11 Reasons For Dracaena Curling Leaves From An Owner

If you’ve had a Dracaena for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that the leaves can start to curl even when you think that you’ve got the care figured out.

Dracaena leaves usually start to curl due to an issue related to watering. They can also curl due to changes in the environment such as excess sunlight or external problems like pests or disease.

If your Dracaena leaves have started to curl then read through the points below to identify what the issue is and what you need to do about it.

Also, try not to worry too much. It’s usually pretty easy to bring your Dracaena back to health if you act relatively quickly.

1. Overwatering

Overwatering is one, if not the most, common reason for Dracaena leaves curling.

Overwatering essentially suffocates the roots, stopping them from absorbing vital nutrients and moisture.

This causes the leaves to curl and turn yellow and eventually brown. If left, it will lead to root rot which can eventually kill a Dracaena.

If your Dracaena has soil that feels wet to the touch then it has been overwatered. The ideal consistency is damp, but not wet soil.

I like to use a simple rule to prevent overwatering, and that is to only water when the top one to two inches of soil become dry.

2. Underwatering

Underwatering is not as common as overwatering, as most new and excited plant owners like to water their plants all the time as they think it will make them grow faster.

It can still be an issue, however, and a lack of moisture can cause the leaves to dry and curl relatively quickly.

3. Wrong Soil Mix

Dracaenas need a soil mix that drains well to prevent overwatering.

The roots don’t like to be sat in water, as this can lead to problems like root rot which can be very difficult to deal with.

If your soil doesn’t drain well then you’ll need to repot your Dracaena with a fresh soil mix that does. I like to use Succulent soil mixes as this drains really well while holding onto moisture.

You can also consider adding things like perlite to your mix with compost or regular houseplant potting mix to improve its drainage.

4. Too Much Sunlight

It’s a common misconception that more sunlight = more growth.

It does to a certain extent, but some plants are more used to direct sunlight than others. Dracaenas prefer bright, indirect sunlight, and lots of direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause them to curl and turn brown in patches.

5. Lack Of Sunlight

Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause them to curl, but you don’t want to keep your Dracaena out of sunlight entirely as it is important for photosynthesis.

A dracaena marginata plant
My Dracaena Marginata

Without sunlight your Dracaena will simply stop growing and die, but how do you know how much sunlight to provide?

Keep your Dracaena in a place with lots of bright but indirect sunlight for best results. I like to keep mine set back from north-facing windows, but it depends on where you live.

6.No Drainage Holes

All potted plants need drainage holes to allow excess water to drain out.

Dracaenas are especially sensitive to excess water as the roots will suffocate and rot, so make sure your Dracaena is potted with plenty of drainage holes and a drainage tray below.

7. Humidity Problems

Humidity problems are quite common for Dracaenas, and this is something that I have struggled with for a long time.

Dracaenas need quite high humidity of around 60% or higher, and if the humidity is lower than this the leaves may turn brown at the tips and start to curl.

8. Pests

Pests are not very common for Dracaenas, but they can cause a lot of damage to the leaves and the rest of the plant in a very short amount of time.

Common Dracaena pests like scale and mealybugs feed on the sap in the leaves, causing them to become damaged and curl.

Most pests can be dealt with by rinsing the plant with water if the infestation is small. For large infestations, you may need to use an insecticide.

9. Disease

Dracaenas can also be affected by diseases like fusarium leaf spot, which cause brown spots with yellow halos on the leaves and causes them to curl up.

These are treated with fungicides, and if you Dracaena is suffering from a disease you should separate it from any other plants as it could spread.

Lots of diseases thrive in humid conditions, so try to avoid misting your Dracaena to increase humidity.

10. Root Bound

Dracaenas can grow well if their roots are slightly bound, but if they become fully bound it can cause a lot of issues.

This is because the roots will be competing for a relatively small amount of soil, which leads to a lack of moisture and nutrients being absorbed – harming the overall health of the plant.

I like to repot my Dracaenas once every 2 years because of this into a pot that is 1 to 2 inches wider than the current one.

Alternatively, you can just lift your Dracaena up carefully and check if the roots are bound. If they are then you will need to repot your Dracaena and gently loosen the outside roots with your hands.

You can also cut into the roots to free some of them up.

11. Lack Of Nutrients

Sometimes the reason for Dracaena curling leaves is simply because your Dracaena isn’t getting enough nutrients, specifically nitrogen.

Nitrogen is primarily responsible for chlorophyll production, which is why it’s so important for leaf growth.

I recommend a balanced fertilizer, as these contain all the necessary nutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (If you ever see NPK on a label, this is what it stands for).

I’ll typically feed my Dracaenas this once or twice per month in the summer to help boost overall growth and keep curling leaves away.

In Summary

Figuring out what is causing your Dracaena leaves to curl is a process of elimination, and there can sometimes be more than one thing to blame.

I always recommend making sure that your soil mix drains well, and that you aren’t watering your Dracaena too much or too little.

From there, just make sure that it is getting enough indirect sunlight throughout the day and that it hasn’t been affected by root rot, disease, or pests.

You can then experiment with fertilizer to see if this helps bring your Dracaena back to life.

Photo of author

About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

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