How to Save a Monstera With Yellow Leaves


hy are my monstera leaves turning yellow

Monstera leaves turn yellow due to both overwatering and underwatering. Overwatering promotes the conditions for root rot, which turns the leaves yellow and brown with a drooping appearance, whereas underwatering turns the leaves yellow with brown spots.

Monster leaves turn yellow after repotting if the potting soil has been compacted too firmly, or the pot is too large.

A larger pot has a greater capacity for soil and therefore a greater capacity for holding moisture, which causes the potting soil to dry out much more slowly around the monstera’s roots, which turns the leaves yellow.

Monstera leaves can also turn yellow because of a lack of nutrients in the soil and due to being scorched in the sun.

To save a monstera with yellow leaves, mist the leaves to increase the humidity, let the top inch of the soil dry out between each bout of watering, locate the monstera in bright indirect light and use an ordinary houseplant fertilizer, if the soil is low in nutrients.

Keep reading to learn why your monstera (deliciosa aka ‘swiss chees plant’ and monstera andansonii) is turning yellow and how to save it

Monstera 'Deliciosa' on the left and Monstera 'Adansonnii' on the right.
Monstera ‘Deliciosa’ on the left and Monstera ‘Adansonnii’ on the right.

Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow and Drooping (Overwatering)

The reason for monstera leaves drooping and turning yellow is because of overwatering and poor drainage. Monstera needs the soil to dry out slightly between bouts of watering. If the soil is consistently damp the monstera develops root rot, which cause the leaves to turn yellow and droop.

The leaves can also turn yellow and brown due to overwatering, as browning leaves indicates the individual leaf is dying, but not necessary the whole plant.

Monstera plants are hemi-epiphyte plants that growth ariel and terrestrial roots.

Their terrestrial roots grow in very porous, well draining, light, aerated soil that retains some moisture but allows water to drain away from the roots very easily, in their native rainforest environment of central America.

To replicate the conditions of their native environment, the correct watering cycle for monstera deliciosa, is to water the soil thoroughly, then allow the top inch or two to dry out before watering again.

This creates the optimal balance of soil moisture to meet the water requirements of the monstera plants whilst avoiding overwatering, which turns the leaves yellow, brown and droopy.

If the soil stays damp between each watering, then this exudes oxygen from the potting soil which prevents root respiration and interferes with the monstera’s roots ability to draw up moisture and nutrients from the soil.

If the roots cannot draw up moisture or nutrients, the leaves turn yellow, brown and droop as a sign of stress.

If the monstera’s roots are in saturated soil for too long, this can result in root rot, which is the most common cause of a yellowing, dying monstera plant.

Overwatering is not the only reason why the soil is too damp for the monstera to tolerate. Monstera leaves can also turn yellow if:

  • Slow draining, compacted soils
  • Pots without drainage holes in the base, causing water to pool around the roots
  • Saucers, trays and decorative outer pots underneath the monstera’s pot, which prevents excess water from draining effectively.

How to Save a Monstera With Yellow with Drooping Leaves

To fix a monstera with yellow, drooping leaves, reduce the frequency of watering so that the top inch of soil dries out, ensure the monstera’s pot has drainage holes in the base and inspect the roots for root rot, and snip back any diseased roots.

  • Reduce how often you water the monstera, allowing the top inch or so of the soil to dry out between bouts of watering. This replicates the typical conditions of the well draining soil in the monstera’s native environment, meeting the water requirements whilst mitigating the risk of root rot. Feel the soil with your finger to detect when the top inch feels dry, before watering, to establish the optimal watering schedule for monstera plants in your climate.
  • Repot the monstera into a pot terracotta, or clay pot, with a drainage hole in the base. Whilst monstera can grow in any pot that has a drainage hole, terracotta and clay pots are best as they are porous which allows the monstera’s potting soil to dry out more evenly, which helps to mitigate the affects of overwatering and root rot.
  • Empty any saucers, trays or decorative outer pots of excess water after watering the monstera. Excess water can pool around the bottom of the pot and prevent water from the soil, draining properly, which creates the boggy conditions that promote root rot and yellowing leaves.
  • If the soil is draining slowly, take the monstera, out of the pot and inspect the roots. Healthy roots should appear whitish (note the roots may be somewhat discolored brown from the soil) and feel firm, without a notable smell. If the roots are brown and mushy, with a bad smell then this indicates root rot. Snip any diseased root rots back to healthy growth with a sterile pair of pruners. Swipe the pruners with a cloth soaked in disinfectant between each snip, to prevent potentially spreading fungal pathogens to otherwise healthy monstera roots.
  • Repot the monstera in new potting soil and avoid firming the soil around the root ball. Monstera need the soil to be well draining so adding grit or perlite to the potting mix can be useful to improve drainage and mitigate the risk of root rot. Avoid firming the potting soil around the monstera too hard as this pushes oxygen out of the soil and prevents water from draining efficiently which can cause the monstera’s leaves to turn yellow and droop.

If the monstera leaves are turning yellow and drooping, this may just be because of overwatering and it does not necessarily mean root rot has set it.

If the roots look and feel firm and plump, then it may just be that the excessive moisture in the soil was interfering root respiration, which prevents the roots drawing up moisture and nutrients.

Once the soil has had a chance to dry out somewhat, the roots can function properly again and the monstera can be saved.

However if the monstera starts to look progressively worse, then it is likely that the roots are rotting, at which point it can be very difficult to revive the plant.

The best option to save the monstera, if the roots are rotting is to propagate leaves from any remaining healthy growth, to grow the leaf cuttings.

Watch this YouTube video for how to propagate monstera from leaf cuttings to save your monstera:

(Read my article, how to water monstera deliciosa plants).

Can a Monstera Leaf Turn Yellow Again?

Individual monstera leaves that turn yellow do not turn green again. As a yellow leaf cannot turn green again, the monstera instead invests its energy into growing new green leaves once the conditions are more favorable.

Should I Yellow Leaves Off a Monstera?

Cut any yellow monstera leaves back to healthy growth with a sharp pair of pruners. The leaf does not restore its original green appearance once it has turned yellow. Cutting the leaves back helps to stimulate the growth of healthy new green leaves.

Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow and Brown (Underwatering)

Monstera leaves that have turned yellow and then brown due to underwatering and low humidity.
Monstera leaves that have turned yellow and then brown due to underwatering and low humidity.

The reason for monstera leaves turning yellow with brown spots is due underwatering. Monstera plants need to be watered with a generous soak, when the first inch of the soil feels dry. If the soil around the roots dries out completely the leaves develop brown spots with yellowing leaves due to drought.

The optimal balance soil moisture and watering for monstera is to have well draining soil that retains moisture, yet the top inch should be allowed to dry before watering again.

If the leaves are turning yellow with brown or black spots this is usually because the potting soil has dried out completely.

This causes the soil to shrink away from the side of the pot which creates a gap and the surface of the dried out soil becomes hydrophobic (repels water) which causes water to run off the surface and down the side of the pot without reaching the roots, causing the leaves to turn yellow and develop brown spots.

Therefore, even if you water the soil with a generous soak, the moisture does not infiltrate the soil and reach the roots, which causes the drought stressed, yellowing leaves with brown spots.

It also best practice to water with a generous soak, with the goal of ensuring that the potting soil is evenly moist after watering, as watering too lightly only moistens the top inch or so of the potting soil without reaching the roots and causes the leaves to turn yellow.

It is important to highlight that the leaves can just turn yellow due to underwatering and it can be some time before you start to see any brown or black spots developing.

There are a few other factors that can contribute to monstera leaves turning yellow with brown spot due to drought stress…

  • Indoor heating (monstera grow well at room temperature, but if they are place too near the source of heat then this can dry the soil too quickly before the roots have drawn up enough moisture).
  • Low humidity (monstera are tropical plants that grow in humid forests. Dry air from indoor heating or air conditioning can sap moisture from the leaves and exacerbate any drought stress).
  • Too much sun (monstera grow under the forest canopy and should be protected from direct sunlight. Bright indirect light is best for monstera plants).

How To Save Monstera with Yellow and Brown Leaves due to Underwatering

To save monstera with yellow leaves and brown spots, soak the root ball in a basin of water, increase the humidity by misting the leaves and locate the monstera in a location away from any direct sources of heat and the monstera should recover.

  • Place the monstera in a basin of water for 10 minutes, ensuring that the root ball is submerged. Any compost that contains peat has a tenancy to repel water once it has become too dry. Placing the root ball in water helps to properly re-hydrate the soil, so that the roots can access the moisture they need. When you take the monstera out of the basin, ensure that all the excess water trickling from the drainage holes can drain away by emptying properly, by emptying any saucer or trays that are underneath the monstera’s pot.
  • Mist the monstera leaves to increase the humidity and prevent water loss. Monstera are tropical plants native to a humid climate. Misting the leaves helps to create a humid micro climate which mimics the humid conditions of its natural environment. This reduces the amount of water loss from the leaves which should help address the drought stress and create more favorable conditions so that the leaves do not continue to turn yellow.
  • Keep the monstera in a room wit a temperature range of of 60-85 degrees. Monstera plants grow well at room temperature, but I would recommend moving the monstera away from any sources of indoor heating whilst the plant is stressed due to drought.
  • Water the monstera thoroughly, so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot. Watering too lightly causes drought, so always ensure that you use a lot of water when watering the monstera, so that the potting soil is evenly moist.
  • Allow the top inch of the soil to dry between each bout of watering to create the optimal watering cycle to sustain the monstera. Typically this means water every 7 days, although I recommend testing the soil to feel when the top inch has dried to establish the correct watering cycle for your monstera in your environment.

The next time you repot the monstera (only repot monstera if the roots are noticeably pot bound), use a potting mix that is peat free and amended with grit or perlite.

The grit or perlite, helps to improve the soils structure, so that it remains porous even if the soil dries out. This ensures that the soil becomes evenly moist after watering and the moisture can reach the roots where it is required.

Typically the monstera plant recovers well from underwatering, but if the leaves have turned significantly yellow then, those individual leaves do not recover.

It is best to provide the right watering conditions and humidity for your monstera, which should then produce a lot of new leaves in Spring and Summer. When the leaf has turned completely yellow due to drought, you can snip the leaf back to improve the appearance.

Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow After Repotting

Monstera leaves turn yellow after repotting because they are repotted in a much larger pot which retains too much moisture. If the new pot is much larger it contains more soil and dries out much slower which creates the damp soil conditions that cause monstera leaves to droop and turn yellow.

If the soil is compacted too firmly around the monstera’s roots, this can push the oxygen out of the soil which interferes with the roots ability to draw up moisture and nutrients.

Compacted soil after repotting can also slows the rate at which the soil drains, significantly, which is another contributing factor to the leaves turning yellow and brown.

How to Save Monstera with Yellow Leaves After Repotting

The way to save monstera with yellowing leaves after repotting is to reduce the watering immediately, particularly if the soil is already damp.

If you have repotted the monstera into a much larger pot, then it is likely that the soil is drying too slowly for the monstera to tolerate.

In which case repot the monstera to a pot that is only slightly larger then the monstera’s original pot.

If the pot is only one size up from the original pot, then it should dry out at a similar rate between each bout of watering, which reduces the risk of root rot.

Repot the monstera with a potting mix that is amended with grit or perlite, to help improve the soils structure, so that it is more porous, aerated and well draining.

When your repotting the monstera, check the roots for signs of roots rot (brown rotting roots, that are mushy with a bad smell).

If the roots feel firm and do not have any notable smell then repot your monstera.

However if the roots are showing signs of root rot, following the instructions at the top of this article, pertaining to overwatering and consider taking leaf cuttings from any remaining healthy growth to save the plant.

Ensure that the top inch of the potting soil is dry before watering the monster again.

Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow due to a lack of Nutrients

If the monstera’s leaves have turned yellow in the growing season and the rate at which the leaves turn yellow is gradual, rather then sudden, then the most likely cause the monstera leaves turning yellow is due to a lack of nutrients in the soil.

Monstera are large foliage plants with large leaves and climbing vines.

The large leaves require more resources to support their growth compared with other houseplants.

The roots can exhaust the potting soil of available nutrients which can cause the leaves to turn yellow, with stunted growth and prevent some leaves from forming the characteristic perforations.

This is why it is best practice to use a liquid general, all purpose houseplant fertilizer which helps fuel the monstera plants growth and prevent the leaves from turning yellow.

Apply a liquid fertilizer during the Spring and Summer, when the monstera is in active growth.

Typically I recommend to not apply any more fertilizer after the middle of August as this can promote growth when the monstera should be preparing for Winter (monstera plants often have a ‘rest’ period in Winter where growth slows down, as this is in accordance with the seasonal cycle in their native environment).

Some of the leaves that are slightly yellow can start to restore their appearance after applications of fertilizer, however any monstera leaves that have significantly yellowed, often do not recover and eventually drop off.

With additional fertilizer during the Spring and Summer, the monstera plant to grows significantly more leaves and longer vines, so even if some leaves fall off, the plant can be saved.

Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow and Brown due to too Much Sun

Monstera leaves can also turn yellow and brown if they are in direct sunlight. Monstera plants are adapted to grow from the forest floor in the shade. If the monstera’s leaves are in direct sunlight, the leaves scorch yellow and turn brown with a wilting appearance.

Monstera plants grow under a canopy in jungles with dense vegetation with their leaves usually protected from harsh sunlight.

The monstera’s vines climb trees to find bright light and prevent the plant from being too shaded and out competed by nearby plants.

Therefore monstera plants prefer bright indirect light when grown indoors.

Monster leaves can turn pale even whitish, light yellow or brown depending on the intensity of sun exposure and the amount of time they are in the sun.

If your monstera is on a window sill and in sunlight, then move the monstera to a more favorable bright location, out of direct sunlight.

This prevents any further damage to the leaves.

Mist the leaves and water the monstera thoroughly as the direct sunlight has likely dried out the leaves somewhat.

Keep the monstera misted regularly to maintain high humidity and water when the top inch of the soil is dry.

Avoid using fertilizer from the time being as the monstera is too stressed to direct its energy to growth.

If some leaves have remained somewhat green then it is likely that the monstera can recover, although the individual damaged leaves should die back, at which point, you can trim them back to healthy growth, with a sharp pair of pruners, which should help to stimulate new growth.

(Read my article, how to revive a dying monstera plant).

Key Takeaways:

  • The reason for monstera plants turning yellow and brown is usually because of overwatering. Too much water around the roots promotes the conditions for root rot which causes the leaves to turn yellow and droop with a dying appearance.
  • Monstera leaves turn yellow because of underwatering and low humidity. Monstera needs evenly moist soil, well draining soil and prefers high humidity. If the soil around the roots is too dry then the leaves turn yellow, with brown or black spots.
  • Monstera leaves turn yellow after repotting if they are repotted into a much larger pot. Larger pots contain more soil and hold more moisture, which means they take a lot longer to dry out. If the soil remains damp around the monstera’s roots for too long, the leaves turn yellow with a drooping appearance.
  • Monstera leaves turn yellow due to a lack of nutrients in the soil. Monstera plants have large leaves which creates a high demand for nutrients. The roots can exhaust the available nutrients in the potting soil, which causes the leaves to turn yellow.
  • Monstera plants turn pale yellow or brown if they are scorched because of too much direct sunlight. Monstera plants are adapted to growing in the shade on a forest floor and do not tolerate their leaves in full sun, which causes them to turn yellow.

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