Plants and pets are incapable of communicating to us what’s hurting them, or how to make them happy. It’s entirely up to us to find that out and keep our beloved companions in good health.
Plants often have telltale patterns that guide us to what they need. It’s important to be able to understand these signs and to act accordingly.
If your plant looks unwell, you might ask yourself; why are my Monstera leaves turning brown? Here’s a detailed checklist you can use to deduce the answer.
To further facilitate the process, we divided the issues into brown spots and brown tips. We also provided the best remedy for each case.
Brown spots on your Monstera are often associated with environmental factors. Occasionally, you’d get the same effect if you’re too generous with the fertilizers.
The most common reasons causing brown spots on the Monstera leaves are the following.
Monsteras prefer filtered light over direct light or complete shade. This balance is sometimes hard to achieve, and the plant might be receiving too much sunlight.
You’d know that from the unique pattern on the leaves. Sunburns start with discoloration, then silvery grey spots, which soon become dark brown spots.
This should tell you that this location is too bright for the Monstera. Covering the window with a curtain, or moving the Monstera further from the light should fix this.
Monstera is native to the tropical parts of South America, where the humidity is quite high. This exotic plant favors temperatures ranging from 65° and 90° F, and humidity levels of 60 to 80%.
If you live in a dry environment, that would reflect badly on your plant, as it takes in water through its leaves.
Misting the Monstera frequently would be good. Additionally, you can place a ceramic bowl filled with water near the Monstera to elevate the humidity levels.
Too much fertilizer creates a toxic growing medium for the plant. What’s more, the fertilizers are barely washed out by irrigation.
In forests, rain constantly purifies the soil and adjusts its pH level. This isn’t the case for a potted plant.
The first signs of excessive fertilization are dark brown spots on the leaves, that soon turn into black areas.
At this stage, even if you stop fertilizing the soil altogether that might not solve the problem. You’d have to change the soil, or at least rinse it thoroughly under running water.
If you look closely at the leaves, you might observe that the brown spots are surrounded by a pale yellow ring. Reddish rusty spots are also signs of pest visits.
Occasionally, the brown patches become perforated, and it differentiates mite attacks from other causes.
Monstera plants are always under attack from various pests, like spider mites, thrips, scales, and gnats. Check the lower side of the leaves regularly. It also helps to add misting and washing to the plant’s care routine.
Catching and deterring the infestation early on is the wisest strategy. Waiting too long can cost you a sizable amount of foliage, so it’s best to act quickly.
Washing the leaves with a mild soap solution should rinse the intruders. However, it’s harder to eliminate a large infestation. You’d need a powerful pesticide for that.
It’s worth noting here that this Monstera can infect surrounding plants. Try to put a distance between your plants to avoid spreading the bugs. Also, you might want to spray some of the pesticides on the nearby plants.
Brown pigmentation often appears on the tips of distal leaves when they experience unfavorable watering. Lighting could have an effect as well.
In summer, Monsteras gulp copious amounts of water, especially in dry locations.
When the weather changes, these irrigation requirements change. Many growers miss this fine line between providing enough water during the hot season and overwatering the plant in winter.
Overwatering depletes the soil from oxygen, suppresses the functionality of the roots, and it might eventually lead to root rot.
You can assess your plant’s needs for irrigation by watching the top layer of the soil. If it dries up quickly, then you need more frequent watering. If it still looks moist by the time of the scheduled watering, then you should hold out for a couple more days.
At this point, you could be wary of excessive watering, which might drive you to decrease the water per irrigation. Unfortunately, this comes with a different set of problematic issues.
The underwatered parts wilt before the other parts. It’s common to see the outer parts of the Monstera becoming droopy, then their tips turn brown.
You’d also notice that the soil is bone dry, so start by increasing the amount of water per irrigation. You might also increase the frequency of watering.
In the absence of light, most plants can’t perform the necessary metabolic processes to create food. Photosynthesis needs light.
Shade plants are sometimes misunderstood. Some growers think that these plants need only minimal light to thrive, which is incorrect.
If your plant looks sickly, with smaller than usual leaves, and a light green pigmentation then that’s a sure sign it’s not getting enough light.
Once the leaves start browning at the edges, then, it’s imperative to move the plant to a brighter spot immediately. You should be careful though not to move the plant outdoors into direct sunlight. This would have negative effects on your Monstera as well.
Filtered, or indirect, bright light is the best for Monsteras. If you can’t find a suitable location, you might want to invest in grow lights to supplement the ambient lighting.
When you move your plant from a small pot to a bigger one, you always do that expecting it to make it happy. After all, the smaller pot might have made the plant rootbound and limited its food supply.
In an unexpected turn of events, transplanting a Monstera can distress it to the point of looking sickly. A couple of days after repotting, several leaves become yellow at the tips, and soon the color deepens into a sad brown.
This is unfortunate but normal. Giving the plant extra care right after repotting should bring it back to its perky state in around two weeks. You might need to water it more, mist it more, and place it in a brighter spot during this recovery period.
It’s quite depressing to watch the new foliage coming out damaged and brown. It rarely happens in isolation though. You’d often notice a few other symptoms in the Monstera.
The condition of the leaves and browning pattern in other parts of the plant should point at the cause.
Many growers are wary of root rot, so they limit the amount of water that goes into the soil during each irrigation. The sip-by-sip method is great for limiting fungal and bacterial growth, but it has some side effects.
Salts tend to accumulate in soils where running water isn’t too abundant. In nature, heavy rains cleanse the soil constantly, but that doesn’t happen with houseplants.
The increased pH of the soil interferes with the vital processes of the plant. Utilizing water and nutrition becomes more difficult, and eventually, even the new leaves are deprived.
Additionally, Monsteras require frequent fertilization, and this further complicates the matter. Increases in specific elements might inhibit the utilization of other elements.
It’s recommended to wash the soil in running water from time to time. Also, pick the right fertilizer for your Monstera. If you’d like to be accurate, you can measure the soil pH, and keep it between 5.5 and 7.
Overwatering and subsequent water logging are the main reasons for the emergence of necrotic new leaves.
Heavy soils act like a magnet for water. They retain excessive amounts and keep them around the roots of the plant for too long. The consistent soil wetness also depletes the soil from oxygen, which affects the plant’s basic metabolic processes and healthy growth.
Poor drainage might be caused by the container/pot material, the amount of water in each irrigation, or the soil characteristics. It has a similar waterlogging effect, and here too the plant becomes suffocated by the decrease in oxygen.
Using relatively light soil with proper drainage would sort this problem out.
Warmth is good for plants, but direct heat isn’t. If your plant is sitting too close to a heater or fireplace, the leaves might show signs of burning. Even the new foliage would be brown.
Intense sunlight from a nearby window would have a similar effect. Especially during the hot summer season.
The brown leaves would be limited to the side in close proximity to the heat source. So you can tell if the cause is environmental rather than related to the soil or irrigation.
Moving the plant to a climatically appropriate spot should revive the plant in a few weeks.
Monstera plants are resilient lush plants that fill your house with a vivacious happy vibe. They become unwell sometimes, and it all shows in the appearance of their leaves.
Brown spots or leaf tips indicate that the plant is suffering from an unfavorable condition. This could be an environmental issue or a pest infestation.
Fortunately, there are some signs to help you to identify the underlying cause of the problem, and hence to find the right treatment.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.