Philodendron Leaves Not Unfurling [Causes & Fixes]

While a philodendron plant can take a few days to a few weeks for its leaves to unfurl, it might sometimes seem like its leaves are stuck. Although you can unfurl the leaves yourself, this isn’t recommended—it can damage the plant and still won’t be a long-term solution to the problem. If Philodendron leaves don’t unfurl, it means something is lacking in the plant’s care.

The most common reasons why philodendron leaves don’t unfurl are that the plant isn’t getting enough sunlight, water, or humidity. Adjusting these elements of the plant’s care will encourage its leaves to unfurl and maintain the general health of the plant.

In this article, I’ll explore common reasons why philodendron leaves don’t unfurl and how to fix them so your beautiful plant can continue growing.

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1. Your Philodendron Isn’t Getting Enough Humidity

Philodendrons grow and thrive in rainforests where the soil is moist. So, if your philodendron isn’t getting enough moisture at home, this can cause its leaves to get stuck or even break inside its sheaths. However, watering your philodendron is not enough. There has to be enough humidity for it to thrive.

Philodendrons need at least 60-70% humidity in the air. Philodendron is a tropical plant and the warm and humid rainforests of Central and South America are its natural habitat.

Unfurled leaves aside, a philodendron plant will show other signs if it’s not getting enough humidity, such as:

  • Dry leaf tips
  • Brown leaf tips
  • Curling leaf edges
  • Leaves falling off the plant

How To Fix

Buying a humidifier that releases cool mist into the room is an easy way to give your plants more humidity. I recommend the AquaOasis Cool Mist Humidifier, available on Amazon. It has a 360° rotating nozzle so you can control where the mist is directed.

A great way to ensure your philodendron gets enough humidity is to mist its leaves every other day.

You could also put a pebble try underneath the plant. This tray contains pebbles and water, providing your plant with constant humidity.

A pebble tray is an especially good idea if your indoor humidity is low. This is usually true for those living in a dry U.S. state such as Arizona or Nevada. Here’s how to make a pebble tray:

  1. Find a tray that’s a bit larger than your plant’s pot.
  2. Fill it with decorative pebbles.
  3. Fill the tray with water, leaving about half an inch (1.3 cm) of dry pebbles on top.
  4. Place the pot containing the philodendron plant on top of the pebbles.
  5. When the pebble tray dries, add more water. You will have to do this more frequently when the weather is hot.
  6. Rinse the pebbles every few weeks and replace the tray’s water. This will discourage insects from coming to the tray.

2. Your Philodendron Needs More Sunlight

Philodendron plants require bright, indirect sunlight. Generally, they should get between one and four hours of indirect sunlight per day. This light should stream through your windows, as Country Living reports.

Philodendrons can usually handle low-light conditions—after all, they’re often covered by tree canopies in their natural habitat. However, not receiving enough light will still affect their growth. They might not grow as quickly as they should, and their leaves could remain unfurled.

How To Fix

Check the light levels that your philodendron plant is getting every day. If you notice that your plant isn’t in enough bright light, move it somewhere where there’s more light. You can place it close to a window, but not under direct sunlight. Philodendrons should get bright, indirect sunlight.

Note that if you have a variegated philodendron plant, it will thrive with even more hours of light per day. This will make its colors bolder and brighter.

Ideally, your philodendron should get indirect sunlight, but if there isn’t enough natural light where you live, you can consider using artificial lights. These lights are especially useful if you live in an area of the U.S. that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, such as Portland or Pittsburgh.

Fluorescent tubes are 2½ times more efficient than incandescent lights at turning electricity into light, making them one of the best choices for creating indoor lighting for your plants.

Here are a couple of tips for using fluorescent lights:

  • Keep your plants at about 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) from the light. Artificial lighting is at its most effective at this distance.
  • If the position of your light fixture isn’t adjustable, you can still place the plants on shelves or stands in order to modify their distance from the light source.

3. You Recently Repotted Your Philodendron

If your philodendron was becoming too large for its pot, there’s a good chance you’ve repotted it. But now, you’re seeing that its leaves are curling or unfurling. The plant is experiencing shock because of the change, but it will get used to its new pot quickly.

How To Fix

There are some important tips you should follow when repotting your philodendron so that it experiences a smooth transition.

  • Give the philodendron enough humidity and light during its transition so that it can recover.
  • Repot your plant in the next pot size from its current pot. Avoid putting it in a lot larger pot than the previous one. This will cause the soil to remain too wet, which can cause your plant to get brown spots on its leaves and curled leaves.
  • Avoid repotting a philodendron if its leaves are currently unfurled. This is a sensitive stage of its growth; you don’t want to disrupt it with massive change.

4. Your Philodendron Is Getting Too Much or Too Little Water

Philodendrons should get enough water, but you shouldn’t over-water either. Both cases can prevent their leaves from growing. It can also cause root rot, a disease that occurs when plants are exposed to too much water over time.

You should adjust your watering schedule depending on the time of year. During the warmer months, you can expect your plant to require more water than during the colder months.

How To Fix

Touch the first inch (2.5 cm) of the plant’s soil with your fingers. If the soil feels dry, you should water your plant. If it’s still moist, don’t water it yet.

A great way to gauge how much moisture is in your plant is to purchase a moisture meter. I recommend the XLUX Soil Moisture Meter from Amazon. It has a sensing probe that gives you instant, accurate results on the quality of your soil. It also has a large clear dial that’s easy to read.

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5. Your Philodendron Isn’t Getting Enough Fertilizer

Philodendron plants are heavy feeders that require fertilizer on a regular basis. This increases their leaf size and generally encourages the growth of a healthier plant with beautiful colors.

If your philodendron doesn’t get enough fertilizer, it will lack the essential nutrients it needs to grow properly. The best fertilizer for philodendrons is a 3-1-2 that’s specifically formulated for philodendrons. It contains three parts nitrogen, one part phosphorous, and two parts potassium.

How To Fix

Purchasing fertilizer is the easiest way to fix a lack of nutrients in your philodendron. I recommend the Philodendron Fertilizer Liquid Plant Food, available from Amazon. It’s been specially formulated to encourage the healthy growth of philodendrons’ leaves, roots, and stems.

You should fertilize your philodendron plant in the spring and summer when it’s in its growing stage. When the plant becomes dormant during the fall and winter, give it fertilizer once every six weeks.

When feeding your plant fertilizer, make sure you apply the fertilizer to moist soil so that you don’t injure or damage the plant’s roots.

The alternative is to make homemade fertilizer with a base of compost. This can also work, but it’s also a little tricky, as its nutritional content will be slightly different each time.

6. Your Philodendron Isn’t Getting the Right Temperature

It’s not just sunlight and humidity that will help your philodendron plant unfurl its leaves—it also needs to be at the correct temperature. The ideal daytime temperatures for philodendrons are between 75 and 85° F (23.8-29°C). For the nighttime, they’re between 65 and 70 °F (18-21°C).

How To Fix

When keeping your philodendron indoors, you should find a compromise between giving the plant enough warmth and keeping your spaces comfortable. You can set your thermostat to around 75° F (23° C) during the day and around 70° F (21°C) at night, which is considered comfortable for most people.

If the temperature that suits you isn’t ideal for your plant, consider putting your plants in a separate room where you can keep the temperature at a different degree. You can achieve this with an HVAC Zoning System that enables you to set different temperatures for different areas in your home.

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If you own a philodendron plant, you’ll probably be disappointed if its leaves look unfurled or stuck.

Luckily, there are some important philodendron care tips you can follow that will help the plant unfurl its leaves and grow healthy:

  • Make sure the plant gets approximately four hours of light per day.
  • Water the plant when its soil feels dry.
  • Give the plant enough humidity—ideally around 60-70 percent.
  • Give the plant enough fertilizer.

Keep the plant in temperatures of around 75° F (23° C) during the day and 70° F (21°C) during the night.

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