Monstera plants are beautiful and popular, but they aren’t always the easiest plants to care for, and if your Monstera plant’s leaves are no longer a lush, vibrant green, you might be feeling worried and unsure about how to resolve this issue.
The leaves of your Monstera may turn yellow for a variety of reasons, including watering problems, nutrient deficiencies, poor lighting, pests, diseases, temperature issues, or shock from being repotted. All of these can be fixed by correcting the imbalance and looking after your plant while it recovers.
To better understand if your plant is having one of these issues and you want to fix it, feel free to continue reading.
Watering is one of the commonest problems that people run into when it comes to looking after a Monstera, and overwatering is most frequently the culprit. Many people are so keen to look after their plants well that they give them far too much to drink.
It is important to moderate the amount of water and check if your Monstera is really in need of watering before doing so. Avoid watering on a schedule, because the amount your Monstera needs will vary enormously depending on the size of its container, the ambient humidity, the size of the plant, the temperature, and other factors.
You should make a habit of checking the soil of your Monstera before you give the plant a drink. Push the tip of your finger into the soil’s surface to an inch or two down, and check whether it is dry. If the soil is still damp, your plant doesn’t need water yet, and you should wait a while before watering it.
If the soil is dry, it’s time to give the plant a drink. Water it until you see water running out of the drainage holes at the bottom, and then stop. Empty the saucer so that the pot is not sitting in water, and then allow the soil to dry out again before you add more water.
If you are having problems with your Monstera staying wet even though you aren’t watering it very often, you should check that the container it is in has sufficient drainage. There should be some large holes in the bottom of the container, plus some gravel to improve the drainage if you are having problems.
“Wet feet” is a common issue with houseplants, and it causes stress, drooping, and yellow leaves. If your Monstera is looking very sick, you may wish to repot it into some dry compost. When doing this, wash away the wet soil and give the plant’s roots a few hours to dry out.
Cut away any mushy roots using sterile scissors, and then put the plant into fresh, dry compost and give it a couple of weeks to recover.
Although a rarer issue, underwatering can also cause leaf yellowing. If your plant does not have enough water available, it will struggle to take up nutrients from the soil. This will have an impact on its ability to produce chlorophyll, making the leaves yellower and less efficient at photosynthesizing.
You should again check the soil before watering it, but if it seems dry, give your plant a good drink and wait for the water to run out of the holes before you stop watering it. You can also stand the pot in water for a while and allow the soil to become thoroughly saturated before taking it out.
Allow the plant to dry out after this, and resume your normal watering routine. Its leaves should gradually turn back to green as nutrients are restored to them.
Usually, underwatering will be heralded by drooping foliage before the leaves turn yellow, so look out for this. As soon as your plant’s leaves start to wilt, check whether the soil is too dry, and give your plant a drink if it is. This should prevent the yellowing from occurring.
Of course, watering will not help if there aren’t enough nutrients in the soil to begin with. Your plant cannot stay healthy and produce green foliage if you don’t occasionally feed it or give it fresh compost.
You should aim to feed your Monstera every month during the growing season, and less frequently or not at all in the winter. If you have repotted your Monstera recently, it should not need feeding for a while, because the fresh compost will have plenty of nutrients available in it. Start feeding a few months after you have repotted the plant.
When you fertilize your Monstera, one option is to dilute an organic fertilizer and spread it around the soil – don’t spread it on the plant as it may burn the leaves and stems. A good balance of nutrients in the soil should help your Monstera to produce lots of strong, healthy growth, and may even improve its resistance to diseases and pests.
However, you do need to be careful and maintain the balance. Too much fertilizer can be worse than too little, and will also cause yellowing, so be cautious about over-feeding. Salts and minerals will become concentrated in the soil, burning the plant’s roots and making the Monstera sick.
If you think you have given too much fertilizer to your Monstera, you will need to wash its soil out to remove this buildup. Place it in the shower or bath and run water through the soil for several minutes, and then allow it to drain before putting it back in its normal position.
This should wash the excess salts and nutrients out of the soil, and leave the Monstera healthy once again. In general, over-fertilizing is a more common issue than under-fertilizing, so err on the side of too little fertilizer, rather than too much.
Improper lighting can be a big source of stress for a Monstera, and it can also be a relatively tricky condition to balance. Monsteras need bright light, but also indirect light. They are native to tropical rainforests, and they do not handle direct sunlight well.
If you place your Monstera in a sunny spot, you will soon find that its leaves develop brown, crispy spots where they have burned. These plants are used to having other plants above them, providing some cover from the sunlight and protecting them from its intensity.
However, because these regions do tend to be sunny, the plants still enjoy lots of bright light, despite the cover – it just isn’t the full intensity of sunlight on the leaves. You, therefore, need to mimic these conditions as best you can in your own home, which isn’t always easy to do.
You should place your Monstera near a window, but put up a shade or provide some other form of cover if any direct light falls on the leaves.
You do not want it to be growing in the dark, however. Too little sun will cause the leaves to yellow surprisingly quickly, and stop your plant from growing properly because it will be unable to photosynthesize.
If you aren’t sure whether your plant has too much or too little light, take some time to inspect its leaves. If there are brown, crispy spots, particularly at the tops of the leaves or the parts closest to the light, your Monstera is likely to be burning.
Remove burnt leaves, as they will not recover, and getting rid of them encourages the plant to grow new foliage.
If the plant’s leaves are tinged with yellow and look pale all over, it is not getting enough light. You may wish to use a grow lamp to provide it with some extra light if you can’t give it more indirect natural light.
This should help the plant to photosynthesize and improve its growth rate. Do not leave the grow lamp on all the time however; most plants benefit from a period of darkness.
Certain pests may also cause leaf yellowing among Monsteras, and if your plant has been infested by insects, its leaves will almost certainly become pale in places. Insects that feed on the plant will rob it of its energy and leave it pale and sickly.
Pest species that are common on Monsteras include spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids, and all of these will suck the plant’s sap, draining its resources and creating stress. Although Monsteras are slightly more resistant to pests than many other household plants, it’s still perfectly possible for them to get infested with these bugs.
If your plant has a bad insect problem, it will probably start to wilt, and its leaves may yellow around the edges, due to both nutrient deficiencies and stress. You should be able to quickly determine the cause by checking the undersides of the leaves and the plant stems, where these insects commonly hide.
Mealybugs will appear as tiny balls of white fluff, usually clustered on the underside of the leaf. They look like balls of cotton wool. Aphids are small, winged insects that are often green or white, and they will crawl all over the plant, drinking its sap.
Spider mites are usually too small to see, but if you place a piece of plain white paper under your Monstera and shake its leaves, you should see tiny black specks on the paper. Alternatively, use a magnifying glass to inspect your plant.
All of these insects have a telltale sign: they create sticky patches of honeydew on the leaves of the plant and the surrounding surfaces. They excrete the honeydew after feeding on the plant, and this creates sugary, silvery splotches.
If you see this happening, you will need to take action before your Monstera gets any sicker. Most of these insects can be dealt with by wiping the leaves down with neem oil or soap and water. You should isolate your Monstera from other plants to avoid the infestation spreading, and keep it isolated until the problem has been resolved.
You may need to do this several times in order to get on top of the infestation. Even when you think you have done so, you should keep your Monstera separate from other plants for a while and check it daily to make sure.
When the pest situation has been dealt with, the Monstera’s leaves should start to regain their glossy green color as the plant’s health is restored. You can remove damaged foliage if you choose to, as this will encourage the plant to grow new, healthy foliage instead.
Diseases can also be an issue for Monsteras, and many of these will cause yellowing, either directly or indirectly due to stress.
A common disease is anthracnose, which is a fungal infection that causes yellow (or sometimes brown) spots to appear on the Monstera’s leaves. These yellow spots will grow and spread, gradually turning brown as the disease progresses.
This can only be dealt with by removing the affected stems and leaves with sterile shears. Sterilize the shears between each cut, and do not touch the affected foliage to any healthy parts of the plant, or you could transfer the disease to the rest.
When you have finished, spray the plant with a fungicide that is copper-based to help ward off any remaining infection, and check your Monstera daily for further signs of infection. Fast action makes this disease much easier to deal with.
Another common fungal disease is known as fungal leaf spot, and this also causes patches of yellow spots on the leaves. There is usually a brown or black dot in the center of each yellow spot. This fungus eats the plant’s leaves, slowly digesting the tissue.
It again needs to be dealt with by removing the infected foliage, and you will need to use consistently sterilized tools and a copper-based fungicide. Once you have treated the plant, keep checking for signs of reinfection or any foliage that you have missed. Hopefully, if the plant is healthy and you catch the disease quickly, it will recover.
Monstera plants are sadly vulnerable to fungal infections because they enjoy being kept in humid environments. If you don’t humidify your Monstera, it will dry out, but keeping it wet does expose it to attack by fungi.
The best way to deal with this issue is to ensure that your plant enjoys some good airflow. Use a fan to create currents in the room (but not directly on the plant) and make sure that it is not too close to other plants or pressed into a corner that will restrict the air movement.
You should also aim to humidify your plant in the morning, rather than at night. Because it is cooler at night, the leaves will stay wet for longer, and this increases the risk of fungal infections. Although your Monstera likes humidity, it does need to dry out frequently if it is to avoid turning moldy.
Your Monstera will not like sudden temperature fluctuations and is intolerant of cold weather. However, it also won’t tolerate dry heat, as it is a tropical plant. You need to make sure that you provide it with conditions similar to those of its native environment – warm and somewhat damp, with little change throughout the year.
Monstera leaf yellowing is often down to temperature issues, especially in the winter. If your Monstera is near a window, a door, or a heater, it is much more likely to suffer from temperature shock.
Monsteras like temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees F, and they can tolerate temperatures as low as 55 degrees F as long as this is a gradual change and not a sudden reduction. As far as possible, you should maintain a steady room temperature and avoid any risk of cold drafts hitting your plant.
If your Monstera’s leaves have turned yellow because of temperature shock, you should prioritize moving your plant to a more stable location. Turn off heaters, fans, or air conditioners that are close to the plant, and keep windows and external doors shut.
Remove any leaves that have been seriously damaged by temperature shock, and avoid any further shocks. Hopefully, the plant will recover and grow fresh green foliage to replace what it has lost.
Be aware that an extreme temperature shock could kill your Monstera outright. You should not let its ambient temperature drop below 55 degrees F, or it will likely die.
If you have recently repotted your Monstera and the plant suddenly looks sick and yellow, you might be concerned that you have used the wrong soil. However, the most likely explanation is that your plant is just stressed by the sudden change in conditions and it will soon recover.
You should avoid repotting your Monstera too frequently, or doing so when the plant is dormant (during the winter). Repotting will wake it up from its dormancy period too early, and this tends to be stressful for the plant.
You also need to make sure that you don’t leave your plant’s roots exposed for too long, because this can contribute to leaf yellowing too. Have a container already prepared and your soil mix to hand before you take your Monstera out of its old pot and move it to the new one.
Once it is in the fresh soil, lightly water it and place it in a bright spot, away from direct sunlight, to recover. It is still possible that its leaves will yellow even if you take all possible steps to minimize transplant shock, but you don’t need to worry about this too much.
The plant should recover and start growing new foliage once it has settled into the new container and got over the shock. The yellow foliage will either revert to green or die back, in which case you can cut it off to allow new leaves to replace it.
Relocating Your Plant
Like repotting your plant, moving it to a new location may sometimes result in yellow leaves caused by stress. It may seem your plant is unlikely to notice if you transfer it from one side of the room to the other, but actually, plants are pretty sensitive to this.
Plants devote a lot of energy to positioning their leaves correctly for the conditions that they are growing in, and they get used to their environment just like other organisms do. Being taken out of the familiar space and placed in a new one can cause stress because the plant suddenly has to adapt to new conditions.
This isn’t to say that you should never move your Monstera, or that doing so will be highly detrimental. However, you should be aware that plants do suffer from stress when they are relocated, and therefore this should be minimized. The more frequently you move a plant, the more energy it has to put into adjusting to the new conditions.
Don’t carry your plant around your home and constantly place it in new positions. Instead, find a spot that suits it and keep it there as much as possible. Even tiny things like a difference in the air currents or the humidity will increase a plant’s stress levels and could cause leaf yellowing.
Your plant should soon recover if this does happen, so you don’t need to worry enormously. If any foliage has become significantly yellower due to stress, use sterile secateurs to remove this and make space for new growth.
Sometimes, a dry environment may cause leaf yellowing. Monsteras like humidity levels of 40 percent or above, so if you are keeping your Monstera in a very dry room, its leaves may start to yellow.
Use a humidifier or a plant sprayer to mist your plant or its soil a few times a week, and this should improve the situation. You might wish to get a hygrometer if you are struggling to keep the humidity at the right level.
Monstera leaves can turn yellow for many different reasons, but it is a good idea to keep an eye on this if it is happening. If your Monstera has multiple yellow leaves and shows signs of being sick, such as droopiness, you need to investigate and solve the problem.
Look out for pests, fungal infections, watering issues, feeding problems, and poor lighting. If you keep all of the Monstera’s needs balanced and ensure it is free from insects and fungi, it should maintain healthy green foliage most of the time.