What do the claw-like leaves down mean?

Leaves may be claw-like

When something happens to a plant, it’s almost always the leaves that show the first symptoms. Being more exposed, they are very vulnerable to pests and diseases, but also to excess or lack of water and nutrients. These are complex, since one of their main functions is to carry out photosynthesis, that is, to transform the energy of the sun into food, so when they are damaged or their health deteriorates weakens, the whole plant struggles.

But if there is one symptom that attracts attention, it is to see the claw-like leaves down. It may even feel like paper when we touch them, or we may notice that there are insects on their nerves that damage them.


Why does my plant have downturned claw-like leaves?

As there are several possible causes, we will talk about each of them separately so that you can have a clearer idea of ​​what may be happening to your plant:

Excess manure or fertilizer

First of all, manure must be differentiated from fertilizer: the first has an organic and therefore natural origin; while the second is chemical. It is often said that the fertilizer is the chemical fertilizer, but this is not correct because the fertilizers are, as I say, natural and ecological (so all the fertilizers are allowed for organic farming, but it is not there is no fertilizer that is).

Returning now to the subject at hand, we will see that a plant has leaves in the form of claws pointing downwards if we have paid or fertilized it with a fertilizer rich in any of these nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and/or potassium.

It is especially common to see these symptoms in plants fertilized with nitrogen fertilizers.since we humans generally want them to grow as fast as possible, and nitrogen is the nutrient they most precisely use to grow, we usually don’t hesitate for a moment to apply nitrogen fertilizers without thinking to the consequences.

Phosphorus and potassium primarily benefit flowering, so excessive fertilizers rich in either of these two nutrients applied during flowering can also cause leaf curl.

Nutrient deficiency

Chlorosis is a sign of trouble

Image – Wikimedia/Jerzy Opioła

Even though it’s not something I’ve seen a lot, I think it’s worth mentioning. When a plant lacks nutrients – iron or manganese are usually the most common – it can happen that its leaves become chlorotic but also that they seem to lose weight and “fall off”.

Therefore, it is very important that if we detect the first symptoms (such as yellowing of the leaves), we fertilize the plants with a fertilizer rich in a wide variety of nutrients, such as guano (on sale here).

very high temperatures, heat

When temperatures are higher than they can handle, plants respond in different ways, such as folding their leaves. Others, on the other hand, make their leaves look like a claw downwards. It is a symptom that will not be accompanied by any other; that is, in addition to having its foliage like this, it will be healthy, without any trace of pests.

Now if we plant it in a pot, especially if it is plastic and in full sun, we will surely notice that it is very hot, which is a problem for the roots, because they will have a harder time staying hydrated.

Related article:

Why does my plant have black spots on the leaves?


Many pests hide under the leaves and eventually become deformed, such as the scale insects, aphids or thrips. Since they are very heat-loving, we will see them more active during the warmer months.

Therefore, if we see the insects themselves or discolored spots, we will have to take measures so that the situation does not worsen.

How to recover it?

Leaves should be green and healthy

If you have a plant with leaves like this, the first thing to do is find the cause. And it is that depending on what it is, the steps you need to take for it to recover will be one or the other. For instance:

  • Excess manure or fertilizer: when it is suspected that it has been paid or fertilized more than necessary, what should be done is to irrigate, only with water, so that the product filters. If it is in a pot, it is advisable to remove it and change the soil without touching the root ball or the root ball.
  • Nutrient deficiency: como a veces es es difícil saber que nutriente le falta, lo más aconsejable es abonarla con uno que tenga, al menos, los más important y otros cuya deficiency causing también muchos problems as el nitrogen, el potasio, el fósforo, el manganeso y el iron. But yes, you must follow the instructions on the packaging, otherwise you could cause serious damage.
  • very high temperaturesIf the plant experiences more heat than it can handle, we recommend either putting a shade net over it as sun protection or moving it to a cooler area.
  • harmful: if you have a parasite, such as aphids or scale insects, it must be treated with specific insecticides or a triple action, like this one.

As you can see, your plant may have bad leaves for various reasons, but hopefully you will have the opportunity to recover them.

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