Monstera plants are among the most sought-after houseplants because of their stunning foliage and unique fenestrations. In fact, the rare ones are very expensive and can cost a few thousand dollars per plant. So, if you notice your Monstera leaves curling, it is important take the change seriously.
Why are your Monstera leaves curling? Curling Monstera leaves is primarily caused by stress, often due to underwatering or dehydration.
However, there may be other reasons for its leaves to curl including low humidity, overwatering, improper lighting, humidity issues, pests, diseases, temperature or transplant stress.
Causes Of Monstera Leaves Curling and How to Fix It
When Monstera leaves curl, it is often sign of stress. However, there are a number of different things that can induce stress on this lovely plant.
And in order to fix the curling leaves, you’ll need to diagnose the cause first.
Below, I’ll go through the different reasons for curling leaves in Monstera plants. I’ll also explain why it happens and how to fix each issue.
Lack of water is the most common cause of Monstera leaves curling. When the plant is short on water, it curls its leaves to reduce the surface area. In doing so, it slows down the rate of transpiration which is the process where water evaporates from the leaves.
In general, plants lose 90% or more of their water through transpiration. So, by limiting this process, your Monstera is trying to conserve as much of the little water it does have.
To confirm an underwatered Monstera, check the soil, it will likely be very dry.
Other symptoms include brown, crispy tips and edges and a drooping plant. if you lift the pot, you’ll it will be noticeably lighter than usual since dry soil is much lighter than moist or wet soil.
Fortunately, the solution is quite simple, water the plant.
You want to soak the soil until it is fully saturated. You can do this with a hose since it is more efficient than a watering can.
Keep adding water to the soil until the liquid starts dripping from the bottom holes of the pot, then stop.
It is likewise important to adjust your watering schedule to prevent this from happening again. While the monstera can tolerate dryness, it can only take so much.
Repeated dehydration and prolonged periods of letting the soil stay bone dry will eventually cause damage to the plant.
Chlorinated Tap Water
Sometimes, it is not the quantity of the water but the quality. Although this is less of an issue in most locales, it can still happen.
Most municipalities will add some minerals to the water. The most common are chlorine and fluoride. Both are intended to help keep the water safe for drinking.
However, some cities add more of these chemicals while others less. The variation is where the problem lies for some plants.
When there is too much chlorine or fluoride, the tap water you use to water your Monstera will leave salt residue in the soil. As these residues build up, they become toxic to your plant damaging its roots.
As a way to try and defend or protect itself from the damage, your Monstera leaves curl up.
Unfortunately, the only way to know if this is the cause is to check with your municipality on how much of the chemicals is added to the water.
Alternatively, you can skip tap water and use filtered or purified water instead. You can likewise collect rainwater if you get enough rainfall in your area.
If you want to use tap water, allow it to sit at room temperature for at least overnight to 24 hours. This will allow the chemicals to evaporate before using it to water your plant.
Monstera are native to tropical rainforests. As such, their ideal humidity is between 60% and 80%, although they will tolerate as low as 40%.
However, unless you live in a tropical climate, somewhere near a body of water or have a greenhouse, it may not always be easy to maintain the humidity levels the plant needs.
When this happens, your Monstera leaves curl up due to insufficient humidity. This is especially true if you live somewhere with dry air, have hot, dry summers or cold winters.
In addition to leaf curl, you’ll likely see brown leaf tips and edges as well.
One this that’s important to note is that humidity is moisture-related. It tells you how much moisture there is in the air. Therefore, it is different from watering which pertains to the soil.
This means you need to make the distinction between one and the other and treat them separate.
The easiest way I’ve found to monitor humidity is to use a digital hygrometer. This tells you what the humidity is in any part of your home at any given point in time.
If you see it drop under 40%, it is time to take action.
You can increase humidity through the following methods:
- Use a humidifier
- Place the plant on a pebble tray
- Group it with other plants
- Move the plant to the bathroom
- Give the plant a shower every couple of weeks or so
As a houseplant owner, you always need to be wary about pests.
Monsteras are no exception. And the most common pests to attack the plant are sap sucking insects, including mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, aphids and scale. If there is excess moisture, fungus gnats will come around a swell.
The problem with these pests is that they will rob the plant of its sap.
Sap is the internal fluid that transport both moisture (water) and nutrients to your Monstera’s extremities (the leaves).
Therefore, as the pests feed on the plant, it loses moisture and nutrients. As its water and nutrient resources get depleted, the leaves will curl up. In many cases, the leaves will turn yellow or have yellow spots and patches.
More importantly, pests grow in population very quickly. This means the inflict more damage each day they’re not treated or eradicated.
For this reason it is very important to regularly check for pests. And when you spot any, immediately treat them by spraying them off with a stream of water, using neem oil or insecticidal soap.
The earlier to start treatment, the easier and faster it is to get rid of the pests. Once they become a full-blown infestation, it will take weeks to resolve.
It’s Too Hot
Monstera leaf curl can happen in very hot temperatures. While the plant can tolerate heat quite well, it is the water loss that causes the curling issue.
When the weather gets very hot or the temperature suddenly goes up the plant will lose moisture faster than it normally does.
In a desperate effort to slow down this water loss and retain as much moisture as it can, the plant’s leaves will curl.
This is why it is important to take note of what happens in different times of the year as the seasons change.
When the weather turns from moderate to very hot as it does between spring and summer, the plant will need more moisture and protection from the heat.
On the other hand, once winter arrives, the opposite is true and now you have to watch out for overwatering.
Keeping your Monstera somewhere the temperature can stay in its ideal range of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit will allow it to avoid these issues.
Your Monstera is Rootbound
One often overlooked cause of Monstera leaves curling is a root bound plant. Again, this has to do with lack of moisture.
As your plant gets bigger, it will eventually need a larger container. Monsteras typically need repotting once every 2 years or so depending on how fast or slow it grows.
Once it gets root bound, the roots will take up most of the space in the small pot. This means fewer space for soil.
Therefore, when you water the plant, there’s only a little amount of soil to hold the moisture. Since there are lots of roots, the water held by the soil becomes insufficient to keep the plant hydrated.
This results in lack of moisture which in turn makes the plant curl its leaves.
The best way to check for this is to look at the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If you see roots coming out from there, it means the plant is root bound and needs repotting.
Similarly, if the soil gets dry about 1 or 2 days after you just watered the plant, it means it needs a larger pot with more soil since the current capacity is not holding enough water.
Overwatering is a less common cause of leaf curl in Monstera plants. However, if you’ve gone through the list above and struggle to diagnose the issue, check this one out.
Overwatering is a hidden cause because too much moisture sometimes copies the symptoms of lack of water.
Therefore, it is harder to spot and diagnose.
The biggest difference is that you’ll notice soggy soil and yellow leaves.
In most cases, an overwatered Monstera will have yellow foliage. Meanwhile, lack of water tends to present itself with brown, crispy leaf tips and edges.
The biggest problem with overwatering is root rot. Therefore, if the soil is wet or soggy, it is always a good idea to check on the roots.
- Monstera Root Rot Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
- Thrips on Monstera – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
- When Do Monstera Leaves Split? (And How to Encourage It)
- Why Are My Monstera Leaves Drooping?
- Why Are My Monstera Leaves Turning Brown?
- Why Are My Monstera’s Leaves Turning Yellow?
Last but not least, is the development of new leaves.
When new leaves sprout, they come out curled tightly as they emerge. Over time, they will unfurl and look normal.
I’ve left this for the end since this is something you don’t have to worry about as it is a totally normal and healthy process the plant will go through.
Monstera leaves curling often a sign that something is not right. However, there are many possible reasons why your plant’s leaves are curling. Therefore, it is important to be through in checking to diagnose the problem before applying a solution.