Underwatering, low humidity, cold drafts, overwatering, and heat stress are the most common causes for Monstera leaves curling. But too much light, pests, disease, nutritional deficiencies, overfeeding, or being root-bound may also make your Monstera leaves curl.
We will look at each of the above causes, give you other signs to expect and quick fixes. Don’t worry whether it is a Monstera deliciosa, adansonii, standleyana, Peru, dubia, or any other species that has curling leaves. The reasons and fixes are the same.
- About Monsteras
- Monstera care and growing conditions
- Why is my Monstera leaves curling?
- 1. is underwatering making Monstera leaves curl?
- 2. Low humidity
- 4. Overwatering (root rot)
- 4. How do cold drafts make Monstera leaves curl?
- 5. Heat stress
- 6. Too much light
- 7. Pot bound
- 8. Can it be pests?
- 9. Powdery mildew
- 10. Nutritional deficiencies and Monstera leaves curling
- 11. Overfeeding and Monstera leaves curling
- When is Monstera leaves curling normal?
- 1. Aging
- 2. Transplanting shock
- 3. New unfurling leaves
Monstera is a tropical climbing plant genus in the family arum Araceae or so-called aroids with over 37 accepted species. They are native to Central and tropical South America and grow in the warm and humid tropical rainforests, receiving filtered light from the tall tree canopies.
People adore Monsteras because of their lovely foliage. The charming juvenile leaves, some of which are variegated, and the large mature split and fenestrated (perforated) leaves, make these plants a true wonder of nature.
Lastly, the most common species is Monstera deliciosa, followed by Monstera Adansonii. These two are known as the Swiss Cheese Plant. The rarest is Monstera obliqua and some variegated Monsteras.
Monstera care and growing conditions
Before we give you reasons for Monstera leaves curling, here is a summary of Monstera's care and growing needs. They will be a good reference in fixing some of the causes. As you will see, some reasons relate to growing conditions and care issues.
|Low or easy, except for Monstera obliqua
|USDA hardiness zone
|10b to 12. Not frost hardy and freezing temperatures will kill your Monstera plant
|60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (about 15 to 27 °C)
|High or above-average, 60% or but can tolerate slightly lower 40% and above except Monstera obliqua (needs 80% to 90%)
|Bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight or low lights.
|They need chunky, well-drained, and aerated soil or potting mixes high in organic matter. Avoid heavy, compacted, or poorly drained soils.
|Medium. Water after the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil dries. In summer and spring, it will be after about 4-7 days in winter or fall it may be after two weeks or more. But this depends on prevailing conditions.
|Medium. Feed once a month with a balanced liquid all-purpose indoor plant food in spring and summer only. Slow-release for potted indoor plants is ok. Start feeding in spring and follow the given instructions.
|Pruning and grooming
|Cut any old, diseased, or damaged leaves with a sterilized scissor, and during spring or summer, you can trip a few stems or branches to keep shape and control growth.
|Potting and repotting
|Pot after 2 to 3 years or when root-bound. Use a pot 2 to 3 inches wider in diameter.
|Toxic or harmful to humans, dogs, cats, and other pets
Why is my Monstera leaves curling?
There are many reasons for Monstera plant leaves curling, and most are related to these plants losing too much water than roots can absorb. But some causes have nothing to do with watering.
Secondly, most of the causes will make your Monstera leaves curl inward or upward. But some, a few, will make the leaves curl downwards, as you will see.
Thirdly, the curling of leaves often occurs with other symptoms. Some of these signs are leaves, Monstera leaves drooping or dropping. Also, there may be leaf discoloration (yellowing, darkening, or browning), distortion, plant wilting, and so on.
Here are the causes of Monstera leaves curling, their signs, and fixes or remedies:
1. is underwatering making Monstera leaves curl?
The most common cause for Monstera leaves curling leaves inward, or upward is underwatering. When this plant is thirsty, it will curl its leaves to minimize further water loss through transpiration.
Underwatering occurs due to negligence (forgetting to water), inconsistent watering, or following a water routine without checking the soil. Other factors like humidity, a potting mix that dries quickly, light, plant size, and temperature may contribute.
Besides cupping or upward curling of leaves, the soil will be dry in underwatered Monstera. Also, the leaves will feel dry, have crispy brown tips and edges, droop and turn yellowish. If ignored, your plant will start to grow slowly, wilt, and eventually die.
How do you fix it?
Start by feeling a few inches of the soil, up to the 1st knuckle of your finger. If it is dried out, immediately water it. Alternatively a soil moisture meter. So far, we are happy with XLUX and Gouevn. But there are other good brands too.
When watering, slowly soak the soil or potting mix water until excess comes from the drainage hole. Discard any that collects on the pot saucer.
Secondly, change from routine watering after some days to when the top 2 to 3 inches. You can also wait until about the top 50 to 75% of the soil is dry. You don’t need a soil moisture meter, but you can buy one if necessary.
Thirdly, monitor how often your plant dries. If too quickly, consider getting a potting mix that holds moisture for a little longer. However, it must be well-drained and aerated. Also, check if it is root-bound or if the humidity is too low. These two may make the soil to dry so quickly.
Lastly, determine how often you water your plant and set a reminder. For instance, if you water once every 4 to 7 days in a particular season, set a reminder on the fourth day. However, don’t water before you feel the soil.
2. Low humidity
If not water, the second most likely and closely reason for Monstera leaves curling inward is low humidity. Monsteras require above-average humidity but wouldn’t mind average. But if your home has very low humidity and your plant loses more water than it can absorb, its leaves will start curling. Again, the curling happens in an attempt to minimize water loss.
Low humidity will also mean more water loss from the soil (evaporation). Thus, you may need to adjust how often you water your houseplants.
Leaves will feel dry, and then they will start turning yellowish and have crispy brownish edges and tips. If you do nothing, your Monstera leaves drop, and the plant will begin to wilt.
How do you fix it?
To be sure, get an accurate digital hygrometer to get humidity. We recommend Govee Temperature Humidity Monitor as it comes with an app that will give you alerts and measure temperature.
If your home humidity is below average, here is what to do:
- Buy a humidifier. It is the surest way to maintain high humidity. These gadgets don’t cost a lot. Try Pure Enrichment® MistAire™. It is quiet, affordable, and will for up to 25 hours.
- Have a pebble tray. It is an easy solution to raise humidity. Take a shallow tray, put some pebbles, and add water leaving the stones halfway immersed. Then let your plant pot stand on these rocks, ensuring water doesn’t reach the pot. As the water evaporates, it will lower humidity.
- Mist your plants a few times a week. Unfortunately, misting alone will not help if the humidity leaves too low.
- Move your plants to your bathroom, kitchen, or any other root that has high humidity. Also, you can buy a greenhouse cabinet or terrarium.
- Group your plants to help create a micro-climate that will have higher humidity. This approach will work if your house humidity isn’t too low.
4. Overwatering (root rot)
Overwatering doesn’t directly cause the Monstera leaves to curl on their own. However, excessive watering and other factors like heavy, compatible, or poorly drained soil will reduce air circulation in the potting mix. This will weaken your plant’s roots, making it susceptible to root rot.
When your plant gets root rot, the roots will no longer effectively absorb oxygen, nutrients, and water. Consequently, your plant will lack water and nutrients, and its leaves will begin curling to save water.
The first signs of overwatered Monstera are a constantly wet potting mix and yellowing of leaves. When root rot sets in, your plant will grow slowly and wilt. Also, the stem base will be mushy, leaves may have brown splotches, and the potting mix may mold. If unchecked, your plant will die.
What to do?
Begin by feeling if the soil is soggy. Next, slowly slide the plant out to see if it has brown or black roots. Note that they may be smelling too. If you see any, immediately repot your Monstera.
When repotting, tap the plant to get rid of the old potting mix. Also, use a sterilized scissor to cut any brown or black roots. Don’t forget to get a suitable Monstera soil mix and have a pot with drainage holes.
4. How do cold drafts make Monstera leaves curl?
Cold air blasts will make will quickly strip away water from your Monstera leaves by transpiration. Also, if so cold, it may freeze the plant, affecting the normal flow of nutrients and water. Both these two will make the leaves of your plant curl to curb further water loss.
The other possible explanation for curling is to reduce the leaf surface area. This will minimize the effect of cold. Their also the freezing damage theory and the mechanical theory
Besides your Monstera leaves curling up or upwards, it will have crispy brown tips and edges. Also, they may turn brown yellow or look faded. Other signs include wilting, leaves looking burnt, and so on.
How to fix it
If cold drafts are the reason why your Monstera leaves are curling, you need not worry. Why? Because you can quickly fix the issue, your plants will recover soon.
Begin by moving your plants from drafty areas, i.e., near air conditioning vents, on porch or patio doors, as well as drafty windows or doors, and placing them in warmer, less drafty areas.
Then remove any damaged or yellow leaves as they benefit the plant but may still feed on it.
5. Heat stress
Hot summers, a rise in temperature, heat waves, or any other heat source may cause heat stress to your Monsteras. When this happens, leaves may start rolling up and curling to save water.
Why do they curl leaves? Because these plants may lose water faster than roots can supply. Also, your soil will dry more quickly (more water evaporates), worsening things.
The other possible theory is to help reduce the surface area exposed to heat, i.e., protect itself from heat.
Lastly, very high temperatures can damage plant cells, meaning they cannot move nutrients or water as usual.
Apart from curling leaves, expect some drying and browning on the edges and tips. Also, the leaves may drop, and your plant may start wilting. If you do nothing, your plant may die.
How to fix it
During heatwaves or hot summers, move your plants to a cooler area. Also, you can turn on your air conditioner to help lower temperatures.
The other thing is to move plants away from heat sources – near fireplaces, furnaces, heating systems vents, radiators, and so on.
Lastly, move plants away from the south-facing window. Even if they may not get direct sunlight, the glass may radiate a lot of heat.
6. Too much light
Monsteras require bright, indirect light. Even in the wild, they receive filtered light from tall trees. So, too much direct sunlight, especially the hot midday, may cause leaf burn and make Monstera leaves curl in.
Why do they curl? Because hot sunlight will make plants’ leaves use (photosynthesis) and loss (transpiration) water more quickly than roots can absorb. The leaves will try to reduce the surface area by curling to conserve water.
Also, it may be to reduce the surface area exposed to light. This is a possible theory.
The leaves will look washed out (bleached) and yellowish. Also, they will curl and have crispy brown edges and tips. Other signs include brownish or dark blotches on leaves, and the burnt patches or borders may begin to fall.
How to fix it
If you grow it outdoors, move your Monstera to a shady place – a greenhouse, under partial shade or shade cloth. On the other hand, place the indoor house where they cannot receive direct sunlight, especially those on the south-facing window. Also, you can buy blinds.
7. Pot bound
When your Monstera is root bound, it will have a vast and tight mass of roots that overwhelms the pot. Consequently, it will not have enough water and nutrients. Thus the leaves will begin curling to try to save on the little water that the plant gets.
Besides curling leaves, you will see roots growing from drainage holes, and the leaves will be smaller and turn yellow. Also, your plant will grow slowly and may drop leaves.
How to fix it
Slide the plant out of the pot to see if it has a tight ball of roots growing in circles with no growth room. If that is the case, wait until the growing season and repot it. Meanwhile, adjust your watering.
8. Can it be pests?
Pests are unlikely for most indoor Monstera. Nonetheless, they can occur. Bugs like aphids, whiteflies, and thrip will suck plant juices depriving them of water. The juice sucking alone can make the leaves curl. Also, some inject toxins into the leaves, which will curl and distort them.
Presence bugs and leaves may have honeydew, sooty mold, holes, webbing, speckles, or spots (yellow, black, or brown). Also, when in large numbers, leaves may curl, become distorted, or pinched.
How to fix pests
Begin by hosing the plant to dislodge the bugs or wipe them off using rubbing alcohol. Also, go for neem oil, insecticidal soaps, or horticultural oil sprays.
9. Powdery mildew
Diseases are not common in Monsteras if you grow them inside your house. But they can occur. One condition that will cause leaf curling is powdery mildew, a fungal disease.
Powdery mildew starts by causing raised blister-like areas on leaves that distort and make these leaves begin curling upward, especially at the edges. Then there will be leaf discoloration (yellowing then browning) and premature dropping.
How to fix it
You need to apply a sulfur-containing fungicide to prevent the spread and treat powdery mildew. Bonide Sulfur Plant Fungicide Dust is one of the best choices for such a fungicide. It will also help control rush, leaf spot, thrips, chiggers, scale, and some mite species.
Also, use a sterilized pruning scissor to remove any affected leaves, stems, or branches. Also, ensure you properly dispose of whatever you prune off your plant.
10. Nutritional deficiencies and Monstera leaves curling
A deficiency of some nutrients may cause curling leaves in Monsteras. However, it is one of the most unlikely causes. Thus, we will not go into depth but briefly mention each. But we will give authority links if you want to read further.
- Calcium deficiency: It will cause upward curling of leaves. Also, expect deformed leaves with necrotic margins, and terminal buds may die. Other signs are stunted growth, discoloration, and so on. (1, 2)
- Boron deficiency – Lack of boron will make your plant’s leaves thicker, brittle, and curl upward. Also, they may have yellow spots and be asymmetrical (3, 4)
- Potassium – Some signs to expect are older yellow leaves with black or dark spots, upward curled tips, and rotting. (5)
- Nitrogen: When they don’t get enough nitrogen, leaves will begin turning yellowish-green then yellow. Afterward, they will be curly, deformed any may shed. (6, 7)
- Copper: A deficiency causes smaller, limp, and curled leaves that may wither and die suddenly. (8, 9)
- Magnesium: Lack of magnesium will result in foliage interveinal chlorosis and yellowing. Also, the leaves will curl upwards along their margin. (10)
- Phosphorus: When they don’t get enough phosphorus, leaves will turn bluish-green or dark-green. Also, the leaf blade may curl, thickens, and feel stiff. (11)
What to do?
Firstly, ensure your potting mix is rich in organic matter, especially worm castings. Why? Because it is rich in iron, calcium, sulfur, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer, Wiggle Worm Soil Builder, is a good choice. However, you can also use compost.
Secondly, select a fertilizer with not just Sodium, Potassium and Phosphorus but also other nutrients and trace elements.
We recommend Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant, NPK 24-8-16) since it also has boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. Mix a teaspoon per gallon of water and feed after every two weeks.
Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food Spikes is an excellent choice if you prefer a slow-release formula. It has boron, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, copper, iron and manganese.
11. Overfeeding and Monstera leaves curling
When trying to beat a deficiency, don’t overfeed your plants. It is another possible cause of curling leaves in Monstera. For instance, too much nitrogen will make leaves too dark, dull, and curl downwards towards their tip.
Besides nitrogen, too much fertilizer will cause salt buildup that may affect the balance of beneficial microorganisms. Also, roots may grow too quickly, making the plant rootbound.
Besides leaves curling, some common signs of overfeeding your Monsteras include crust of fertilizer in the soil, leaf loss, and slow growth. Also, expect brown leaf margins and tips, wilting, and very dark green leaves.
Feed as nine above.
When is Monstera leaves curling normal?
Not every reason for a Monstera deliciosa curling leaves or whichever species you have means something is wrong or a miss. Sometimes, it may occur due to the following usual causes. Some of these causes include:
As Monstera leaves grow older and start dying, they usually turn yellowish then brown. Also, they may curl on some parts. So long as your plant looks healthy, has lush upper leaves, and grows newer healthy ones, you need not worry.
However, please prune these old dying leaves as they still depend on the plant but don’t contribute much. Also, they may attract pests.
2. Transplanting shock
Immediately after transplanting or repotting your Monstera, it is normal for the leaves to curl. The plant needs a little more time to adjust. But ensure you maintain the ideal growing conditions.
3. New unfurling leaves
As they unfurl, new leaves may curl inwards. Afterward, they will open. Don’t worry as long as your plant doesn’t look limp or show any other symptoms.