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It’s so exciting when your Monstera starts shooting out a new leaf ESPECIALLY if you suspect its going to be fenestrated.
So you wait. And wait. And wait.
And your Monstera stubbornly and selfishly refuses to unfurl its new baby.
Why? And what can you do about it.
Firstly, and most importantly, I’m going to tell you what not to do.
Don’t try to unfurl the leaf yourself.
I’ll explain why later, but take it from me: don’t.
I tried to do one of those v popular ‘looking down the unfurling leaf camera but a combination of crap camera skills and being lazy to grab my tripod resulted in this waste of time:
How long does it take Monstera leaves to unfurl?
There is no one answer to this question, since it massively depends on your environment. For me, I have to wait a couple of week to go from starting to unfurl to completely unfurled.
I think that’s a long time, going by what other people report, but my leaves are healthy, so my impatience is the only issue here.
If anyone has a wild Monstera near them and fancies tracking how long it takes their leaves to unfurl, I’d be (sadly enough) really interested to know.
Don’t panic unless your leaf is browning. Nutrients, light, and humidity (and probably age/genetics) will all influence the speed of unfurling.
Why it’s taking a long time for your plant’s leaves to unfurl
Like I said above, there is a whole host of factors that influence how quickly a leaf unfurls.
If you’re here purely for the deliciosa, they take far longer than my other plants do EXCEPT for my Florida green, but that thing…has it’s reasons.
I need to do a time lapse of a Florida green leaf – it not only unfurls overnight but it spews out a leaf, a new stem and a new baby leaf. THEY’RE INCREDIBLE.
The most common reason for delayed leaf unfurling is lack of humidity.
If you have ANY kind of issue with the growth rate of your plants the first port of call is to check for pests. After that, increase humidity (then light and temperature if there’s still no change).
How to speed up the unfurling rate of Monstera leaves
Increase the humidity. We’ve already been through that.
You can also try increasing the light BUT be very careful. If I were doing this, I’d move the plant outside but keep it in the shade. It seems dark to us, but it’s the definition of bright/indirect light.
New leaves are extremely susceptible to damage, so be very careful.
Next up is increasing the temperature.
Often, this goes hand in hand with increasing the light, since the sun, as well as being very bright, is also very hot (I’m full of information, me).
But just as often, it’s cool in the shade.
Don’t try to move your Monstera near to a radiator or anything, but if it’s in a cool, lower light spot inside, moving it to warmer, sunnier window may help the leaves to unfurl more quickly.
Why is my leaf going brown before unfurling?
Firstly, check for pests. In fact, if you suspect you have pests, check the new growth first. They always hang out there.
A lot of pests LOVE new growth and are attracted to it, but also if the new growth is damaged, pests that are attracted to damage (hey, thrips) rock up.
You see, plants that are damaged release hormones into the air that say ‘AAAAAAH I’M DAMAGED HAAAAAAALP’.
Alas, help does not arrive. Pests do.
I assume there’s another reason plants release these hormones, but I don’t know what it is.
In the wild, this is fine. Plants also release hormones that say ‘AAAAAAAH I’M BEING EATEN HAAAAAALP’ and pestivorous insects turn up.
This doesn’t happen inside very often (though you can buy ladybird larvae etc).
So yeah, check for pests.
Other reasons your leaves are browning before unfurling are:
- Overwatering – the leaves can guttate even when they’re young, but because they’re all curled up they end up with water getting trapped in the leaf and causing water damage and/or fungus
- Lack of nutrients – stir in some worm castings. You probably won’t be able to reverse the damage though.
- Sunburn – no leaf is immune. Either move the plant or put up a sheer curtain.
- You touched it – yeah, don’t.
Will Monstera leaves split after unfurling?
No. If your Monstera has large, fenestrated leaves, you should be able to see the fenestrations before it starts to unfurl.
Even small leaves develop splits before they unfurl, though they may still be attached at the tip until the last minute.
This means that once the leaf has unfurled (actually, probably before then), the splits it has are the only splits it’s going to get. It won’t develop any more over time.
Why you shouldn’t physically intervene with leaf unfurling
Because they can end up looking like this:
As well as the visible damage, I think the experience stunted the leaf’s growth too.
I had to physically pull this leaf out.
It was like the plant equivalent of a forceps delivery – I didn’t want to do it, the plant didn’t want to have it done, but we had to do it for the sake of both the plant and the new leaf.
What happened was that the new leaf stopped forming, but didn’t do anything else. It just sat there, a bump on the stem of the previous leaf.
The plant got to work on another leaf, seemingly forgetting about the half-formed leaf above it.
So I had to perform surgery.
In hindsight, using my fingernails as surgical implements probably wasn’t sensible, but hey ho, it’s done now.
Apparent from the obvious damage to the edges, the leaf is fine.
It was bizarre – I cut into the stem and say the leaf, all furled up, and dug it out with my finger, then pulled, expecting to pull out maybe half an inch of leaf.
A goof three inches of leaf and stem was all squished up in that petiole. It was really cool. A new leaf is forming now, so I’m hoping for an easier delivery.
The plant had thrips too, poor bugger.
So this is extreme damage, but it was necessary.
This next picture is the aftermath of me trying to ‘help’ the unfurling process.
Can you see that little yellow mark along the edge of the leaf?
That’s from me ‘helping’.
When it first happened, that mark was really bright and noticeable, but it’s faded a lot of over time.
Almost like the plant was trying to say ‘GEROFF’ when I er, helped.
When I did this, I was fully aware of how delicate new leaves were. I was SUPER gentle. I barely touche the leaf with my fingertip, but it was still damaged.
Leave your plants to unfurl in peace.