer days. That’s mainly due to a lack of water. When the weather is hot and dry, it is only natural that the evaporation of water and moisture inside the plant and soil occurs quickly. So, your spider plant is not getting the necessary amount of water and its leaves start to bend or curl.

Water is a huge factor in helping leaves hold their shape. For this reason, plant leaves usually wilt when there is a shortage of water. That wilt makes spider leaves curl instead of going limb.

Overwatering

Lots of homeowners are aware of the fact that insufficient watering of their spider plants will lead them towards becoming curled and thus, they try to water them as often as possible. However, by doing so, leaf bending may also, occur due to overwatering and an even bigger problem called root rot may occur.

In that case, the plant’s roots begin to decompose and the remaining root system cannot successfully sustain the plant. The result? Symptoms of stress will start to appear and your spider plant will gradually become too weak and sick. The first signs of your plant weakening will be curled, bent leaves that start to fall off.

Type of water used

In some cases, tap water may be too harsh for a spider plant or filled with additives that can stress and damage it. For example, fluoride and similar minerals make it difficult for the plant’s roots to absorb sufficient water and nutrients. The result may be curly leaves accompanied by the plant’s inability to grow steadily and according to its needs.

Too much direct light

Spider plants are native to tropical climates. The ideal climate for their healthy growth is the bright and diffuse light of homes. Those plants need to grow in semi-shaded areas and avoid direct exposure to sunlight.

If your spider plant is placed in direct sunlight, its leaves will bend and curl in an attempt to protect the plant from excessive light. Particularly during the summer, the sunlight is so intense that it can even lead to serious leaf burn.

However, too little light may also, lead to your spider leaves bending. If you keep this type of plant in a dark area away from any source of light, then you will, unfortunately, interact with the whole food production process and result in your plant starving. That will also, cause the leaves to bend or curl.

Improper pot size

The size of a pot plays a pivotal role in the growth of a plant. An overly too small pot will make the roots of the plant come out of the drainage hole and damage the plant’s foliage, as well. On the other hand, a bigger pot than the one needed for your spider plant will cause a series of other problems, like waterlogging or root rot in the long run.

A small pot’s soil contains too much water and the spider plant cannot easily consume, whereas an overly big pot will not allow your plant to absorb sufficient water. In both cases, the result will be the same: bending or curling of your plant’s leaves.

Faulty fertilization

Spider plants need specific nutrients in order to grow healthy and thrive. However, overfertilization may lead to your plant’s leaves becoming curled and bent. Why is that? Because too much fertilization causes nutrient toxicity. Moreover, faulty fertilization may significantly slow down your plant’s growth and make them fragile and weak and thus, prone to pests and illnesses.

Although overfertilization is bad for your spider plant, under fertilizing is also, harmful for your plant. Without proper nutrition, spider leaves will lose their brightness and become dry, wilting, and curled.

Pest infestation

Aphids are a type of insect that often cluster on leaves, sucking water and nutrients from them. The narrow leaves of spider plants can cause difficulty in identifying those insects, especially as the plant gets damaged, stressed and the leaves start to curl. Spider Mites are also, capable of causing leaf bending, and their small size and ability to hide into the grass-like blades of spider plants make them almost invisible to notice.

Preventing Spider Plant Leaves From Curling

Those were the main causes of spider plant leaves bending and curling. Fortunately, there are several steps owners can take to protecting their plants from this type of damage.

How can you prevent spider plant leaves from bending or curling?

Careful watering

The first thing you should pay attention to is offering your spider plant the necessary amount of moisture. During the hot, summer days, you should water your plant once a week, whereas during the winter, watering it biweekly should be just fine. However, it is always important to look after your plant on your own. Dip your finger in the soil about an inch or more in order to see how much water it seems to have.

If you find the soil dry, then you should probably water the plant more often. Moreover, don’t let the soil get soggy or muddy, because that may cause root rot and thus, leaves curling. If you are unsure about when to water your spider plant, you could always purchase a moisture meter!

Avoid direct sunlight

Keep your spider plant away from direct sunlight exposure, but have in mind that indirect light is crucial for its survival. Artificial light may be a good alternative to natural sunlight, particularly during the winter. Another good trick is to place your spider plant in the shade of other larger plants in your house.

That will mimic their natural, tropical environment and make them grow healthily. Alternatively, the use of sheer curtains may be the best option in case you wish to keep your spider plant in the house during the winter. Those curtains can successfully convert direct sunlight into the indirect and mild type of light those plants are in need of.

Use proper fertilizers

As soon as spring comes around, it is really important to start fertilizing your spider plant. The use of organic fertilization is always preferable and safer for your plant. Homemade fertilizers are nowadays, extremely popular thanks to their affordable and effective nature.

When starting using a new fertilizer, it is recommended to dose half the recommended dosage and gradually adjust it according to the plant’s needs.

Protect it from pest attack

In order to protect your plant from pest attacks, you should consider making a schedule for wiping out the leaves. If however, the plant is already under pests, you should probably cut down the most damaged part and mist the whole plant with neem oil solution or vinegar.

There are also, plenty of effective insecticidal soaps to help get rid of pests. If the infestation is not serious enough, you could always try spraying down the plant with pressurized water and thus, known the pests, like bugs from the leaves. However, this option should be repetitive, since eggs hatch and new bugs may appear out of nowhere.

Replace the pot

If you bought your spider plant a couple of years ago, and you haven’t repotted it since it is only natural that your plant may suffer from insufficient space and its roots may not be able to feed properly. Spider plants usually need repotting once every other year in order to thrive and grow healthily. As a matter of fact, it has been estimated that repotting a plant to a bigger pot can help it grow about 40% larger!

Once you remove the spider plant from its current pot, transplant it into a bigger one filled with soil that drains well. Water the plant until the soil is moist but not muddy. A great idea is to choose a pot with a drainage hole in order to ensure that the substrate drains thoroughly.

The use of potting soil instead of topsoil from your garden to fill up the new pot is another thing you should seriously consider. Preferably, use potting soil that contains some fertilizer, along with peat moss and pumice. That will ensure that the substrate retains some moisture while allowing the plant’s roots to dry properly between waterings.

If you have an old, mature spider plant, and you begin to notice that some of its leaves begin to curl, bend or fall off, then it may just be a part of the natural cycle of life. It is normal that when a plant grows over time, the older leaves begin to curl and gradually fall off the plant to give room to the growth of new, stronger ones.

However, if more leaves, including the newer ones, start curling or bending, then it is time for you to consider some of the causes mentioned above.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when plant leaves start to curl?

When plant leaves begin to curl it is usually a sign that the plant has watering issues. It is either being watered too much or not enough, curling down is a sign of overwatering while curling up is a sign of underwatering. However, it can be caused by other reasons as well.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if your spider plant is having issues with leaves curling or bending then you are best served to first examine the watering procedures and identify if that is the cause.

Overwatering and underwatering are both causes of curling spider plant leaves, however, they are not the only causes.

You will use the process of elimination to identify and eliminate potential causes until you have found the solution that will work for you.

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