Why Are My Plumeria Leaves Curling? (Causes and Solutions)

Last Updated on June 10, 2022 by Admin

Plumeria leaves curling is something ought to expect to see if you want to enjoy this beautiful flower’s blooms.

That said, it is important to address the issue and figure out what is actually causing its leaves to curl.

Why are my plumeria leaves curling? Lack of water or underwatering is the main reason for plumeria leaves curling.

But there are other causes as well including pest infestation, too much light, temperature problems and excess fertilizer.

Causes of Plumeria Leaves Curling

Plumeria leaves curling can be caused by many different things. This makes it very important to take note of the details and observe the changes in the plant.

Often small, subtle abnormalities will give you hints as to what is causing the problem.

Try to avoid guessing since applying a solution that does not fit the problem may only worsen the situation.

Instead, narrow down the possible reasons by eliminating those things that don’t match your plant’s symptoms.



When it comes to plumeria leaves curling, the most common cause is usually underwatering or lack of water.

This can happen for a variety of reasons.

One example is if you forget to water the plant for weeks or months at a time. Or you happen to go out of town. Sometimes, life just gets in the way.

Another possibility is the sudden change in weather.

If you live somewhere with summers that sneak up on you and sudden turn very hot very quickly, lack of water can likewise happen.

That’s because you’re still using the watering schedule for spring when the temperature starts soaring.

This will increase evaporation leading to the plant drying up faster.

Whatever the reason for the underwatering, you’ll likely see your plumeria’s leaves curl. Similarly, the plant can wilt and droop.

And you’ll later see leaves start turning brown as well once they don’t get the moisture they need.

Water is a necessity for plants.

They need it to grow and stay healthy. Additionally, plants are made up of 90% water.

Thus, lack of moisture will cause them to wilt and droop.


How to Fix It

Fortunately, underwatering is easy to fix. Just add water.

However, there will come a point where the plant has already gotten too dehydrated and will deteriorate beyond saving.

This is what you want to avoid.

But in most cases, your plumeria will just be dry or slightly dehydrated.

That said, don’t just pour water the moment you suspect underwatering. Always make sure first.

That’s because if you make a misdiagnosis. And the plant is not actually underwatered, adding more water can put it at risk of overwatering.

This will lead to bigger problems since overwatering can cause root rot which in turn can destroy an otherwise healthy plant.

So, always check the soil before you add water.

To confirm that a plumeria’s leaves are curling because of underwatering, the soil needs to be very dry. Aside from the surface being dry, stick your finger down about 3-4 inches into the soil.

The soil down there should be very dry as well.

Sometimes, the dry soil surface can be misleading as the bottom soil may still be moist. You want to be careful about this.

The good news is, if your plumeria is underwatered, giving it a good drink will allow it to perk right back up. You’ll see this within a few hours to about a day.

The difference is dramatic as it bounces back.

Going forward, try to water the plant once every 7 to 10 days. Also adjust based on the weather as it gets hotter or colder.


Excess Fertilizer

Like other plants, plumeria will grow faster and thrive with fertilizer.

However, the common misconception is that more plant food is always better. Sadly, that’s not true at all.

Instead, too much of a good thing makes it harmful.

And this is what happens if you give the plant more fertilizer than it needs.


The problem lies in the salt content of commercial fertilizers. So, in addition to giving your plumeria more nutrients when you feed it more often, you’re also loading the soil with more salt.

The bad news is that high salt content is soil is bad for plants.

Salt tends to draw moisture to its own particles. This makes it more difficult for the plant’s roots to absorb the water it needs.

And since nutrients are absorbed through water, the plant ends up lacking both moisture and nutrients due to the excess salts.

This is what causes plumeria leaves to curl.

The shortage of water and nutrients causes leaves to suffer and experience different side effects.

Additionally, when too much salt builds up in the soil, it become toxic to roots. This will eventually reach the leaves as well.

The fertilizer burn will damage the roots and cause leaf burn as well.


How to Fix It

Avoid overfeeding your plumeria. Although it may feel very tempting to do so, it is never a good idea.

You may see additionally growth and development. But before long, you’ll see side effects and damage that will more than negate any of that positive growth.

So, just follow recommended instruction on the product’s label.

Only apply when the plant is actively growing.

Additionally, if you see a white crust start to develop of the surface of the soil, it is a sign that you’ve been over fertilizing the plant.

Once you suspect overfertilizing, it is a good idea flush the soil.

You can do this by running water onto the soil for a few minutes. This will saturate the root ball with water. And as the water drips from under the drainage holes of the pot, the excess minerals and salts will flow out with it.

Don’t forget to let the plant completely drain after you’re done flushing the soil.


Temperature Stress

Temperature can also cause plumeria leaves to curl.

Ideally, the plant prefers temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a flowering tropical plant that’s commonly found in Mexico and Hawaii.

Although, the plant is also native to Central and South America.

One common thing that these locations have in common is that they haver moderate to warm temperatures. They also don’t have snow or frost.

As such, plumeria don’t have a lot of tolerance for cold weather. And they are not frost hardy.

So, leaving them in winter conditions is never a good idea.

That said, plumeria leaves curling is usually caused by the opposite, too much heat.

While the plan can tolerate the heat, it will dry out as the hot temperature will cause more evaporation and water loss.

This will make its leaves curl to reduce the surface area of its foliage.

In doing so, it loses less water through its pores through transpiration.

Similarly, strong sunlight will make the leaves curl away from the excess light. This is the plant’s natural response to try to reduce exposure.


How to Fix It

The good news is that temperature is one of the easiest things to monitor and adjust.

All you need is a digital thermometer to know what the temperature is at any given time.

And if it gets too hot or cold at any one place for your plumeria, all you need to do is move the plant to a more moderate temperature.

Try to keep it somewhere with temperature between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Indoors, controlling temperature is easier. That’s because most homes maintain temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

And the temperature stays relatively consistent.

Still, you need to watch out for air conditioners, heaters, fireplaces, stoves, ovens and cold drafts. These can sneak up on you.

Similarly, if your home gets cold or hot during summer or winter, it is a good idea to keep track of the temperature. This way, you can move the plant to another area in your home or use something to cool it down or keep it warm.

Outdoors, is another story.

It is harder to change the weather in your locale.

So, the basic guidelines are to avoid very hot areas during the summer and always bring the plant indoors during the winter.


Root Rot

Plumeria leaves curling also happens when there is root rot.

Unfortunately, when this happens, you have bigger problems than the curled leaves.

Root rot is caused by overwatering.

This happens due to either watering the plant too often (before the soil has a chance to dry), lack of soil or pot drainage.

Whatever the cause, they all lead to overwatering.

And when this happens, the roots end up swimming in excess moisture.

What’s worse is that to excess liquid will fill up all the space between the soil particles. In doing so, the water pushes out the oxygen from these air pockets.

This deprives the roots of much needed oxygen which need in combination with water to stay healthy.

When the roots suffocate, they’ll function at less than 100%. This results is less absorption of water and nutrients.

As a result, you’ll see your plumeria’s leaves start curling and turning yellow.

If the overwatered situation persists, the roots eventually will suffocate to death. After a while, the dead roots will rot.

This is when things get worse as dead roots don’t function at all.

And the longer the plant stays overwatered, the more roots die and rot.

Fewer roots mean less and less water and nutrient absorption. And after a while, the leaves will turn brown and drop.

Similarly, the plant will get weaker, deteriorate and possibly die.


How to Fix It

Overwatering is very dangerous because it can lead to root rot.

And root rot can be fatal to your plant if it is not detected early enough.

As such, the best solution to root rot is to avoid overwatering altogether.

To do so, always check the soil before watering the plant. Never water the plant when the soil is still wet or moist.

Instead, wait for the top few inches of soil to dry between waterings.

This will help prevent overwatering.

Also, make sure that you’re using well-draining soil for your plumeria. The pot should also have drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess moisture to escape.

On the other hand, if there is already root rot present, then your task is to try to save the plumeria.

To do so, unpot the plant can remove the excess soil from the roots.

Sterilize a pair or scissors or pruning shears. Then prune the rotten root.

When you’re done, repot the plant in a new pot with fresh dry soil.


Other Related Posts


Water Quality

Water quality refers to the chemical contents of the water you use for your plumeria.

Why is this a problem?

It may or may not be a problem depending on where you live.

The reason is that municipalities will add chemicals including salt, chlorine, fluoride and others to tap water to make it safe to drink for humans.

However, some locales will add more chemicals.

When the amount of these chemicals is high the water becomes highly mineralized. Similarly, hard water contains a high amount of certain chemicals as well.

As you probably already know plants do not like salt.

So, if you use tap water that’s highly mineralized for your plumeria, the salt buildup in the soil will pull the water away from the roots towards the salt particles.

This makes it harder for the plant to get the moisture and nutrients is usually receives or needs.

As a result, your plumeria leaves start curling due to lack of water.

The lack of water and nutrients will also affect photosynthesis. So, eventually, the plant’s overall growth, appearance and leaf quality will suffer as well.


How to Fix It

Keep in mind that this does not apply everywhere. It will only apply if you live in a municipality that happens to have highly mineralized tap water or uses hard water.

So, if you’ve gone through many of the causes of plumeria leaves curling and still cannot identify the reason for the curling, consider checking the water quality of your tap.

If you happen to be using hard water or tap that’s high in salt and minerals, you can switch to rainwater, distilled water or filtered water.

Another option is to collect tap water and leave it overnight at room temperature.

By morning the excess salts and minerals would have already evaporated making the water safe for your plumeria without the risk of excess salts and minerals.

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