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Monstera deliciosa leaves take a couple of weeks to unfurl, and then a month or so to fully harden off.
There are things you can do to speed up unfurling, such as increase humidity, but DON’T TOUCH. New leaves are delicate and mark easily.
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.
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
As 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 its 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
Increasing the humidity is #1.
The next thing you need to do is speed up growth.
When Monstera grow, each leaf comes out of the petiole of the previous leaf – therefore, a new leaf can’t form until the previous one is pretty much done. The petiole is still lengthening as the leaf is unfurling (though leaves still grow right up until they’ve hardened off) so a new leaf can’t emerge until it’s unfurled.
Speeding up growth just keeps everything moving forward. I’m going to give you a brief list of thing you can try BUT there is only so much impact it’ll have. In my experience, older Monstera grow slower then young ones, and some specimens grow faster than others, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
For everyone that has a Monstera throwing out a leaf every month, there’s someone with an equally healthy Monstera that refuses to grow more than a couple of leaves a year. It’s just the way things are.
Regardless, trying these things out won’t harm your plant:
- Increasing the humidity to 65%+
- Making sure the temperature stays between 65 – 85˚F (18 – 30˚C). Too hot/too cold can cause them to sulk
- Keep the leaves clean
- Increase the light (gradually)
- Feed it regularly
These articles might be helpful:
- Light requirements for Monstera deliciosa
- Humidity requirements for Monstera deliciosa
- Fertiliser requirements for Monstera deliciosa
Why is my leaf going brown before unfurling?
This can be caused by a plethora of things, but always check for pests first. The Monstera is growing happily and then thrips arrive. The plant has to recalibrate where its energy is going, so it shuts down the new growth and focuses its efforts to protecting itself from pests.
Other reasons your leaves are browning before unfurling are:
- Lack of nutrients
- You touched it – yeah, don’t.
Excessive guttation *could* be a factor, but it’s unlikely.
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 of its petiolar sheath (which is the leaf case, kind of like a cataphyll, but more of a covering, rather than a modified leaf).
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.
Apart from the obvious damage to the edges, the leaf is fine.
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 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 touched the leaf with my fingertip, but it was still damaged.
Leave your plants to unfurl in peace.
If you have ‘helped’ your Monstera and accidentally ripped a leaf, read this article for the next steps to take.
Can Monstera leaves get stuck in the sheath?
Yes. I have a VERY old Monstera with a very thick stem, and I have to manually extract the leaves. If I don’t, they don’t emerge. They don’t die; I think they just give up after a while and get absorbed.
I just cut a slit near the top of the new leaf, and wait. After a while, a new leaf will emerge. There’s a 50:50 chance that it’ll have a bit of damage, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it!
I just slip a knife between the natural split in the petiole, along the white line:
Do not try this at home. I think I just got a weird Monstera that can’t do anything for itself. I shouldn’t need to do this, but I do.
Will Monstera leaves grow bigger after unfurling?
Yes. Monstera leaves are often bigger than the ones before them, so it makes sense that they grow after unfurling.
If the leaf is as long as the petiole of the previous leaf the leaf…won’t fit in the petiole and will get damaged.
I assume the plant stunts leaves that are going to be much bigger than their predecessor and then they grow more when they’ve unfurled.
Monstera leaves usually grow about a third as much again, though it does depend on the genetics of the plant and the conditions the Monstera is growing in.
The difference in size between the newly unfurled lead and that same leaf a couple of weeks later is pretty substantial, though they don’t grow as much as, say, anthurium leaves do after they’ve unfurled.
I’m pretty sure the new leaf will end up bigger than the hardened-off one though.
So whilst the newer leaf is obvs smaller, it’s not as much smaller as anthurium leaves. They’re TINY when they unfurl:
These are the two newest leaves, the newest one is a couple of weeks younger than the other one but neither is anywhere near full size yet.
Look how big they’ll get:
I actually expect them to be bigger than the oldest leaf. Weird, isn’t it?
The only way you can convince your Monster to unfurl faster is to increase the humidity. Don’t mist your plants, because water droplets can get trapped between the layers of the leaf and make it go brown. Don’t dig into it with your fingers. Don’t. I know you want to; I do too.