12 Reasons Your Monstera Plant Has Curling Leaves
Curling leaves on monstera plants can happen for a variety of different reasons. The good news is, most of the issues that cause leaf curl are both preventable and treatable. In this article, gardening expert and houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton examines why your monstera may have curling leaves, and how to fix it!
A Monstera’s leaves are one of the things that make these plants so sought-after. That’s why it’s particularly noticeable when these previously lush leaves start curling.
Monstera leaves curl to protect the plant and reduce surface area, by extension reducing transpiration. As soon as this happens, you should look out for signs of stress in the plant. Fixing any issues with growth and environment will be key to saving your plant from any further damage and an untimely demise.
It’s not uncommon to see your Monstera’s leaves curl upwards, downwards, or inwards. Take a look at these 12 reasons why your Monstera’s leaves might be curling to catch any potential problems early on.
One of the first concerns to look out for when leaves begin to curl is underwatering.
Monsteras require consistently moist but well-drained soil to grow best. Bottom watering helps saturate the soil completely, avoiding any pockets of dry soil that can impact the roots.
The process is simple – place the pot in a bucket or sink filled with water and leave for around 30 minutes. Never allow the plant to sit in water for long periods, especially in drip trays, and avoid getting any water on the leaves.
This watering should occur when the top 2 inches or so of soil have dried out. This will change depending on the size of the plant and the pot that it’s in. Moisture meters are good tools to use if you tend to underwater.
These sensors are positioned in the soil and will usually change color to tell you when the soil is dry. Without frequent testing or the use of a moisture meter, you may find your Monstera beginning to curl inwards.
Other signs of underwatering may include crisp wrinkled leaves, yellow or brown spots on the leaves, and soil coming away from the sides of the container. If you notice any of these issues in conjunction with curling, give your plant water immediately and adjust your watering schedule.
Although it can be confusing that opposite issues have the same impact, overwatering can also lead to curling leaves. Overwatering can be caused by watering when the soil is still moist or planting in a container with limited drainage.
Drainage is incredibly important for all houseplants, but especially hemi-epiphytic Monsteras. If water doesn’t drain out of the drainage holes quickly and without resistance, the roots become soggy, causing root rot. As morbid as it sounds, this condition literally suffocates the oxygen-loving roots, ultimately killing them off.
This can potentially kill the whole plant if not resolved, so it’s vital to avoid. It’s hard to tell what’s happening below the soil, which is why we look for signs above the soil. Excess moisture will cause the leaves to curl inwards or upwards.
You may also find dark spots and yellowing on the leaves. Also look for mold on the surface of the soil and stems that are mushy.
If the damage is severe, you may have to repot your Monstera, improving drainage in the container and the soil. Prune off any infected leaves and damaged roots to give your Monstera a new start.
Monsteras need a full day of bright indirect light per day to thrive. This closely matches the jungle conditions of their native habitats where they grow under the shade of trees. The leaves are therefore not used to exposure to the direct sun. Any direct sunlight on the leaves will cause them to burn and curl to shield themselves and conserve moisture.
It is easy to identify scorch marks – brown dry spots appearing on the sides of the plant closest to the light source. This, along with curling, means you need to move your plant away from direct sun as soon as possible.
You can also filter the light with a sheer curtain to avoid any permanent damage. Avoid moving them to a dark area with low light as this will only lead to more growth problems.
Changes In Temperature
Monsteras enjoy temperatures that mimic tropical conditions, growing well in most household environments. The ideal temperature is between 65F and 85F, but they can survive without severe damage at temperatures around 55F. In temperatures under 50F, you are likely to lose your plant due to shock, one of the signs of which is curling leaves.
Even if your Monstera is kept indoors year-round, it isn’t necessarily protected from harsh winters. Cold drafts from open windows and doors, or even excessively high temperatures close to radiators or fireplaces, can lead to curling leaves.
Check the conditions of your ideal placement yourself before leaving your Monstera there permanently. If you notice any issues, move the plant to a more suitable space.
Monsteras love high humidity in the range of 60-80%. If the humidity is too low, the plants will tell you they need help by curling their leaves inwards. Luckily, if you happen to live in a dry area where humidity is low year-round, there are some measures you can take to improve conditions.
Adding a humidifier near your monstera is the ideal solution, although it can be a costly one. Group plants that have similar needs together to keep them all happy at the same time and make your humidifier purchase worthwhile.
Alternatively, place your plants on trays filled with pebbles and water just below the level of the pot. The water should not touch the pot where it can be sucked up through the drainage holes to limit the risks of overwatering and root rot.
Lack of Nutrients
Monsteras grow best with a regular fertilizing routine. These large plants use plenty of nutrients every season to grow taller and put out new leaves. If the nutrients in the pot are not replenished, growth with slow and the plant will become stressed, causing the leaves to curl.
Besides curling leaves, other signs that Monsteras may need feeding include yellowing of the leaves, browning on the edges and stunted growth during the growing season. These signs will be more prevalent in spring and summer than in fall and winter when growth naturally slows.
Be careful not to overfertilize as this will also cause the leaves to curl and wilt. Fertilize according to the instructions on the packaging and preferably conduct a soil test before starting if you suspect nutrient problems, allowing you to look out for the following macronutrient deficiencies.
More than any other element, nitrogen is most important to a monstera due to its large leaves that need the boost to keep them lush and green. A lack of nitrogen will cause the plant’s lower leaves to curl inwards, yellow and form brown dry spots.
Increase the frequency of feeding and choose a fertilizer high in nitrogen for the best results. You can also look out for specialized fertilizers designed for Monsteras online or at your local nursery.
A lack of phosphorus can be identified by the lower leaves of the Monstera curling under and becoming discolored. After all the usual reasons like light, water and pests have been checked off the list, a lack of this important nutrient may be the cause of any curling.
Phosphorus assists with the manufacturing of chlorophyll and is essential for proper root growth. Feed with a balanced fertilizer or one slightly high in phosphorus to resolve the deficiency. Make sure you don’t overdo it and cause an imbalance in the soil.
This nutrient facilitates vigorous growth of the Monstera and, together with the other nutrients, is essential for overall health and growth. If the leaves are discoloring and curling on the tips, it could be a sign that your plant is not getting enough potassium.
Adjust your fertilizing routine and your chosen fertilizer to resolve the issue.
Plants that do not get repotted often may become root bound with compacted soil, leading to a number of problems, including curling leaves.
Compacted soil is the result of the soil hardening and becoming dense. If water sits on top of the soil and doesn’t saturate it, running down the sides of the pot instead, your soil may be compacted. This stops moisture from reaching the roots, leading to curling leaves, yellowing and stunted growth.
Make sure the roots stay aerated by poking the soil every so often with dowels. This keeps the soil loose, allowing water to drain and giving the roots much-needed air.
When the plant is pot-bound, the same curling may appear because the roots have wrapped themselves around the edge of the pot and become restricted. They can no longer draw up moisture, causing the leaves to curl.
It’s important to repot the plant as soon as possible even if it’s out of the ideal time in spring. Choose a pot a few inches bigger and repot into new soil, gently teasing the roots open so that they don’t continue to grow in a circle.
There are various pests that will provoke a response from a Monstera, including curling. Check regularly on the undersides of leaves to see if any insects have taken up residence.
Bugs to look out for include thrips, aphids and spider mites. These are the more common pests that can be a challenge, but keep on the lookout for all pests and diseases and treat them as soon as possible.
The lovely big leaves can be treated with neem oil or insecticidal soap. Follow up for a couple of weeks to make sure the problem completely disappears.
The final cause for curling is not one caused by any problems and, by extension, is no cause for concern. New Monstera leaves will start out curled up, slowly unfurling as they develop. This new growth will be light green and healthy with no signs of damage. Don’t stress about this type of curling – enjoy the excitement of new growth instead.
Monsteras are beautiful plants with big tropical leaves, but any leaves that are damaged and curling are not pleasant to have around. Keep watering (making sure the plant drains well), keep fertilizing, repot often and look out for any pests and diseases to keep them healthy and happy.