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How To Fix A Stuck Leaf? [3+ Causes & Quick Fix]

If you believe your plants with stuck leaf is due to disease or deformity, that is far from the truth.

Generally, leaves are unable to unfurl due to inappropriate growing conditions like low humidity, inadequate sunlight, and nutrient deficiency. Besides, tears, cuts and pressure on leaves may be the other probable causes, along with the plant’s genetics.

You can allow the leaves to get back to their natural growth by unfurling, with a few tips on their care needs and environmental adjustment.

Is it Natural For Leaves to Get Stuck?

A stuck leaf or bud blast is the condition where the leaf cannot break through the protective sheath that surrounds it, also known as the cataphyll.

And no, it is not normal for plant leaves to get stuck to the cataphyll, given the vital function that the leaves of any plant perform. 

From producing glucose (plant food) via photosynthesis to performing gaseous exchange by respiration, leaves fulfil the plant’s needs. And all these physiological processes cannot be possible with a stuck leaf. 
A stuck leaf at the bottom of the plant.
The stuck leaf appears like a caterpillar.

Further, most indoor plants make it to your home for their alluring leaf that unfurls to liven up any corner of your home. 

For instance, Pink Princess Philodendron is loved for its wide unfurling heart-shaped leaves with variegation.

And the exotic large leaf of Monsteras like Monstera Deliciosa and Borsigiana is the most enticing factor for gardeners.

Most importantly, there is no evidence for the occurrence of stuck leaves at any stage of a plant’s life cycle.

Why Does Plant Leaf Get Stuck?

Plants struggling to unfurl its leaf indicate the prevalence of underlying problems. Excluding the young leaves that are yet to unfurl.

Most of it has to do with environmental conditions like fluctuating temperatures and humidity. Sometimes it is the genetics as well, which is not in our control. 

1. Low Humidity

Prolonged dryness in the air during the active growing season is one of the major causes of stuck leaves in plants.

Generally, low humidity accelerates the water loss from leaf cells through transpiration, reducing the turgor pressure.

Turgor pressure is the pressure exerted by the fluid within the cells against their cell walls which helps maintain their rigidity and shape. 

So, dry air moisture restricts cell expansion leading to constricted leaf development. As a result, the leaf may fail to reach its full size and may not unfurl properly.

2. Poor Light Exposure

Inadequate exposure to light can limit the amount of energy available for the plant which is essential for unfurling plant leaves.

Normally, in low-light conditions, plants cannot produce enough chlorophyll pigment.

The lesser the chlorophyll, the lower the plant’s ability to produce food and energy required for proper plant growth, including the leaves. 

Meanwhile, poor light may cause smaller-sized leaves, distorted shapes, and exhibit abnormal pigmentation like black leaves and yellow leaves in hydrangea.

Eventually, the weakened plant leaves remain partially closed.

3. Nutrient Deficiency

Another probable reason for your plant leaf getting stuck can be a nutrient deficiency. 

Heavy feeders like Aroids demand continuous fertilizer application throughout their growing season. 

A leaf failing to unfurl among the stem.
The stuck leaf problem has now taken over the entire internet.

But, when the plant does not get enough nutrients, especially nitrogen, it hinders plant growth. 

Following this, the unfurling is compromised, and the leaves remain closed.

4. Mechanical Damage

Physical damage like a tear or cut to the foliage can impede the leaf ability to open up properly. 

Similarly, if the leaf is bent, twisted or compressed, you’ll end up affecting its tissue, preventing the leaf from achieving its normal shape. 

Generally, mechanical damage is more common during the transportation of the plant and also during propagation and repotting. 

Further, damaged portions of the leaf are likely to harbour pests and diseases capable of taking over the health of the entire plant.

How To Fix A Stuck Leaf Unfurl?

A few stuck leaf is not the end of your plant’s story. With little alteration and correction in the existing environment of the plant, you can help them open up.

So, pull up your plant parent sleeve and follow the care tips below to help the stuck leaf unfurl.

  • Use a cotton swab or your fingers to gently separate the leaf from the cataphyll. Make sure not to damage the leaf.
  • Increase humidity around the plant to soften the cataphyll. Use a humidifier or gently dab over the stuck leaf using damp clothe or a plant wipe.

A average humidity of 50-60% is ideal for most of the house plants. However, we recommend you check the humidity requirement for the plant before bringing them in.

  • Keep your plant under bright indirect sunlight to help the leaf with photosynthesis and produce enough energy to unfurl.
  • Rotate your potted plants regularly to ensure every leaf on the plant receives equal sunlight. 
  • Be mindful not to over-water or under-water the plant to prevent moisture stress leading to stunted growth.
  • Feed your plant with nitrogen-rich fertilizer, especially during its active growing season. For most of the house plants like the ZZ plant, Pothos and Dracaena, it is during the spring and summer.

The leaves might take some time to respond to the care provided. So, it is essential to have patience and let the leaves revive.

From Editorial Team 

Remove the Obstacles!

Sometimes, physical obstructions like debris or plant parts might prevent the leaves to unfurl. 

Carefully remove them with your finger or a pair of tweezers. But do not tease the stuck leaf.

Allow the leaf to unfurl at its own pace, providing suitable conditions.

All The Best!