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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 weeks 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).
I have a post here on increasing humidity, but the easiest way is to buy a humidifier. This is the one I recommend:
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.
Apartt from the obvious damage to the edges, the leaf is fine.
It was bizarre – I cut into the stem and saw 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 good 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 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.
I also have an article on what to do when leaves get stuck.
Will Monstera leaves grow bigger after unfurling?
Yes. Monstera leaves are often bigger than the one 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 leaf and make it go brown. Don’t dig into it with your fingers. Don’t. I know you want to; I do too.
14 thoughts on “How Long Do Monstera Leaves Take To Unfurl?”
Please help:( i was told to wait until my Hoya krinkle was wrinkly until watering but I watered it thoroughly 2 days ago and its still wrinkly and getting worse! Was it wrong to wait so long before watering it?
First off check the roots – Hoya roots are often wrapped in really hard coir (no idea why) so they could be constricted. My Krinkle refused to grow until I removed it. Even if your roots are fine, increase humidity, light and temperature if you can (put it in a clear box on a bright windowsill will do fine) and it should start to improve.
So I had a slight scare of spider mites after purchasing an Alocasia Frydek…..I rinsed him off down to the roots, sprayed neem oil, repotted with new soil…fastforward next day,his leaves are drooping, gave shower, and he’s still dropping. Will it come back?
I repotted my monstera almost 2 months ago and there is a root already shooting out of the drainage hole! Does this mean i should repot again?
Repotting and spider mites can be stressful – I had the same thing happen with my alocasia zebrina. It should come back – alocasia grow from bulbs, so they can regrow even if they lose all their leaves. Often they drop their leaves over winter and then grow back in spring.
Not necessarily – roots often grow vertically to reach water. I bottom water mine so they often grow roots outs of the drainage hole. Take it out of the pot and check – if there are a tonne of roots and not a lot of soil repot, but it’s probably just a wayward root that you can tuck back into the soil.
Need advise. my thaicon juvenile is currently suffering from thrips and sad to say the unfurling leaf (was about to push our from the stem yet) has been attacked too. I only have 3 leaves left. Since all
Of them are damaged. And the largest one is where the unfurling leaf is attached. Should i prune it all? Will it regrow? I dont have any issues with the roots since the roots are in really good condition. But the thrips has enjoyed sucking my thaicon leaves :(( would love to show you the pictures.
Yeah, thrips love new growth. If the thrips are gone then it should regrow. It’s up to you whether you prune it – the leaves won’t recover, but they will still be helping the plant photosynthesise, so personally I would wait to prune until some new leaves have grown in.
I’ve noticed that monstera don’t grow at all during the colder months, so if you live somewhere in the northern hemisphere that experiences winter, don’t expect new growth until next spring. The old growth will help sustain the roots over winter.
Half of my Monstera leaf that’s unfurling is brown. I got tempted to cut it off(I had to cut it while still half close because I can see the brown) Hopefully the healthy half(that was the (95%)unfurled side) will survive!
Yeah, this happened to me, but with a Calathea – I think it’s due to excess humidity, and there’s not a lot you can do about it (as far as I’m aware) bar being very precious about your watering schedule
A new leaf just unfurled with half of it eaten at the bottom. What could it be, I’ve checked all leaves and the soil for mites and larvae. I have three other new leaves so don’t want them munched too!
Check for obvious culprits first: do you have a cat, dog, or rabbit? Most teeny plant pests don’t so much eat the leaf as suck the juice out, so the leaves go crispy and sad, rather than disappearing altogether. It could be a caterpillar or slug though – you can stick some copper tape around the pot which should deter slugs and snails.
Should I cut off the brown/yellow new growth that didn’t unfurl?
Yeah, it’s not going to do anything. Just be careful when you do – sometimes there’s another leaf growing underneath