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Monstera Care

Monstera leaves Curling: What is the Problem?

by Plants for all Seasons 08 Apr 2022 0 Comments

Monstera plants are known for their broad, glossy leaves and when something is wrong with your plant you will most likely see changes in the leaves first. One of the most common signs that there is something wrong with your plant is when the leaves of your Monstera begin to curl. In this guide we will take you through the most common causes of Monstera leaf curling and how to fix them.

Why do Monstera leaves curl?

To tropical plants like the Monstera, their leaves are an important part of how they function. Not only do they create energy for the plant through photosynthesis, but your Monstera also takes in a large amount of its moisture through the foliage. When your Monstera goes through a big change in its growing conditions the leaves can begin to curl as a defence mechanism.

The first way to identify what kind of issue is affecting your plant is to check exactly how the leaves are curling:

Monstera leaves curling inwards

When your Monstera leaves curl inwards or towards the top of the leaves it is a sign that there is something wrong with the hydration of your plant. When your plant isn’t receiving enough water the cells in the leaf begin to dry out and lose their structure and it will begin to curl in on itself to try and retain moisture.

Monstera leaves curling downwards

Monstera leaves will curl downwards when the plant is stressed from heat or a lack of nutrients. This happens because the cells of the leaves lose their internal pressure. When this happens the leaves cannot support their shape and will begin to curl inwards and droop.

Causes of Monstera leaves curling

Underwatering or overwatering

Monstera leaf curl is more often than not caused by a watering issue. Unfortunately it can be caused by both under or over watering so before you make any changes to your watering schedule you need to do a bit of detective work to find out what exactly is wrong.

The best way to determine if you are under or over watering your plant is to check the soil with a finger. If the top two to three inches of the soil are wet and you have watered your plant in the last few days it is a sign that your soil is holding onto too much water. However, if you feel that the soil is dry then the plant is under watered. Fixing Monstera watering issues is easy and can be done in a few simple steps.

First, is to get into the habit of judging if your plant needs watering by checking the soil. A lot of houseplant owners get into the habit of watering their plants at a set time each week or fortnight, but this is actually the worst way to water your plants.

Throughout the year your plant will draw different amounts of moisture from the soil depending on the weather and how fast it is growing: in the summer your Monstera need more watering and in the winter it will need a lot less. Make sure you are always watering based on the soil conditions. We would also recommend that you buy a moisture meter for your soil so that you can keep a better eye on your plants' watering needs.

Another big cause of Monstera watering problems is the drainage of your soil and pot. Your pot should always have adequate drainage holes cut into the bottom of the pot. This allows excess water to drain from soil and is a big step to prevent your Monstera from being overwatered.

Too much direct sunlight

Tropical houseplants like the Monstera like a lot of bright, indirect light, but they can’t handle much direct sunlight exposure. When Monstera leaves are exposed to direct sunlight for a long period of the day they will begin to blister, yellow and curl up. Leaf scorch can be fatal to Monstera plants as they need the foliage to create energy and take in water. To reduce the chance of sunburn on Monstera leaves you should move your plant further away from the light source. If you can’t do this the next best thing to do is cover your window with a blind or sticker that filters the sunlight.

Low humidity

Monstera plants need humid air around the foliage in order to survive; they take in a large amount of their moisture through the leaves themselves and through their aerial roots. When they are unable to get moisture from these sources the plant will begin to dry out even if the soil is well watered and drained. Fixing a Monstera with low humidity can be done in a few ways.

The easiest way to increase the humidity around your plant is to begin misting the leaves regularly with a spray bottle. This is a short-term solution to plant humidity and you will need to spray the leaves daily.

A longer-term solution is to put your plant on a water or pebble tray to increase the ambient humidity around your plant. This will usually be enough to keep your Monstera happy and healthy in the longer term.

Heat stress

Although Monsteras are a tropical houseplant, they are adaptable to lower temperatures than some species. You should keep your Monstera between 10 and 30°C to keep it healthy. Avoid putting your plant in the way of a cold draught or near a radiator or air conditioning vent. When exposed to temperatures outside this range your plant will go into shock and the leaves will begin to curl. For more accurate control over your plants temperature consider putting a soil thermometer in the pot.

Soil conditions

A lot of Monstera health problems can be traced back to soil conditions. Soil is important for a plant not just because it contains the nutrition and moisture the plant needs, but it allows your Monstera to take in oxygen. Only some soil problems can cause the leaves to curl up:

Compacted soil

When the same soil is kept in your pot for a long time it can become compact and hard. Over time, this stops oxygen and water from flowing through the soil properly and being absorbed by the roots, cutting it off from the vital nutrients and oxygen it needs. This will cause the leaves to curl up from lack of food and water. When this happens it’s usually a sign that your plant needs repotting. When you do repot your plant makes sure to add some grit or bark to the mix to stop the soil compacting.

Nutrient deficiency

Monstera need Phosphorus, Potassium and Nitrogen to keep growing at a steady pace. They help your plants maintain and create new cell growth which is vital to maintaining the plant. As your plant grows it will draw these nutrients out of the soil until they are depleted. Replacing these nutrients is key to continued growth. You can replace the lost nutrition in the soil by applying a liquid or slow-release fertiliser to the soil in the spring and summer months.

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