A healthy Monstera Deliciosa, also known as the Swiss Cheese plant and Split-Leaf Philodendron, grows between 1-2 feet per year so if your Monstera’s growth slows down and begins drooping and turning yellow, it’s vital to know why this happened so you’ll know how to fix it.
A Monstera that’s drooping and turning yellow can look that way due to:
- Overly bright light
- Low humidity
- Temperature fluctuations
- Transplant shock
- Nitrogen deficiency
In this guide, I’ll address the above causes of yellow, sagging Monstera leaves and present solutions for nursing your plant back to health.
The Causes of Drooping, Yellow Monstera and How to Fix Them.
The Cause – Underwatering
How often are you watering your Monstera?
The Monstera is considered a drought-resistant plant species, at least to an extent. However, it’s no succulent, so it can’t go weeks between waterings.
Monstera Deliciosa should be watered every 7-14 days. The time between waterings will vary depending on the temperature and amount of light it’s receiving.
Water closer to every 7 days when your monstera is receiving regular bright light or warm, dry temperatures. Water the plant closer to the 14 day mark when your monstera is experiencing low-light or cooler temps.
When the Monstera’s soil turns bone dry, the plant has no moisture left in its pot. Its roots aren’t receiving water, and that’s when you’ll begin to notice symptoms.
The gorgeously green leaves will become yellow. They’ll also sag and look lifeless.
In prolonged instances of underwatering, the yellowing of the leaves can even progress to browning.
The Fix – Soak Your Plant and Modify Watering Behavior
Fortunately, this is a relatively easy fix, but it’s a two-parter.
First, you must restore hydration back to your droopy Monstera. I recommend a soak, which is not something you should do in other circumstances with this plant.
Fill a bathtub or a shallow basin with water, stopping at the three or four-inch mark. The water should be lukewarm or cool but never hot.
Place your Monstera in the tub or basin and let it rest for 45 minutes or so.
When the time has elapsed, do the fingertip test. Is the plant’s soil moist at least three inches deep?
If so, then you can take your Monstera out of the tub. Allow it to rest somewhere where it can freely expel the excess water without making a huge mess. Then put your Monstera back in its original home.
The Cause – Overwatering
The Monstera likes relatively moist soil around the clock. This can cause some beginner indoor gardeners to overdo it on the water saturation.
Moist soil is slightly damp to the touch. You can feel the moisture in the soil, but it’s certainly not wet. If the soil is soaking, then you’ve done too much.
You should not feel more water than soil when you put your fingers in the Monstera’s pot.
An overwatered Monstera, regardless of the variety, is more than likely going to develop root rot. This plant species is already susceptible to the condition, so you must tread carefully.
Root rot causes the plant’s roots to die one by one. This happens deep in the soil, so you can be caught unaware if you don’t realize you’re making watering mistakes.
Once your Monstera begins manifesting yellow, droopy leaves, its case of root rot has progressed quite far. The roots might be mostly dead.
You can attempt to save your Monstera from the grips of root rot, but if more roots have died than are living, it’s a lost cause.
For less dire situations, you can prune the dead roots, repot the plant in drier soil, and wait and watch.
The Fix – Water Your Monstera When Two to Three Inches of Soil Have Dried Out
To keep your ailing Monstera alive after root rot or to maintain the health of a new Monstera, you need to water it only occasionally.
Although the Monstera does like moist soil, it’s okay if two to three inches of its soil get moderately dry. You should not allow the soil to dry out completely and then water the plant.
The Cause – Overly Bright Light
The Monstera has some of the biggest leaves of any indoor plant, but even its leaves are sensitive.
If you expose the Monstera to bright sunlight for too long, then the leaves will undoubtedly begin to droop. The plant is becoming dehydrated in that bright sun, so you won’t see supple leaves anymore.
Besides sagging leaves, you might also notice yellowing, but only for a limited time.
The longer your Monstera spends in the sun, the darker its leaves will become. It’s actively burning like your skin can develop sunburn without sunblock!
The Fix – Provide Bright, Indirect Light
The best lighting conditions for the Monstera are bright, indirect light.
This plant can even withstand dim light or low light. Its growth slows compared to a sunnier spot with indirect sunlight though.
Indirect light, by the way, means that the sunlight passes through a medium such as a window curtain before it reaches your Monstera.
A northerly-facing window is often most suitable for this plant, as these windows never receive direct sunlight.
The Cause – Low Humidity
Humidity is moisture, and you already know how much the Monstera loves moisture. That’s a testament to this plant’s native environment, which is Southern Mexico’s tropical forests.
When the air is too dry, the Monstera’s coloration will become yellow. Its large, stately leaves will also begin to sag in protest.
You’ll need a hygrometer for determining how much moisture is in the air. This is a handy tool to have even outside of indoor plant care, so it’s worth investing in one.
Here’s a link to the hygrometer I keep in my main ” indoor plant room” that I purchased on Amazon.
The Fix – Increase Humidity in Your Home or Office with a Dehumidifier
The Monstera needs about 40 percent humidity to ultimately thrive indoors.
The average relative humidity in most buildings and homes is between 30 and 50 percent. Should the hygrometer reveal that the humidity in your environment is lower than usual, then you’ll have to increase the humidity.
You can buy a plug-in humidifier and turn it on for several hours per day for your Monstera.
This is a much more efficient and time-effective solution than misting the plant, which you’d have to do nearly around the clock.
Another solution is to move your Monstera to a part of your home that gets more humidity than normal, such as a bathroom.
Since the Monstera can grow in dimmer conditions, you won’t harm the plant in even a windowless bathroom.
That said, if you can, it’s best to give the Monstera some time in a sunnier spot so it doesn’t become deficient in sunlight.
The Cause – Temperature Fluctuations
When growing the Monstera at home, you’re in charge of the thermostat. However, at an office building, that’s not always the case.
While there are plants that do well in rooms with the air conditioner on all the time, the monstera or swiss cheese plant is definitely not one of them.
The office might turn off the heat or air conditioner at night when everyone goes home. On weekends and holidays, your building might also lack temperature control.
This can be bad news for the Monstera.
Should the temperatures go even lower, then now the cold-adverse Monstera can begin sustaining damage. Its cells can freeze and later die, which will result in permanent black spots across the foliage.
On the other end of the spectrum, very high temperatures can also stress out the Monstera.
Despite that it’s a tropical plant, it doesn’t like bright light or high humidity, so it makes sense that the plant wouldn’t prefer high temperatures either.
What are high temperatures in this case? Anything over 90 degrees. Wilting will occur and the leaves will turn yellow and brown.
The Fix – Maintain a Monstera’s Preferred Temperature Range
The Monstera Deliciosa’s ideal temperatures are 68 to 86 degrees. That’s easy enough to remember since the numbers are inverses of each other.
You don’t have to set your thermostat as high as 86 degrees, don’t worry. It’s just that within that temperature range, the Monstera is still happy.
In a room-temperature environment, your plant will be more than fine.
Remember that it’s not only the temperature of your home or office that can induce cold or heat stress in your Monstera.
That old, drafty window or door lets in outdoor air gusts. A window air conditioner or radiator can do the same. Keep your Monstera away from these sources of heat and cold!
The Cause – Transplant Shock
You just put your Monstera in a bigger pot since it had outgrown its old one.
Then, a day or two later, its leaves are wilted, and the plant is brown and/or yellow.
Perhaps you packed up all your belongings and moved to a new neighborhood. You carefully unpacked your Monstera and watered it. The same symptoms manifested within a day or two.
What’s happening in both these cases is transplant shock. Many indoor plants don’t like being moved, whether moving is going to a new place or upgrading to a bigger pot.
I just wrote a detailed guide on transplant shock on indoor plants that you should read if you suspect that’s what’s wrong with your Monstera.
Transplant shock is in many cases unavoidable, but it’s still not an ignorable issue.
The Fix – Repot Your Monstera in the Spring, and Nurse It Back to Health
As I talked about in my guide on transplant shock in indoor plants, the season you select for repotting your plant is critical.
Many indoor plant species do not like being moved during the summer, even heat-loving plants. The conditions are too bright and balmy for a plant to easily settle into its new home.
When you repot the Monstera, do it in the spring.
Be forewarned though that even at that time of year, transplant shock can still occur.
When a plant develops transplant shock, you want to maintain moist soil. That’s especially important for the Monstera.
A diluted water and sugar mixture can give your Monstera the boost it needs to recover, but sugar water doesn’t reinvigorate every plant species.
The Cause – Nitrogen Deficiency
All indoor plants require nitrogen, which is one of the three macronutrients (the other two are potassium and phosphorus).
Nitrogen is among the most important macronutrients, as it allows your Monstera to photosynthesize.
More specifically, nitrogen ensures energy management for your plant so it always has what it needs for photosynthesis.
Further, nitrogen is in every chlorophyll molecule, so plants that are deficient in nitrogen are not going to have an appealing green hue. Rather, their foliage might look yellow or brown.
Without nitrogen, a plant cannot build protoplasm, which includes living cell materials such as the organelles, nucleus, and cytoplasm.
You’ll know your Monstera has a nitrogen deficiency if its coloration becomes yellow or very light green. The leaves may then turn brown without mitigation on your part.
On top of that, the leaves will be dry and withered, and growth will come to a standstill.
The Fix – Fertilize Your Monstera More Often or Use a Higher Concentration of Nitrogen
Should your Monstera be deficient in nitrogen, it’s time to examine your fertilization schedule.
You should fertilize the Monstera between the spring and summer, which is this plant’s active growing season. You may fertilize into the autumn, but many indoor gardeners stop between then and winter.
You can apply granular or liquid fertilizer, such as liquid fish fertilizer,and you should do so at least every month.
If you want to increase the fertilizer application frequency to every two weeks, that’s usually acceptable.
What if you’re fertilizing your Monstera following that schedule but it’s still showing signs of a nitrogen deficiency? You should look at the label of the fertilizer you’re using.
The Monstera does not need a balanced mix of macronutrients in its fertilizer. Rather, the macronutrient ratio should be 3-1-2, with three parts nitrogen, one part phosphorus, and two parts potassium.
The Cause – Overfertilization
On the other side of the spectrum is overfertilizing your Monstera, which can occur if you’re not sure how much fertilizer this plant needs and/or how often.
You’ll know when you’ve fed your Monstera too much fertilizer because it will show you.
- Growth will stop and seedlings can die. Defoliation can also occur.
- The leaf margins and tips can turn brown while the lower leaves are yellow. The leaves will also wilt.
- The most obvious sign is the white fertilizer crust lingering on the surface of your Monstera’s soil.
The Fix – Follow a Fertilization Schedule
An overfertilized plant can sometimes be saved.
You must remove the Monstera from the nutrient-heavy soil. Flush your Monstera in water to remove as much fertilizer residue as possible. Then repot it.
Going forward, follow the fertilization rules outlined in the section above.
The Cause – Pests
Any indoor plant is prone to pests. Spider mites, scale insects, and mealybugs are the target species that go after the Monstera especially.
If there’s one thing these three insect species have in common, it’s that each loves sucking up the juices of plants such as the Monstera.
Some species like the mealybug can then spread disease, which is like a one-two punch of bad news for your plant.
Identifying sap-sucking insects isn’t always easy since the above species are microscopic.
It’s usually only after they’ve weaved webs or left other types of visible residue on your Monstera’s leaves that you’ll realize there’s a problem. By then, your Monstera could have been nearly sucked dry.
The Fix – Remove Pests
Pest infestations usually occur on the undersides of the leaves, so check that part of your Monstera first.
If you can confirm an infestation, then the next step is to remove the unwanted insects.
To rid your Monstera of mealybugs, mix a quart of water with several drops of dish detergent and a cup of rubbing alcohol. With a cotton swab soaked in the mixture, apply the swab on the bugs and they’ll die.
The same mixture works for scale insects and spider mites; you can even skip the dish detergent, as rubbing alcohol and water alone is effective.
The Cause – Diseases
Whether an insect infestation caused a plant disease, or it was due to overwatering or another cause entirely, a diseased Monstera is in trouble.
Anthracnose can create dead leaf spots as well as other abnormally-shaped spots. The spots are usually brown, but your Monstera’s leaves will be yellow.
Should the leaves be badly impacted, they’ll wilt or shed from the plant.
Bacterial leaf spot is another disease to look out for. Your Monstera will have spots that are brown with yellow rings around them. The affected areas can also be yellow or brown.
The spots later turn into black lesions. The leaves will also sag.
The Fix – Treat Diseases If Possible
While anthracnose is fixable with chemical treatments, you cannot treat bacterial leaf spot. Instead, the best treatment for both these plant diseases is prevention.
That means limiting how often you water your Monstera, as these bacterial and fungal conditions usually appear in water-saturated plants.