Plumeria Leaves Curling | 11 Causes + Solutions

Any plant leaves curling slightly for a short span of a few days is not much to worry about. However, when the curling becomes very tight and long-lasting, you need to find the exact reason if you want to save your plant!

Plumeria leaves curling is a symptom of the following causes:

  1. Transplant shock
  2. Underwatering
  3. Too much fertilizer
  4. Nutrient deficiency
  5. Temperature stress
  6. Too much water
  7. Poor water quality
  8. Excess of sunlight
  9. Plumeria diseases
  10. Pest infestation 
  11. Low Humidity

Read on to find out how to tackle the problem behind Plumeria (Frangipani) leaves curling.

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Causes of Plumeria Leaves Curling

Generally, the same reasons that would cause leaf curling in plants also cause Plumeria leaf curling. You can find all the reasons below with a solution to fixing the problem. This way you give your Plumeria the best fighting chance of recovering from leaf curling. 

#1- Transplant Shock 

Any plant, including Plumeria, will start to show undesirable effects when it has just undergone transplantation. This is because of the change in environment but even transplantation within the same garden causes shock. This is due to changes in the soil. 

One of the most common signs of transplant shock is Plumeria leaves curling. Other symptoms that prove it is transplant shock causing the leaf curling are wilting and yellowing. In an attempt to preserve moisture or food, Plumeria could start to exhibit the above signs. 


When transplanting your Plumeria, make sure you keep it out of the soil for the shortest time possible. It is when the plant stays out of its natural environment for too long that transplant shock starts to set in. 

Before uprooting your Plumeria, prepare the next planting site. Also, try to use similar soil or soil that is specific to suit the particular plant you are growing. Watering immediately after planting can also help the Plumeria avert transplant shock.   

#2- Underwatering

Plants have a way to combat water shortages. When you see curled Plumeria leaves, you should immediately know that your plant is lacking water. Curling in addition to drooping is a sure sign that you need to ramp up watering efforts. Curling reduces the surface area exposed to the air, thereby reducing water lost through transpiration.

Depending on the season, you will find that at certain times of the year your Plumeria plants will naturally need more water. Also, your geographical location can provide insights into how much and how often to water your plants. 


As soon as you notice your Plumeria leaves curling, the quickest action will be to increase watering. However, you have to be mindful not to reverse the underwatering problem into an overwatering one. 

So how do you know when to water your Plumeria to avoid underwatering but overwatering as well? You can check the soil to get an idea about how much moisture is still in the soil. When the soil is dry, that’s when it’s time to water the plants. 

Dip your finger into the soil, around 3 to 4 inches deep. Don’t wait for the soil to completely dry out and crack before you water the plant. 

NOTE- Misting your Plumeria with curling leaves may be somewhat effective as a faster aid to combat the curling. 

#3- Too Much Fertilizer

All plants do well with a bit of fertilizer. However, some people may go overboard when fertilizing their Plumeria in the hopes it will flower better. But, fertilizer is heavy in certain minerals and too much of it is no good.

Even a general all-around fertilizer can be harmful to your Plumeria plants when you overuse it. The result is a chemical burn which can present as curling of the leaves and discoloration. 


Depending on how badly your Plumeria is affected you will have to assess the action to take. Steps to take include:

  • Ceasing fertilizing or adopting a less intensive approach 
  • Flush your plant’s soil by watering it, possibly changing out the soil if necessary
  • Consult a specialist to see if you are even using the right kind and brand of fertilizer
  • Avoid applying fertilizer in such a way that it touches the leaves of the Plumeria plant. If the Plumeria leaves have been exposed to fertilizer, be sure to wash them off by gently washing the leaves with a mildly soapy solution.
  • You can also remove infected leaves that cannot be saved to improve the overall health of your Plumeria plants  

The best is to carefully read the fertilizer instructions and use them according to them.  

#4- Nutrient Deficiency

Usually, the soil should have enough nutrients to fulfill the Plumeria plant’s requirements. However, this also eventually runs out and your plants will become starved of nutrients. This will then show in your plants and they will exhibit poor health and curling of leaves. 

Plants need a wide range of macro and micronutrients which are necessary for large and small quantities respectively. When it comes to a suspected nutrient deficiency, Nitrogen is usually the nutrient that is lacking. 


A Nitrogen deficiency is the most likely cause of curling and it is a serious problem that can affect your entire plant. There could be a deficiency because there is naturally a lack of the mineral or the plant’s roots are unable to absorb it from the soil.

Test the soil with a Nitrogen test kit to check if the levels of the nutrient are depleted or stable. If the levels are low, you need to add a Nitrogen fertilizer to replenish the levels in the soil. 

NOTE- Avoid over-fertilizing your Plumeria by only giving them fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks during the growing season.

But, if the Nitrogen test kit shows adequate Nitrogen levels, the roots of your plant are compromised and fail to take up the nutrient. Nitrogen is important for photosynthesis, the process by which plants make food/energy.  

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#5- Temperature Stress

If you observe, plants show curling in certain scenarios. One of them being in extreme heat, especially if the temperature change happens suddenly. It leaves little time for your Plumeria to adjust and adapt to the increasing temperatures. 

Plumeria leaves curling due to rapid temperature increase is known as temperature stress. The factors contributing to temperature stress are drought, intense sunlight, and high temperatures. 

Plumeria leaves will curl and become deformed as the cells are being damaged and even broken down completely (hence the deforming look of leaves.)


There is ultimately one way to avoid and save your Plumeria from temperature stress. There are several ways to help your plant cope with the heat. 

  • Provide more water to your plants when they enter a phase of extreme weather 
  • Create an environment with higher humidity
  • If your Plumeria is potted, move it to a cooler location that will be desirable for the plant to survive 
  • Also, you have to make sure the plant is sheltered from the extreme heat (sunlight) for the bulk of the day. 

#6- Too Much Water- Rotting Roots

Just as a lack of water can cause ill effects, an excessive amount of water will cause different effects but still negative ones. Plumeria is a tad bit tolerant to underwatering but won’t handle overwatering well at all. 

Straight away the extra water will start to affect the most important part of the plant, the roots.  

Roots will become oversaturated and functioning will not be the same. Food and water will not be transported across the plant normally, bringing about yellowing of foliage and even leaf loss! 


Again watching the soil for insights into plant moisture levels is the easiest and surest way to avoid overwatering. Avoid watering the plants if the soil is still wet. Instead, wait for the soil to dry partially. 

Look for signs of overwatering in the form of curling, drooping, yellowing, and leaf loss. Once you observe these symptoms, cease watering altogether. 

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#7- Poor Water Quality

Heavily adulterated water will also be likely to cause curling effects in your Plumeria plants. 

Usually, the reason behind curling due to poor Water quality is the presence of heavy metals or harsh chemicals. This is usually seen when using water from water bodies in the proximity of metal or chemical manufacturing plants that dump their waste in water streams nearby.


Test the water you are using if it is from a suspicious source. But, if you don’t have access to such equipment, just choose to use water from a source that has assured quality and is free of heavy metals.

Tap water or correctly stored rainwater makes for the best option for watering your Plumeria plants and avoiding having to deal with leaf curling.  

#8- Too Much Sunlight

An excessive amount of time in the sun can also be a problem you have to worry about when growing Plumeria. Too intense sunlight for too many hours in it can be a problem that causes curling of Plumeria leaves. 

Curling leaves with deformity and discoloration is a sign of too much sunlight. You can confirm this by feeling the leaves, if they are brittle-like, the cause is confirmed to be excessive sunlight. 


The best way to prevent your Plumeria from getting more sun than it can handle is by putting it in the right spot. You may even have to move it around the garden if you must! 

Plumeria is a sun-loving plant but even sun-loving plants have a threshold after which they can become damaged. Provide partial sun if you live in naturally hot climates. 

Be conscious of times when temperatures are too high for your Plumeria. You can move the pot in the shade, indoors, or place a cloth over it. 

#9- Plumeria Diseases

A few diseases are even known to cause the curling of Plumeria leaves. The most common ones are Plumeria Rust and Root Rot. Sometimes the plant may come with diseases. This is why buying from an esteemed nursery or horticulturist. 


Observe your plant to look for signs of disease. These diseases are usually fungi and bacteria related. You must do everything to prevent conditions that favor their growth. This includes increased spacing and providing sunlight to dry out overly moist and humid areas.

Any infected matter should be carefully disposed of as it will contain spores. The use of fungicides is also helpful in mild cases. 

#10- Pest Infestation

Did you know that insects can also cause Plumeria leaf curling? Certain insects feed on the sap of your plants. On individual leaves, the effects can range from curling to deformation and even change of colors.

These insects are what we call pests. In high numbers the effects are evident and severe infestations can lead to a decline in your plant’s health. It can even lead to death! Examples of Plumeria pests are Aphids, Scale Insects, Ants, and Mealybugs. 


Checking for pests regularly can help you catch them before their population escalates. When you do find any, gently remove them with a swap wet with rubbing alcohol. 

If populations are larger, apply Neem oil or Horticultural oil to prevent further increases. This should help to turn away pests and revert your curled leaves to normal. 

Inviting pest predators to the garden is also a great way to reduce pests’ numbers in the garden. Examples are Lady Bugs, Beetles, and Lace wigs.  

#11- Low Humidity

Low humidity can directly cause Plumeria leaves to lose high amounts of moisture through transpiration. In turn, this will cause the same effects as underwatering. 

Drying, curling, and eventual discoloration of the Plumeria leaves are what you can expect in extremely low humidity conditions. Usually, in summer seasons or extreme drought conditions, very low humidity is most likely to affect your plants. 


Create a sprinkler system in the hot season. Or you can mist your plants regularly while also bringing them under partial shade. 

The solution involves preventing your plants from becoming overly dry. Sometimes providing moisture in the form of water does not help with humidity problems if the air itself is very dry. 


Plumeria plants are sun-loving plants that enjoy moist soil. Despite providing them with these two conditions, you may find that their leaves are still curling! There are multiple reasons for this Plumeria curling.  

Reasons for Plumeria leaves curling are: Transplant shock, Underwatering, Too much fertilizer, Nutrient deficiency, Temperature stress, Too much water, Poor water quality, Excess sunlight, Plumeria diseases, Pest infestation, and Low Humidity.

Observing your Plumeria plants and knowing what their specific needs are important to keep problems like leaf curling away. 


How often should you water Plumeria?

There is no strict frequency in watering Plumeria. You have to judge according to the climate, season, soil, and location. Also, the specific requirements of your plants will dictate how often they need to be watered. Also, it may take trial and error to understand your plant’s needs. Observing your plants can help you find the right frequency. 

Why is my Plumeria turning yellow?

The Yellowing of Plumeria plants is mostly due to too much water or moisture in the plant’s immediate environment. Pests and microorganism-based diseases are also another reason for your plant’s leaves turning yellow.