Monstera plants are well-loved because of their large, exotic leaves. They make an instant impact anywhere you put them especially as they get bigger. Better yet, the plant is generally easy to care for. However, like all houseplants, there are a few common problems to be aware of. In this article, I’ll go into detail about Monstera leaves turning yellow.
Why are My Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow?
Monstera leaves turning yellow is often a sign that the plant is suffering from overwatering. But there are other reasons why its leaves turn yellow including low humidity, underwatering, lighting issues, temperature stress, pests, diseases and overfertilizing.
At times yellowing is normal as the old leaves age and change color.
Reasons for Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow?
Below I’ll go through each of the different possible reasons for Monstera leaves turning yellow. And I’ll explain what happens, why they cause foliage yellowing and how to fix it.
Watering problems is usually the number one cause of Monstera leaves turning yellow. The tricky part is that both overwatering and underwatering both can have this effect.
However, they work very differently.
Therefore, the yellowing happens at different stages. As such, it is very important to diagnose one from the other.
Otherwise, you could end up making matters worse.
If the plant’s yellow leaves are caused by overwatering and you add more water thinking lack of moisture was the issue, it exacerbates the problem.
The opposite is also true.
If your Swiss Cheese plant is dehydrated and you allow it to dry even more thinking it was overwatered, it will deteriorate even more.
Thus, when watering is the cause of yellowing leaves, it is essential to always check the soil first to ensure whether the cause is too much or too little water before taking any action.
If your Monstera’s leaves turn yellow, overwatering is usually the more common cause. Therefore, check for any signs of excess moisture.
Wet, soggy soil is usually the easiest symptom to spot. If the soil is very wet, you’ll see the surface is mucky. Otherwise, stick your finger into the soil.
If the soil feels soft, wet or soggy, then the plant is getting too much water.
Another test I like to do is take a whiff of the soil. If it smells bad or has a rotten odor, that’s a bad sign. It can mean root rot. When roots rot, they turn brown or black and become mushy. They also stink as rotten things do!
Root rot is a serious problem that happens from overwatering. And if it occurs, you want to catch it as early as possible and fix the issue since it can destroy the entire plant.
In addition to yellow leaves, an overwatered monstera will droop and possibly have brown spots on its leaves.
Why does overwatering happen?
Overwatering usually occurs due to a few things:
- Watering too often
- The soil you’re using it too heavy and retains too much moisture
- There is no drainage hole at the bottom of the pot to allow excess moisture to escape
If overwatering is indeed the cause of your Monsters leaves turning yellow, you have a couple of options. But first, you’ll need to check for root rot by unpotting the plant.
- If there is root rot, your best bet is to repot the plant in fresh, dry soil.
- If there is no root rot, allow the soil to dry completely. Then start watering again but make sure to adjust your routine to prevent overwatering from happening again.
Lack of moisture can likewise turn your Monstera’s leaves yellow. But this is much easier to fix compared to overwatering.
Again, before taking any action, check the soil.
If your Monstera is underwatered, the soil will be very dry. Even if you poke your finger deeper into the soil, it will still be dry. In fact, the soil will likely be bone dry.
This tells you that that your yellowing Monstera is very thirsty. And it needs a drink.
In addition to yellow leaves, an underwatered Monstera will likely have curling leaves and droop. Eventually, you’ll see the leaves turn crispy and brittle and brown at the tips and edges before the entire leaves turn brown themselves.
To fix this, give your monstera a shower. A light dousing of water is not going to help especially if you have a big plant.
Instead, you want to get it to the shower and turn it on to douse the plant. Alternatively, you can use a hose and saturate the soil.
Keep letting the water run until you see liquid start dripping from the bottom of the pot. This will help the plant quench its thirst.
After watering, monitor the plant to see how it recovers. It should not take too long for it to perk up.
Make sure to adjust your watering schedule to avoid letting the plant go dehydrated again in the future.
Lack of Humidity
Humidity is also related to moisture. However, it is different from watering in that humidity is the amount of moisture in the air. In contrast, watering the plant related to the soil.
That said, as a tropical plant that’s used to hot and humid climates, Monsteras enjoy lots of humidity.
And when the moisture in the air is too low, its leaves can turn yellow or brown.
The ideal humidity for Monstera plants is 60% to 80%. Although, it will be happy as long as room humidity stays at 40% or higher.
Therefore, it is a good idea to monitor humidity on a regular basis especially if you live somewhere with dry air like the desert.
If this is the case, you can employ a humidifier or mist the plant a few times a week. You can also group it with other plants or place it on a pebble tray to increase humidity.
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Too much or too little light can likewise cause Monstera leaves turning yellow. In most cases, it is the former rather than the latter.
Let me explain each.
Too much light means that the plant is exposed to very intense light or direct sunlight for too long. Often, this means it is sitting in the south or west facing window getting the harshest rays of the sun (11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).
When it receives direct sun, the harsh rays can eventually scorch or burn its leaves. This causes the leaves to turn yellow or even have some brown burn marks.
Too little light occurs when the plant is left in low light environments. Although it can tolerate some low light, there’s a limit to what it can handle. Like all plants, your Monstera needs light for photosynthesis to produce energy for itself.
Lack of light means it cannot sustain itself. This turns the beautiful green leaves of a Monstera plant into a paler green or even yellow color.
This happens because the insufficient light prevents it from producing enough chlorophyll to keep its leaves a healthy green hue.
As you would expect the lack of energy production means slower growth and smaller not to mention fewer leaves.
Over time, the plant will get desperate and you’ll see the stems get longer and leggier as they reach out and bend towards any light source they can find in hopes to get more exposure.
To avoid too much or too little light, pick a spot where your Monstera plant gets bright, indirect light indoors. It will likewise be happy with medium light.
Outdoors, partial shade is best.
If you notice yellow leaves from too much or too little light exposure, move the plant to a better spot.
Monsteras are tropical plants. This means they enjoy moderate to warm climate all year round that’s consistently sunny. Because these regions are near the equator, they also don’t experience snow or frost.
This is why Monstera plants have an idea temperature of between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. And while they can tolerate warmer weather just fine, they have a hard time when the temperature drops below this range.
More importantly, once things get colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, growth will stop. And the longer it stays there and colder it gets, the higher the risk of cold stress, injury or damage.
When this happens, not only does the plant weaken and deteriorate, its leaves also turn yellow.
For this reason, Monsteras are ideal for USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 12 outdoors. In colder zones, you can leave the plant outdoors during summer. But make sure to take it back indoors once the weather gets colder.
Transplant/Repotting Stress or Shock
Another type of shock that causes yellow leaves in Monstera plants is transplant or repotting shock. This occurs when the plant is moved from its current home to somewhere else.
There are many reasons for transplant or repotting shock. Among them is poor care during the move, transferring it during the wrong time of the year, using different kinds of potting soil from what it wants, change in environment or the roots being exposed for extended periods of time.
The stress it experiences from this not only turns leaves yellow but can also make it stop growing or producing leaves. In some cases, the plant will drop leaves and deteriorate as well.
Therefore, proper care during repotting and transplanting the pot is important.
Pests or more specifically pest infestations can cause Monstera leaves to turn yellow as well.
Like other houseplants, Monsteras can experience pests. The most common of which include spider mites, aphids, mealybugs and scale.
These are sap sucking insects that will steal the internal fluids of the plant. Because sap contains nutrients and water that’s supposed to be distributed to the extremities of the plant like the leaves, these end up not getting the nutrients and hydration they need.
As a result, yellow leaves occur.
The problem with pests is that most of them reproduce very quickly. As their popular increases, they’re able to cause more damage due to their size.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent pests you can help the plant by keeping it healthy. A healthy plant is better at resisting pests and diseases. Also, cleaning its leaves helps since pests are attracted to dust.
Beyond this, it is all about regular inspection and quickly treating the plant once you spot any potential pest problem.
Diseases are another problem that can cause Monstera leaves to turn yellow. Although not all plant infections do this , there are a few that distinctively cause this. They include:
- Powdery mildew
- Fungal leaf spot disease
All three are have varying symptoms and varying effects, so you’ll be able to tell the difference by looking at the kind of yellowing patterns that occurs in the leaves
The one similarly they all have is that they are caused by overwatering and poor air circulation. Too much moisture makes the environment conducive to these pathogens.
Like other houseplants, Monsteras benefit from fertilizer. It helps them grow faster and produce more foliage. But like water, moderation is essential.
Both excess fertilizer and nutrient deficiency are both bad as they can cause yellowing leaves.
Of the two, too much fertilizer is often the bigger problem since growers think they’re helping the plant grow by giving it more “food”.
Unfortunately, fertilizer contains salt. That’s because salt is the best way to delivery the nutrients to allow the plants to absorb them.
The problem is plants hate salt.
So, the more fertilizer you give it, not only are you giving it more minerals but also more salt.
More importantly, the salt ends up as a byproduct the accumulates in the soil. As it builds up, it becomes toxic to the plant’s roots.
When this happens, yellow leaves and root damage can occur.
Since damaged roots will not be able to absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil efficiently, the plant eventually gets deficient which leads to more yellowing.
Therefore, avoid overfertilizing your Monstera. Flushing the soil every few months also helps as it gets rid of excess fertilizer salts that collect in the soil.
Natural Aging (Old Foliage Turns Yellow)
I’ve left this towards the end because this is something that you don’t have to worry about.
Yellow leaves from aging is a natural part of the plant’s growth.
Older leaves, which are the bigger ones at the bottom, will turn yellow and later fall off naturally. The plants sheds these leaves to make room for new, young leaves.
As your Monstera grows taller or gets older, you’ll notice this more and more.
But this is one cause that does not require a solution since there is nothing wrong with your plant when this happens.
Another instance where the Monstera’s leaves can turn yellow or even drop is acclimation to a new environment.
This can happen when you move it from one location to another. Sometimes, it happens when you first bring it home from the store or someone else’s home.
Like natural aging, this is something that happens naturally, so you don’t have to worry. It will take some time for the plant to get used to its new surroundings, adjust to the lighting, temperature, humidity and other factors.
The important thing is to leave it be and take good care of it. Avoid pruning, repotting or propagating it during this time.
Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Fix Yellow Leaves on Monstera?
Yellowing leaves is usually caused to watering issues. As such, check the soil to see if the plant is over or underwatered. Then allow the soil to dry or give the plant more water depending on what the cause is.
Should You Cut Yellow Leaves Off Monstera?
Yes, cutting off the yellow leaves is a good idea. Yellow leaves will not turn green again. And while they’re attached to the plant, it will use up resources to try to revive the affected areas. Therefore, pruning yellow leaves allow the plant to focus its resources on healthy leaves.
Can Yellow Monstera Leaves Turn Green Again?
Unfortunately, not. Once leaves turn yellow or brown, they cannot turn back to being green again. This is why many growers will cut off discolored leaves as they are unsightly to look at. Additionally, it helps the plant put all its energy on new, healthy leaves instead.
Will a Yellow Monstera Leaf Recover?
Yes and no. It depends on what the cause of the yellow Monstera leaves is and how serious the issue has gotten. If there is root rot, you’ll need to take immediate action to try and save the plant. However, in serious cases of root rot, there is no guarantee that you can revive the sick plant.
How Often Should You Water Monstera?
Water your Monstera every 1-2 weeks. You want to allow the soil to dry out between waterings. During the summer, expect to water more often because there is more light and warm weather. Cut back on watering during the winter as it takes longer for soil to dry since there’s less sun and colder weather.
Is Your Monstera Overwatered or Underwatered?
Yellow leaves is often a sign of an overwatered Monstera, whereas brown leaves means it is underwatered. However, the only way to really tell if your Monstera is overwatered or underwatered is to check the soil. Wet, soggy soil means too much water, while very dry soil means it is dehydrated.