The Monstera plant has large, beautiful leaves that develop unique fenestrations. Like all plants, Monstera has to go through different stages of growth, from root development to leaf unfurling.
You might be worried when your Monstera gets stuck on one of these stages and wonder when your Monstera leaf will unfurl. Here, we discuss everything you need to know about Monstera unfurling and give tips to help your Monstera grow.
An Introduction to Monstera Plants
The Monstera genus consists of over 48 flowering plant species with distinct growth characteristics. These plants are mainly found in the tropical rainforest of Central and South America and are known for their unique characteristics.
One of the most popular and commonly found Monstera houseplants is the Monstera deliciosa plant which is also called the Swiss cheese plant or the Mexican breadfruit plant.
The Monstera deliciosa is known for its abnormally large leaves with splits and holes. Monstera developed these fenestrations as tropical plants to adapt to the strong winds.
Other popular Monstera species include the Monstera adansonii, Monstera esqueletto, and the Thai Constellation Monstera. Some variegated Monstera species, such as the albo vareigata, is also highly sought—after but extremely rare to find as indoor plants.
Although the Monstera houseplant is relatively easy to care for, plant owners usually worry when they see that their monstera leaves aren’t unfurling as they should. The growth stage is similar in all Monstera species, but the time it takes for them to grow can vary.
Monstera leaves naturally unfurl when you take care of the plant. This involves watering it on schedule and ensuring that it has sufficient access to sunlight.
Do Monstera Leaves Grow Larger After They Unfurl?
The Monstera deliciosa plant is known for its big, beautiful leaves with those distinctive holes and slits that separate them from other houseplants. At the same time, the leaves of the Monstera plant tend to grow huge over time, many reaching as wide as two feet for full-grown Monstera plants.
However, it is difficult to tell whether the new leaf unfurling will grow larger once they have unfurled, mainly because not all leaves of the Monstera plants are going to develop those beautiful fenestrations.
What is the Average Time a Monstera Leaf Takes to Unfurl
Healthy Monstera leaves will unfurl and split after nearly one to seven weeks. The exact period depends on the Monstera plant’s growth, health, and living conditions.
Generally, even if the Monstera leaves stay curled for weeks, it does not mean something is wrong with the plant. Each Monstera species experiences a different growth rate, and many external factors can influence the unfurling process.
All curled-up leaves of a healthy Monstera will unfurl on their own (in ideal conditions) with minimal help from the plant owner. However, there could be underlying problems if the leaf does not unfurl for a long time.
Do Monstera Leaves Get Bigger After They Unfurl?
Although the Monstera leaves will not split after unfurling, they tend to get bigger. As a young Monstera leaf begins to unfurl, it usually remains slightly wrinkly during the first few days.
The wrinkles make the leaves appear much smaller and can hide the splits and fenestrations.
When kept in a perfect environment, the Monstera leaves grow and flatten out in a week or so.
Eventually, your fully unfurled Monstera leaves can measure more than eighteen inches across, which can help its overall foliage reach an impressive five feet in width.
Why is My Monstera Plant Not Unfurling?
Monstera leaf curling is a defense mechanism that prevents further water loss or damage to the Monstera plant. Therefore, there can be many reasons why your Monstera plants are not unfurling.
Below are some of the most common reasons why a Monstera leaf is not unfurling.
Monstera requires controlled watering to grow as healthy plants. As such, a lack of unfurling can result from underwatering or overwatering.
Underwatering your Monstera can result in dehydration, crispy leaf tips, and drooping leaves. Moreover, it can delay unfurling as the Monstera tries to survive as long as possible.
On the other hand, overwatering can result in soggy soil, suffocating the Monstera roots or leading to root rot. The roots start to die and cannot absorb nutrients from the soil, resulting in stunted growth and delay in unfurling.
The tropical plant is susceptible to household pests such as spider mites, thrips, and mealy bugs. These pests suck on the sap of the Monstera until they drain it of all nutrition, including water.
As water loss increases, the Monstera plant delays unfurling to decrease transpiration and save as much water as possible.
As with watering, moisture is directly linked to the unfurling of Monstera plants. Monstera plants develop aerial roots that absorb moisture from the air.
If the humidity is too low (less than 40%), the Monstera starts to curl older leaves and stop unfurling new leaves.
If the humidity is too high (above 80%), the plant becomes susceptible to bacterial infections and aerial root rot.
One of the main reasons for the Monstera plant not to unfurl is because of temperature. As tropical plants, Monstera is accustomed to warm climates.
High temperatures can cause increased water loss and dehydration, resulting in the curling of leaves. However, Monstera does not tolerate frost either.
In the winter, Monstera decreased its growth rate to protect the new leaves from the cold, keeping them curled.
When you grow Monstera plants indoors, you must pay close attention to the pot.
The pot must be big enough to allow enough space for the roots to grow but not too big to retain too much water.
If a pot has poor water drainage abilities or is not well-aerated, it could damage the roots and delay leaf unfurling.
How to Help a Monstera Leaf Unfurl?
It is important to note that a young or new Monstera leaf is quite delicate. Don’t make the mistake of trying to unfurl the leaves on your own.
If you attempt to unfurl your Monstera’s leaves, you can damage the entire leaf and affect the natural process. Eventually, this can cause the leaf unfurling process to slow down or even stop.
However, that does not mean you cannot speed up or help the natural unfurling process.
Below are some of the top care tips that help a Monstera leaf unfurl.
A Monstera plant’s healthy growth depends on how well you replicate its natural habitat. The Monstera Deliciosa—a tropical American houseplant—requires evenly damp soil and a low watering frequency.
Ideally, it is best to water the Monstera plant once a week in the summer and spring and once every two weeks during the winter. This gives the soil enough moisture to keep the plant fresh.
You can also use a hygrometer to check soil moisture. Alternatively, you can use your fingertip to prevent the dryness of the first two inches of the soil.
As a result, the well-hydrated Monstera leaf unfurls naturally on time.
High Humidity Levels
In tropical climates, the humidity often exceeds 50%. Therefore, tropical plants like the Monstera Deliciosa thrive in high humidity levels. A young Monstera plant needs 50-70% atmospheric humidity to thrive.
When the air carries sufficient moisture, the aerial roots absorb enough water. This allows the Monstera plants a healthy water uptake, which helps their leaves unfurl faster.
You can invest in an indoor humidifier or place your Monstera plants on a water-filled pebble tray to increase humidity.
You can also cluster together the plants you own so they can share their humidity and create a mini tropical environment.
Alternatively, you can cover the plant with a plastic bag to ensure high humidity levels.
However, if the atmospheric humidity level is above 80%, it can lead to root rot, which will cause the roots to decay and die.
Bright Indirect Sunlight
The type and period of light exposure will directly impact the time your Monstera plants take to fully unfurl.
Placing a growing Monstera plant outdoors under direct sunlight increases the chances of its leaves burning or curling inwards as it receives too much light.
The best way to help your Monstera leaves split and unfurl is to place the houseplants in a well-lit corner of the house near a west or east-facing window, so the plants get plenty of bright indirect light.
Moreover, if the outdoor light also seems insufficient, you can use grow lights to control light intensity and ensure healthy growth of your Monstera plant so that the Monstera leaves unfurl on time.
Monstera plants prefer well-aerated and slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 to 5.7. Therefore, normal gardening soil is bad for plants.
You can use a commercially available potting mix made for aroid plants. You can also add perlite or coco coir in the soil to improve water draining.
Adding liquid fertilizers to the soil can help improve Monstera’s growth rate and speed up unfurling.
However, when the soil is heavily fertilized, it leads to a chemical build-up, resulting in root blockage. This prevents the plant from absorbing sufficient water from the soil. As a result, the Monstera leaves close and curls up again.
Only add fertilizer once a month to the soil during the spring and summer when the Monstera plant is actively growing and could use the nutrients. Avoid feeding the Monstera during winter.
Monstera leaves fail to unfurl on time when dealing with a pest infestation. Spider mites are the most common Monstera houseplant pests and can damage a curled-up Monstera leaf’s delicate tissues.
Common signs of pests include the curling of leaves, black spots, and yellowing leaves.
You can use neem oil to prevent a pest infestation. If your plant is infested, remove it from the pot and treat it with pesticide soap.
The Monstera species are relatively slow-growing plants. The plant only produces a new baby leaf during the growing season, usually from Spring through Fall. Moreover, a mature Monstera will grow up to two feet a year.
A baby Monstera experiences faster growth, so you might have to repot more frequently, almost once every few weeks.
By repotting the growing plant once every two years, you can help the Monstera plant’s leaves grow and unfurl on time.
Choose a pot at least a few inches bigger than the previous pot. Generally, a clay pot or terracotta pot with adequate drainage holes is good for the Monstera plant as it has excellent moisture retention and water-draining abilities.
Stages of Monstera Leaf Growth
The Monstera leaf undergoes four growth stages. While it is easy to determine some Monstera species’ growth stages, it is almost impossible to do so for others.
Heart-shaped Leaf – Baby Monstera
A new leaf is usually called a baby Monstera leaf. These new leaves are delicate and need protection against high humidity levels and direct sunlight exposure.
During this stage, the leaf is usually waxier and shinier. The leaves are heart-shaped and do not support fenestrations.
Primary Fenestration – Juvenile Monstera
The period between a Monstera leaf’s baby and a fully matured stage is called the juvenile stage.
During this stage, the Monstera leaves may form splits with small holes between them. The leaves are dark green and show a less shiny appearance.
Secondary Fenestration – Young Monstera
Another development of holes along the leaf veins follows the primary fenestration stage.
Tertiary Fenestration – Mature Monstera
Finally, the last set of holes develops along the mid-rib of the leaf. Once the fenestrated leaves grow in length and width, this is known as the Monstera leaf’s final, adult, or mature stage.
At this stage, the Monstera leaves are far more resistant and can survive periods of unpleasant living conditions.
This doesn’t mean you can completely abandon your Monstera, but you can leave it alone without worrying about it.
Trouble Shooting Monstera Unfurling: Why is Leaf Turning Brown Before Unfurling?
Young and curled-up Monstera plant leaves usually have a bright green color and a waxy surface.
However, the leaves can turn brown before unfurling if the plant is grown under prolonged periods of moisture imbalance.
For instance, if the soil is watered excessively, is not given proper time to dry up, or the potting vessel lacks a wide enough drainage hole, it creates a medium that encourages fungal growth.
Within a few days, the layer of fungus can fully penetrate the soil and engulf the Monstera roots, causing them to decay and die.
With few healthy roots left behind, the entire Monstera plant suffers from severe dehydration. This affects the plant’s ability to produce chlorophyll—the green pigment—and causes the leaves to turn brown.
Moreover, the entire plant dehydrates if the soil lacks moisture due to low humidity levels or underwatering.
Not only does this cause the leaves to close again, but it also leads to them losing their bright green pigment and developing yellow spots.
Monstera Deliciosa leaves tend to unfurl on their own when grown in a warm and humid tropical environment. In its juvenile stage, you will see the leaf curl and worry about your Monstera’s growth.
However, if you wish to see your Monstera leaf unfurl earlier, provide your growing houseplant sufficient indirect sunlight, humid environments, and seasonal fertilizing to increase the soil’s nutritional richness.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do Monstera leaves grow bigger after unfurling?
Monstera leaves do not split after unfurling. However, the leaves will grow bigger; they won’t increase their fenestrations.
2. How long does it take for a Monstera leaf to emerge?
It can take new Monstera leaves four to six weeks to emerge. These leaves normally take two to three weeks to unfurl. However, unfurling can go up to seven weeks.
3. What helps the leaf unfurl?
Provide the Monstera with enough indirect sun, appropriate watering, fertilizer, and humidity to help the leaf unfurl.
How long does it take a Monstera leaf to Unfurl?
It can take anywhere from a week to seven weeks for Monstera leaves to unfurl. However, you can speed up the process by providing the plant with proper growing conditions to slightly increase the chances of early unfurling.
My name is Daniel Elrod, and I have been houseplant love ever since I was 17. I love how much joy they bring to any room in the home. I’ve always been amazed at how a few pots of flowing leaves can turn a drab and sterile office into an inviting place where people love to work at.