Monstera Leaves Curling? (Revive Monstera with Curling Leaves)

Why is my monstera drooping

Monstera are my favorite houseplants as I love their unusual look with their dramatic architectural leaves, adding an exotic grandeur to any indoor space. I personally grow and propagate Monstera all the time to sell the rare variety of Monstera Varigata, and from this, I have gained a huge amount of first-hand experience and knowledge to keep Monstera in tip-top shape.

Curling leaves is a common problem that I have had to deal with myself, but in this guide, I share with you all the tips, tricks, and secrets I have learned to revive a monstera plant with curling leaves…

Curling monstera leaves indicate the humidity is too low or the soil is too 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 are due to transplant shock.

If you have been using an excess amount of fertilizer, then this can 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 for the steps I have taken to save my plants so that you can too…

Monstera deliciosa on the left and monstera adansonii on the right.
My Monstera Deliciosa is on the left, and Monstera adansonii on the right.

Monstera Leaves Curling Due to Low Humidity and Drought

The most common reason I see 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.

So, the problem tends to be because 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.

This used to happen to me when I lived in my apartment. The indoor heating in the winter was used to dry the air, and the air conditioner in the summer would sap the leaves of moisture, which caused my monstera’s leaves to curl.

To understand how to save a monstera, we need to understand how they grow in the wild…

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.

What I have found is that most often, the reason Monstera leaves curl and sometimes turns brown is due to a combination of the following factors rather than just one individual reason:

  • Low humidity is 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°F (20°C).

Monsteras prefer to grow best when the potting soil is watered thoroughly so that the roots can draw up 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 required, inevitably causing the leaves to curl inwards.

How to Save it…

Here are the steps I take to save it…

  • I misted the monstera’s leaves with water every day whilst the leaves were 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 losing too much moisture to dry indoor air, alleviating the stress that causes the leaves to curl. If you do not want to mist your plants every day, I recommend using a plant humidifier that allows you to set the humidity level to suit your monstera.
  • I place the monstera’s pot in a basin of water for 10 minutes to alleviate drought stress. Monsteras need the soil to be evenly moist, yet the surface of the soil should dry slightly between each bout of watering to avoid the effects associated with overwatering. If the soil has baked hard, submerge the root ball in a water basin 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).
  • I Always locate my monstera in an area of bright indirect sunlight rather than on a sunny window sill to prevent the leaves from curling. Monstera thrives in bright yet indirect light rather than full shade as this provides the plant with enough energy to support its leaves without risking scorching the sensitive leaves in sunlight. I personally grow all my monstera in the brightest room of my house and use a sheer curtain to help diffuse the light, and my monstera looks great.
  • I keep my monstera away from any direct sources of heat and away from air currents. Monsteras prefer a consistent temperature of 60-85 degrees F. 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.

I find that a great room for Monstera is in a bathroom, as they love the naturally high humidity. I have seen that sometimes a move to a bathroom is all the monstera needed to stop curling its leaves!

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

In this case, I either 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 are curling and turning brown at the margins due to low humidity and underwatering.

(Read my article on how to save monstera plants with brown leaves).

Why are My Monstera Leaves Curling And Turning Yellow?

The reason for monstera leaves curling and turning yellow is because of overwatering. Your 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.

Monsteras 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).

Their soil is rich in organic matter and retains moisture, yet it also has a porous aerated structure that allows excess water to drain away from the roots efficiently.

The soil’s ability to retain moisture yet remain porous and allow 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 interferes with the monstera root’s ability to draw up moisture and nutrients from the soil.

If your 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 I have seen several reasons for the soil can remain too damp for Monstera due to:

  • Pots without drainage holes in the base 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 I Saved it…

I revive my monstera with yellow, curling leaves by recreating the soil and watering conditions of the monstera’s native environment. I 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 than 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 amending the potting soil with around 20% perlite or orchid potting mix 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.

Orchid potting mix is my favorite for monstera as the large particle size of the pine bark species lets water drain efficiently, and the pine bark is similar to the natural soil of the monster in their natural environment.

Important tip: I have experimented with several different potting mediums for monstera, and since I started potting up my monstera in potting soil and orchid potting mix, none of my monstera plants have suffered from overwatering or had any curling leaves. Trust me, it works!

Potting medium for propagated monstera cutting
Here is one of my propagated monstera plants that I have potted up with orchid potting mix.
  • If the soil feels boggy at the base of the pot, I 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 I snip these roots back to healthy growth or to the base of the plant with a sterile pair of scissors or pruners.
  • I advise that you wipe the pruners with a cloth soaked in disinfectant after each cut to prevent spreading fungal pathogens from diseased roots to otherwise healthy roots. I also always clean the Monstera’s pot with disinfectant.
  • Re-pot the monstera into new potting soil that is amended with perlite or orchid potting mix 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 moisture balance should meet the monstera’s water requirements whilst avoiding the risk of root rot.

I always feel the soil with my finger to detect when the top inch of the soil has dried rather then use a moisture meter which in m experience, have not been reliable enough.

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

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

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

Why are my Monstera Leaves curled after repotting?

Usually, I find monstera leaves curl after repotting because of transplant shock. Monstera leaves react to the stress of the change in conditions due to repotting by curling and drooping, but I find mine 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.

What I do is 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. (I’ve made this mistake before!)

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 curling and drooping leaves.

What I have found that works is to always re-pot your monstera to a pot that is only one size up from the previous pot to prevent this problem.

Useful tip: It is also important to note that unglazed clay or terracotta pots are my favorite pots for Monstera as they are porous and, therefore, dry out more evenly after watering.

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

Leaves Curling Can Due to Too Much Fertilizer

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

If the monstera has suffered the effects 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 need fertilizer in the spring and summer to support their growth.

However, I have found that they tend not to need quite as much fertilizer as some houseplants due to their adaptions as climbing vines growing in moderately fertile soil in their native environment.

I always use a general, well-balanced house plant fertilizer at half strength every month in the spring and summer 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, so what I would do is place 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.

I have seen Monstera leaves recover in as little as 2 weeks following these steps.

Do not use any fertilizer until the following Spring, always follow the manufacturer 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 temperatures 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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