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Here’s Why Your Monstera Is Turning Yellow (13 Causes)

Here’s Why Your Monstera Is Turning Yellow (13 Causes)

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Did you know that off-colored leaves on your monstera can be a good sign?

Granted, that’s not always the case.

But, yes, the discoloration can be a normal, positive thing. In fact, it means that the plant is channeling its energy where it’s needed the most.

However, if you’re seeing new leaves on your monstera turning yellow, there’s something wrong with the growing conditions. It could be overwatering, sup-optimal light exposure, low humidity, pest diseases, or fungal infections.

Read on to find out the potential culprits and how to give your monstera its vibrance back.

What Normal Yellowing on Monstera Plants Looks Like

Before you start worrying yourself silly, look at the yellow leaves again.

Are they at the very bottom of the plant? Are they small and limited in number?

If your answer is “yes” to both questions, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Older leaves (on the bottom) will occasionally fade out and die while the plant focuses its energy on new growths (at the top).

You could pull (or snip) them off gently if their appearance is bothering you so much. Alternatively, you could just let them be, and they’ll drop off on their own.

Things are a bit different for problematic discoloration, though.

5 All-Too-Frequent Reasons for Monstera Turning Yellow

Unfortunately, not all yellowing is harmless.

Here are the most common causes of an off-colored monstera:

1 – Limited Exposure to Light

Bottom View Of Monstera Plant In Bright Sun From A Window

While the monstera isn’t a huge fan of bright light, it still needs a little bit of light exposure. Otherwise, the leaves won’t thrive (or split).

If poor lighting is indeed the culprit, the yellowing will usually be on the veins or patches rather than the entire leaf.

The Fix

East and west-facing windows normally (depending on your location) give your monstera sufficient light. North-facing windows get the least hours of sun exposure, and south-facing will be too much direct sunlight for a monstera, risking leaf burn.

But it’s not just about the window position itself. You also need to set the pot far enough. Ideally, you want it to be far enough from the window so that the plant can “see” the sky. This way, it gets bright but indirect light.

If adequate natural lighting isn’t feasible, use artificial light. A grow bulb in a standard light fitting can do the trick. You might want to consider fluorescent and LED lighting, too.

2 – Too Much Soil Moisture

Monstera Roots Growing In Moss And Soil

Believe me, falling into the overwatering trap is easier than you imagine.

Oh, how often I’ve seen plant parents practically suffocating their monstera with water, thinking they’re doing it a favor!

In other cases, it’s not really an issue with the watering technique. Instead, it’s with soil drainage. 

Generally, potting mixes are better suited to house plants than your typical garden soil. But even with a high-quality potting mix, the soil could lose its ability to drain with time.

Nutrients diminish from the soil, while trace minerals (such as calcium from tap water and any excess salts from fertilizers) eventually build up.

The rule of thumb is that the more compact the soil becomes, the less effective its drainage.

The Fix

First, make sure you’re using a well-draining mix. Peat moss is the most widely used as either half potting soil and half peat moss or coco chips or a 3/4 mix of potting soil mixed with either a 1/4 of pumice or perlite.

I also can’t stress the importance of soil aeration enough.

Knowing how to aerate the soil in potted plants naturally using organic matter is a good step in the right direction. In fact, it works better than poking the soil with a chopstick.

Shredded bark, sphagnum moss, and coconut fiber are all good picks. As they break down, they leave behind air spaces in the soil, preventing it from becoming compacted.

Then, to balance your watering frequency, always check if the top two inches of the soil are dry. In most cases, you’ll only need to water once every 1–2 weeks.

But of course, none of that will matter if your monstera is sitting in a pot with no drainage holes. Drill ones if you have to!

3 – Too Low a Humidity Level

Misting A Monstera Plant In A White Pot

Unlike you and me, monsteras go crazy for a humid room.

They prefer high humidity in the 60% plus range, which is quite a difficult feat if you want to co-exist with them in the same room.

There are a few ways to make it work.

The Fix

The simplest approach is misting, but there is a hands-off way to increase the local humidity around plants without increasing the relative humidity of the entire room. That’s grouping plants together.

When you put more of the same types of plants in proximity, they create a microclimate around them with adjusted humidity.

They have to be species with high transpiration rates (aka humidity plants or air plants), though.

English Ivy is among those with the highest transpiration rates. Other humidity plants to consider are the Peace Lily, Areca Palm, Bamboo Palm, Dracaena, and Philodendron.

If you don’t have the space to grow groups of large-leaf tropical plants, try using a humidity tray. Humidifiers are an option, but only if you don’t mind increasing the humidity of the whole room.

Of course, you can always just move your monstera to the bathroom, where it’s nice and steamy!

4 – Pot-Bound Roots

Although monsteras are relatively slow growers, they can get pot-bound after a while.

With pot-bound roots, your monstera can’t get enough nutrients and water to thrive. You’ll know that this is the case if you see water pooling on the surface.

The Fix

You’ll need to take the monstera out of its pot, loosen the root ball, and repot it in a larger pot. You can go one size up or pick a pot that’s nearly the size of the largest leaf on your monstera.

5 – Nitrogen Deficiency

Remember when we said that the nutrients get depleted from the soil over time? Well, one of those nutrients is nitrogen, which is largely responsible for the production of chlorophyll—the very thing that makes leaves green.

The Fix

One part of a 3–1–2 fertilizer with three parts water works well. But you need to add the dose to moist soil to avoid damaging your monstera’s base.

5 Pests That do More than Discolor the Leaves on Monstera

Sometimes, the yellowing is a sign that some pesky insects are draining the life out of your monstera.

1 – Scaly Insects

Macro Photo Of A Scale Insect On A Green Leaf

Scales can be soft-bodied or armored. Either way, they can find their way onto nearly every type of houseplant and suck its sap, stunting its growth and turning its foliage yellow.

Sadly, your monsters (and mine) aren’t an exception.

The Fix

To check for scales, look for tiny brown bumps littered across the leaves.

See any of these pesky creatures? You can pick them off by hand or use a Q-tip with some rubbing alcohol to remove them.

I know it might be tempting to just rinse them off, but take my word on it: it’s not a good idea. You’ll end up depositing the scales into the soil, where they can lay eggs.

Plus, it’s worth noting that, even with scales removed, there could be tiny larvae hanging tight to the leaf. That’s why it’s safer to treat the plant with a neem oil or an insecticidal soap.

2 – Spider Mites

Hundreds Of Spider Mites On A Strawberry Plant

Spider mites are super hard to spot.

At first glance, they look like a cluster of tiny brown dots on the underside of your leaves. Look long enough, and you’ll see them move.

These pests feed on the sap. Then, they excrete honeydew, which is a sticky webbing that can coat the leaves to the extent that it prevents light absorption.

The result? Chlorosis.

The Fix

Luckily, getting rid of mites doesn’t take much. Neem oil will do.

3 – Whiteflies and Mealybugs

Whiteflies And Larva On The Underside Of A Green Leaf

Whiteflies and mealybugs (only adults are white) look and behave the same way.

The main difference is whiteflies can fly; mealybugs can’t. So, go ahead, give the leaf a shake, and see what happens.

The Fix

Mealybugs can be treated easily using a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. Alternatively, you could use an insecticidal soap treatment.

I also found yellow sticky tape to be handy for flying insects.

4 – Aphids and Ants

Mutualistic Relationship Between Ants And Aphids

Aphids and ants have an interesting (albeit disgusting) symbiotic relationship. The former feeds on the sap of plants and secretes honeydew, while the latter feeds on said honeydew.

But it’s not just a coincidence. Ants “herd” aphids onto suitable plants and coax them to feed so they can feast on the honeydew. Smart little creatures!

The Fix

Rubbing alcohol will work for aphids. However, you might want to look around your home for ant nests while you’re at it.

5 – Fungus Gnats

Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat On Soil

For the most part, fungus gnats are more annoying than damaging. But give them enough time, and they can do some serious harm.

The most damage is done by the larvae laid in the soil. Those little creepers actually feed on the roots of the plant!

The Fix

You could treat the soil for fungus gnats with a thick layer of Bacillus thuringiensis (BTI).

But there’s some bad news.

Fungus gnats only settle where it’s overly moist, so if you have a problem with these on your monstera, you likely have a drainage problem.

3 Fungal Diseases That Can Turn Monsteras Yellow

Just because you can’t see any creepers on your monstera’s off-colored leaves doesn’t mean there are no plant-killers. Fungal infections can be nasty!

1 – Anthracnose

Anthracnose On Avocado Leaves

Technically, anthracnose creates tan-brown or black lesions with a yellow halo.

On houseplants, this disease is fairly rare unless you’re using compost from your garden compost bin. As it turns out, anthracnose is a soil-borne disease caused by several fungi species found in leaf litter.

The Fix

Your best bet is to cut away the diseased leaves and repot the monstera in fresh soil.

A more proactive approach to treating anthracnose is a weekly application of liquid copper fungicide. Be wary of overdoing it since copper is only beneficial in small doses.

If you do use a copper fungicide, err on the side of caution and dilute it.

2 – Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew On Tomato Leaves

Powdery mildew can be caused by poor air circulation, inadequate light, over-fertilizing, and high humidity.

Sure, grouping tropical plants is an effective way of increasing humidity. But you still have to be careful not to overdo it.

The Fix

The good news is that powdery mildew won’t damage a monstera unless you leave it fester for long.

Pick up a fungicidal treatment and use it to treat the infection. Regular application of neem oil or liquid soap can help, too.

3 – Root Rot

Peace Lily Sprouts With Rotten Roots On A White Background

If water can’t drain freely from the soil, the roots will sit in moist soil, starved of oxygen. Eventually, the roots turn black, and the plant dies.

But before the situation gets this bad, your monstera will send some warning signs in the form of wilting and yellowing.

The Fix

Remove your monstera from its pot and inspect the roots. Rotten roots will be black, feel mushy, and have a horrid smell to them.

Some parts of the root system may be salvageable. So, it’s a good idea to rinse the roots and trim away the dead parts.

Then, give the better-looking ones a chance in some fresh, well-draining.

When to Cut off Yellow Monstera Leaves

It’s wise to snip away the yellow leaves if they’re infected, infested, or beyond salvaging. They’re just drawing energy away from healthier parts anyway.

Plus, doing so can help curb the spreading of the disease.

Final Thoughts

It might seem like monsteras are finicky. But I promise you they’re not that hard to maintain.

Take the common pest infestations, for instance. Sure, they can suck the life out of your monsetra. Yet, most of them can be tackled with insecticidal soap, alcohol, sticky traps, or neem oil.

Other than that, you just need to fix the lighting, pop a couple of humidity plants (or an actual humidifier) nearby, and do soil moisture checks before watering. You know, the mostera plant care basics.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that the discoloration is part of the plant’s natural growth cycle. Fingers crossed, this is what’s going on with your monstera!v

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Sor Morales

Monday 9th of August 2021

What do you do with the yellow leaves? cut it ? leave it?