Monsteras are some of the most popular houseplants around, prized for their large and tropical-looking, glossy leaves and vigorous growth habit. But if your monstera is developing unsightly yellowing leaves, you may be wondering what you can do to help your plant.
In this guide, we’ll explore the most common causes of yellowing leaves on monstera plants and some simple solutions to improve the health of your plant.
7 Reasons Why Your Monstera Leaves Are Turning Yellow
From watering issues to lighting, there are a number of reasons why your monstera may be developing yellowed leaves. Below are the most common causes and what to do about it!
Plants need water to grow, but too much or too little water can spell disaster for your houseplants. And, when it comes to yellowing leaves, watering issues are the most common culprit.
It can, at first, be difficult to determine whether your plant is over- or underwatered, as both conditions can produce yellow leaves, drooping stems and other symptoms. However, there are few key ways to help you decide if your monstera needs more water or not.
Overwatered monsteras will often droop and develop yellowing leaves that seem moist. Stems and leaves may even display visible rotting and you may spot fungus growing in your plant’s soil. A closer examination of your plant’s pot will reveal soggy, waterlogged soil that will sometimes even have a slight odor.
Underwatered monsteras will also droop and exhibit yellowing leaves; however, leaves will feel brittle to the touch and leaves may also begin to curl or develop brown spots. If you suspect your plant may be underwatered, insert your index finger into your plant’s soil. If the soil feels bone dry, your plant probably needs more water.
As tropical houseplants, monsteras prefer a moderate amount of water and should be watered approximately once a week; however, they need less water during the fall and winter when they are not actively growing. In general, it’s much easier to correct underwatering than overwatering, as soggy soil can cause your plant to develop root rot, which will kill your plant quite quickly. If in doubt, test your plant’s soil and only water when the top 1 to 2” feels dry to the touch.
Waterlogged soil has less to do with the amount you water and more to do with how well your pot and soil drains. For this reason, it’s essential to purchase a well-draining pot for your monstera. If your planter doesn’t have drainage holes, you can drill your own with an electric drill.
Another common reason a monstera may develop yellowing leaves is lighting. Both too much and too little light can produce yellowing leaves and a range of other issues.
In nature, monsteras are understory plants that thrive in bright, indirect light. As a result, too much bright light can cause your plant to begin to yellow and leaves may even develop sunburn. Sun damaged monstera leaves often exhibit brown, crispy spots surrounded by yellow margins.
Inadequate lighting can also impair the photosynthesis process and lead to yellow leaves; however, low light doesn’t directly cause leaf yellowing. Instead, in lower light rooms, photosynthesis will slow, which in turn causes your plant to use less water. Because your plant doesn’t need as much water, it can become increasingly susceptible to overwatering and yellow leaves will develop secondarily.
For happier monsteras, try to locate your plants in lower light rooms or windows with partial shade. Locations that receive morning or late afternoon sun are usually best, although you can move your plant a few feet away from your windows or add sheer curtains to protect your monstera from too much bright light.
Monsteras can do quite well in low light rooms; however, if your plant seems to be stretching towards the light, has reduced fenestration in its leaves (the characteristic holes that develop in monstera leaves) or plant growth seems to slow, you may need to increase lighting.
Monsteras aren’t heavy feeders but, like other houseplants, they can become nutrient deficient over time. While monsteras can develop different deficiencies, nitrogen deficiency is one of the most common and causes yellowing leaves with visible veining.
To keep your monstera looking its best, you can fertilize your plant approximately 1 to 2 times a month with a good, balanced organic fertilizer during the growing season. Like watering, fertilizer should be reduced in the fall and winter, when your plant isn’t actively growing. Alternatively, if you don’t want to use fertilizer, adding some organic compost tea or worm castings can do wonders for your monstera as well.
It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when fertilizing your plant and avoid using too much fertilizer at once. Overfertilized monsteras can suffer from tissue burn and may develop yellowing leaves and leaves with brown and crispy margins and potting mix may show a visible salt crust residue. If you suspect your plant was overfertilized, don’t add anymore fertilizer and flush your plant’s soil with fresh water.
Temperature and humidity
For plants kept indoors, temperature is usually less of a problem, but you should do your best to protect your monstera from temperature extremes. That means shielding your plant from drafty doors and windows in winter and positioning your monstera so that it isn’t directly beneath an A/C or heating unit. Temperature extremes can cause yellowing leaves, especially if your plant is exposed to temperatures below 50°F.
Beyond temperature, monsteras do like a bit more humidity than some other houseplants and they’ll grow best when humidity levels are between 60 and 70%. Higher humidity can be difficult to maintain indoors, especially during the winter months when heating units and fireplaces can dry out indoor air quickly. To counter this, try placing a pebble tray beneath your monstera plant or add a humidifier to your grow room.
As your plant grows taller, its roots will grow longer too, which can cause your monstera to become rootbound over time. As roots develop, they can circle the interior of your plant pot and become a tangled mess that won’t absorb nutrients or water correctly. As your plant won’t have enough soil to sustain itself, your monstera will become stressed and may develop nutritional deficiencies, yellow leaves and drooping stems.
Because monsteras can grow quite fast, it’s usually a good idea to plan on repotting your plant about once a year. Try to repot your plant in late winter to early spring, as plants will be less stressed when repotted at this time. Opt for a plant pot that is just one to two sizes larger than your existing pot and water your plant in well after repotting.
If you don’t want to completely repot your monstera, you can also just lift your plant out of its pot and gently tease apart its roots. Your plant will still need a bigger pot in the future, but loosening the roots can buy you a bit more time.
Just remember that repotting can stress your plant out too, and may cause your monstera to droop a bit and develop a few yellowed leaves. While this is normal, you can reduce the stress on your plant by choosing to repot your plant only in late winter to early spring and don’t fertilize your plant right after repotting. Instead, move your monstera back to its original location in your home and resume your normal watering schedule.
Monsteras aren’t as susceptible to pests as some other houseplants species; however, a plant that is stressed by underwatering or other issues may be more vulnerable to pest attack. Issues like thrips, spider mites, scale, powdery mildew and fungus gnats can develop as a result and may cause yellowing leaves.
To keep your plants pest free, check new plants over carefully before bringing any new additions into your home. You can also preventatively spray them with an insecticidal soap spray or neem oil. It’s also a good idea to inspect the underside of plant leaves for any signs of leaf stippling, sticky honeydew, spider mite webbing and other signs of pest activity.
Providing your monstera with proper light, watering and fertilizer is the best way to keep your plants pest free as healthy plants are better able to resist pests.
Monstera leaves naturally begin to yellow as they age, so if you notice that only the largest, lowest and oldest leaves on your plant are yellowing, it may be part of the natural aging process. If the rest of the plant looks healthy, this is most likely the cause.
If the yellowed leaves detract a lot from your plant, you can simply snip them off or allow them to fall away on their own. Pruning away old growth on your monstera can encourage your plant to produce new growth; however, never prune more than 1/3 of your plant’s leaves at a time as this can cause plant stress.
From watering issues to nutrient deficiencies, there are a number of reasons why a monstera plant may develop yellow leaves. Happily, most of the causes of yellowing leaves are easy to fix and, by taking a few simple steps, your monstera should bounce back quickly.
We hope you enjoyed this article, but for more monstera care tips, check out our pieces on how to handle aerial roots and how to propagate your monstera.