Monstera leaves turning yellow is a likely sign of overwatering or too little light. If yellowing occurs with some crispy, brown tips and edges, it may be too much light, underwatering, low humidity, overfeeding, or heat stress.
Other possible causes are water quality, cold drafts, nutritional deficiencies, or your plant is rootbound. Also, your Monstera leaves yellowing after repotting, or transplant is due to plant shock, while aging will make older lower leaves turn yellow before becoming brown and dying.
If you see yellow and brown spots on monstera leaves, probable reasons are pests or diseases.
Table of content
- Why the yellowing?
- Causes and what to do
- Less common Monstera leaves turning yellow
- Frequently asked questions
Why the yellowing?
Monstera leaves will turn yellow if the plant cannot make enough chlorophyll (the green pigment), a condition known as chlorosis. Also, degradation of chlorophyll will cause yellowing.
It, therefore, means that anything that affects the formation or causes degradation of chlorophyll will result in yellowing. This will include damage of chloroplasts (contain chlorophyll) or protein complex where chlorophyll is bound will cause yellowing.
Lastly, as you will notice, most causes have to do with improper care or not providing specific growth requirements.
Causes and what to do
You have a basic understanding of why your Monstera leaves turn yellow. Let us now look at the various things that may result in this issue.
1. Overwatering and Monstera leaves turning yellow
If the lower leaves of your Monstera begin yellowing and the soil feels soggy or wet. You may have overwatered your plant. Your Monstera leaves may also wilt or droop but feel soft (not crispy or dry). Also, you may notice brown or black splotches, among other signs.
Soggy soil cuts oxygen from roots making them not work well (grow, absorb water or nutrients). So, they will turn yellow. Also, it will favor soilborne pathogens that will cause root rot.
What to do
Hold the watering, improve air circulation and provide optimum conditions (light, temperature, and humidity). Don’t feed your plant or squeeze potting mix to get rid of excess water.
Next, check if you have an oversized pot, blocked drainage holes, and your potting mix is compacted, heavy, or doesn’t drain and make necessary amendments.
The ideal Monstera soil should be chunky, well-drained, and rich in organic matter. A mixture of perlite, peat moss, potting mix, and compost is ok. We use Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix or make an aroid mix.
Lastly, check for any mushy stem base and black or brown mushy roots. If you see any, your plant may have root rot. See more on Monstera root rot. It will guide you on fixes or how to save your plant.
If watering is a challenge, we got you. See how to water Monstera and deal with overwatering and underwatering.
2. Too little light
Growing your Monstera in a poorly lit room will produce smaller, new pale or yellow leaves. Why? Because it cannot make enough chlorophyll, whose synthesis needs light. Also, light is essential for photosynthesis.
Your plant will also grow slowly, become leggy (have longer thin vines), and grow towards the light source.
What to do
Move your Monstera to a spot it gets at least 12 hours of bright, indirect light, never direct. If not possible, go for grow lights. A brand like EZORKAS 9 Dimmable Levels Grow Light with 3 Modes Timing Function is such an excellent pick. Keep the light 1.7 to 3.4 feet away from the plant.
Also, to ensure light is adequate, buy Dr. meter LX1330B Digital Illuminance Light Meter and ensure the light between 10,000 and 20,000 lux (bright, indirect light). A little lower is still ok.
3. Too much light can cause the yellowing
Does your plant get direct sunlight, especially in the afternoon, or do you place it too close to grow lights? It could be the reason for the washed-out or bleached pale or yellowish leaves you are seeing. Also, you may see brown tips and edges, or the leaves may curl.
Too much light will degrade chlorophyll, a reason for the pale patches you see. Also, it will scorch or burn leaves, especially tips and edges. And leaves closed to or receiving too much light will be most affected.
What to do
Take your outdoor Monstera plant to a shade or greenhouse. If indoor, place them at a distance where they don’t receive direct sunlight, especially on the south-facing window or have blinds. Also, put your grow lights at recommended distances.
4. Nutritional deficiencies and Monstera yellow leaves
Nutritional deficiency is the leading cause of chlorosis in Monstera and other plants. But it hardly occurs unless you never feed your plants with a balanced fertilizer and your potting mix isn’t rich in organic matter.
The yellowing happens because these minerals help in chlorophyll formation, are part of or act as enzyme cofactors, among other roles.
Iron deficiency is the most common cause, and it will cause in-between leaf margin yellowing, starting with upper younger leaves. Nitrogen, zinc, and magnesium deficiency will also cause similar yellow, but lower or inner leaves will first be affected.
Other deficiencies that will cause chlorosis include molybdenum, sulfur, manganese.
What to do
Ensure your potting mix is rich in organic matter. We often add Worm Castings or compost.
Next, feed your plant with a balanced (10-10-10 or 20-20-20), liquid houseplant fertilizer for indoor plants once a month.
We use Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food (Liquid). It feeds our plants immediately and doesn't cause any burns. Use 4 pumps in a quart of water and use the solution to water your plant biweekly.
An excellent alternative is Jacks Classic 20-20-20 All Purpose Fertilizer. We love it since it has boron, iron, copper, zinc, molybdenum, and manganese
Additionally, you can use a little LawnStar Chelated Liquid Iron and ensure you maintain proper soil pH, i.e., slightly acidic to neutral. Why? It affects the availability of some nutrients, including iron.
Lastly, there is nothing wrong with slow formula. You are free to use any good brand.
Dry soil pulled from the pot coupled with leaves curling, drooping or wilting, and having brown tips and edges are common signs of an underwatered Monstera. But since without water, it cannot absorb nutrients necessary for chlorophyll formation. So, you may end up seeing yellow leaves on Monstera plants.
What to do
Give your plant a proper drink. Then, be watering it when the top 2-3 inches of the soil feels dry or when it feels dry up to the first knuckle. You can also use a moisture meter like XLUX. Water when the reading is three or less. .
Please, don’t follow a watering schedule. Instead, feel the potting mix as water needs vary with conditions (light, temperature, and humidity), plant size, pot type, or soil mix.
Then get an approximate duration to the next watering and set a reminder alert if you forget. But don’t water before feeling the soil. Also, you can go for self-watering pots. HBServices USA has an excellent one, and your work will be refilling it.
6. Low humidity
Low humidity will make your plant lose water quickly and may cause signs similar to a thirsty Monstera like yellowing leaves. But apparent signs are Monstera leaves curling, drooping, wilting, or having brown tips or edges.
When humidity is low, your air will feel dry, clothes will dry faster, and ice will melt more quickly. But a sure way is buying a hygrometer.Govee Hygrometer Thermometer H5075 is an excellent pick.
What to do
Mist your plant a couple of times in a week or have a pebble tray. You can also group your plants to create a microclimate or move them to the bathroom or any room with high humidity.
If your humidity is too low, buy a humidifier. Our favorite is Pure Enrichment® MistAire™. You will also be more comfortable.
7. Extreme temperatures - heat stress and cold drafts
Heat stress, chilly conditions, and cold drafts may also cause the Monstera yellow leaves. Why? These extreme conditions may damage cells, including chlorophyll. Also, they will affect the synthesis process. Remember, the temperature is a chlorophyll production factor.
Heat stress will have signs similar to those of an underwatered plant, while cold draft may also cause browning of leaves.
What to do
Maintain optimum temperatures of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 29°C). Take your plant to cooler places or under a shade in hot summers or during heatwaves. Avoid placing your plant in drafty areas like doorways or open windows during cold winters.
Lastly, don’t place your plants near air conditioning or room heating vents. Also, avoid placing them near heat-emitting appliances or a fireplace.
Sap-sucking pests like mealybugs, whiteflies, thrips, spider mites, or scale insects may cause black, brown, or yellow spots on Monstera leaves. These bugs will appear like moving, stationary bumps, dots, some winged, and have varied colors and body shapes.
Besides the yellow spots, other signs depend on the bug present, including white or silvery stippling, webbing, honeydew, sooty mold, holes, etc. Heavy infestation may make leaves curly, misshaped, or distorted. Also, you may notice stunted growth, leaves falling, etc.
What to do
Inspect new plants and isolate infested ones. Use insecticidal soaps, horticultural oil sprays, or neem oil like Bonide Ready to Use Neem Oil, to control them. Also, you can hose your plant for minor infestation.
Fungal and bacterial leaf spot disease and some root rot (those that affect leaves) may cause yellow or brown spots with a yellow halo.
For instance, anthracnose will cause yellowing on leaf edges before turning tan or dark brown. Also, you will notice spots or blotches on younger leaves. Also, botrytis, rust, and southern blight will cause chlorotic spotting.
What to do
Isolate infested plants and use a sterilized blade to trim any diseased parts. If severely diseased, discard the plant. If your plant has bacterial leaf spots, increase air circulation and avoid low temperature. For fungal disease, use fungicides.
As they age, low leaves Monstera leaves will turn yellow. It occurs as the plants begin degrading chlorophyll. Later the leaf will turn brown and die.
What to do
Cut any yellow leaves using a sterilized gardening scissor. Why? Because they don’t contribute yet, they still depend on the plant. Also, as they turn yellow and die, they may attract pests.
If you overfertilize your plants, it may cause leaf burn, yellowing, wilting, stunted growth, as well as brown tips and margins. Also, you may see fertilizer crusts on the soil.
When overfed, fertilizers raise the concentration of salts in your potting mix, making it hard for roots to absorb water or nutrients.
What to do
Change or leach your potting mix by pouring a lot of water through it for about half an hour. Then be fertilizing only once a month with a balanced liquid plant house in spring and summer (growing season) only.
Less common Monstera leaves turning yellow
Besides the above reasons, other less common Monstera yellow leaves causes include the following:
- Rootbound: When rootbound, you will see roots growing from drainage holes. Your plant has outgrown the pot, and it cannot get enough water or nutrients. So, leaves may turn yellow, drop, and the plant leggy. You need to repot your plant. But do it if it is during the growing season (spring or summer). Use a pot 2-3 inches wider.
- Plant shock: Monstera leaves turning yellow after repotting, transplant or relocating is due to plant shock. Leaves may also curl, have brown tips or edges, drop, among other symptoms. Give it time and ensure the soil remains moist but not soggy. When transplanting, minimize root damage.
- Water quality: Unless your water is very high in fluoride, chlorine, or salts, it is unlikely to cause. For instance, too much fluoride may cause yellow margins and chlorine a scorched look. To solve it, use rainwater, filtered water, or let your tap water in an open container overnight.
Frequently asked questions
Yellow and brown spots on Monstera leaves are likely to indicate pests and diseases. Other possible causes are overwatering or cold drafts if you see brown splotches and too much light if there are also brown edges and tips.
Monstera leaves turning yellow and brown is a sign of underwatering, low humidity, too much light, heat stress, overfeeding, plant shock (if you repotted), or rootbound, especially if the margins or tips are brown.
Yellowing and brown patches, spots, or splotches signify overwatering, pests, or diseases.
If you have pets or kids, Monstera isn’t safe. See more on Are Monstera toxic to cats, dogs, or humans?