What Is Monstera Leaf Curl?

Monstera plants are famous for their big, beautiful, fenestrated leaves. But those leaves can be delicate, and when a monstera is unhappy with something about its environment or care, the leaves are the first place you’ll notice problems!

One of the many ways a monstera might show that it needs a change is with curling leaves. Monstera leaf curl can occur for many different reasons, so you might have to do some sleuthing and employ the process of elimination in order to determine the base cause.

In general, monstera leaves curl as a way to reduce the amount of exposed surface area and minimize water loss through transpiration. This usually means that for some reason, water loss is an issue due to heat stress, underwatering, damaged roots, or fluid loss due to insect infestation.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the most likely causes of monstera leaf curl and what you can do about it to make your monstera’s leaves beautiful and healthy again!

First, there are a few different ways a monstera leaf might curl, and this can give you clues about the root issue.

Monstera Leaves Curling Inwards

If your monstera’s leaves are curling inwards or upwards toward the top of the leaf, it could indicate a watering issue, lack of humidity, or sometimes an insect infestation. 

Monstera Leaves Curling Under

Monstera leaves can curl under toward the bottom of the leaf for a lot of the same reasons, though sometimes this can be more indicative of heat stress or underwatering if the leaf is lacking turgor pressure. If the leaves feel thin, limp, or appear to be drooping, this could be the case.

Monstera Leaves Crinkling 

Crinkled, brittle leaves are most often a sign of underwatering or low humidity, especially if it’s accompanied by dry or browning edges.

If you see any of these signs, if your monstera’s leaves are puckering or curling under or upward, here are the possible causes and how to figure out why your monstera is stressed!

Monstera Leaves Curling: Why it Happens and How to Fix. What you can do about it to make your monstera's leaves beautiful and healthy again!

Causes of Monstera Leaves Curling and How to Fix

Overwatering or Underwatering

More often than not, monstera leaf curl is caused by a watering issue. You might be either over- or underwatering your plant!

The best place to start is to check the condition of the soil. If the soil still feels wet an inch or two down and you watered at least a few days ago, your soil might be holding on to too much water.

Conversely, if your monstera’s soil feels dry a few inches down, your plant might need a drink! If you watered recently and your soil is still dry, you may be watering too lightly.

We recommend using a moisture meter to get a more accurate picture of your soil’s moisture levels. (We like this one because it measures moisture levels as well as light levels and soil pH!) Depending on how well-aerated your soil is, it’s absolutely possible for the root ball to be soggy even if the top few inches of soil feel dry to the touch.

To use a moisture meter, insert the sensor into the soil about halfway between the bottom of the plant and the side of the pot, and poke it about halfway down into the pot. If the meter reads less than 3, your plant is probably too dry and you should give it a drink.

If you watered more than a week ago and the meter is reading more than 4, your plant may be overwatered. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re watering too much—though you could be watering too often—but it’s likely an indication that your monstera’s soil is too dense, compacted, or that your pot doesn’t drain well enough. 

Overwatering is more often caused by drainage issues than actually giving your plant too much water!

Too Much Direct Sunlight

Excessive sun exposure can also cause leaves to curl, and it’s often accompanied by signs of leaf scorch such as fading or even dry brown spots. 

If your soil conditions seem to be okay and your monstera generally gets a lot of direct sun exposure after 10:00 a.m., this could be your issue. Try moving your plant farther away from the light source or filtering the light with a sheer curtain so that the light isn’t so direct and beating on your plant’s poor leaves!

Heat Stress or Low Humidity

As a tropical plant, monsteras do best with higher humidity levels, at least 40 percent. If humidity levels are consistently low, your monstera’s leaves might pucker, wrinkle, or curl due to water loss.

High temperatures from a heater, fireplace, or heating vent can also cause monstera leaf curl. Often, this is a response to a sudden, extreme temperature change, so if your plant’s leaves curl up very quickly, this might be the issue. These extreme heat sources can also cause a plant’s leaves to dry out, so humidity and temperature are often a compound issue.

The solution here is simple: if you notice your plant’s leaves suddenly curling, check for a hot draft and move your plant immediately. 

If the curling is more gradual and you live in a dry area (or the season has changed and you’re using more indoor climate control), your plant might need humidity. (You can measure your exact indoor humidity levels with a humidity meter!)

If this seems to be the issue, you can set up a humidifier near your monstera, move your plant to a steamy bathroom with lots of indirect sunlight, group it with other houseplants (this will increase humidity around your plant due to the plants’ respiration), or place your plant on a humidity tray. You can get these at gardening stores or make your own by filling a shallow tray with water and pebbles and placing your plant—pot and all—on top.

Accidental Herbicide Damage

This is an unlikely cause of leaf curl on indoor monsteras because herbicides are typically used outdoors, but it’s worth mentioning in case you have outdoor monsteras or possibly had your monstera houseplant outside where this may have been an issue. (It’s not unheard of.)

If you think your monstera might have caught some herbicide on the breeze, there’s not much to do but give it time to recover. With basic, consistent care, it should pull through!

Soil Conditions

So many monstera health conditions—including curling leaves—are caused by issues with the soil. As we said earlier, watering problems are most often a soil issue, not a matter of actually giving your plant too much or too little water. The pH level and nutrient content of your soil can also have a major impact on your plant’s health, so that’s worth paying attention to as well! 

Here are a few ways that soil can be problematic.

Compacted Soil

Soil that’s been sitting in the same pot for a long time can become hardened and dense. This often occurs when you haven’t repotted a plant in a year or more.

When this happens, you might notice that water doesn’t sink into the soil very quickly and tends to sit on top. Conversely, when the soil finally does absorb the water, it might hang on to it for too long instead of draining properly. This can lead to both over- and underwatering issues!

That being said, it’s important to keep your plant’s soil well-aerated, either by using a chopstick or dowel to poke the soil every once in a while and loosen things up or by repotting every year.

Phosphorus Deficiency

Phosphorus is one of several minerals that plants need in fairly significant amounts. So if your plant’s soil is lacking in this essential nutrient (or the ones that follow), you might notice health issues.

Discoloration is common with phosphorus deficiency, and you might also notice your monstera’s lower leaves curling under. If you see these signs and light, water, pests, and humidity don’t seem to be the problem, your plant might be lacking in nutrients—especially if it’s been in its current soil for more than a few months and you haven’t fertilized!

Potassium Deficiency

Potassium is another essential nutrient plants need to grow and thrive. If you notice your monstera’s leaves curling and discoloring from the tips, potassium deficiency could be the culprit. 

Nitrogen Deficiency

Nitrogen is the most essential nutrient that plants require to carry out their physical processes. If your monstera has a severe nitrogen deficiency, you might notice the lower leaves yellowing and curling inward, possibly with some dry, light-brown spots as well.

Providing nutrients is an important part of keeping your monstera healthy. In nature, monsteras get all the nutrients they need from their soil because the constant breakdown of organic matter provides the soil with a steady supply of these nutrients. However, your potted monstera can easily use up all the nutrients in its soil within just a few months. 

After you’ve had your monstera for a few months (or within a month or two of repotting), we recommend using a gentle liquid fertilizer regularly to ensure that your plant is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy and grow into the big, beautiful monstera plant of your dreams.

We created Monstera Plant Food specifically for monstera varieties, and it’s easy to use! Just mix a little into your monstera’s water each time you water, and you’re good to go!

Houseplant Multivitamin is also a great way to provide your plant with some of the important vitamins that many commercial fertilizers lack. 

You can get Monstera Plant Food and Houseplant Multivitamin on Amazon!

Pests and Disease

Household pests can also cause monstera leaf curl because many of these insects suck the juices out of your plant’s leaves, so they can curl up due to water loss.

Monsteras aren’t terribly susceptible to pests, but there are a few insects that can infest your monstera and damage the leaves. Here are some of the more common ones to watch out for.


Thrips are one of the trickier indoor pests to deal with. These tiny, winged insects are difficult to see with the naked eye, but you can sometimes see them moving, especially if you poke at them.


Aphids are tiny insects found on indoor and outdoor plants. They come in different colors, but the most common ones you’ll see on houseplants are light green. If you notice light little dots and sticky residue on your monstera, you may have an aphid problem.

Spider Mites

Spider mites can also be difficult to see, but they can often be identified by the sticky goo (also called “honeydew”), webbing, and small red dots they leave behind.

The treatment for these insects is largely the same. 

First, get the insects off your monstera. You can do this by wiping the leaves with water or showering it off in the sink or shower. If you go the shower route, try tilting the plant to avoid getting all the runoff in the soil, and give the plant a chance to drain.

Once you think you’ve removed the insects, wipe the leaves down with diluted neem oil. (There should be dilution instructions on the bottle.) That should take care of the infestation, but if it doesn’t, you might need to clean your plant leaves with insecticidal soap.

Wrapped Roots

Root wrap can also cause your monstera’s leaves to curl because it can affect your plant’s ability to absorb water.

If you notice your plant’s roots growing around the inside of your pot in a circle, it’s time for a new pot! Make sure to go up a pot size and choose something about 2-3 inches larger than your plant’s root ball so it has room to grow!

Final Thoughts on Monstera Leaves Curling

In the end, preventing monstera leaf curl comes down to a few things:

  • Make sure your soil drains well by keeping it aerated and repotting annually.
  • Water your monstera thoroughly when a moisture meter reads 3-4 or when the top few inches of soil feel dry to the touch.
  • Fertilizer regularly with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • Avoid direct sunlight and hot or cold drafts.
  • Watch out for insects. If you see them, rinse off your plant and treat with neem oil.

In other words, proper, consistent care is the best way to prevent leaf issues on your monstera. But we get it! Sometimes it’s tricky to give your plant everything it needs. But with a little knowledge and practice, you’ll be a pro!