People often think it’s hard to take care of orchids. Despite their selective nature, orchids can communicate when something is wrong. While they may be finicky, orchids have no trouble communicating when anything is amiss. Having leaves on your orchids curl up is a telltale sign.

Nobody likes it when the leaves on their orchids curl up. Curled leaves are not only less appealing than a healthy orchid’s glossy, straight leaves, but they are also an obvious sign that the plant is not doing well.

If your orchid’s leaves start to curl, it’s a sign that you’re not providing it with the proper conditions to thrive. Curled orchid leaves are a common problem, but the plant can save if the cause is found and addressed. Most of the reasons for curling leaves are simple to manage and correct. By reading this guide, you will be able to know, Why Are My Orchid Leaves Curling.

Why Are My Orchid Leaves Curling: Easy Guide to Save Orchids

Let’s start,

Many people only see the flowers on an orchid and fail to realize how lovely the leaves are. They add visual appeal to the orchid even when it isn’t blooming. The leaves of a healthy orchid plant will be rubbery to the touch, have a deep green color, and have a very polished appearance.

Leaves of orchids typically have a little outward and downward slant, but occasionally they will curl and look malformed. Many different factors contribute to this phenomenon.

Most of the problems that cause orchid leaves to curl may fix by making some little adjustments to how you care for your orchids.

You may quickly remedy orchids’ leaf curl causes by making minor adjustments to your orchid care routine. If you notice the crookedness of your orchid leaf while it is still young, there is a potential that it will correct itself as the plant matures. However, as long as your orchid is in good health, you shouldn’t be too concerned if it doesn’t.

What causes orchid leaves to curl? 

Leaves of orchid plants can become wavy, twisted, or curled for various causes. Here are some reasons for orchid leaves curling and suggestions for how to proceed with resolving the issue.

1. Heat stress

Most orchids are hardy only in the tropics, yet even there, they can scorch by the sun. Orchids generally thrive in temperatures between 80⁰F to 90⁰F. This range varies with species.

If the temperature in your home stays over this threshold, your plant may experience stress and have wrinkled leaves.

The rapid rate of water loss by evaporation in orchid leaves leads to the eventual dehydration of the plant.

Plants kept outside during the summer often suffer from overheating. On the other hand, orchids can suffer from overheating if placed too close to a fireplace or heating vent in the winter.

How to fix it?

It is vital to ensure the orchid plant is not sitting in the sun for too long. Don’t just stick it back into the window however you see appropriate. Never turn the orchid so that its leaves will never have to adjust.

2. Transplant shock

When you repot an orchid, it will go through a period of extreme stress as it adjusts to its new home. Possible symptoms include leaf curling. It is usually an unconscious response to the dramatic changes it has undergone.

How to fix it?

Just keep an eye on the plant. After settling into its new environment, things should return to normal.

3. Improper watering

Orchids require constant moisture. Thus this is the primary care task. However, improper watering can lead to issues like the leaves of your orchid curling.

How does lack of water affect curl orchid leaves?

Orchid leaves will curl if they are not watering correctly. Leaves will initially become limp and dehydrated as the orchid struggles to adapt to its lack of water.

Then, when you water, the plant cells will receive a gush of water all at once, rapidly growing in size. If the orchid’s leaf experiences uneven rehydration, the leaf’s shape may shift as the plant recovers.

Inadequate watering can also cause initial curling of the leaves of younger or newer orchids.

How to fix it?

You can rehydrate the roots of your orchids using Epsom salt in addition to starting a regular watering program. Dissolving Epsom salt in water is as simple as adding one tablespoon to one gallon. For up to three hours, immerse the dried orchid roots in this Epsom salt solution. Use this method sparingly; it shouldn’t do more than a few times a year.

You’ll want to ensure your orchids get enough water, but how often will vary by species. In particular, Oncidium orchids thrive in damp, humid conditions. Your Oncidium probably needs to be watered because the potting medium has dried.

Make sure to maintain a consistent watering routine for your Oncidium orchid. You should keep the potting soil from drying out completely. These orchids may require weekly or even daily watering during the summer.

It may take several weeks of consistent watering for an orchid to recover from leaf curl caused by improper watering habits. The leaf may be able to realign itself over time if you catch it soon enough.

Nonetheless, the leaf could remain curled. It is not an issue for an orchid that is otherwise healthy. Curled leaves are nothing to worry about as long as your orchid is healthy and you give it the attention it needs.

How does over-watering affect curl orchid leaves?

Orchids can usually handle dry conditions better than they can take wet ones. Orchids require a potting medium that can quickly absorb water and dry out again, which is why they plant in pots.

Since oxygen can easily reach the roots, the soil is nice and crumbly. Your orchid would wilt and possibly curl its leaves if the potting soil is too moist or improper ground utilization. The withering and curling may be misinterpreted by inexperienced growers as a sign of dehydration, leading them to overwater the plants.

How to fix it?

You can fix your orchid by repotting it in fresh soil. Before replanting an orchid, remove any rotting or otherwise unhealthy roots. You should use coarser dirt to speed up the drying process.

Make sure the bottom of the container has enough holes for water to drain. If there aren’t any drainage holes, or if the holes plug, the excess water has nowhere to go. Overwatering substantially increases when orchids offer in containers without drainage holes.

4. Lack of proper care

Orchids tend to curl up when they aren’t growing in the best conditions. They will need your constant care and attention to keep their unique beauty.

How to fix it?

You should check on your plant and follow care instructions to keep it healthy.

5. Root damage

You have undoubtedly noticed that broken roots are a possible source of the orchid’s curled leaves. If the plant’s roots aren’t getting the water and nutrients they need, the entire plant will wither and die.

Root damage can cause by excessive or insufficient watering, although it can also occur when transplanting or repotting.

Although minimal root damage is usually not a cause for alarm when repotting an orchid, care should still take whenever the plant removes from its container.

How to fix it?

When repotting an orchid, use sterilized scissors or other equipment to cut away and discard any diseased or damaged roots. Take care not to damage the strong roots as you work.

Infections by fungi or bacteria also contribute to root damage. The plant is susceptible to infection from foreign microorganisms when repotting an orchid. Hence it is essential to use only sterile tools and soil.

If a fungus or bacteria has infected your orchid, you must repot it in fresh soil and treat it for the infection.

6. Wong potting mix

The plant will wiggle around until the roots find something to cling on to if the medium you’re using to pot your orchid doesn’t provide stability.

Because the environment isn’t always the same, the orchid has to use its leaves to slow down. To keep from falling over, the leaves of an orchid will curl into an unnatural shape.

The curled leaf of an orchid acts as a stabilizing anchor in its container. Because of the way they develop in the wild, this is the expected behavior.

How to fix it?

Use the right potting mix to encourage healthy root development in your orchid.

7. Diseases

Some diseases can cause the leaves of an orchid to curl. It’s all right. If you can correctly identify the disease, you can save your plant.

How does Fungus Wilt affect curl orchid leaves?

Orchids can contract Fusarium wilt, a fungal disease, from infected pruning instruments. The fungus can live on the gardening shears and infect other plants if they do not clean properly. As a result, before repotting or trimming your orchids, you must ensure that your pruning tools are clean and sterile.

Your orchid may suffer from Fusarium wilt if a fungus has infected it. Inability to absorb water due to root rot and general decay throughout the orchid. Your orchid will still look dry, no matter how much water you give it.

Eventually, the leaves will droop and turn brown and crispy. The leaves will flatten out, turn yellow, and curl inward, all telltale signs of something wrong.

How to fix it?

Upon discovering Fusarium wilt and isolating your orchid, you will need to remove all contaminated growths. Remove the diseased sections of the orchid using a clean, sterile blade. It could be the canes, leaves, roots, or stems.

After each cut, you must once again sanitize the blade. In this approach, you can save the remaining healthy components of the orchid from the fungus. Rubbing alcohol or a bleach solution can use to disinfect and sterilize blades.

After you have removed the diseased components from the orchid, please place them in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of them. Then, apply a fungicide. Orchids can treat with fungicides like Physan 20 (as directed on the packaging) or Thiomyl (dissolve two teaspoons of Thiomyl in 1 gallon of water).

It’s essential to keep your orchid in its little world and repeat the treatment if needed. Until the fungal infection has completely cleared up, orchids should not return to the rest of your plants.

How does root rot & crown rot affect curl orchid leaves?

Orchid infections can cause curling leaves by harming the plant’s roots or leaves. Both fungi and bacteria are notorious for attacking plant roots, killing them off. Damage is extensive, and the plant is unable to absorb nutrients normally.

As a result, the leaves become curl, and water absorption decreases. Overwatering, which typically causes root rot, is easily remedied. Misting or watering the orchid plant’s stem or leaves can cause crown rot.

The above-ground portions of a plant, such as its stem, leaves, flowers, etc., are collectively referred to as the crown.

The leftover water on the crown is a good place for harmful organisms to grow, hurting the leaves and stems. The plant’s crown quickly becomes blackened and eventually dies from the condition.

How to fix it?

Orchids can save from root rot if the problem identifying in time; this involves removing the plant from the soil, allowing the roots to dry out, and then repotting the plant in the new, well-draining ground.

There is a simple and most effective cure for orchid crown rot. Get some full-strength hydrogen peroxide and spray a little on the plant’s crown where the breakdown is. It must rise to the surface and sizzle. This process must be repeated every two to three days until the bubbling stops.

8. Pest/Insects attack 

The curling of orchid leaves may cause by pests/insects that feed on the plant by entering tiny cracks in the leaf. Orchid honeydew sap is desirable to insects and other pests due to its abundance of nourishing food, especially in the leaves.

Pests like aphids and mealybugs can cause the leaves to curl if left on them for too long. When a leaf’s cell structures are compromised, the leaf’s outer protective layer can no longer be held in place straight, causing the damaged area to sink and curl inside the leaf.

It occurs because the plant no longer receives nutrients from the sap that previously circulated within the leaves through the xylem tissue.

The curling of an orchid leaf in response to pests is distinct from the curling of a whole leaf in search of light or to improve its location. Only in areas where insect damage has occurred will the leaf twist.

How to fix it?

Orchids with pest infestations can be a nuisance, but they should be treated immediately after detection. A few easy steps will help you recognize and eliminate these pests from your orchids.

If you discover a pest problem among your orchids, you should immediately separate the diseased plant from the rest of your collection. It is to prevent the pests from infesting your other orchids.

Orchids infested with aphids can treat with insecticides, horticultural oils like neem oil, or even the natural predators of aphids, ladybugs.

Even mealybugs can eliminate with the help of pesticides. However, a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol is the most effective and least time-consuming method to get rid of mealybugs. Mealybugs can easily remove with a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. The orchid scale can remove using rubbing alcohol or soap.

Watching pests (and diseases) and doing monthly maintenance checks on your orchids is an excellent practice. Orchids need to prune and dead leaves and stems removed regularly. Doing so would reduce the number of places where insects and rodents may hide in the decomposing matter.

9. Improper lighting conditions

The leaves of your orchids may curl if they do not give proper light. And both too little and too much light might cause the leaves of your orchid to curl.

How does lack of light affect curl orchid leaves?

Orchid leaves may curl upward if they cannot get enough direct sunlight. Possible lighting problems exist if the top layer of leaves (the newest leaves) is noticeably thinner than the older leaves (the bottom layer of leaves).

Attempts of younger leaves to emerge from under the canopy of older leaves often results in a twisted or curled shape.

How does too much light affect curl orchid leaves?

Orchid leaves may curl if they detect only one light source, just as they would if there were multiple. The direction of light can cause orchid leaves to curve or twist. In particular, the leaves shaded from the sunlight may appear to curl in the illumination direction.

It’s the same with orchids; if you shift them around a lot, the leaves may begin to curl depending on where the light is. As the sun moves, so will the leaves. Orchid leaves will continue to stiffen into that twisted configuration as the plant develops.

How to fix it?

To prevent this, try to offer your orchids balanced light that doesn’t come from just one direction. If your orchids want to thrive, you must give their leaves plenty of light.

You could, for example, try relocating your orchid to a spot where it will receive more light. However, if you want more light on the leaves of your orchid, you should not turn the pot or begin rotating it. Once you’ve found the best spot for your orchid, try not to move it.

The leaves of an orchid will strive to face the sun if you start turning the pot around. It could cause them to become even more curled. Sometimes the spikes and buds of orchid flowers will twist such that they face the light.

The adult orchid leaf, unfortunately, will never straighten out of its twisted, wavy, or curled shape.

10. Low humidity

The structure of an orchid leaf might change if the humidity level is too low. Humidity levels between 40 and 80 percent are ideal for most orchid plants.

There is a wide range of orchid species, each with unique preferences and humidity requirements. When humidity levels are too low, plants and orchids can get dehydrated, and their aerial roots can dry out.

In addition, low Humidity causes the leaves of an orchid to curl as it ages. Oncidiums, a type of orchid, thrive in particularly humid conditions. If humidity levels are too low, their leaves will curl.

How to fix it?

A hygrometer will allow you to keep track of the relative Humidity in the space where your orchid is growing. In addition, you can place a cool-mist humidifier in the same room as your orchid.

A humidity tray placed under the orchid pot will also help maintain the ideal environment for the plant.

Instead of purchasing one, you may quickly and cheaply create a humidity tray. A tray and pea gravel or river rocks are all that is required.

Start by filling the tray halfway with gravel or river rocks, then fill it with water. Place the stones in a shallow dish or other suitable containers, and place the orchid pot on top of the stones. Humidity will generate around your orchid as water evaporates.

11. Genetics

Genetics plays a role in developing wavy, curled, or twisted orchid leaves. As a result of this tendency, some orchid species are more susceptible to leaf curling than others. Orchids like Cattleya and Oncidium are good examples.

A common problem with some Cattleya hybrids is that their leaves curl inward. That’s not due to the orchid’s health or care.

If your orchid exhibits this symptom and is otherwise healthy, the curling of its leaves is probably hereditary.

12. Lack of nutrients

Orchid leaf curling can also cause by a deficiency in nutrients. Simply put, when a plant lacks nutrients, it is usually because the roots have been injured and cannot transmit nutrients to the rest of the plant.

However, depleted soil nutrients might also be a concern. Plants like orchids can only consume a tiny quantity of growing medium at a time, and over time, the nutrients in the medium deplete by use and leaching from watering.

How to fix it?

Thus, regular fertilization of your orchid is crucial. Look for a fertilizer with a 20-20-20 NPK ratio or something similar. Every time you water, add a little bit of a mild fertilizer, like Premium Orchid Food, so your orchids don’t starve.

In small doses, fertilizer benefits your orchid, but applying too much might harm the roots and diminish the plant’s general health.

To avoid damaging your plants, manually dilute the fertilizer or use a diluted fertilizer solution.

Should I remove curled orchid leaves? 

Curled leaves don’t need to remove. However, once you’ve isolated your orchid and confirmed the presence of Fusarium wilt, you’ll need to remove any diseased growths. Remove the diseased sections of the orchid using a clean, sterile blade. It could be the canes, leaves, roots, or stems. After each cut, you must once again sanitize the edge.

Why Are My Orchid Leaves Curling: Easy Guide to Save Orchids

Will curled Orchid leaves recover? 

If you notice your orchid’s leaves are curling, you can typically fix the problem and get your plant back to normal. The plant may still receive energy from the leaves even though they bend. An unattractive sight, perhaps, but a plant without leaves have little chance of survival.

Only remove curled leaves if you are confident they are dead or need to get rid of them to prevent the spread of illness or fungus.

After you fix the issue, the curled leaves should straighten out and return to normal over time. If the rest of the orchid plant is healthy enough, new leaves will begin to grow even if one of its leaves dies.

Some species of orchids are more resilient than others and can quickly recover from setbacks. When it comes to other types of orchids, you may have to wait a while before seeing any improvement. Be as patient as you can.

What are the tips for Orchid care to keep leaves from curling?

If you follow these easy caring tips, you can solve the current issue and stop similar ones in the future:

1. Maintain a regular watering schedule.

Unhealthy orchids often result from improper watering (overwatering and underwatering can lead to wrinkled orchid leaves). Also, this is one of the most superficial issues to resolve and safeguard against in the future.

How much water do orchids need?

The frequency of watering is conditional on the orchid and its surroundings. Aim to water your orchid once every week for two weeks. Some orchid varieties must allow their growing medium to dry out entirely between waterings to flourish.

In contrast, others do better when watered, just as the medium begins to dry. Find out what kind of orchids you have so you can keep an eye on the growing media and know when to give the plant a drink. Watering frequency increases in warmer months compared to winter.

Overwatering causes more damage to orchids than underwatering. Wait another day to water if you aren’t sure whether or not to do so now.

Take care of water thoroughly, allowing the growing medium to absorb as much water as possible. Orchids require a container with drainage holes to prevent fogginess.

2. Provide suitable light.

Put the plant where it will receive filtered sunlight. Orchids are tropical plants, so you might think they need a lot of direct sunlight. It isn’t entirely correct. While many orchid species thrive in bright sunlight, several grow well in dimmer conditions. Indirect light is best for orchids.

Don’t put your orchids where they’ll be basking in the sun’s rays, especially during the hottest part of the day. Protect your orchid from direct sunlight by hanging transparent curtains.

If you can, put your orchid plant in a room with a south or east-facing window. Light is essential; however, indirect sunlight is not suitable for them. They may benefit from a sheer curtain on a west-facing window where the light is too harsh. Your orchid won’t get enough light from a north-facing window.

Some orchids can handle direct sunshine even in the winter when daylight hours are less. If you are lucky to live in a region where your orchids can spend some or all of the year outdoors, you should position them to receive indirect light in the mornings and afternoons rather than harsh midday sunlight.

3. Use the right soil to plant orchids.

It’s essential to have well-drained soil while planting orchids. Recommend that you use potting soil made from moss or bark. The orchid maintenance requirements change depending on which kind you select.

Because the bark-based mix drains water quickly, you’ll need to water your orchid more often. The moss mixture is more efficient at holding moisture, allowing longer intervals between waterings.

4. Prune the plant correctly.

Once a flower has dried, the stem should trim. A flower spike can prune by cutting it just above the base of the stalk. The reblooming of an orchid on the same branch is very unusual.

5. Check the temperature & humidity level.

Orchids thrive at temperatures between 60⁰F and 75⁰F. These conditions, together with some ventilation, should be ideal for your orchid to bloom fully and show off its stunning foliage and petals.

How do you maintain the proper humidity for orchids?

Orchids prefer a moist environment, but not too wet. Putting a water-filled humidity tray under the container is the first step.

Keep your orchid container on top of the gravel in the tray. If the roots are left sitting in water, they will decay quickly. This method raises air humidity in an entirely natural way. In a worst-case scenario, you can attempt to simulate greenhouse conditions by placing a plastic bag over the plant.

Humidifier use is acceptable but expensive. A humidifier is an attractive choice if you don’t have the time to manually refill the water in the tray every time it dries up.

It’s also a good idea to group the orchid with other houseplants. Proximity to other plants helps maintain a comfortable humidity and temperature.

6. Fertilize for the plant.

Your dormant orchid will not blossom again until you fertilize it. Weekly or monthly, depending on the variety, you’ll need to fertilize the plant with a balanced houseplant fertilizer (20-20-20).

How do you feed orchids naturally?

Your plants can’t thrive without homemade organic fertilizer. They supply the essential nutrients for blooming and solid and healthy roots, stems, leaves, and branches.

Although commercial fertilizers are the most acceptable source of balanced nourishment for orchid plants, there are some homemade orchid fertilizers you may produce quickly. Common ingredients in DIY orchid fertilizers include:

• Eggshells

As far as calcium fertilizer goes, saving eggshells and putting them on orchids is the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly option. You should crush them into tiny pieces. Scatter it over the bark within the jar.

Another, more time-consuming option is to steep ten eggshells in half a gallon of water for eight hours after boiling. Eggshells should be strained out, stored in a sealed container, and used once weekly.

• Rice water

Use the water used to cook rice to water your orchid, as it contains minerals that the plant may lack. White rice fortifies with extra elements like calcium during manufacturing.

Ensure the rice you use has cooled to room temperature before putting it in the orchid container.

• Tea

Orchids benefit significantly from the nitrogen in used tea bags. The organic material found in tea bags is safe and pleasant smelling. The tea bag can use by cutting it open and pouring the contents into the orchid’s container.

If you’re applying throughout the spring and summer, you just need to do it once a month.

• Potatoes

The potatoes, skin, and all, should be chopped or grated into small pieces and boiled for a few minutes. You can incorporate fresh bananas in chunks and sugar during the boiling process.

It is a great way to increase the nutritional value and help the foods stick together. Jars can use to store any surplus fertilizer.

Watch How to save Orchids from crown rot | Video

Top 5 FAQs & answers related to Why are my orchid leaves curling

How do you know if the plant requires watering?

There are a few signs that your orchid might need watering. The simplest of all, just pick up the orchid pot or stick your finger in the potting mix. Your orchid needs water if the potting media or the container feels dry.

Can I use potting soil to grow orchids? 

Potting medium for orchids is different from what uses for most common houseplants. So, they put in regular potting soil. The deficiency of oxygen in the soil prevents the roots from breathing; therefore, potting an orchid in it is a surefire way to kill the plant.

Can I water orchids with tap water? 

Orchids do not like to water with softened water. Salts in softened water can be harmful to plants. The chlorine content in water isn’t too high, most chlorinated tap water can use to water orchids, but it’s best not to use collected rainwater or snowmelt. An anthurium plant’s watering needs are close to a garden plant’s.
The only real change is that softened water must use instead of tap water. Brush the surplus water out of the bottom of the watering can using a soft-bristled brush to soften the water.
Next, transfer the softened water to a storage vessel and wait a few minutes for the salts to dissolve fully. Then, squeeze the container gently to extract as much water as possible after the salt has dissolved. If you want to ensure that all the water is pliable, you should do this numerous times.

Why should orchid-repotting scissors be sterilized?

Before you trim your plant, wash and dry your scissors well. This treatment will protect your plant collection from contamination. Like a human skin wound, a damaged root or stem allows bacteria and other pathogens to enter the affected area and spread.

How to lower Ph in water for orchids? 

You could use citric acid to lower the bicarbonate alkalinity of your irrigation water. If you use a sodium salt system to soften your home’s water, you should never use the resulting water on your orchids or plants due to the high sodium content.


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