Why Are My Heart Fern Leaves Curling? (Causes and Solutions)

Hemionitis arifolia, or as it’s most commonly known, the heart fern, is the perfect addition to your plant collection whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro.

There are many reasons to love the heart fern. It’s adorable and works well as a design feature in your home.

Whether for indoor decor or your porch or patio collection, this is especially true for smaller spaces where you want a touch of green that’s attractive without taking up much space. 

The heart fern is becoming more popular thanks to its unique look and irresistible springy leaves.

Why Are My Heart Fern Leaves Curling?
Photo by Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

While caring for the heart fern is simple, you may encounter an occasional problem. It can sometimes be temperamental and begin exhibiting perplexing behavior such as curling.

Not to worry, though, if your heart fern’s leaves are curling, it’s usually an easy fix. Keep reading to learn more. 

The Most Common Reasons For Heart Fern’s Leaves Curling

The most common reasons why your heart fern’s leaves curl are usually due to dry soil, plant dehydration, and low humidity. Understanding the cause of this leaf curling and knowing how to fix it is imperative for keeping your heart fern alive and thriving.

Consider the following reasons for this plant problem and the suggested ways to fix them to ensure your leaves are no longer curling and stay healthy. 

Dry Soil

There are a few reasons your heart fern’s leaves are curling up, and the most common reason is that the plant’s soil is too dry. If the soil dries out, you may notice that your plant’s leaves begin to curl quickly. 

Solution: More Frequent Watering 

The remedy for dry soil is to add water—being careful not to overwater it. If the problem persists too long, you may risk the plant dying.

A gradual watering device may prove helpful if you’re away most of the day. Just ensure there is good drainage in your pot.

Plant Dehydration

When your heart fern becomes dehydrated, its leaves begin to curl. In advanced stages of dehydration, you’ll notice the leaves start to turn brown with yellow halos.

Dehydration is caused by a few things, including low humidity, a lack of adequate water, and exposure to overly windy or sunny conditions. 

Solution: Adjust the Environment

Check each factor related to the fern’s environment to determine the cause of dehydration. The most obvious cause would be a lack of water.

Try watering your plants more frequently and misting them. Placing your plant near an open window or with fans or air vents may cause rapid dehydration.

Consider moving your plant to an area without noticeable strong air circulation and indirect light. 

Low Humidity

Another reason your heart fern’s leaves may have begun to curl is that there’s not enough humidity in the air. This is a common problem for areas with lower humidity throughout the year or during cool weather.

It also has a simple fix. 

Solution: Increase Humidity Levels

Heart ferns do best when there is a humidity level of 60 to 80% year-round. If you live in an arid location, you might have issues with leaves curling frequently.

An easy solution to this problem would be putting it in an area with more moisture than anywhere else in the home, such as the bathroom and kitchen.

You can also mist the plant gently every day. If you have access to a humidifier, try placing it in the same space as your heart fern.

You could also group your plant together with other plants. It helps create a micro-climate that generates higher humidity in the immediate area. 

The heart fern tends to do better in warmer, more humid climates. Locations in the south or tropical areas are the best growing conditions for these fun little plants. 

Care Tips to Help Prevent Leaf Curling

These basic care tips can help you create the ideal growing environment for your heart fern.

You’ll be able to reduce the likelihood of leaf curling and other problems that can pose a threat to their health. 

Ideal Soil Conditions

The heart fern prefers to have moist soil and higher humidity levels. However, there is a delicate balance between moist soil and overly wet soil. If the soil is too wet, the fern develops root rot.

The best type of soil to use is standard potting soil. However, if you want to use homemade organic soil from compost, that would be a good choice. 

Regular Pruning

The heart fern likes to be pruned, and cutting the excess leaves and stems is essential to prevent unfavorable growing patterns.

Approximately once per month, it takes time to cut away unruly stems or leaves that are starting to turn colors and dry up.

This routine trimming will stimulate the plant to grow more densely. 


Watering intervals for the heart fern can vary depending on the environment. However, these ferns properly dry out before their next watering.

Check your plants daily to gauge their moisture level. Once the top of the soil layer begins to dry out, it is time to water.

If your plant begins to turn brown, back off watering some and let the plant dry out more.

Lighting Conditions

You may be wondering what lighting condition you need for your heart fern. These plants prefer to have bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day.

The best place to have your fern is near a window or a covered patio. They don’t like the direct sun and will wilt if exposed to the sun’s direct rays for too long.

Getting plenty of early morning sun is suitable for this type of plant. However, if your heart fern begins to wilt at noon or in the afternoon, consider moving it to an area with less sunlight throughout the day.

Related: Why Are My Heart Fern Leaves Turning Yellow?