How to Save a Monstera With Yellow Leaves

hy are my monstera leaves turning yellow

Have your monstera leaves ever turned yellow, and you are not sure why? I personally grow and sell monstera deliciosa online, and through testing, research, trial, and error, I have learned all the tips and tricks to keep these plants in tip-top form, and I have revived several that developed yellow leaves.

In this article, I share all the knowledge I have learned over the years of caring for monstera plants…

The most common reason I see Monstera leaves turning yellow is because of either overwatering or 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.

A classic problem I have encountered myself is that the Monstera 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.

However, my Monstera leaves have also turned yellow because of a lack of nutrients in the soil and due to being scorched in the sun.

To save the monstera, I 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 for I how pinpoint the problem and the specific steps I take to solve it (deliciosa aka ‘swiss chees plant’ and monstera andansonii)…

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

Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow and Drooping (Overwatering)

The reason your monstera leaves drooping and turning yellow is probably 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 causes the leaves to turn yellow and droop.

However, from my observations, the leaves tend to turn yellow AND brown due to overwatering, as browning leaves indicate the individual leaf is dying, but not necessarily the whole plant.

To understand why your monstera is yellow, I think it is important that we understand how monstera grows in the wild so that we can replicate these conditions in our homes…

Monstera plants are hemi-epiphyte plants that grow 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.

Pro tip: To replicate the conditions of their native environment, the correct watering cycle for monstera deliciosa, I have found from my experience, is to water the soil thoroughly, then I allow the top inch or two to dry out before I water 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, then I see 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 prevent excess water from draining effectively.

How I Save Monstera with Yellow, Drooping Leaves

Here is the specific formula that I follow to fix the plant…

  • I reduce how often I 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. I feel the soil with my finger to detect when the top inch feels dry before I water again to establish the optimal watering schedule for monstera plants in my climate.
  • I re-pot 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, I prefer terracotta and clay pots as they are porous which allows the monstera’s potting soil to dry out more evenly, which helps to mitigate the effects of overwatering and root rot.
  • After watering the monstera, I advise you to empty any saucers, trays, or decorative outer pots of excess water. Excess water can pool around the bottom of the pot and prevent water from the soil from draining properly, which creates boggy conditions that promote root rot and yellowing leaves.
  • If the soil is draining slowly, I 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. I snip any diseased root rots back to healthy growth with a sterile pair of pruners. I must emphasize it is important to swipe the pruners with a cloth soaked in disinfectant between each snip to prevent potentially spreading fungal pathogens to otherwise healthy monstera roots.
  • I re-pot the monstera in new potting soil and avoid firming the soil around the root ball. Monstera needs 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 I find it is usually the case that excessive soil moisture interferes with root respiration, which prevents the roots from 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 my monsters perk up.

However, if the monstera starts to look progressively worse, then I’m afraid 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.

Why is My Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow and Brown? (Underwatering)

Monstera leaves that have turned yellow and then brown due to underwatering and low humidity.
In this photo, I was able to pinpoint the reason that the monstera leaves have turned yellow and then brown, which was due to underwatering and low humidity.

The reason for monstera leaves turning yellow with brown spots is due to 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.

I’ve spoken to expert growers who assure me that the optimal balance of 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.

YIn this scanerio you can observed 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.

I must emphasize that it is 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 causing the leaves to turn yellow.

It is important to highlight that, in my experience, 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, and the leaves can start to curl.

I discovered that a few other factors can contribute to monstera leaves turning yellow with brown spots due to drought stress…

  • Indoor heating (monstera grow well at room temperature, but if they are placed 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 conditioning can sap moisture from the leaves and exacerbate 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 it…

To save monstera with yellow leaves and brown spots, I 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 my monstera plants recover.

  • I 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 is the best way that I have found to properly rehydrate 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 any saucer or trays that are underneath the monstera’s pot properly.
  • I 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 that 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. I have also used a humidifier to achieve the same good effect.
  • I keep my monstera in a room with a 60-85 degrees F temperature range. Monstera plants grow well at room temperature, but I recommend moving the monstera away from indoor heating sources whilst the plant is stressed due to drought.
  • I 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.
  • I 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, I find 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.

From my experience of experimenting with different potting mixes, I find grit or perlite is best to help improve the soil 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, my monstera plants recover well from underwatering, but if the leaves have turned significantly yellow, then those individual leaves do not recover.

My Best Tip: When I lived in an apartment, my monstera would turn yellow and brown due to indoor heating in the Winter and the air con in the Summer. Whilst misting helped, the solution that I found worked the best was to move my monstera to my bathroom as the natural humidity replicated the conditions of the monster’s natural environment.

It is best to provide the right watering conditions and humidity for your monstera, which should produce many new leaves in Spring and Summer. When the leaf has turned completely yellow due to drought, I snip the leaf back to improve the plant’s appearance.

Why is My 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 damp soil conditions that cause monstera leaves to droop and turn yellow.

A classic mistake that I have made myself is to compact the potting soil too firmly around the monstera’s roots. This can push the oxygen out of the soil, which interferes with the root’s ability to draw up moisture and nutrients.

From my observations, compacted soil after repotting can also slow the rate at which the soil drains, which is another contributing factor to the leaves turning yellow and brown.

How to Fix it…

The way I 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 this case, I would re-pot the monstera to a pot that is only slightly larger than the monstera’s original pot.

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

I recommend re-poting the monstera with a potting mix that is amended with grit or perlite to help improve the structure of the soil so that it is more porous, aerated, and well-draining.

When you’re repotting the monstera, check the roots for signs of root rot (brown rotting roots that are mushy and have a bad smell).

If the roots feel firm and do not have any notable smell, then re-pot your monstera.

However, if the roots are showing signs of root rot, follow the instructions that I stated 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.

Yellow Leaves Can Be 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 than sudden, then I find the most likely cause of 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, stunt growth, and prevent some leaves from forming characteristic perforations.

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

I 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 slightly yellow leaves 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 grows significantly more leaves and longer vines, so even if some leaves fall off, the plant can be saved.

Too Much Sun Can Scorch the Leaves Yellow AND Brown

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.

As I previously mentioned, Monstera plants grow under a canopy in jungles with dense vegetation, and their leaves are 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.

I have found that Monstera 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 I advise moving your monstera to a more favorable bright location, out of direct sunlight.

This prevents any further damage to the leaves.

I would mist the leaves and water the monstera thoroughly, as the direct sunlight has likely dried out the leaves somewhat.

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

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

If some leaves have remained somewhat green, then in my experience, it is likely that the monstera can recover, although the individual damaged leaves should die back; at this point, you can trim them back to healthy growth with a sharp pair of pruners, which should help 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 and 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 moisture, meaning they take much 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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