Why Are My Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow?

Monstera deliciosa, also known as the Swiss cheese plant, is a popular houseplant admired for its large, showy, heart-shaped leaves with natural hole formations. However, Monstera leaves turning yellow is a common problem that can have various causes. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore all the reasons your Monstera leaves may be yellowing and provide tips to restore your plant’s health.

Overwatering Causing Root Rot

Overwatering is one of the most common reasons behind Monstera leaves turning yellow. Monstera prefers a well-draining soil and requires less frequent watering. Excess moisture leads to root rot, where the roots are unable to absorb nutrients and water. This stresses the plant and causes the leaves to yellow.

Signs that overwatering is causing yellow leaves:

  • Leaves start yellowing from the stem and spread outward
  • Lower leaves are affected first
  • Roots appear brown and mushy
  • Soil stays wet for a prolonged time

Solutions for Overwatering

  • Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings. Check with a finger.
  • Water less frequently. Water only when topsoil is partly dry.
  • Improve drainage by amending soil with perlite or bark chips.
  • Repot in a container with drainage holes if current pot lacks them.
  • Cut off any mushy or rotten roots before repotting in fresh, dry soil.

Underwatering Stress

While overwatering is more common, leaving your Monstera too dry can also cause yellowing leaves. If the plant lacks water, it is unable to take up nutrients from the soil. Prolonged drought makes leaves stressed, dry and yellow.

Signs of underwatering:

  • Lower leaves yellow first.
  • Leaves feel crispy, dry or papery.
  • Soil is bone dry for a prolonged time.
  • Plant may be wilting.

Fixing Underwatering

  • Water immediately when topsoil feels dry.
  • Check soil moisture frequently to prevent repeat droughts.
  • Mist leaves occasionally to increase humidity.
  • Consider potting in a moisture-retentive soil mix.

Excessive Light Exposure

Too much light can scorch and yellow Monstera leaves. This tropical plant thrives in bright, indirect light indoors but direct sunlight can overexpose the leaves. Place it near an east or west facing window where it gets a few hours of gentle morning or evening sun.

Signs of excessive light:

  • Yellow spots on leaves exposed to direct sun.
  • Upper leaves affected before lower leaves.
  • Leaf scorching and bleaching.

Solving Light Problems

  • Move plant to a shadier spot away from direct light.
  • Use a sheer curtain to filter intense sunlight.
  • Turn the plant to prevent single-sided exposure.
  • Use artificial lighting if natural light is insufficient.

Insufficient Light

While too much light can yellow leaves, insufficient sunlight can also cause chlorosis or yellowing. Without enough light, the leaves are unable to produce adequate chlorophyll which gives them their healthy green color.

Clues that the plant needs more light:

  • Newer top leaves turn pale yellow.
  • Plant grows leggy as it reaches for light.
  • Lower mature leaves remain dark green.
  • Variegation fades.

More Light for Your Monstera

  • Place it near a bright southern window.
  • Turn on grow lights to supplement natural lighting.
  • Prune congested or leggy growth to improve light exposure.
  • Rotate plant to ensure even lighting on all sides.

Low Humidity Levels

Monsteras thrive in humid conditions. In dry indoor air, its large leaves lose moisture faster than the roots can absorb it. This leads to stressed, yellowing foliage. Ideal humidity levels are 40-60%.

Signs of low humidity:

  • Leaves turn yellow at the edges first.
  • Leaf tips and edges turn brown and crispy.
  • New leaves remain small.
  • Stems droop.

Increasing Humidity for Your Plant

  • Mist plant daily or use a pebble tray.
  • Place a humidifier nearby.
  • Grow in a terrarium or enclosure.
  • Group plants together to raise local humidity.

Cold Temperatures

As a tropical plant, Monstera does best in average room temperatures between 65-85°F. Temperatures below 50°F or rapid drops in temperature can shock the plant, impacting nutrient uptake. This leads to widespread yellowing of leaves.

Signs of cold damage:

  • Multiple leaves turn yellow simultaneously.
  • Slowed growth.
  • Wilting or drooping leaves.

Protecting Your Monstera from the Cold

  • Move plant away from drafty windows or doors.
  • Avoid placing near heaters or AC vents.
  • Insulate the container in extreme cold.
  • Maintain ideal temperature range.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Lack of essential nutrients due to incorrect fertilizing or poor quality soil can also cause Monstera leaves to turn yellow. Nutrient deficiencies usually start from the oldest leaves. Key nutrients the plant needs are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, manganese and magnesium.

Signs of nutrient deficiency:

  • Lower mature leaves turn yellow first.
  • Veins remain green as tissue between them turns yellow (interveinal chlorosis).
  • Slow or stunted growth.
  • Poor flowering and fruiting.

Providing Adequate Nutrients

  • Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly in growing season.
  • Repot in a rich organic potting mix every 2-3 years.
  • Add slow release pellets to supplement fertilizing.
  • Identify specific deficiencies and supplement particular nutrients.

Improper Potting Mix

A dense, heavy potting mix lacking in aeration and drainage can lead to root rot and inability to access nutrients. This causes lower leaves to yellow from the base upward. Re-potting in an appropriate potting mix can rejuvenate the plant.

Ideal Potting Mix

  • Use a well-aerated, light mix.
  • Incorporate perlite, bark, coco coir to improve drainage.
  • Use orchid mix or citrus mix for these tropicals.
  • Add compost or worm castings to introduce beneficial microbes.

Wrong Pot Size

If the pot is too small, the plant’s growth will be restricted, and roots will be unable to absorb sufficient water and nutrients. Root bound plants will show signs of stress like yellow lower leaves. Moving the Monstera into a larger pot can allow it to thrive.

On the other hand, an oversized container can hold too much moisture and lead to root rot. Size up gradually, only 1-2 inches more in diameter than the previous pot.

Choosing the Right Pot

  • Repot every 2-3 years as plant grows larger.
  • Select a container with drainage holes.
  • Pot just large enough to contain the root ball.
  • Use heavy pots to support the top-heavy plant.

Viral and Fungal Diseases

Certain plant diseases also contribute to yellowing leaves in Monsteras. Mosaic virus causes distinctive mosaic mottling and malformed foliage. Fusarium wilt leads to yellowing lower leaves and stem rot. Other fungal issues are root, stem and leaf spot diseases. Insects like thrips can spread viruses between plants.

Managing Diseases

  • Isolate and prune affected parts immediately.
  • Disinfect tools between uses.
  • Improve air circulation.
  • Treat with fungicide or insecticidal soap.
  • Destroy severely infected plants to prevent spreading.

Improper Location

Placing the Monstera in unsuitable locations can negatively impact growth. Keep it away from hot and cold drafts, heating or cooling vents, and air conditioning systems. The rapid temperature fluctuations and dry air can stress the plant. Direct heat from fireplaces or harsh lighting is also unsuitable. Find a warm, stable spot indoors with good light.

Age of the Plant

As Monsteras mature and grow larger, the lower leaves gradually turn yellow and drop off. This is part of the natural growth process so not necessarily indicative of a problem. But do check for pests and conduct regular maintenance for continued health. Prune aging stems to encourage new growth.

How to Revive a Monstera with Yellowing Leaves

  • Assess yellowing leaves and look for visual clues to identify the underlying cause.
  • Isolate the affected plant if disease is suspected.
  • Prune off heavily damaged, dead or dying foliage.
  • Repot in fresh potting mix if roots are diseased, pot bound or dense soil is an issue.
  • Alter watering frequency and volume to match the plant’s needs.
  • Move plant to a spot with suitable temperature, light levels and humidity.
  • Fertilize regularly and tackle any nutritional deficiencies.
  • Disinfect tools, pots and surfaces to eliminate disease transmission.
  • Remove pests such as aphids, thrips, mealybugs which can spread viruses.
  • Be patient as it takes time for new growth to appear after correcting problems.

With early intervention and proper Monstera plant care, your Swiss cheese vine should recover and regrow lush foliage.

Frequently Asked Questions About Yellowing Monstera Leaves

Why are my Monstera leaves turning yellow after repotting?

Yellow leaves after repotting are typically caused by root damage or transplant shock. Check that the new container has adequate drainage holes. Water sparingly initially while the damaged roots recover. Add organic matter to the potting mix to encourage new root growth.

How do I fix a yellow Monstera leaf?

Isolate and prune off the severely yellow leaves which can’t recover. Improve growing conditions by adjusting light, humidity, watering, temperature and nutrition. The younger leaves should green up after correcting issues, while older yellowed leaves may not rebound.

Should I cut off yellow Monstera leaves?

Removing unhealthy yellow leaves through pruning stimulates new growth. But don’t cut off leaves until they are more than 50% yellowed. The plant can still absorb some nutrients from partially yellowed leaves.

What nutrients cause Monstera leaves to turn yellow?

Insufficient nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium or iron can cause Monstera to yellow. Lack of nitrogen from fertilizer shows as uniform yellowing. While iron and magnesium deficiencies cause interveinal yellowing where the leaf veins remain green.

Do Monstera leaves turn yellow as they age?

As a natural part of growth, lower Monstera leaves gradually yellow and drop off over time. But accelerated yellowing of multiple leaves indicates a cultural, environmental or pest problem that needs intervention.

How often should I fertilize my Monstera?

Fertilize Monstera with a balanced houseplant fertilizer once a month in spring and summer during the active growing season. Dilute liquid fertilizer to half or quarter strength. Suspend fertilizing in winter when growth slows.

What causes brown spots on Monstera leaves?

Brown spots on Monstera foliage are usually a sign of bacterial or fungal leaf spot diseases. Insufficient humidity and overcrowding can also cause leaf spots. Improve air circulation, prune affected parts and use a fungicidal spray.

Should I mist my Monstera daily?

Monstera benefits from daily misting as the evaporated moisture increases humidity around the plant. Alternately place the pot on a pebble tray filled with water. Warm air humidifiers are also very effective in maintaining ideal indoor humidity.


In summary, Monstera deliciosa leaves can turn yellow due to various environmental, cultural or pest problems. The most common causes are overwatering, underwatering, excessive light, low light, low humidity, cold temperatures and mineral deficiencies. By carefully assessing the specific symptoms and adjusting your plant care regimen, you can nurse your Monstera back to health. Providing optimal growing conditions and vigilant monitoring are key to keeping this showy tropical trouble-free.

Why Are My Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow? [Summary]

Monstera leaves turn yellow due to:

  • Overwatering causing root rot
  • Underwatering and drought stress
  • Too much direct light leading to leaf scorch
  • Insufficient indirect light resulting in chlorosis
  • Low humidity and dry air
  • Cold temperatures or temperature fluctuations
  • Lack of essential nutrients like nitrogen and potassium
  • Dense potting mix preventing drainage
  • Restricted roots from small container
  • Diseases such as Fusarium, viruses, fungal issues
  • Growing in unsuitable location with temperature extremes
  • Natural aging process and dropping of lower leaves

Revive yellowing Monstera by:

  • Identifying and correcting underlying issue
  • Pruning off severely damaged foliage
  • Repotting in suitable potting mix if necessary
  • Watering appropriately to meet plant’s needs
  • Moving to spot with adequate warmth, light and humidity
  • Fertilizing regularly with a balanced fertilizer
  • Treating any pests or diseases
  • Allowing time for recovery after troubleshooting problems

This comprehensive guide covered all the potential reasons for Monstera leaves turning yellow and solutions to restore your plant’s health. With the proper troubleshooting and adjustments to care, your Swiss cheese vine will be back to its gorgeous green self.