Are your monstera leaves turning yellow and you’re wondering how to fix it? If so, this post covers the most common reasons why it might be happening and how to fix them.
Monstera leaves turning yellow? Here’s why.
Hey all! I recently wrote a post on 9 Monstera Types to Add to Your Collection that features different types of monstera plants I own. “Monstera” is a genus of 59 tropical plants native to hot, humid parts of North, Central, and South America.
These plants climb and vine in their natural habitat, growing prolifically under a dense canopy of tree foliage that provides shade. They enjoy warm temperatures, wet air, and loose, well-draining soil. Many common varieties have adapted well to life as houseplants.
Care challenges for monstera varieties as houseplants
That said, there are some things to keep in mind when caring for these plants indoors. I have quite a few monstera care guides you can check out. They cover basic care routines, propagation, and issues you may encounter growing these plants indoors in containers:
- Monstera Deliciosa Care
- Monstera Adansonii Care
- Thai Constellation Monstera Care
- Monstera Peru Care
- Monstera Siltepecana Care
And one of the most common issues houseplant hobbyists encounter is monstera leaves turning yellow. Yellow leaves are generally a sign of stress. There are a few exceptions to this—but most of the time, it is a sign that something is wrong.
There are a few reasons why your monstera leaves might turn yellow, and I’ll outline the ones I’ve personally experienced in this post.
1. Yellowing leaves due to overwatering
The number one killer of houseplants? Overwatering! I have talked to people who think you have to water plants every single day indoors. Even if you have the chunkiest most well-draining soil on the planet, this will still suffocate the roots.
Roots need oxygen. And when the soil stays wet and never dries out—even a bit—this prevents the flow of oxygen to the roots. Given the prevalence of overwatering, I’d recommend that as the first thing to consider. Most varieties of monstera like the top several inches of their soil to dry out before you water them again.
However, soil is an often-overlooked part of the watering equation. If your soil is too dense, it will retain too much water. Even if you water once a week.
Choose a chunky, well-draining soil that will allow all of the excess water to drain from the pot’s drainage holes. Use a soil designed for indoor plants—then add in amendments like coconut husks or orchid bark and extra perlite to help with drainage.
Coco coir is a great peat moss alternative you can add in as well. This material helps retain moisture in a way that is lightweight and will not suffocate the roots. Read more about soil amendments in my indoor potting soil 101 post.
Bottom line: Is the soil super dense, and does it remain wet for long periods of time? Your monstera leaves turning yellow are likely a result of overwatering.
2. Yellowing leaves due to underwatering
But as if things couldn’t get more confusing…yellowing leaves on houseplants can also be a result of underwatering. If you don’t give your plant the water it needs, it has the opposite problem—the root system can’t keep the plant going.
These plants like the top several inches of soil to dry out before you water them again. However, if you let the soil dry out completely, you’ll likely begin to notice signs of stress.
These could include browning tips on the leaves, wilting foliage, and yes—yellowing leaves. When we moved earlier this year, I really underwatered a few of my plants. I tend to err on the side of underwatering since it is usually safer.
However, I went too far with my big Thai constellation monstera. One day after moving I was shifting some plants around and noticed a yellowing leave on the plant. Heartbreaking! Why did it have to be this one?!
I let the leaf die off completely and then cut it off. But I immediately gave the plant a deep, soaking water in the kitchen sink. It thanked me by perking back up and not killing off any more leaves.
Bottom line: Has it been a while since you’ve watered? Is the soil super dry? If so, monstera leaves turning yellow are likely a result of underwatering.
3. Pest issues
While monstera plants are not super vulnerable to pests, they can fall victim to all of the normal houseplant pests. In my personal experience, both thrips and spider mites can lead to yellowing leaves.
Thrips are hard to spot. But their larva feeds on foliage. Once they reach a certain stage, they drop to the soil and later emerge as adults that also hop around and munch on your lovely plant. Read about how to spot and get rid of thrips for more.
These are a hard pest to get rid of, but they aren’t impossible. I spotted thrips on my baby Thai constellation monstera early and immediately treated the plant. You can see some yellowing on the leave below—this leaf eventually yellowed and died off completely.
I treated the plant with systemic granules and sprayed it down. The second picture below shows a healthy leaf, and the plant remains healthy today.
If your leaves are yellowing and you also see very fine webbing and teeny tiny crawlers, it’s spider mites. Spider mites can quickly wipe out a plant because they literally suck the life out of the leaves.
They work fast, too—by the time you notice webbing and yellowing on a leaf, it’s likely too late to save that particular leaf. Below is a photo of an alocasia with spider mites—you can see the yellowing. Isolate the plant, cut the leaf off, and treat the plant for the spider mites.
Of course other pest infestations can lead to yellowing leaves as well—these are just two that I’ve personally experienced and think you should look out for.
Bottom line: Do you notice any tiny crawling insects or larva on your plant’s leaves? How about webbing? If there are signs unwanted visitors have moved in, yellowing leaves on a monstera plant are likely a sign of a pest infestation.
4. Lack of humidity
It’s also possible that yellowing leaves are a sign that the plant needs more humidity. However, this isn’t one of the most likely reasons. Signs of a lack of humidity include discolored brown tips and a brownish-yellowish tint that eventually spread across the whole leaf.
Bottom line: Do you notice brown tips in addition to leaf yellowing? Does a hydrometer gauge tell you the air is dry? If so, yellowing leaves may be a result of low humidity.
5. Scorching from too much light
Monstera leaves turning yellow could also be a sign of scorching or burning from too much light. I most often encounter this issue with plants I bring outside without proper acclimation.
Below is another picture of my baby Thai plant. After the thrips issue I mentioned earlier in the post, I cut the plant down from 3 to 1 leaf. The leaf on the right is yellowish after being scorched by the sun, while the leaf on the left is new growth.
Unfortunately since we’d just moved to a new house, I wasn’t totally sure about where to put things outside. I thought this plant was safe under a bush with just a bit of direct morning sun, but it turns out it got a bit more light than I’d anticipated.
After the leaf on the right scorched a bit in the sun, I moved the plant to a place with more shade. All growth that followed was perfect!
Bottom line: If your plant is otherwise healthy and it is getting a lot of light—especially if it’s outside—yellowish-white discoloration on the leaves could be too much direct light.
6. Shipping stress or transplant shock
If you order plants online, buy them locally in the off-season (fall and winter), or move them around too much, yellowing leaves could be a sign of stress. Below are two plants I ordered online. The first, a Monstera Pinnatipartita, was in lovely shape.
However, once I got it into position, I noticed that two of its oldest leaves were yellowing and dying off. Since the plant had been through a lot—and since it was older growth—I didn’t worry about it. I just trimmed the leaves off.
Some plants are also more finicky about being repotted. The best time to repot a plant is in the spring or summer while the plant is actively growing and can rebound faster.
Bottom line: Was the plant recently shipped or did it experience a large temperature change? Did you repot it? The plant could be rebounding from stress or transplant shock.
7. Mother nature’s normal lifecycle
And finally, I want you to take a deep breath and remember that yellowing leaves can definitely just be a sign of mother nature’s normal lifecycle. Especially if there is nothing otherwise wrong with the plant and it’s the occasional older leaf yellowing and dying off.
If this is the case, try your best to leave the leaf alone until it dies off completely. I know it’s hard—but it’s still working until it is brown! When it’s ready, you can take a knife or scissors and just cut the leaf off.
Bottom line: If your care routine is optimal, there are no signs of pests, and the monstera leaves turning yellow are just the occasional older leaf or two—don’t worry. It’s likely a normal sign of the plant aging.
Can yellowing leaves on a monstera turn green again?
Sadly yellowing leaves on a monstera plant cannot turn green again. Even if the yellowing is due to improper care, the leaf won’t turn green once you fix the care issue. It’s best to leaf the leaf die off naturally and then trim it.
I know it’s hard to cut leaves off of your plant, but I do it all the time! Pruning off older or unhealthy growth helps the plant focus on healthy new growth. It’s worth it—promise!