Why Does My Monstera Have Small Leaves? (And How to Fix It)

Monstera small leaves is something that can happen to your plant if some if its requirements are not meant.

This is usually a sign that the plant wants something but is not getting it.

When given ideal living conditions and care, monsteras are known for their large, exotic and attractive foliage. That’s why they are very popular.

The good news is if your monstera has small leaves, you can fix the problem.

The tricky part if to identify what you need to change.

Why does my monstera have small leaves? The most common causes of small leaves on monstera plants are overwatering, underwatering, lack of sunlight or insufficient humidity.

Other causes including extreme temperatures and too much fertilizer. Using improper potting soil or the wrong pot can also cause this.

Causes Of Small Monstera Leaves

Overwatering

One of the most common causes of small leaves on Monstera plant is too much water.

Overwatering happens quite often despite the plant’s ability to tolerate some extra moisture. That’s because many people tend to believe that watering daily or every other day is the norm.

While that works if you live if tropical or subtropical climates, it is not a good idea in other regions.

That’s because excess watering can damage the plant’s leaves.

More importantly, they can damage the roots or even kill them.

Monstera small leaves can occur do to the latter. And you’ll see brown leaves develop as well.

Why?

When you overwater the plant and keep doing so, it will get to the point where the roots end up swimming or drowning in all the excess moisture.

As a result, the roots suffocate and some will die.

If the soil does not dry or drain soon, more and more roots die then rot.

Fewer healthy roots means less water and nutrient absorption. Thus, growth will be affected. And you end up with a weak plant with small leaves that may eventually succumb to root rot.

Even if root rot does not occur, the excess moisture and damp conditions in the soil will attract pests like fungus gnats and potentially cause diseases.

Again, this will hinder growth and development leaving you with smaller monstera leaves.

If you happen to be using tap water with higher content of minerals and salts, the excess salts can likewise damage the roots.

Once again, this will lead to poor level development and growth.

Not only will you see smaller monstera leaves, you’ll also see fewer new leaves as well.

 

Solution

Avoid overwatering your monstera plants.

The best way to do this is to check the soil before adding more water.

To do so, feel the top few inches of soil every few days or once a week depending on how busy you are. Never water the plant unless the top 2 inches of soil has completely dried.

If you want to be more conservative, wait until the top half of the soil is dry.

This is a safer level to avoid overwatering. And you don’t have to worry about underwatering the plant since the roots still have lots of moisture remaining in the bottom half of the soil.

In addition to knowing when to water the monstera, it is also important to check drainage.

Here, consider both soil drainage and pot drainage.

Make sure you use well-draining soil. And check to ensure that the pot has drainage holes at the bottom.

 

Insufficient Light

The next reason for monstera small leaves is lack of light.

As with other plants, light is essential for monstera growth and development. It is very important that the plant gets sufficient light in order to grow.

Light affects how big the plant grows, how fast it grows, how many leaves it pushes out, how big the leaves get and the quality of the leaves including their color.

Why?

That’s because light is a crucial part of photosynthesis, which is the plant’s energy making process.

As such, in photosynthesis, light is needed so the plant can produce starches (sugars) which is uses as food to. These are then broken down to create tissues as well as energy to support growth.

That said, light can be a problem indoors because of the ceilings and walls that cover our homes.

And the only access sunshine has to your home is through openings like windows and doors.

In some cases, plant owners may prefer placing the plant somewhere with little light because it looks nicer there for interior decoration purposes.

As such, lack of light can occur.

 

Solution

Lack of light is easily fixed once you’ve diagnosed the problem.

In concept, all you need to do is move the plant to a brighter location. But there’s more to it than that.

Monsteras like bright indirect light.

And they cannot tolerate direct sunlight.

So, in addition to choosing a spot with plenty of light it is important to avoid the sun’s direct rays. The latter can scorch your monstera’s leaves damaging them with burn marks or discoloration.

Instead, choose a location indoors with indirect, filtered or dappled light.

The best spot for the plant is near an east facing window where it gets plenty of morning sun. Additionally, morning sun is much gentler. So, it won’t burn the leaves

Thus, it is a good location to move the plant if you notice that your monstera has small leaves due to lack of light.

Also, prune the small leaves.

This will allow new leaves to grow under the well-lit location.

If you don’t get a lot of sunshine indoors, you can supplement this with artificial lights to let the plant grow well and produce large leaves.

 

Underwatering

Staying on the dry side is the common recommendation for Monstera plants.

That is wait until part of the soil or the top few inches of soil has dried before adding more water.

This works very well.

However, there’s also such a thing as underwatering the plant.

And the worse thing you can do is let it get dehydrated.

Lack of water or an underwatered monstera will develop small leaves. It will also produce fewer leaves as well.

That’s because the plant is malnourished.

Water is essential for a plant’s survival. In fact, plants are about 90% water.

This is why when a plant lacks water, it will droop and wilt. Additionally, the different parts of the plant need moisture to survive and grow.

So, without water, its overall development will be affected leaving you with small leaves on Monstera plants.

The other thing to keep in mind is that plants absorb nutrients via water.

This is how it absorbs them from the fertilizer you put into the soil. It is also water that transports these nutrients to the leaves and other parts of the plant.

So, lack of water prevents proper nutrition leaving you with small leaves as well.

 

Solution

Ensuring that your monstera gets sufficient water is much simpler than avoiding overwatering.

That’s because these plants can tolerate dry periods. But not for very long.

So, as long as you do not let the soil completely dry out, you’ll be fine.

However, because of our busy schedules or you sometimes just forget, this can still happen.

For the monstera plant, underwatering occurs when the entire root ball gets completely dry. Dehydration will later set in if you let it stay dry for longer periods of time after that.

Thus, try to check the soil and water before the soil goes bone dry.

 

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Lack of Humidity

Monstera are tropical plants that are native to Central and South America. Additionally, it grows in rainforests.

As such, it is fond of humid environments.

The tropics is best known for their sunny, warm and humid climate. And the rains that regularly fall in the rainforests keep air moisture high where the plant naturally lives.

This is why monsteras prefer humidity of 60% and 80%.

This allows it to grow optimally.

And if you give it this humidity, it will reward you with more leaves, larger foliage and more vibrant green colors.

The plant will also grow faster and bigger as well.

Sadly, this range is a bit too high for most homes.

The good news is that as long as you maintain humidity at 40% and above, the plant will be happy.

Note that it can tolerate lower humidity. But the lower you go from 40%, the higher the risk of dry, crispy and brown leaf edges and tips.

Additionally, you may also notice small leaves on your monstera.

This happens because low humidity increases the moisture lost by leaves.

As a result, you end up with less water to support growth. And the transport of nutrients to the leaves is also affected.

 

Solution

There are many ways to increase humidity for your monstera plants.

The most obvious is to get a humidifier. However, if you don’t want to spend money, there are free options as well.

The simplest is to mist the plant. But this requires a lot more work since the effects are temporary.

Additionally, avoid over misting such that you end up wetting the leaves.

Doing so increases the risk of fungal leaf infections.

Thus, for me, a better option is to use a humidity tray or pebble tray.

If you go with this method, make sure that the tray is strong enough to hold the monstera’s size and weight even as it grows.

Sadly, increasing the humidity after seeing small monstera leaves or browning foliage will not make these grow bigger or turn green again.

So, it is best to trim them off.

 

Too Much Fertilizer

In concept, too much fertilizer should not cause small leaves in monstera plants.

But it actually does.

The reason is that fertilizer contain salts which is how the nutrients are transported to the soil.

The problem is that plants hate salt. And the more salt there is the higher the risk of damaging the plant’s leaves, stems and roots.

So, the more you feed the plant, the more salts you leave in the soil in addition to the nutrients.

This puts the plant in harm’s way.

Because too much salt prevents proper absorption of water and nutrients by the roots, your monstera will develop small leaves.

In the worst case scenario, the excess salt will build up to the point where it start burning the roots.

Burnt roots die. And they don’t function anymore.

When this happens, not only does your plant end up with smaller leaves, you’ll see the leaves turn yellow as well.

After a while, the plant will weaken due to dehydration and malnutrition.

 

Solution

Don’t overfeed your monstera.

For optimal growth, monsteras need fertilizer.

But like water, avoid overdoing it since it can damage the plant and affect is overall growth.

Instead, just feed the plant as the instructions in the produce label specify.

To do so, use a balanced indoor plant fertilizer. Apply once a month during spring and summer. Don’t feed the plant in the fall or winter.

Additionally, never apply fertilizer when the soil is dry as this increases the concentration of the formulation. Thus, possibly causing accidental overfertilizing.

If you notice too much fertilizer, then flush the soil.

You’ll see the excess salt build up develop as a white crust on the surface of the soil.

 

Extreme Temperatures

Temperature that is too hot or too cold for the Monstera will lead to small leaves. That’s because temperature plays a large part in overall plant growth.

It also helps regulate photosynthesis.

For monsteras, the ideal temperature range is between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The lower end is ideal for nighttime conditions while the middle to upper end of the range is ideal for daytime.

In addition to trying to keep the plant in this range, try to avoid large and sudden temperature fluctuations as well.

This will affect the plants health and growth.

The lower nighttime temperature is important as it lets the plant build new tissues.

On the other hand, avoid cold conditions.

Because there is no winter in the tropics, nor are there cold months, Monsteras have a hard time with temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

When you keep the plant below this range, its growth will slow down initially.

This is when you start to see smaller leaves as well.

The colder it gets or the longer its stays in the cold, the less activity and growth it will have. And growth can get stunted as well past a certain point.

This is when you see monstera small leaves develop.

Similarly, keeping the plant is high temperatures on a consistent basic will cause it to be smaller than one that’s in moderate conditions.

 

Solution

Keep your monstera in temperatures between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

A little above and below that is fine as well.

But avoid the colder conditions and extreme heat as this is when the plant’s growth is affected.

The good news is that the plant’s ideal range fall exactly within the average temperatures most homes have.

As such, it is easy to care for the plant indoors.

Outdoors, avoid the cold. And if you live in areas where there is frost during the latter part of the year, make sure to keep the plant indoors.

Indoors, you still have to be wary of air conditioners, heaters, fireplaces, stoves, ovens, and radiators. Any device or vent that pushes hot or cold air should be kept away from the plant.

Also, don’t leave the plant near open windows where cold drafts can enter.

The other two instances to watch out for are very hot, dry summers and cold winters.

If your indoor temperature changes significantly during these times, try to move the plant somewhere with more moderate conditions.

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