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By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)
Begoniasare a long time favorite of many flower gardeners. Whether growing in theground or in containers, the options are truly limitless. Begonias offervibrant pops of color through their distinct foliage and beautiful blooms. Withall this beauty, it is easy to understand why many growers may become alarmedwhen they begin to notice changes in the appearance of their begonia plants.Curling begonia leaves are one example that can lead gardeners on a search foranswers.
As with any garden question, the reason behind why begonialeaves are curling may be difficult to diagnose. A begonia with curled leaves mayhave been affected in a number of ways in order for this to occur.
First, growers will need to carefully observe recent changesin water, fertilization, or even weather patterns. Each of these issues cancause begonia leaf curl.
If after close monitoring, none of these factors are not theissue, there are some pest and disease related causes to consider. Thrips,for example, are among the most common begonia pests which may cause leaves tocurl.
Many types of begonia plants are also susceptible to powderymildew. Begonia leaf curl is often among the first symptoms. Beyondcurling, gardeners will then begin to notice distinctive white patches on theleaves of the plant. Eventually, the disease may cause flowers and leaves todie back and fall from the plant.
Other types of plant diseases, such as anthracnose,can be caused by fungi. Anthracnose in begonia plants is common. Curling ofbegonia leaves are often among the first noticeable symptoms of this issue aswell. Inspect the leaves of the plant for signs of yellowing or brown spottedlesions. To help prevent this disease in begonias, remove any signs of infectedplant material and make certain to avoid wetting the leaves while watering.
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The colorful hues of the begonia plant's flowers can add dashes of energy to your backyard or your potted garden. Though begonias are relatively hardy and low maintenance, they can sometimes wilt and turn brown. Give your begonias the proper care to resolve some of the common causes behind these health problems and to restore your begonia collection to lush and colorful health.
Avoid watering the begonia plants' foliage. Begonias with constantly wet leaves are susceptible to bacterial leafspot, which causes wilting and leaf loss.
Increase shade. Move the begonia plants or plant a vine on a trellis, set up a shade cloth, or grow taller vegetation near the plants. Most begonia types, except for some hybrids, prefer partial shade. Too much sunlight can lead to fading and wilting of the leaves, and continued excessive sunlight can cause the edges of the begonias' foliage to turn brown.
Decrease watering so the begonias' soil dries out between watering sessions. Begonia plants do not like very wet soil, and too much soil moisture can cause the plants' roots to rot.
Fertilize the begonias to provide the nutrients needed for the plants to support healthy foliage production. Use a standard 3-1-2 or 2-1-2 fertilizer applied once a month, suggests the University of Florida. Apply according to the fertilizer label's guidelines, since potency varies by product.
Change the begonia plant's depth in the soil. The plant's base should be level with the soil. If needed, add more soil or clear away the soil. Plants that are too high can't get adequate moisture and plants that are too deep will rot. Either may lead to wilting and browning of the plant.
Inspect the plants for insect infestations. Attacks by pests can stress the plant and cause leaves to wilt, turn brown and drop off. Common pests include mites and mealybugs and can be treated with a standard systemic garden pesticide.
Remove the soil from the crown of tuberous begonias. Clear away any mulch or garden debris. Tuberous begonia roots rot when planted too deeply the top of the root should be right at the soil surface. Root rot can cause both wilting and browning.
Althought a variety of insects and diseases have been found on these popular annuals, few are serious, for wax begonias are virtually trouble-free, easy-to-grow plants that require only minimum attention.
Buds Sometimes Drop Off
Drainage - This is not an uncommon problem with begonias. If flower buds drop off before they open, it is often a sign that the plants are growing in poorly drained soil, and/or that they have received too much rain or watering. This does not mean that the soil should not be watered, for dried out soil also can cause dropped buds (they get you coming and going). The best way to prevent such problems is to deal with the soil over time. Add plenty of organic materials to the soil every chance you get. This vital addition will allow the soil to soak up more water and nutrients while enabling it to drain well – pretty cool, heh?
Too Much Heat - Begonias exposed to high temperatures for extended periods of time also will sometimes drop flower buds. For this reason, begonias grow best if they are not exposed to hot, midday sun. During hot spells, spritz plants in the late morning and, if possible, water at noon to cool the roots. Mulch also helps keep the roots cool.
Here are some symptoms of some of the problems you might occasionally find
|Problems of Wax Begonia|
|Leaves Wrinkled or Curled Discolored, Stunted, Tend to fall off||Aphids|
|Black powdery sooty mold fungus forms on honeydew plants may die if problem continues||Aphids Herded By Ants|
|Oval, white insects leaves deformed, discolored leaves shiny, sticky||Mealybugs|
|Leaf blotches, leaves curl, wither, drop plant stunted||Leaf Nematodes|
|Ragged Holes in Leaves||Slugs And Snails|
|Leaves stippled, yellowing or bronze dry out and drop may be webbing visible||Spider Mites|
|Leaves and Petals Are Pale Silvery||Thrips|
|Weakened plants yellow leaves leaves discolored covered with honeydew||Whiteflies|
|Brown Spots on Leaves, Grayish Mold Forms on Tissue, Gray Mold on Flowers, Leaves, Stems Soft, Rotted||Gray Mold, A Fungal Disease|
|White Powder Coats Top of Leaves||Powdery Mildew, A Fungal Disease|
|Plant actually disappears||Deer|
Do you have a gardening question? Ask Nancy
Try to identify the cause of your Monstera leaves curling or have small leaves check whether the soil appears too damp or too dry.
Observing whether the plant has the right amount of sunlight and room to grow and whether you see any indications of disease or insects.
With some tweaking in your care routine, and a little luck, you can save your Monstera plant and watch it grow for years to come!
This is the number one reason for Monstera leaf curling. Underwatering your Monstera will slow down the plant’s growth, and it may eventually dry out and die.
Check out the following tips for re-hydrating an underwatered Monstera, and for keeping your plant adequately hydrated year-round:
◙ For an immediate moisture fix, carefully take your Monstera out of the pot and place it in a bathtub or outdoors. Soak the plant with water for a few minutes, then let it sit until the water drains completely.
◙ You should water Monstera about once per week. When watering, make sure the Monstera is placed in a pot with good drainage, and slowly add water until it begins to seep out of the drainage holes. Empty the tray immediately. Be sure to water the soil directly, instead of soaking the leaves.
◙ There are a few ways you can check to see if your plant’s thirsty before watering (it may need less water during cooler months.) Stick your finger or a wooden stick a few inches into the soil.
◙ If it comes out dry, your Monstera is thirsty! If it’s damp and comes out with clumps of soil, you can probably wait a few more days.
◙ You can also buy a moisture meter for more exact info on the amount of water in your plant’s roots.
If a week after watering, your plant’s soil still seems damp, you’re probably overwatering. This may cause the water to stagnate, suffocating the roots.
As a result, the Monstera will not be able to absorb the nutrients and oxygen.
This will lead to …you guessed it…curling of your plant’s leaves. Stagnant water may also lead to fungal diseases, such as root rot (see below for Monstera diseases and antidotes.)
Follow these same tips above for adequate hydration, and your Monstera should get just the amount of water it needs.
Poor water quality can slow the growth of your Monstera, leave it looking dull and brittle, and may eventually cause the plant to die.
High soluble salts, including calcium, magnesium, and sodium, can damage roots, inhibiting the Monstera’s nutrient absorption.
◙ To ensure that the water you feed your monstera is free from chemicals like chlorine, fill a pot with room-temperature water and let it sit overnight.
*For most sink water this should be sufficient, but you can also buy distilled water. If you’re worried about the water quality in your home, set up an appointment with a Water Quality Association certified professional, who can analyze your home’s water and set up a filtration system.
A store-bought filtration system like Brita may help however, depending on the chemicals in your home’s water, it may not filter every harmful element in your water.
Store-bought filters must also be regularly changed, otherwise, you’re probably adding harmful elements to your water, instead of eliminating them!
This could also be the reason for lackluster leaves. Over-fertilizing may seem harmless, but it can lead to excess salt in the soil, potentially killing off soil microorganisms that keep the plant healthy.
Alternatively, excess fertilizer can also cause your Monstera to grow faster, while its root system lags behind. If this happens, the Monstera will not receive the water and nutrients it needs.
Fertilize your Monstera about once per month with half a teaspoon of water-soluble fertilizer per two quarts of water.
Don’t bother to fertilize during the winter, since Monstera plants will not grow much during the cooler months.
Like most plants, the Monstera needs a “Goldilocks” environment– temperature, lighting, position, and humidity need to be just right!
The room temperature should remain between 65°F-85°F (18°C-30°C), and should not be cooler than 60°F (15°C). Monstera plants originated in the tropics, so a cooler environment can cause temperature stress.
The plant’s growth will slow down as the temperature becomes cooler, and will completely stop growing if the temperature is less than 60°F.
◙ Monstera plants typically do not react well to sudden changes in temperature or humidity, so try to keep them away from air conditioning vents, fireplaces, and drafty doors or windows.
◙ The Monstera needs moderate, indirect sunlight, and a spot where it has room to grow. Too much or too little light exposure can harm a Monstera plant. Direct sunlight can actually burn the plant’s leaves, causing them to curl and become yellow. And the leaves tips may turn brown.
◙ On the other hand, if a Monstera receives too little light exposure, it won’t create enough chlorophyll to keep its leaves green and glossy, and they will turn a pale yellow.
◙ Rather than stuffing your Monstera in a corner or on a windowsill, make the plant a statement piece in your living room or bedroom, brightening up a hum-drum wall. You may also want to add a pole or trellis to encourage the Monstera to grow upwards.
◙ Lackluster leaves could also be caused by a dry environment. Try adding a humidifier to moisten the air. Your Monstera will cheer up, and your skin will also reap the rewards!
Time to talk about the real horrors in gardening: disease and insect infestation!
Root rot, potentially from improper repotting or overwatering, could cause leaf curling. As you may guess, root rot injures the roots, inhibiting the Monstera from absorbing nutrients and water.
The best you can do in this situation is make sure you’re properly caring for your Monstera with the tips above, and hope the roots are not so damaged that they’re irrecoverable.
Make sure the Monstera’s pot drains well so the plant doesn’t sit in water. You can also carefully remove any soft, limp roots with a pair of scissors to help your Monstera grow new, strong roots.
A fungal infection is another common problem. In this case, you would also see brown spots on some of the Monstera’s leaves.
This may be caused by excessive air moisture or lack of air circulation. I know, I know, the Goldilocks balance is challenging! It’s all about trial and error.
Clip off the affected leaves, and continue to maintain proper plant care. Consider purchasing a dehumidifier if the room your Monstera is in appears too humid, and air out the room regularly.
Now, for the horror of horrors: What do you do if your Monstera has *gasp* insects? You’ll know you have an insect infestation if you see brown bumps on the leaves.
These bumps are actually the insects’ shells, and *vomits* the insects are underneath the shells, sucking out the leaves’ juices and leaving poison in its place. Yummy!
But wait… it gets better. The best way to rid your Monstera of insects is to pick them off! The things we do in the name of love…
You can also carefully peel each bug off with a butter knife. Once you’re done, lightly spray the Monstera with a gentle insecticide. Luckily, this should solve the problem.
To keep your Monstera in tiptop shape, regularly clean its leaves with a soft tissue paper. This will keep the leaves shiny, and also help the plant soak in more light.
Prune your Monstera regularly, clipping any dry or dead leaves.
Repot your Monstera once a year, then every 2-3 years when it’s older. It’s best to repot in early spring, before new leaves sprout. Go up in container size each year for the first few years, so the Monstera can continue growing.
With a little tweaking and consistent care, your Monstera will look as beautiful as the ones you see in a magazine.
Which tip did you find most useful in our article? Comment below with any additional questions and concerns, and happy gardening!