Why Do Bromeliad Leaves Curl?

Bromeliads are one of the most popular houseplants. Many people love them because of their attractive leaves and vibrant colors. But did you know that bromeliad leaves may curl under some specific conditions?

Bromeliads with curly leaves

Bromeliad leaves curl because of a variety of reasons. The most common one is underwatering. Even if bromeliad is drought tolerant, you can’t deprive it of water for long. When this plant does not receive water for more than four weeks, the cells in the leaves begin collapsing, which causes them to dry and curl.

Other factors cause bromeliad leaves to curl, such as excessive light and temperature stress.

This article will help you to determine all the reasons behind this bromeliad leaf curling. Furthermore, you will learn how to prevent this issue from happening again.

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Why Do Bromeliad Leaves Curl?

Bromeliads are robust plants that tolerate various conditions and rarely show signs of stress, such as curling. Additionally, some bromeliad varieties are natively curly. However, if you notice extreme curling on the leaves of this plant, then the cause is one or a few mistakes in the care protocol.

If you are interested in a video explanation of curly leaves, check out the following video:

Causes and solutions for curly leaves

We grouped all the causes of curly bromeliads in the paragraphs below to help you go through them quickly. 

Can we help you Find the Perfect Spot for Your Bromeliad? Read our full guide Guide Here

Inappropriate Watering

Underwatering: lack of water is the number one factor that causes bromeliad leaves to curl. When the roots and leaves of this plant are not given enough water, they will start to crumble. This causes the leaves to curl and lose their color.

Use of inappropriate water: when you water bromeliad using tap water, they will start to curl because this kind of water contains a lot of contaminants. These include heavy metals, minerals, and chemicals. These toxins can cause the plant to develop health problems such as leaf wilting, curling, and discoloration.

Solution: If your plant is wilting because of overwatering, you can save it by transplanting it into the new soil. Start by taking the plant out of the pot, loosen the roots and rinse them thoroughly. After that, check for rotten roots and cut them using a scissor. Finally, fill the pot with a fresh potting mix and plant your bromeliad in it. This will help the plant recover from overwatering and grow new healthy leaves instead of curly ones.

If your bromeliad is curling because of underwatering, you should give it water immediately. Water it thoroughly and check the soil over the next few days. When the soil is dry, give the plant additional water.

Watering bromeliads every few days is not recommended. However, when the plant is thirsty, it may absorb water faster than usual to compensate for the lack of water it suffered before. In this case, you must continue giving it water until you recognize that the soil is drying out slower.

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Excessive Sun Exposure

When bromeliad leaves are exposed to direct sunlight, they wilt and dry out, making them curl upwards. While the sun provides energy for the plant, it can also cause leaf damage and kill the plant.

Excessive sun exposure can be detrimental to tropical plants like a bromeliad. Leaves constantly exposed to direct sunlight can burn, especially if the leaves are young and thin. Also, overexposure to direct sunlight can make the leaves brittle, which means they will break off when touched.

Solution: If your bromeliad is curling because of excessive sun exposure, move it to a shaded area for a day or two. Then, take your plant to where it will receive sunlight and use a hanging sheet or screen to protect it from direct light.

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Heat Stress

Excessive heat will cause bromeliad leaves to curl by making the plant stressed. It becomes unable to cope with the excess heat and will start to shut down to save energy and protect itself.

Excessive heat is very detrimental to plants. High temperatures will dehydrate the leaves, causing them to crack, dry, and wilt.

Bromeliad varieties with larger leaves have thicker cell walls, which makes them better able to withstand the effects of heat stress. However, soft leaves bromeliads are more vulnerable to heat stress. If you have a soft-leafed bromeliad variant, reducing the amount of sunlight it receives is best.

Solution: If you doubt that the heat around your bromeliad is causing the leaves to curl, then use a thermometer to check the temperature using a thermometer and adjust it accordingly. If the temperature is above 80°F, move the plant to a cooler area.

We recommend using an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature around your plant. This kind of thermometer measures the temperature without touching the leaves or the soil, which reduces the risk of contaminating or damaging the plant.

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Low Humidity

Bromeliads love high-humidity environments. Such an environment gives the plant conditions similar to its native habitat and allows it to have better control over its moisture content. However, when the humidity drops, the leaves shrivel up and curl over, forming a sort of umbrella-like effect.

Low humidity conditions can cause the stems and leaves of your bromeliad to become brittle and break easily. It may also damage the new growth of your plants.

Solution: When the leaves of your bromeliad are curling because of low humidity, you should immediately increase the plant’s moisture by misting it. To do so, add distilled water to a spray bottle and start spraying the plant until you see water drops on all the leaves.

After misting your bromeliad, you should keep the humidity high and consistent for the plant. To do this, place a tray of pebbles under the pot and fill it with water. The pebbles will absorb the water and help to keep the plant humid.

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Exposure To Metals (Especially Copper)

Metal toxicity is one of the primary causes of leaf distortion. A metal such as copper can be toxic to the roots, leading to leaf problems, poor growth, and eventual death.

When copper builds up in bromeliads, it can cause the leaves to curl and the stems and branches to turn brown.

Copper poisoning can result in other symptoms, including stunted growth, reduced leaf size, and deformed leaves.


To save bromeliad curling because of copper toxicity, try to remove the plant from the pot and rinse the leaves and roots. After that, cut any dead leaves or roots. Next, let the plant dry and prepare a fresh potting mix.

If you have been growing the plant in plastic or styrofoam, you should change it to a clay or ceramic pot.

Fill the new pot with the potting mix and plant your bromeliad. Finally, water your plant thoroughly to help the roots settle into the potting soil.

Inappropriate Fertilizing

Overfeeding: Too much of a good thing is a bad thing! This is the case with overfertilizing. When you provide bromeliad with too much fertilizer, you may cause mineral toxicity. Which can lead to stunted growth and leaf curl.

In extreme cases, when you overfeed your plant with a highly concentrated chemical fertilizer, you may kill the plant completely.

Additionally, bromeliad requires only a minimum fertilizer applied exclusively during the growing season.

Lack of Nutrition: 

Nutrients are the building blocks of all life. A plant can only live, grow, and reproduce if it gets what it needs.

When your bromeliad has no access to the necessary nutrients, it can become stunted and weak, with yellow curling leaves. 

Even if bromeliad does not require a lot of fertilizing, it may require nutrients when the soil becomes depleted of some minerals. Generally, when a plant grows in soil for a long time without repotting, it will make it depleted. That’s why repotting your bromeliad into a fresh potting mix every year at the beginning of the growing season is crucial.


If your bromeliad is curling because of overfeeding, you should change the potting soil completely because the plant will not grow in such soil.

To prepare a new potting soil for your bromeliad, it’s better to use a mix that is rich in organic matter and offers good drainage. A blend of peat moss, vermiculite, or perlite is a good choice.

If your bromeliad is curling because of underfeeding, you should test your soil and add the nutrients you lack.

I know that this method is complex and that soil tests are expensive. However, this is the only accurate solution to determine if your soil is depleted. Not only this, but you will know exactly which nutrients are lacking in the soil, saving you from adding an element that already exists in the soil.

If you don’t want to perform a soil test, you can still save your underfeed bromeliad by using a “balanced diluted slow-release” fertilizer with a 14:14:14 NPK ratio.

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How to Prevent Bromeliad Leaves from Curling?

To avoid bromeliad leaf curl, you should give it appropriate care. You can achieve this by mimicking the native habitat of this plant. In fact, bromeliad grows initially in tropical climates where the weather is warm, the humidity is high, and the sunlight is available in abundance.

Bromeliads with healthy Leaves

To mimic the tropical climate and therefore prevent your bromeliad from curling, you should follow the subsequent steps:

Keep the Plant Away from Intense light.

To protect the bromeliad from the risk of bright light, try to grow it within a few inches of a south or east-facing window. If you are developing this Plant somewhere where windows are unavailable, try to use a medium-intensity grow light to keep it healthy.

You may also want to consider removing the Plant from direct sunlight during midday hours. This will reduce the risk of sunburn, especially during the hot days of August.

Avoid Overwatering by Using a Moister Meter

To avoid the risk of giving your bromeliad more water than it needs, you should check the soil before watering using a moister meter. This small device measures the more humid soil in the soil and allows you to monitor your watering schedule.

Most bromeliads can survive without water for more than two weeks. Therefore, you should avoid frequent watering for this Plant.

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Water Using Distilled or Demineralized Water

Bromeliads need a high-quality water source that is free of contaminants and minerals. If you cannot provide such water, you should consider using distilled or demineralized water instead.

Obviously, this will be more expensive than tap water, but it is the only way to ensure your bromeliad survives.

If you decide to use tap water, you should let it sit overnight to remove all the impurities. 

Keep the Plant Away from Heat Sources

Bromeliads like to be in a warm environment. However, the temperature should not go higher than 80°F in the worst cases. That’s why you should avoid growing this Plant in a heated room or near a heating source.

Many people choose to grow bromeliads in the kitchen to profit from the humidity created by cooking. If you do so, keep the Plant from heat sources like stoves or ovens. 

Fertilize at the Right Time Using the Suitable Product 

There are different fertilizers available for bromeliads. However, not all fertilizers are suitable for every bromeliad species. For example, most bromeliads need some form of nitrogen fertilizer.

Nitrogen is one of the primary nutrients that plants need. Some bromeliads need an ammonium-based fertilizer, and some need slow-release nitrogen.

Also, this Plant requires to be fertilized at the right time. Bromeliads need to be fertilized when they’re in active growth.

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Diana Cox

I'm Diana from thegardeningtalk.com. I love to spend my free time in my garden. It's a place where I can be creative, feel calm and learn new things about life. I started gardening when I was in elementary school and it became a passion of mine. Now I love to share my love of gardening with others by teaching classes and giving advice.

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