Seeing the vibrant green leaves of your Monstera plant turn yellow can be a disheartening sight for any plant enthusiast. This change in color is often an indication that something is amiss with your plant’s environment or care regimen. Understanding the health signs your plant displays is critical to responding effectively and ensuring your Monstera thrives.

monstera with yellowing leaves
monstera with yellowing leaves

Table of Contents

About Monstera Plants and Their Care

Monstera plants, often referred to as Swiss cheese plants, are popular indoor plants due to their unique, large, fenestrated leaves and relatively low-maintenance care requirements. They are native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America and are climbers by nature.

The optimal conditions for Monstera growth involve bright, indirect light, a well-draining soil, and a humid environment that mimics their tropical habitat. They prefer temperatures between 65-85°F (18-29°C) and should be watered when the top inch of the soil has dried out. It’s also important to note that Monsteras require a good balance of nutrients, typically achieved with a balanced houseplant fertilizer applied during the growing season.

Understanding these care requirements can serve as a foundation when troubleshooting issues like yellowing leaves.

Causes of Yellowing Leaves in Monstera Plants

There are several reasons why Monstera leaves might turn yellow. Understanding these common causes can help identify what might be going wrong with your plant.

Overwatering and Root Rot: Overwatering is a common issue, especially for indoor plants. When Monsteras receive too much water, their roots can become waterlogged and deprived of oxygen, leading to root rot. Root rot can cause leaves to turn yellow and wilt.

Underwatering: On the other end of the spectrum, underwatering your Monstera can also lead to yellow leaves. If your Monstera is not receiving enough water, its leaves can become dry and start to yellow.

Nutrient Deficiency: Monsteras, like all plants, require certain nutrients to thrive. A deficiency, particularly in nitrogen, can lead to yellowing leaves.

Lack of Light or Too Much Direct Sunlight: Monsteras need plenty of bright, indirect light. If they don’t receive enough, their leaves can turn yellow. Conversely, too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, causing them to yellow and develop brown spots.

Temperature Stress: Monsteras prefer a consistent, warm temperature. Fluctuating or extreme temperatures can cause stress to your plant, resulting in yellow leaves.

Pest Infestation: Pests such as spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs can damage your Monstera and cause the leaves to turn yellow.


How to Diagnose the Cause of Yellow Leaves

Diagnosing the cause of yellow leaves involves a process of elimination, based on observation of the plant and its environment.

monstera with leaves starting to yellow

Overwatering and Root Rot: The first sign of overwatering is often yellowing leaves. Check the moisture level of the soil – if it’s waterlogged or overly moist, overwatering might be the issue. In severe cases, the roots may be black, slimy, or have a foul smell.

Underwatering: If the soil is extremely dry and the plant is wilted, underwatering could be the cause. Leaves might appear crispy along with turning yellow.

Nutrient Deficiency: Yellowing leaves with green veins might indicate a nutrient deficiency. This is often coupled with slowed growth or smaller new leaves.

Lack of Light or Too Much Direct Sunlight: If your plant is far from a light source or in the path of harsh direct sunlight, this might be the cause. Scorched leaves can indicate too much direct sun.

Temperature Stress: If your plant is near a draft, an air vent, or a window with extreme temperatures, it might be experiencing temperature stress.

Pest Infestation: Look under the leaves and along the stems for signs of pests. You might see tiny bugs, webbing, or a sticky residue.

Consider taking pictures of your plant and its environment to help track changes over time or to share with other plant enthusiasts for additional help diagnosing the problem.

How to Treat and Prevent Yellow Leaves

Once you’ve diagnosed the cause of the yellowing leaves, you can then take steps to address the issue and prevent it from happening in the future.

Adjusting Watering Habits: If overwatering is the problem, allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Consider repotting if root rot has set in. For underwatered Monsteras, gradually increase your watering frequency. A general rule of thumb is to water when the top inch of soil has dried out.

Providing the Right Amount of Light: If your Monstera isn’t getting enough light, move it to a brighter location, but avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. If it’s getting too much direct sunlight, consider diffusing the light with curtains or moving the plant to a location with bright, indirect light.

Ensuring Correct Temperature and Humidity: Monsteras prefer warm, consistent temperatures. Try to avoid placing your plant in drafty areas or near air conditioning or heating vents. Humidity should be high, so consider using a humidifier or placing your Monstera on a pebble tray filled with water.

Nutrient Supplementation: If a nutrient deficiency is causing yellow leaves, consider using a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package to avoid over-fertilization.

Pest Control and Prevention: If pests are the issue, you might need to treat your Monstera with an insecticidal soap or a solution of water and mild dish soap. Remove severely infested leaves and isolate the plant from others to prevent the pests from spreading.

Remember, plant care is an ongoing process. Changes may not be immediately evident, and patience is key. Continue to monitor your Monstera’s progress and adjust care routines as necessary.

Let’s Review

Caring for a Monstera plant is a rewarding experience, but encountering issues like yellowing leaves can be a cause for concern. Understanding that yellow leaves are a common sign that your plant is in distress is the first step towards restoring its health.

Remember, yellow leaves can be caused by various factors, including overwatering, underwatering, lack of light or too much direct sunlight, temperature stress, nutrient deficiencies, or pest infestations. Accurately diagnosing the problem is crucial in addressing it effectively and preventing further issues.

Once the cause is identified, adjusting your care routine accordingly will often help your Monstera recover. This might involve changing watering habits, moving the plant to a location with more appropriate lighting, ensuring a consistent temperature and high humidity, supplementing with a balanced fertilizer, or introducing pest control measures.

Finally, remember that plant care is a journey, filled with learning and adjustments. Seeing a beloved plant struggle can be challenging, but with patience, observation, and a little bit of plant know-how, you can nurse your Monstera back to health. Keep going – you and your Monstera have got this!