Monstera Leaves Curling? (Revive Monstera with Curling Leaves)


Why are my monstera leaves curling

Curling monstera leaves indicates the humidity is to low or the soil is to dry for the monstera to tolerate. The leaves curl to conserve moisture. Yellow curling monstera leaves indicate the soil is too boggy around the roots, whereas curling leaves after repotting is due to transplant shock.

Excess fertilizer use can also cause a build of salts in the soil around the monstera’s roots which prevents the roots from drawing up moisture and results in curling, drooping, drought stressed leaves.

Keep reading to learn what has caused your curling monstera (Monstera deliciosa and adansonii) leaves and how to implement the solutions to revive the curling leaves…

Monstera deliciosa on the left and monstera adansonii on the right.
Monstera deliciosa on the left and monstera adansonii on the right.

Monstera Leaves Curling Due to Low Humidity and Drought

The most common reason for monstera leaves curling is because of low humidity and drought. Monstera are tropical plants that are adapted to growing in high humidity with evenly moist soil. The air indoors is much lower in humidity, which saps moisture from the leaves and causes the leaves to curl down as a sign of stress.

Monstera plants are native to tropical forests of Central and South America where they grow as a semi epiphytic climbing vine and thrive in high humidity conditions with temperatures between 60°F to 85°F (16°C to 30°C) degrees in evenly moist (but not saturated) soil.

They also typically grow in dappled light, shaded from strong direct sunlight by the overhead canopy.

Most often the reason monstera leaves curl and sometimes turn brown is due to a combination of the following factors, rather just one individual reason:

  • Low humidity caused by indoor heating or air conditioning which dries both the monstera’s leaves and the soil.
  • Not watering the soil often enough or watering too lightly.
  • Too much direct sunlight.
  • High indoor temperatures that exceed 85 degrees.

Monstera’s prefer grow best when the potting soil is watered thoroughly, so that the roots can draw up the moisture when they need it.

If the monstera has not been watered often enough and the indoor temperature is relatively high, the monstera’s potting soil can bake hard, which causes water to run off the surface of the soil and down the side of the pot without infiltrating the soil properly and reaching the roots where it is require, inevitably causing the leaves to curl inwards.

How to Revive Monstera with Curling Leaves due to Low Humidity and Drought Stress

  • Mist the monstera’s leaves with water every day whilst the leaves are curling. Misting the monstera’s leaves creates a humid micro-climate that mimics the tropical conditions of the monstera’s rainforest environment. This prevents the monstera’s leaves from loosing too much moisture to dry indoor air which alleviates the stress that caused the leaves to curl. If you do not want to mist your plants everyday, I recommend using a plant humidifier which allows you to set the level of humidity to suit your monstera.
  • Place the monstera’s pot in a basin of water for 10 minutes to alleviate drought stress. Monstera’s need the soil to be evenly moist, yet the surface of the soil should dry slightly between each bout of watering to avoid the affects associated with overwatering. If the soil has baked hard then submerge the root ball in a basin of water to allow moisture to properly infiltrate the soil and reach the roots where it is required. (Read my article, to learn how much and how often to water monstera deliciosa).
  • Always locate your monstera in an area of bright indirect sunlight, rather then on a sunny window sill to prevent the leaves curling. Monstera thrive in bright, yet indirect light rather then full shade as this provides the plant with enough energy to support its leaves without risking scorching the sensitive leaves in sunlight.
  • Keep the monstera away from any direct sources of heat and away from air currents. Monstera’s prefer a consistent temperature of 60-85 degrees. Sources of heat in Winter can dry the soil and air conditioning in Summer can sap moisture from the leaves so keep this in mind when locating your monstera in the house.

If the humidity is increased sufficiently with regular misting, the root ball is watered consistently and the monstera is located in a more favorable location the curling leaves can recover their appearance.

However if part of the monstera’s leaf or the leaf margins have turned brown and crispy and well as curling in appearance, then the brown part of the leaf does not turn green again.

In which case you can choose to cut the individual leaf off if it is mostly brown or you can trim the leaf margins back with a pair of pruners to restore a green appearance to the leaves.

Monstera leaves that are curling and turning brown at the margins due to low humidity and underwatering.
Monstera leaves that are curling and turning brown at the margins due to low humidity and underwatering.

Monstera Leaves Curling And Turning Yellow

The reason for monstera leaves curling and turning yellow is because of overwatering. Monstera needs well draining soil and prefers the surface of the soil to dry out between each bout of watering. If the soil is constantly saturated from watering too often the leaves can turn yellow which can indicate root rot.

Monstera’s are climbers native to tropical Central and South America, with their roots in the forest floor which is rich in organic matter (decomposing leaf litter).

Soils that are rich in organic matter, retain moisture yet also have a porous aerated structure that allows excess water to drain away from the roots efficiently.

The soils ability to retain moisture yet remain porous, and allowing excess water to drain away, creates the optimal balance of soil moisture for monstera to thrive.

Overwatering your monstera plant can cause the soil to become saturated, which excludes oxygen around the roots in the soil. This prevents root respiration which interfere’s with the monstera root’s ability to draw up moisture and nutrients from the soil.

If the monstera’s roots cannot uptake moisture and nutrients the leaves turn yellow (and brown) and often curl inwards.

Boggy soil also promotes the conditions for root rot which also turns the leaves yellow with a curling appearance.

It is important to note that the soil can remain too damp for monstera to tolerate because of:

  • Pots without drainage holes in the base which prevent excess water from draining properly.
  • Saucers, trays and decorative outer pots underneath the monstera’s pot can cause excess water to pool around the bottom of the pot which keeps the soil too boggy for the monstera.
  • The monstera has been repotted to a much larger pot, which means the potting soil dries out at a much slower rate.

How to Revive Monstera with Yellow, Curling Leaves

To revive a monstera with yellow, curling leaves it is important to recreate the soil and watering conditions of the monstera’s native environment. Always plant monstera in well draining potting soil and wait for the surface of the soil to dry before watering again.

If you have been watering monstera plants more often then once a week, then you are most likely overwatering and this is the reason for the yellowing, curling leaves, so allow the soil to drain properly before watering.

A good watering schedule has to in conjunction with well draining potting soil to create the optimal balance of moisture for monstera plants.

I personally recommend to amend the potting soil with around 20% perlite before potting up my monstera plants to replicate the well draining, porous soil conditions and to allow space in the soil to facilitate root respiration so that the roots can stay healthy, transporting moisture and nutrients to the leaves.

  • If the soil feels boggy at the base of the pot, take the monstera out of the pot and inspect the roots. The roots should feel firm and appear white in color (roots may be slightly discolored brown from the soil, as long as they feel firm they are healthy) and not have any notable smell.
  • If the roots are mushy and brown with a bad smell, then snip these roots back to healthy growth or to the base of the plant with a sterile pair of scissors or pruners.
  • Wipe the pruners with a cloth soaked in disinfectant after each cut to prevent spreading fungal pathogens from diseased roots to otherwise healthy roots. Clean the monstera’s pot with disinfectant.
  • Repot the monstera into new potting soil that is amended with perlite to increase drainage. Ensure that the pot has drainage holes in the base and empty any saucers or trays underneath the pot of excess water regularly.
  • Cut back any yellowing, dying monstera leaves with a sharp pair of pruners, as these individual leaves do not recover or turn green again.
  • Keep the remaining leaves well misted to increase the humidity to help mitigate any transplant shock.

There is not any universal advice for specifically, how often a monstera should be watered as this can vary according to many factors such as the size of the pot, the temperature of the room and the higher humidity.

However, as long as the soil is well draining and you allow the top inch of the soil to dry out between each watering, this balance of moisture should meet the water requirements of the monstera whilst avoiding the risk of root rot.

With improved drainage and a good watering schedule the monstera should revive in the next few weeks.

However, if the monstera has been in boggy soil for too long and lots of the leaves are yellow and curling inwards, then it can be too difficult to save the monstera.

(If most, or all the leaves are turning yellow, read my article, how to save a monstera with yellow leaves).

Monstera Leaves Curling After Repotting

Usually, monstera leaves curl after repotting is because of transplant shock. Monstera leaves react to the stress of the change in conditions due to repotting by curling and drooping, but usually perk up again once the monster has had time to adjust to its new conditions.

The leaves droop and curl as the roots can temporarily struggle to draw up moisture whilst the roots adapt to the soil structure.

Give the soil a good soak and keep the monstera leaves well misted which increases the humidity and reduces water loss from the leaves which gives the roots more time to uptake the moisture the plant needs.

However monstera leaves can also droop and curl if they have been repotted into a much larger pot.

Larger pots have a greater capacity for soil and a greater capacity to hold moisture for longer. Therefore if the monstera is planted into a much larger pot, it is likely to dry out significantly more slowly then before, having the same effect as overwatering.

Too much moisture around the roots can exclude oxygen in the soil, preventing root respiration and interfering with the monstera’s roots ability to draw up moisture and nutrients, resulting in the curling, drooping leaves.

Always repot your monstera to a pot that is only one size up from the previous pot to prevent this problem.

It is also important to note that unglazed clay or terracotta pots are best for monstera plants as they are porous and therefore dry out more evenly after watering.

Always repot monstera into pots with drainage holes in the base to prevent excess water pooling around the roots after watering.

Monstera Leaves Curling Due to Too Much Fertilizer

Monstera leaves curl as a result of fertilizer being applied too often or in too high concentration. Too much fertilizer causes excess salts to build up around the monstera’s roots which dehydrates the roots and prevents them from drawing up water resulting in curling, drooping leaves.

If the monstera has suffered the affects of too much fertilizer for a long time, the leaves can also turn yellow as well as curl.

Monstera leaves are large foliage plants that do need fertilizer in the Spring and Summer to support their growth.

However they tend to not need quite as much fertilizer as some houseplants, due to their adaptions as a climbing vine, growing in moderately fertile soil in their native environment.

Always use a general, well balanced, house plant fertilizer at half strength in the Spring and Summer every month to support growth.

To revive the curling leaves I would recommend stop using fertilizer all to together for the time being.

It is important to dissolve and flush out the excess, accumulated salt from around the roots by placing the monstera in a basin and running the potting soil under the faucet (tap) for several minutes, letting the excess water (with the dissolved salts) drain away from the base of the pot.

With less salt around the roots in the potting soil, the monstera’s roots should be able to hydrate again and start drawing up moisture and the curled leaves can uncurl to recover their normal appearance.

Do not use any fertilizer until the following Spring, always follow the manufactures guidelines on the fertilizer, although I recommend using the fertilizer at half concentration which provides the monstera with the nutrients it needs without risking the health of the monstera.

(Read my article, how to revive a dying monstera plant).

Key Takeaways:

  • Usually, curling monstera leaves indicate the humidity is too low or the soil is too dry around the root ball. Monstera leaves curl to reduce the surface of their leaves which limits water loss through transpiration in times of drought or low humidity.
  • Monstera leaves turn yellow with a curling appearance because of overwatering. Boggy soil around the monstera’s roots excludes oxygen from the soil which interferes with root respiration and prevents the roots from drawing up moisture and nutrients, which cause the leaves to curl and turn yellow as a sign of stress.
  • The reason for monstera leaves curling after repotting is because of transplant shock. Monstera leaves curl up to reduce their surface size and decrease water loss whilst the roots adapt to the new potting soil.
  • Monstera leaves also curl upwards due to too much fertilizer. Excess fertilizer causes a build of slats around the monstera’s roots which prevents the roots from uptaking moisture resulting in curling and drooping monstera leaves.
  • To revive curling monstera leaves, mimic the conditions of the monstera’s native environment with temperature between 60°F and 85°F, increase the humidity by misting the leaves regularly, plant monstera in well draining soil and allow the top inch of the soil to dry out before watering again.

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