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Why Are My Philodendron Leaves Not Unfurling? (5 Causes)

Why Are My Philodendron Leaves Not Unfurling? (5 Causes)
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Are the gorgeous leaves of your philodendron not unfurling? Unfortunately, that’s a common problem with this plant.

There are many reasons for this phenomenon. Luckily, they’re all easy to fix; you just have to know what the problem is first.

In any case, you shouldn’t attempt to unfurl the leaves manually. As tempting as it may be, you might end up damaging the leaves.

In today’s article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about why your philodendron leaves aren’t unfurling and how to avoid this issue in the future.

Let’s dive in.

Why Are Philodendron Leaves Not Unfurling?

Every plant lover knows about the beautiful philodendron foliage. This is why it can be a huge disappointment when the large philodendron leaves don’t unfurl.

Typically, most philodendrons produce lively, green leaves that start out rolled up. Then, they slowly begin to unfurl, or open up, as they grow.

However, if you don’t provide adequate conditions for your philodendrons, they might not open up completely. Another possibility is that your plant does finally unfurl but just takes longer than the average time.

Here’s a list of the reasons why your philodendron leaves aren’t unfurling:

1 – Low Humidity

The most common reason is lack of humidity. Unfortunately, it can be hard to adjust the humidity levels in your home to suit your plants, especially if you keep different species in the same room.

However, humidity is crucial for philodendron leaves. After all, philodendrons thrive in tropical areas, such as rainforests. Ideally, you want the humidity to be in the range of 60% to 70%.

It’s true that some species of philodendron can survive in much less humid conditions. Yet, it doesn’t hurt to modify the humidity to your plant’s liking.

2 – Inadequate Watering

Underwatering your philodendron can cause a lot of problems, including unfurling. The reason for that is simple: the philodendron foliage is trying to preserve moisture!

Think about it. If the leaves unfurl, they’ll be susceptible to the elements and are at a higher risk of drying up at a faster pace. So, basically, by staying rolled up, it means the philodendron is in survival mode.

3 – Extreme Temperature

If you live in an area where the temperature is too extreme, this might be another reason philodendron leaves aren’t unfurling.

In cold temperatures, the leaves protect themselves by staying curled up.

Similarly, extreme heat will make your philodendron lose a lot of water pretty fast. As a result, the leaves stay rolled up to slow down this process.

4 – Not Enough Sunlight

Philodendrons are rainforest plants that don’t require a lot of direct sunlight.

However, there are times when they go dormant, usually in winter when the daylight hours are less. It’s basically a state of plant hibernation where your plant doesn’t grow to preserve its stock of energy for the longest time possible.

So, while your philodendron only requires indirect light, make sure it gets plenty of it. To explain, your plant needs about 6 to 7 hours of bright indirect sunlight every day. Otherwise, it’ll think it’s winter and start to hibernate.

5 – Low-Quality Soil

Low-quality soils are inefficient at draining excess water and can result in inadequate fertilization. Additionally, there won’t be sufficient soil aeration.

Case in point, always use well-drained, high-quality soil for your philodendron.

How to Help Philodendron Leaves Unfurl

To help philodendron leaves unfurl, you need to make sure the plant is getting everything it needs. This doesn’t mean your plant will immediately heal and start to unfurl. It could still take a long time.

Water the Plant

Naturally, the most important aspect of maintaining your plants is to water them regularly. Yet, you should be aware of the different watering methods for each plant.

Some people assume that giving their philodendron plenty of water will make the leaves unfurl quicker. However, this will probably do more harm than good.

In fact, it might be better for your plant to be dry than soggy because overwatering can cause severe health issues.

First, the excess moisture will make the leaves soft and sticky, making it difficult to unfurl. Additionally, overwatering can cause fungal infections, like root rot.

For those reasons, you should water the philodendron when the soil feels dry to the touch. Simply add just enough water to keep the soil moist, then leave to drain.

It goes without saying that your pot should always have a drainage hole. That way, you avoid overwatering the plant.

You can also measure moisture levels in the soil using a soil moisture meter. This way, you can make sure your philodendron is getting the exact amount of moisture it needs.

Increase the Humidity

Since humidity is essential for the philodendron leaves, and your house isn’t a rainforest, you should look into other ways to increase the humidity.

The easiest thing you can do is to lightly mist the leaves every couple of days. Just don’t do it too frequently, or your plant may drown!

You can also shower with your philodendron! Since running the shower increases humidity levels in the bathroom, placing the philodendron there can significantly improve its condition.

Your last resort is to get a humidifier for your plant to keep humidity levels steady to ensure optimal growing conditions.

Plus, they’re easy to use. Simply set the humidifier at a certain level, and keep it on a table or shelf near the plants.

Find Another Light Source

The diminishing light in winter can pose a real threat to your plants’ leafage. So, if you want your plants to continue growing during the shorter days, you should find another light source.

This doesn’t simply mean turning on the lights in your home. Philodendrons have specific light needs, and they won’t just survive under regular fluorescent lights.

Thankfully, there are many grow lights available on the market. Not only will they help your plants grow, but they can make the room more inviting and interesting.

Still, if you don’t have access to the specific plant grow lights, LED lights will work just as well. Their only downside is that they tend to be more costly.

Fertilize the Soil

Now you know what to do to keep your plant healthy during winter. Next, it’s time to talk about what to do during its growing season, which starts in early spring and lasts up to early fall.

During that time, philodendrons need more nutrients than usual. Adding fertilizer to the soil each month will help ensure your plant is happy and healthy.

Manually Unfurl the Leaves

If you’re impatient, you can try to pry open the philodendron leaves just to see whether they’re just stuck together.

However, you should do this if only one or two leaves aren’t unfurling. Yet, you can’t do that if the entire plant isn’t opening.

Also, only resort to this option only after you’ve provided your plant with ideal growing conditions in terms of lighting, humidity, and nutrition.

What’s more is that you should check the state of the Philodendron leaves. If they’re dry and brittle, allow them to heal first before trying to open them up.

Pest Management

Maintaining your philodendron’s health means you should keep away any kind of pests. Unfortunately, philodendrons are susceptible to pest attacks, including scales, spider mites, and aphids.

These pests get the nutrients they need from the leaves. As a result, it weakens the plant and can delay the unfurling process.

That’s why you must act quickly whenever you spot any signs of pest attacks.

How Long Does It Take for Philodendron Leaves to Unfurl?

Typically, philodendron leaves can take anywhere from a few days to a maximum of four weeks to unfurl, depending on their environment.

The better the growing conditions, the faster the leaves will unfurl. So, if it takes them longer than a month, it’s a definite sign there’s something wrong with your plant.

Final Thoughts

So, why are philodendron leaves not unfurling?

The most common cause of this issue is low humidity. Philodendrons need a humidity level of around 60% to 70% to thrive and for the leaves to unfurl.

It can also be due to too much or insufficient watering. Ideally, you need to water your plant whenever the first inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

Another common cause is extreme temperatures. If only a few leaves don’t unfurl, you can carefully use your fingers to help them get unstuck. However, you shouldn’t do that if the leaves are dry or brittle, or you risk damaging the plant.