Updated: May 22, 2022

Cleome plants, also known as spider flowers, are popular among gardeners for their delicate and attractive blooms. However, they can be prone to leaf curling, which can be a cause for concern for gardeners. Leaf curling is a common problem in many plants, including cleomes. In this article, we will explore some of the reasons why cleome plant leaves curl and what you can do to prevent it.

Lack of Water

One of the most common reasons why cleome plant leaves curl is a lack of water. When the soil becomes too dry, the plant will start to lose moisture through its leaves, causing them to curl up in an attempt to conserve water. If left unchecked, this can lead to dehydration and eventual death of the plant.

To prevent leaf curl due to lack of water, make sure your cleome plants are getting enough water. Water them deeply at least once a week, or more frequently in hot weather or dry conditions. Mulching around the base of the plant can also help retain moisture in the soil.


While a lack of water can cause leaf curling in cleome plants, overwatering can have the same effect. If the soil is constantly wet or waterlogged, it can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases that cause leaf curling.

To prevent overwatering, make sure you are not watering your cleome plants too frequently. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings and ensure good drainage by adding organic matter or perlite to the soil.

Environmental Stress

Cleome plants are sensitive to environmental stressors such as extreme temperatures, humidity fluctuations, and exposure to strong winds or direct sunlight. These stressors can cause the leaves to curl up as a protective measure.

To prevent environmental stress from causing leaf curling, provide your cleome plants with adequate shade, particularly during the hottest parts of the day. Protect them from strong winds by planting them in a sheltered location or using a windbreak. If you live in an area with high humidity, ensure good air circulation around the plants to prevent fungal diseases.

Pest Infestations

Leaf curling can also be a sign of pest infestations such as aphids, spider mites, or whiteflies. These pests feed on the sap of the plant, causing damage to the leaves and stems.

To prevent pest infestations, keep your cleome plants healthy and well-fed. Use organic insecticides or insecticidal soap to control any infestations that do occur.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Cleome plants require a balanced diet of nutrients to grow and thrive. A lack of essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium can cause leaf curling and other signs of stress.

To prevent nutrient deficiencies, fertilize your cleome plants regularly with a balanced fertilizer that contains all the essential nutrients. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package carefully, and do not over-fertilize as this can cause more harm than good.


Leaf curling can also be a symptom of various fungal diseases such as powdery mildew or downy mildew. These diseases can cause damage to the leaves and stems, leading to curling and eventual death of the plant.

To prevent fungal diseases, ensure good air circulation around your cleome plants and avoid overcrowding. Remove any infected plant material immediately and dispose of it properly.


Can I save my cleome plant if the leaves have already curled?

Yes, in most cases you can save your cleome plant if you act quickly. Identify the cause of the leaf curling and take appropriate action to address it. Water your plant deeply and provide it with adequate shade and nutrients. If pest infestations or fungal diseases are present, use organic insecticides or fungicides to control them.

Can I prevent leaf curling in cleome plants?

Yes, you can prevent leaf curling in cleome plants by providing them with adequate water, nutrients, and protection from environmental stressors. Fertilize your plants regularly and ensure good drainage and air circulation in the soil. Mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture and provide shade during hot weather.

Are cleome plants easy to care for?

Yes, cleome plants are relatively easy to care for and require minimal maintenance. They prefer well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade. Water them deeply once a week and fertilize them regularly with a balanced fertilizer. Keep an eye out for pest infestations and fungal diseases, and take appropriate action if necessary.