What causes leaves to curl in trees? When you stroll through your yard and find one of your favorite specimens exhibiting this unusual behavior, you might feel like panicking. Don’t think of the worst just yet! 

As Andover’s top-rated tree service, our crew at East Coast Tree Service knows a thing or two about arboreal quirks. Keep reading as we dive into the nitty-gritty details—unraveled and simplified, just for you.

what causes leaves to curl


Is your area experiencing a drier season than usual? When Mother Nature doesn’t dole out adequate rainfall, plants bear the brunt. Drought stress causes leaves to curl as the tree attempts to conserve moisture. 

Give your tree a generous soak, aiming for deep, infrequent watering rather than light daily sprinkles. Don’t expect it to perk up immediately; most trees need a few days of consistent hydration before they can bounce back to their verdant glory.

Poor Soil Conditions

Trees, like us humans, need a balanced diet to thrive, and they get most of their nutrition from the surrounding ground. If the soil in your yard has these issues, your tree will feel it:

  • Lack of nutrients: Soil lacking in key elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium and trace elements like manganese, boron, or zinc may cause leaf curling. Consider soil testing to identify deficiencies and supplement them with a well-balanced fertilizer.
  • Poor pH balance: Trees thrive in moderately acidic to neutral soil. If the pH reaches overly acidic or alkaline levels, it often leads to nutrient imbalances. 
  • No drainage: Too much water can prove just as harmful as too little. If the ground retains moisture due to a clay-heavy composition or a flat landscape, it can lead to waterlogged roots, resulting in oxygen deprivation and eventual leaf curl.

Peach Leaf Curl

What causes leaves to curl in trees isn’t always due to environmental factors or care errors. Sometimes, it’s the handiwork of a pesky fungus, Taphrina deformans

This pathogen adores peach and nectarine trees and pulls off a fantastic disappearing act during winters, only to reappear in spring when the new leaves emerge. The infected leaves display an eye-catching, albeit alarming, curling and red discoloration, eventually withering away. 

However, you don’t have to play the audience to this unsolicited performance. Arm yourself with a fungicide treatment in late winter or early spring before the buds break, and you might just save your tree from this dramatic ordeal. 

Remember, timing is everything when it comes to beating this disease. A little too early or late, and your fruiting specimen will suffer. 

Consult a Local Arborist

What causes leaves to curl isn’t always easy to identify. Each tree is a unique individual, much like us, and what ails one may not affect another. Why not leave the problem-solving to the pros? 

At East Coast Tree Service, we have diagnosed many arboreal issues over the years. We can unravel the mystery behind yours, too! Contact us at (781) 518-8014 today.

Read our blog for more insight on the causes of a wilting tree!

JK Painting Services Corp. 12 Tudor St Waltham, MA 02453  Call Today (781) 775-6651
East Coast Tree Service

Based in Reading, MA 01867

Call (781) 518-8014

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Removal, Trimming & Pruning
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