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Curling or Wrinkled Leaves in String of Hearts

6 min read

Curling or Wrinkled Leaves in String of Hearts


String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii) succulent is one of the most popular and trendy houseplants due to its unique, captivating appearance, ease of care, and lovely trailing growth habit. Native to South Africa, this plant has long, slender vines that can extend several feet in length. Its leaves are small, elongated, and have a heart-shaped form, giving the plant its common name. The leaves have a grayish-green hue and often display lighter green or silver variegation patterns. They grow in pairs, opposite each other along the trailing stems, and are connected by delicate, thread-like stems, adding to the plant's delicate and graceful appearance.

As a succulent, the String of Hearts has adapted to survive in dry conditions by storing water in its leaves and stems. This plant requires minimal upkeep and can thrive in most indoor environments. However, it does not mean that String of Hearts is trouble-free. Curling or wrinkled leaves is one of these succulents' most common problems, and it usually is an indicator of several underlying issues. Here are some possible reasons for curling leaves and their corresponding solutions:


Insufficient watering is a frequent culprit behind leaf curling in succulents. If the leaves appear wrinkled or shriveled along with curling, it signifies that the plant needs more water. When a String of Hearts doesn't receive enough water, it responds by conserving moisture, which can lead to leaf curling. In addition to curling, an underwatered String of Hearts leaves may appear withered, shriveled, or wrinkled. This is a clear sign that the plant is hydrated.


To solve this problem, increase the frequency of watering sessions to provide the plant with sufficient moisture. The goal is to maintain a proper balance between hydration and allowing the soil to partially dry out between waterings. When watering, ensure that you thoroughly moisten the soil, allowing water to penetrate the root zone. Water until it drains out of the pot's drainage holes, then remove any excess water from the saucer to prevent waterlogging.


It may sound strange, but too much water can also cause the leaves of String of Hearts to curl and wrinkle. The reason is that overwatering can saturate the soil, depriving the roots of necessary oxygen. This can lead to root suffocation, resulting in poor nutrient uptake and overall plant stress. Moreover, excessive moisture in the soil can cause the roots to become waterlogged, preventing them from absorbing water properly. As a result, the leaves may curl as a response to stress.


The solution to this is to move the pot to an airy spot with good airflow and allow the soil to dry. Check for signs of root rot or root damage and repot if necessary with well-draining soil in a porous pot with drainage holes. Don’t forget that good drainage is crucial for succulents, so make sure there is no excess water retained in the pot. Water only when the topsoil is dry to the touch and empty the saucer to prevent the plant from sitting in water.

string of heart

Check for signs of root rot or root damage and repot if necessary with well-draining soil in a porous pot with drainage holes.

Insufficient Light

Proper lighting is very important to String of Hearts. This plant requires an adequate amount of light to carry out photosynthesis and maintain its overall health. Without enough lighting, its ability to produce energy is impaired, which can lead to leaf curling. The leaves can also elongate as the plant tries to reach for more light. The foliage may appear pale or stretched as well. 


The solution is to immediately move your String of Hearts to a location where it can receive a lot of bright, indirect light. Ideally, place it near a north or east-facing window where it can get several hours of gentle morning or afternoon sunlight. If natural light is limited, you can also invest in a grow lamp. To ensure even growth and prevent the plant from leaning towards one side, periodically rotate the pot. This will allow all sides of the plant to receive equal exposure to light.

[High Temperature]High Temperature or Harsh Direct Sunlight

High temperatures and harsh, direct sunlight can contribute to leaf curling in String of Hearts. This plant thrives in moderate temperature ranges, and excessive heat and scorching sun can stress them. This stress can affect their overall health and cause leaves to curl as a protective mechanism. In high temperatures, plants tend to lose water more rapidly through a process called transpiration. This can result in dehydration and leaf curling as the plant tries to conserve moisture. Moreover, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can result in sunburnt, curling leaves. Harsh direct also increase the temperature around the plant, again leading to heat stress. 


To solve this problem, you should move your String of Heart to a shadier spot away from scorching direct sunlight with a milder temperature. You can use sheer curtains, blinds, or shade cloth to diffuse the sunlight and reduce heat exposure. Enhance air movement around the plant by using a fan or keeping windows open to improve ventilation. This can help dissipate heat and prevent excessive heat buildup. Aim to maintain a stable temperature within the ideal range between 65°F to 80°F. 

[Low Humidity]Low Humidity or Dry Air

Low humidity can contribute to leaf curling in String of Hearts succulents. These plants thrive in moderate to high-humidity environments (40-50% humidity level), and when the air becomes too dry, they can experience moisture loss, leading to leaf curling. Prolonged exposure to low humidity can hinder the plant's growth and overall health. It may affect the plant's ability to take up water and nutrients, leading to leaf curling and stunted growth.


To solve the low humidity issue, you can create a more humid environment around the plant by misting the leaves with water using a spray bottle. This helps to increase the humidity directly around the plant. You can also place a tray or saucer filled with water and pebbles near the plant. As the water evaporates, it increases the humidity around the plant. Ensure that the pot is not sitting directly in the water to prevent waterlogging. Alternatively, cluster your String of Hearts with other houseplants to create a microclimate with slightly higher humidity, or simply use a humidifier in the room where the plant is located. 

[Nutrient Deficiency]Nutrient deficiencies, soil problems, or being root-bound

String of Hearts requires a balanced supply of nutrients for proper growth and development. Lack of essential nutrients can lead to leaf curling and other signs of nutrient deficiency. Poor soil quality or improper soil composition can hinder nutrient absorption and water drainage, leading to leaf curling. Heavy or compacted soil can also impede root growth and cause stress to the plant. Being root-bound also prevents your plant to receive nutrients from the soil. 


To tackle this issue, check the soil and root system to see if your plant has outgrown the pot and become root-bound or not. Repot and replace the soil with fresh, high-quality succulent soil mix, make sure the new pot is slightly larger, so the roots have enough space to grow. Fertilize your String of Hearts once a month during the growing season with a diluted liquid fertilizer made for houseplants and succulents. Follow the instruction and do not over-fertilize. 

Transplant Shock

Transplant shock can also be a reason for leaf curling in String of Hearts. When a plant is transplanted into a new pot or location, the plant's roots can be disturbed or damaged, affecting its ability to absorb water and nutrients. This disruption can lead to temporary leaf curling as the plant adjusts to its new environment. Transplanting can disrupt the balance between the plant's root system and the surrounding soil moisture. In some cases, the plant may experience a temporary lack of water uptake, resulting in leaf curling.


When repotting, try to be gentle to minimize root damage. Plant your succulent in fresh, moistened soil, and do not water during the first 1-2 weeks. Give the roots time to settle down. Avoid direct sunlight and extreme temperature. Give your String of Heart a bright, airy spot with a stable temperature so it can recover from the transplant shock.

String of Heart. Variegated String of Heart

Give your String of Heart a bright, airy spot with a stable temperature so it can recover from the transplant shock.

Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases can cause leaf curling in String of Hearts. Pests and diseases can disrupt the plant's ability to regulate water uptake and transpiration. Excessive feeding by pests or damage caused by diseases can result in water loss from the leaves. This water imbalance can lead to wilting and curling of the leaves as the plant tries to conserve moisture. Pests like spider mites and mealybugs feed on the plant's sap. This feeding activity weakens the plant and the leaves may curl as a defense mechanism to reduce the surface area exposed to further damage. Fungal diseases like powdery mildew also disrupt normal leaf functions and cause damage to the leaf tissues.


Check for signs of pests and diseases and treat them promptly. If detected, isolate the affected plant and treat it with suitable insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Ensure thorough coverage of all plant surfaces, including the undersides of leaves. Repeat the treatment as necessary according to the product instructions.


String of Heart care guide. Variegated String of Heart

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