House Plants/maranta leuconeura curled up leaves
QUESTION: My maranta plant has curled up leaves for a few days now. It is in my office and seemed to be thriving in the environment for about 1.5 years now. It seemed droopy on Monday so I watered, but Tuesday it was still droopy and the leaves started to curl. And they are curled up and droopy all day. I looked some possible causes and seemed like maybe I over watered it. It doesn't have any noticeable signs of pests. I haven't repotted or moved the plant. What is the possible cause and what steps should I take to perk my plant back up?
ANSWER: Hi Sara,
Your Maranta has wilted very badly and I do not know if it will recover. Wilting occurs when a plant's foliage does not get enough water. If the soil got completely dried out and hard and the soil started to pull away from the side of the pot, then it is very difficult to re-wet the soil because the water tends to run around the outside of the rootball and out the drain hole. So, the first thing you need to do is stick your finger deep into the soil and make sure it is wet. If it is not, then take it to the sink and give it a good soak with warm water.
On the other hand, if the soil is wet and the leaves do not perk up, it is probably because the roots have rotted from too frequent watering. When roots rot and die, then the plant has no way to absorb the water in the soil for the plant to use. Thus, it wilts. Unfortunately, there is no cure for root rot once it is that advanced.
I will also note that temperature at this time of year in northern climates can be a factor. Some office buildings shut down their heat over weekends. Marantas are cold sensitive and yours might be suffering from cold damage. Not likely, but a possibility for you to consider.
If your Maranta does not perk up after the soil has been re-wetted, then your best bet is to prune back all of the wilted stems to about 2 inches above the soil. This may trigger new growth just below the pruning cuts. However, this will not happen if the roots are dead. It's worth a try. You can also try to root the top cuttings in water.
Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.
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---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: The soil is wet. How can I tell if the roots are rotted passed the point of recovery? Or if it is possibly from the cold? Thanks.
If you were experienced and knew what to look for, you could unpot the plant and examine the roots for rot. However, if that is not done properly you risk making things worse. So I don't recommend it.
Otherwise, all you can do is prune back the stems as I suggested; provide the light it had before; and allow the top half inch of soil to dry out before adding any water. Then, you will have to wait patiently for up to a month to see if new shoots emerge.
In the photo, it did look like there is one upright stem. If that stays upright, that is a good sign that there are still some healthy roots remaining.
At best, many roots were damaged but enough remain to support the plant while new roots slowly grow back. But that takes a long time and there are no shortcuts. Fertilizer is not medicine and will not help, for example.
As for the cold, it does not look like cold damage. However, it might be good to find out what the building policy is on turning back the heat after hours. Using a min-max thermometer will also tell you how cold it gets at night and over weekends.