Why is Monstera Leaf Not Unfurling? The Best Solutions

If you’ve noticed that the newest leaves on your Monstera deliciosa (also known as Swiss cheese plant) are staying tightly rolled up instead of unfurling, you’re not alone. This frustrating issue is common with monsteras, leaving plant parents confused about what’s causing the problem and what to do to help the leaves open up. In this post, we’ll cover the most common reasons behind Monstera leaf not unfurling and give you some tips to get those leaves to finally unfold. Stick around to learn what factors like light, humidity, temperatures, pests, and nutrients have to do with getting stubborn Monstera leaves to grow to their full size and show off their iconic split leaf shape.

Common causes of monstera leaf not unfurling

Luckily, there are several usual reasons for this problem, as well as solutions to ensure that your Monstera stays strong and lively.

Monstera leaves not unfurling

Cause 1: The plant is too young

As an excited plant parent, it’s understandable to be eager for your new Monstera deliciosa to start showing off its iconic split leaves. However, the sad truth is that fenestrations take time to develop – sometimes over a year for young monsteras! Have hope, the wait is worth it.

What’s happening behind the scenes:

  • Young monsteras focus energy on establishing a strong root system and gaining height rapidly. Fancy holes come later.
  • The first year consists of solid, heart-shaped leaves without splits. This is completely normal growth.
  • Around 6 months – 1 year, the plant matures enough to start developing fenestrations. Each new leaf will have increased splits.

While you wait:

  • Provide ample indirect sunlight to encourage maturity.
  • Mist frequently to increase humidity and help new leaves unfurl.
  • Stick to a consistent watering and fertilizing routine for healthy growth.

Remember – your Monstera is like a teenager going through awkward puberty on its way to mature glory. Be patient with your plant child! The fenestrations will come with time. For now, enjoy those smooth, solid leaves knowing split leaves are coming soon.

Cause 2: Too Much Sunlight

We all know sunlight is a precious resource for our botanical friends. But when it comes to the Monstera deliciosa, more isn’t always better – too much direct light can actually inhibit growth and cause leaves to curl up instead of unfurling fully. Give your Monstera a sunburn and you might end up with a stunted, crispy plant child. Yikes!

Signs of light stress:

  • Yellow or brown crispy patches on leaves
  • Stunted leaf growth
  • Curled, wrinkled leaves refusing to unfurl
  • Crispy, dry leaf edges

Help for a sun-struck Monstera:

  • Immediately move away from the harsh light source, keep nearby a bright indirect window instead. Filtered light is best!
  • Increase watering to hydrate parched leaves. Aim for consistently moist soil.
  • Gently prune any severe leaf damage to reduce stress.
  • Patience, patience! Recovery takes time. Provide proper care while your Monstera heals.

Preventing future sunburns:

  • Observe light changes during day, adjust positioning accordingly.
  • Filter intense light with sheer curtains or shade cloth.
  • Rotate plant regularly for even sun distribution on all sides.

The takeaway? Monsteras thrive in bright, INDIRECT light. Shield your plant from sunbeams to allow lush, happy growth. A sunburned Monstera is a sad Monstera – filter that light!

Cause 3: Not Enough Water

Water is the fuel for healthy plant growth, and consistently moist soil is key for Monsteras to thrive. Underwater your Monstera, and you’ll likely face tightly rolled leaves refusing to reach their full potential. Essentially, deprivation of water leaves Monsteras feeling limp, limiting essential turgor pressure in leaves required for expansion and unfurling.

Symptoms of an underwatered Monstera:

  • Drooping, limp leaves lacking their usual perk
  • Wrinkled, puckered leaves as moisture decreases
  • Bone-dry soil when checking several inches down
  • Slow growth and development
  • Leaves remaining curled in their casing

Reviving a parched Monstera:

  • Thoroughly soak soil until water drains freely from bottom, repeat as needed
  • Don’t overdo it! Ensure soil is moist not soggy for recovery
  • Misting leaves can provide temporary hydration boost
  • Patience! Allow time to rehydrate before new growth occurs

Preventing future underwatering:

  • Research specific variety’s water requirements
  • Check soil moisture, don’t just stick to a schedule
  • Choose well-draining pots to match watering habits
  • Increase humidity around plant to reduce drying out

The takeaway? Keep that soil consistently moist, not bone-dry! Proper and frequent watering unlocks a Monstera’s full potential for lush, unfurled growth.

Cause 4: Excess Fertilizer

It’s tempting to shower our leafy friends with nutrient-rich fertilizer to fuel lush growth, but just like candy, too much plant food can cause indigestion! Overfertilize your Monstera and you may end up with fertilizer burn, stunting development and preventing those iconic split leaves from unfurling fully. Essentially, an overabundance of nutrients can scorch tender new growth, disrupting the entire unfurling process.

Symptoms of overfed Monsteras:

  • Leaf scorching and brown spots along edges
  • Stunted, deformed new growth
  • Crispy, dry leaf edges
  • White salt deposits crusted on soil

Helping an overfed Monstera:

  • Flush soil thoroughly with plain water to remove excess salts
  • Take a break from fertilizer for at least a month
  • Repotting may be required if soil is too saturated
  • Patience! Recovery takes time after chemical overload

Preventing fertilizer burn:

  • Carefully follow label instructions for any fertilizer
  • Monsteras are light feeders – dilute plant food
  • Fertilize sparingly during active growth seasons
  • Match soil type and adjust food levels accordingly
  • Observe plant and tune feeding to its needs

The takeaway? Moderation prevents fertilizer burn! Aim for balanced, diluted nutrition instead of an overabundance to keep your Monstera happy and promote lush, unfurled growth.

Cause 5: Poor Air Circulation

While we relish a refreshing breeze, it’s easy to overlook a plant’s need to “breathe.” Without adequate air circulation, your Monstera can struggle to photosynthesize and grow properly, leading to stunted, curled leaves unable to reach their full unfurled potential. Essentially, still, stagnant air thwarts essential gaseous exchange in leaves and increases susceptibility to diseases.

Signs of poor air flow:

  • Small, deformed growth in new leaves
  • Loss of vibrant color, pale leaves
  • Leaf drop as plant struggles to thrive
  • Potential fungal issues in stagnant air

Improving air flow:

  • Open windows regularly to refresh stale air
  • Gently fan leaves to mimic natural breeze
  • Avoid overcrowding plants together
  • Consider an air purifier to filter air

Preventing stagnant conditions:

  • Position plant away from still air areas
  • Rotate plant for even circulation exposure
  • Prune excess foliage blocking air flow
  • Maintain moderate humidity around 50-60%

The takeaway? Proper air circulation is super important for Monsteras to unfurl happily! Allow breezes to dance through those leaves, open windows, rotate the plant, and prune congestion. Keep the air fresh and flowing!

Cause 6: Pest Problems

A bunch of things can stop a Monstera leaf from opening up, with bugs bothering being a main one. A few common culprits that can mess up Monsteras include:

  • Aphids: These tiny, soft-bodied bugs often hang out on the underside of leaves, feeding on plant sap, which can weaken the plant and stop new leaves from opening up.
  • Spider mites: These tiny, eight-legged creatures like dry, dusty places and feed on plant fluids, causing leaf discoloration and wilting.
  • Mealybugs: Covered in white, fluffy wax, these bugs suck out plant sap, which can weaken the plant and disrupt leaf opening up.

If you think you’ve got bugs, isolate your Monstera to avoid the spread of pests to other plants. Take a good look for signs of bugs – keep an eye out for insects, eggs, or webs on the leaves, stems, and leaf undersides.

When you find the Monstera pests ,use a safe bug spray for houseplants. Be sure to stick to the label instructions when using it.

Along with bug treatment, making sure your Monstera’s growing conditions are good is important. This involves providing bright yet indirect light, soil that drains well, and regular watering. With the right care, your Monstera should bounce back from the bug attack and start growing leaves again.

Cause 7: Incorrect Temperature

Monstera plants do well within a specific temperature range, generally between 65-85°F (18-29°C). If the temps get too high or low, these plants may react by showing signs of stress, such as leaf deformation or stopping leaf opening.

If you see a new leaf on your Monstera staying all coiled up, you should check out the environment where it’s living, with a specific focus on temperature. If it’s too cold, this could be the problem. In these cases, moving the plant to a warmer area can often fix it.

However, remember that temperature isn’t the only thing that affects leaf opening. Other things like humidity, light, watering habits, and overall plant health are important too. To make sure Monsteras grow and open their leaves properly, caring for all their needs is recommended.

Cause 8: Inadequate Lighting

Monstera plants do well under bright, indirect light. Not enough light can lead to leaves that aren’t fully grown or that don’t open up right.

Increase the light exposure so that it has more energy from photosynthesis to unfurl. This often gets falsely blamed on low humidity, but it’s not the cause. To make sure your Monstera gets enough light, put it near a south, east, or west-facing window. Use grow lights if natural light isn’t enough. Direct sunlight, though, can harm the leaves. Watch out for curling or yellowing leaves – a sign your plant might need more light. Fixing this, along with proper watering, enough dampness, and pest control, should help your Monstera open its leaves beautifully.

Cause 9: The pot is too small

Imagine trying to grow in a tiny pot with roots tangled and congested – that’s the plight of a pot-bound Monstera struggling to reach its unfurling potential! Essentially, limited space inhibits development, leading to stunted, deformed growth. Just like us, plants need elbow room to expand happily.

Signs of a cramped Monstera:

  • Small, stunted new leaves unable to unfurl
  • Tightly circling, rootbound root mass
  • Quickly drying soil requiring frequent watering
  • Soil pushing up from pressure of cramped roots

Helping a pot-bound Monstera:

  • Repot into a container 2-3 inches larger
  • Use fresh, well-draining soil to prevent rot
  • Gently loosen bound root mass to encourage spread
  • Water thoroughly after repotting to settle soil

Preventing future issues:

  • Repot every 1-2 years as the plant grows
  • Watch for signals like stunted growth and repot
  • Choose breathable pots like terracotta over plastic
  • Observe plant and repot when needed, no sooner

The takeaway? Size matters – avoid cramped quarters! Repot regularly into progressively larger pots to keep roots happy and promote lush, unfurled growth as your Monstera expands.

Related: How and When to Repot Monstera to keep your plant happy

By dealing with the issues above and taking good care of your Monstera, you can help it to do well and grow new leaves. With the right environment and a bit of patience, your Monstera should start opening up its beautiful leaves.

How long does it take for a monstera leaf unfurling?

It typically takes 1-6 weeks to see initial progress of a monstera leaf unfurling from its protective cataphyll sheath. However, the full process from emerging bud to completely unfurled maturity can take anywhere from 1-7 months, depending on several variables:

  • Monstera variety – Some unfurl faster (Monstera deliciosa) than others (Monstera adansonii)
  • Growing conditions – Bright, indirect light, warm temps around 70-80°F, and 50-60% humidity encourage faster growth
  • Leaf size – Larger leaves naturally take more time to unfurl than smaller ones
  • Overall plant health – Well-established, healthy plants unfurl leaves quicker than struggling ones

So in summary – you can expect the unfurling journey to begin within 1-6 weeks, but reaching final maturity can take 1-7 months. Be patient, provide ideal care, and enjoy watching your monstera leaves slowly reveal their splendor!

Monstera leaves not opening

Why is monstera leaf turn brown before unfurling?

A Monstera leaf browning prior to full expansion is often caused by improper moisture levels impeding healthy development. The most common culprits are inconsistent watering leading to either under or overhydration of the delicate emerging foliage.

Additionally, low ambient humidity can dehydrate tender new growth, causing it to brown and die off. Ideal humidity levels are 50-60% for Monstera plants.

Nutrient deficiencies and light-related stress like sunburn or insufficient brightness may also brown pre-unfurled leaves. Extreme hot or cold temps can shock the plant, impacting leaf growth as well.

While pests and diseases are less likely, they can occasionally damage young foliage and cause browning too.

Once emerged, the leaf relies heavily on soil moisture, humidity and ambient conditions before fully establishing its own vascular system. Any environmental fluctuations during this sensitive time may impede development and cause browning.

To prevent issues, aim for consistent soil moisture, ambient humidity around 50-60%, bright indirect light, and temperatures from 70-80°F. Also rule out pests or disease if browning is recurrent. Catching and addressing problems early on is key!

Monstera leaf turn brown before unfurling

Step-by-step guide to help Monstera leaves unfurl quickly?

When you first get a Monstera, its leaves might not have opened up yet. No biggie, with the right care, your Monstera’s leaves will open in no time! Here are some tips to help Monstera leaves open quickly:

  1. Ensure bright, indirect light: Adequate sunshine (but avoid direct light) provides the energy leaves need to expand properly. Position near a sunny window filtered by a sheer curtain.
  2. Maintain even moisture: Consistent watering encourages healthy leaf development. Check soil before watering again, aim for moist but not soaked.
  3. Increase humidity: Monsteras thrive in 50-60% humidity. Use a pebble tray with water or mist leaves daily to replicate moist rainforests.
  4. Give warm temperatures between 65°F-80°F: Cooler temps can delay growth. Monitor with a thermometer and move plant if needed.
  5. Provide a moss pole for climbing: This mimics their natural habitat. As leaves emerge, gently tie them to the pole in proper unfurling position with soft plant ties or velcro strips. The support aids the process.

Be patient for leaves to reach full size but these tips will have your Monstera foliage flourishing quickly! Proper care makes all the difference.


For all you anxious plant parents out there impatiently waiting for your Monstera’s next fenestrated wonder to unfurl – take a deep breath! As we’ve explored here together, many factors can disrupt the natural process of those iconic split leaves opening up to reveal their full glory.

We understand the frustration when new Monstera foliage gets stuck and refuses to budge from its tightly furled state, or when leaves emerge but never quite reach their intended size or holey splendor. But don’t lose hope! Arming yourself with the knowledge from this FamiPlants post means you now hold the keys to identifying what environmental factors might be causing your plant’s leaf stunting issues.

Whether due to inconsistent moisture, crowded roots, light stress, pests, or other triggers, getting to the root cause is step one. From there, you can course-correct care conditions to coax your Monstera out of its leaf-curling woes. With attentive troubleshooting, adjusted care, and a whole lot of patience, those lackluster curled leaves can transform into the fully unfurled fenestrations you’ve been waiting for.

So take a deep breath, make the needed tweaks, support emerging growth, and believe in your Monstera’s potential. The perfectly slotted, gorgeously unfurled leaves are waiting just around the corner – the journey there just takes a little TLC and time! We’re rooting for you, plant parents.

Hi, I'm Cathleen Clemens. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in plant science. I gained detailed knowledge about various kinds of plants and how to properly care for them. My experience has enabled me to easily detect any issues such as pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, or signs of diseases in the plants.

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