17 Common Problems With Monstera Plants
If you've noticed your Monstera doesn't look as good as it should, there's likely one of many different problems happening with your plant. In this article, gardening expert and houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton examines some of the most common problems with monstera plants, and how to fix them!
Monstera plants are perhaps the most beloved of all the houseplants. With their larger-than-life leaves and easy-going nature, it’s no surprise. They’re the perfect plant for new houseplant parents and busy collectors alike.
Unfortunately, most types of Monstera aren’t completely problem-free. Even the most carefully cared for plants can fall prey to pests, diseases, and a handful of care faux pas. But what happens when your monstera shows ill, and you aren’t quite sure what the cause of it is?
There are several common Monstera problems all Monstera owners have faced at least once. Luckily, they’re all easily fixed and avoidable if you read on and follow the guides below. Let’s take a deeper look at the most common problems you may face as a Monstera owner, and the root causes of each!
Yellowing leaves are the most common problem in almost all houseplants – not just Monsteras.
The first reason for yellowing Monstera leaves is overwatering. Watering correctly is a challenge many people face. When it comes to caring for Monsteras, and the rest of your houseplant collection, a fine balance is needed to avoid the two extremes of overwatering or underwatering.
Thanks to their tropical habitats, Monstera plants love moist soil. But, if its pot has improper drainage, or you’re watering too frequently, there is more moisture and water than your Monstera needs or can handle.
Ensure the pot has plenty of drainage holes and avoid watering your plants on a strict schedule. Instead, check the top layer of soil every so often, and only water when that layer is dry.
Monsteras love plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. Be sure to place yours near a west or east-facing window, where it can get several hours of indirect light a day.
Sometimes, yellowing leaves are caused by a lack of nutrients. While these plants are relatively slow growers and don’t need to be fertilized often, they still need a nutrient boost now and then. A balanced, liquid fertilizer, given every few weeks during its growing season, will keep its leaves green.
Sudden temperature fluctuations can also cause the Monstera to lose its green hue. These tropical plants enjoy warm environments, thriving best in temperatures between 60F and 80F. Keep them away from drafts, fans, air conditioners, and heaters to keep its leaves lush and green.
Browning Leaf Tips
The number one reason why a Monstera’s leaf tips are browning is lack of water. As mentioned, watering incorrectly can quickly spell trouble for your plants. Don’t let too many days pass between waterings, remembering to check the top layer of soil frequently.
When it’s time to water, do so slowly and deeply, stopping only when water runs out the drainage holes. This allows every particle of soil to be drenched in water, without suffocating their roots.
If underwatering isn’t the cause, then it could be a lack of humidity. As a tropical plant, Monsteras grow best and stay green in high levels of humidity. While most indoor conditions are suitable for your plants, Monsteras are sometimes a little more demanding.
There are several tips and tricks out there to increase the humidity around your plants, but the best and most effective is a humidifier, or placing your plant in a more humid location.
Buying a humidifier is a worthwhile expense; one that allows you to replicate tropical conditions and gives you complete control over the humidity levels in your home. The added humidity will keep your Monstera, along with the rest of your houseplants, moist and green.
In some cases, improper watering methods can also lead to leaves turning black. Both underwatering and overwatering a Monstera can result in this, so be sure to follow the correct watering methods mentioned above.
However, black leaves can occur for several other reasons. Exposure to direct sunlight is usually the culprit. While Monstera’s large leaves seem strong and indestructible, they’re very sensitive to direct sunlight, often burning due to the harshness. As mentioned, Monsteras will be happiest, and sunburn free, when placed in a bright spot that receives plenty of indirect sunlight.
If your desired spot gets direct sun, hang a sheer curtain over the window. This keeps a space bright while filtering the harsh rays.
Black leaves are also a sure-fire sign of a disease. Root rot, usually caused by excess water in the soil or overwatering, can cause the luscious green leaves of a Monstera to turn a gross black. Sometimes these black spots could be an indicator of another disease, which we’ll get into later.
Yellow spots speckled across your Monstera’s leaves are another symptom of improper watering. They sometimes prelude other major issues, like entire leaves turning yellow or brown, or crisping edges.
Be sure their moisture needs are met by watering correctly, planting or repotting with the right soil, and increasing the humidity levels in your home.
Yellow spots on their leaves could be an indication of disease. Most times, these yellow spots are accompanied by various other symptoms, such as a circular tan center. If you suspect disease, take a look at that section below to resolve the problem.
The large, fenestrated leaves of Monsteras, which make them so popular, are often the first things to signal any signs of stress. One way for them to do this is by curling their leaves. They do this to reduce the amount of surface area, minimizing exposure to light and water loss through transpiration.
As with most things, the first things to check are the plant’s environment and care. Curling leaves usually indicate that your plant is either not getting enough water, light, or humidity. Additionally, it could indicate that it’s receiving too much light or water.
If the leaves are curling inward, this usually indicates an issue regarding water and a lack of humidity. While leaves curling under, toward the underside of the leaf, can mean the same thing, it’s more an indicator of heat stress.
The best way to combat this stress response is by adjusting its environment, ensuring its needs are met correctly, and changing up your watering routine.
Like curling leaves, wilting is another stress response for Monsteras. The incorrect environment and care can quickly result in drooping leaves.
The main cause is general dryness and dehydration, either from a lack of humidity or dry soil. Remember, this tropical beauty thrives in moist environments and its soil shouldn’t be too dry for too long. If you’re watering correctly, and your humidity levels are high, it may be that your plant is unhappy with its soil.
These plants grow best when planted in a special houseplant soil mix. You could easily make your own too. A simple mix of potting soil, perlite, and peat moss or coconut coir at a ratio of 2:1:1 is perfect for the Monstera. This mix drains well, whilst hanging onto moisture and staying light and airy, keeping the roots well-watered and oxygenated.
Another common reason for a wilting Monstera is lack of space within the pot. Compacted roots prevent it from absorbing enough water and nutrients, weakening the plant overall. If your plant’s leaves are wilting, and you notice its roots popping out from the drainage holes of the pot, it needs to be moved to a larger pot.
When you do repot, do so with care, as wilting is also a sign of transplant stress. Slight wilting is normal after repotting, as the whole process is stressful for plants. But, if the wilting persists, the plant’s roots may have been damaged.
Save your Monstera by pruning unnecessary growth and keeping the roots moist by watering correctly. You can also add a weak sugar water solution to the soil.
The best way to avoid transplant shock is by being very gentle with the plant’s roots when repotting.
Everyone adores the large fenestrated leaves of Monstera plants, so it can be frustrating when yours doesn’t develop those gorgeous holes.
Leaves that haven’t split yet could simply mean that your Monstera is too young. It can sometimes take a few years before their heart-shaped leaves develop those beloved holes and splits. So be patient and be sure to give your plant the care it needs.
Sometimes lack of fenestration could be seasonal. While Monsteras usually go dormant during the colder months of the year, they can sometimes sprout new baby leaves. Thanks to the cold, they won’t split until temperatures rise and their growing season begins.
An established Monstera with little to no leaf splits could indicate a few problems – namely, insufficient light levels and lack of water. Your plant will usually signal these stressors in other ways, as mentioned above, but sometimes, just the smallest variances in its care could result in lack of fenestration.
Be sure to follow the above correct watering methods and make sure your Monstera is getting all the light it needs to thrive.
Brown spots on Monstera leaves are yet another symptom of root rot. As mentioned, root rot develops from overwatering, or when a plant’s soil doesn’t drain well.
There is no cure for root rot, but you can save the plant if you catch it in time. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and inspect its roots. Prune away any yellow, or brown, and mushy roots, and remove as much of the old soil from the root ball as you can.
Carefully replant in a clean pot with fresh, dry soil. Ensure the soil you use is a houseplant mix that drains well while retaining moisture and staying light and airy. Pop your plant back in its bright spot and water correctly going forward.
Sometimes, Monstera leaves develop brown spots because of exposure to direct sunlight. They sometimes pop up before the leaves turn black. Be sure to keep your plant in a room with plenty of indirect sunlight.
If your Monstera’s needs are met, brown spots are usually an indicator of disease or a pest infestation.
Spider mites and aphids, along with other sap-sucking insects, can cause the leaves to develop strange brown spots. Similarly, diseases such as Bacterial Leaf Spot have the same effect.
There’s nothing like the excitement of watching new Monstera leaves grow and unfurl. But it can be worrying when no new leaves develop.
A lack of new growth could simply mean your Monstera is dormant, especially if it’s during the colder months of the year. Your plant is just conserving its energy for spring and summer, its active growing season. Leave your plant be, keeping up with its care.
However, no new leaves during its growing season could mean the plant is stressed out. To save itself, they won’t sprout new growth, saving its energy as best it can. Several things can cause plant stress, from improper care to being root-bound.
When troubleshooting potential stressors, it’s best to start with light and water. These two aspects are usually the root causes of most houseplant issues. However, if its needs are met, you may be dealing with a rootbound plant or a sick one.
Monsteras are known for their fast-growing nature, especially when all their demanding needs are met. However, if it receives little light, incorrect amounts of water, or too little humidity, its growth could slow dramatically. Be sure to follow the tips above to meet all your plant’s needs and keep it thriving and happy.
Sometimes, stunted growth is a result of being root-bound. As mentioned, root-bound plants can’t absorb sufficient water or nutrients, weakening the plant, and limiting new growth. Check for any roots poking out the drainage holes. If there are any, it’s time to repot into a bigger pot.
Because Monsteras are such fast growers, you need to increase the pot size annually. When repotting, do so with care, as it can result in transplant shock, as mentioned above.
Follow these steps to repot correctly:
- Choose a pot that is one to two sizes bigger than the current one.
- If you’re reusing one, clean and disinfect it well.
- Remove your Monstera from its current pot and gently shake off the soil.
- Carefully untangle the roots, especially if your plant was root-bound.
- Check for any signs of damage.
- Remove any damaged roots using clean, sharp shears.
- Fill the new pot with fresh, houseplant soil mix.
- Ensure the crown of the plant sits at the same level as before.
- Gently gather the roots and place them in the pot, filling the gaps with soil.
- Only fill to about an inch below the rim of the pot.
- Press around the base of the plant to firm it in place and water immediately.
Leggy growth is often overlooked as an aesthetic issue, ignored by most houseplant parents. But, it can be a sign that your plant isn’t receiving sufficient light, or the room it’s in isn’t bright enough. It will often stretch and grow toward the light source, resulting in stretched leaves and leggy growth. Be sure to keep it near an east or west-facing window to stop it from reaching and stretching in odd directions.
Sometimes, leggy growth is simply a result of a lack of maintenance. While easygoing, Monsteras do require a bit of maintenance throughout its life, namely pruning.
Having a healthy pruning routine allows you to trim away any of the leggy, stretched foliage, keeping your Monstera looking its best. Pruning also encourages new, bushy growth, and awards you with the opportunity to propagate your plant.
A good maintenance routine also forces you to keep checking on your plant, allowing you to constantly look for signs of stress, disease, or a pest infestation. You can catch any problems it may have before it’s too late.
Monsteras are quite hardy plants, albeit slightly sensitive to direct sunlight. Their leaves and stems can usually handle slight rough handlings and won’t flinch if you accidentally brush against them.
But, if your plant is weak, due to any number of the aforementioned stressors, its gorgeous leaves may easily tear and rip. If you notice rips or tears in the large leaves, move it to a safer spot and begin troubleshooting. Ensure no diseases or pests are weakening your plant and make sure all its needs are met.
It may be simply that your Monstera is in a high-traffic zone and needs a bit of a break. Depending on the type of Monstera you own, you may need to place it in a higher, quieter spot. Smaller ones look great on desks, or bookshelves, while bigger ones may need low traffic corners to relax in.
A growing Monstera is a happy Monstera. But you may notice that one side of yours is growing better, larger, and longer than the other.
Unbalanced growth usually develops when one side of the plant gets more sunlight than the other. While not a major concern, lopsided growth can result in the plant toppling over, damaging your plant. It can also result in leggy growth.
Luckily, the fix is extremely simple. Rotate your Monstera’s pot about once a week or so. This allows every inch of the plant to get the sunlight it needs without having to be moved to a new spot in your home.
Unbalanced growth may also simply be a result of an unmaintained Monstera. Occasionally pruning your plants will encourage new, uniform growth, keeping your Monstera gorgeous and bushy.
Another common issue most houseplant parents face is the development of white powder on their plant’s leaves. Unfortunately, Monsteras aren’t exempt from this issue.
If you notice a strange, fluffy white powdery substance on your Monstera’s leaves, you’ve got powdery mildew on your hands. This disease can spread rapidly, covering the plant and the rest of your houseplants in that retched white powder in no time. If left, your plants can quickly die.
Powdery mildew, unfortunately, thrives in the same conditions of the Monstera – warm, and humid. However, it’s easy to prevent and get rid of.
When you spot powdery mildew, isolate your plant quickly and check the rest of your collection. While the powder wipes off easily, it’s best to prune and discard affected foliage. To prevent it from spreading, and taking hold, ensure there is sufficient airflow between all your plants. You should also avoid misting or splashing water on its leaves.
If the powdery mildew persists, however, some harsher methods are needed. Several organic methods help get rid of mildew, the most popular being a baking soda solution. Additionally, an organic milk solution is another DIY way to get rid of this fungus.
Powdery mildew isn’t the only thing that causes white powder on leaves, however. Mealybugs love Monsteras as much as we do, and these little pests can leave a white powdery substance across the plant’s leaves.
Mealybugs often nestle on the undersides of leaves, feeding on leaf tissue and laying eggs, leaving white fluffy stuff in their wake. These pests can severely weaken your Monstera, and if left to run wild, can quickly kill your plant.
They’re easy enough to get rid of –simply spraying and wiping down the leaves with a Neem oil solution will get rid of them in one swoop.
Unfortunately, mealybugs aren’t the only pests that love Monsteras. Several other sap-sucking insects, like aphids and scale, love to gather on the undersides of leaves, leaving destruction in their wake.
Not only do these pests severely weaken Monsteras, leading to stunted growth and yellowing leaves, but they can also cause your plant to grow deformed leaves. Additionally, aphids are carriers of mosaic viruses, which also cause disfigured bumpy leaves.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for mosaic viruses, with the best treatment being prevention. Luckily, aphids and scale are easy to get rid of, and just as easily keep away.
When you spot these pests on the undersides of your Monstera’s leaves, simply pick them off. Squish them between your fingers or toss them into a bowl of soapy water.
Larger infestations call for Neem oil or an alcohol solution. Neem oil works wonders for aphids, while the latter kills off the scale.
The best way to keep these pests off your plants is by giving them the proper care, and constantly checking for any signs of infestation.
Another common pest that adores Monsteras as much as we do, is spider mites. These tiny little pests are difficult to spot, but their webbing is very noticeable. They can also leave speckles of yellow or red spots across your Monstera’s leaves.
While small, spider mites can quickly wreak havoc on your Monsteras. If left, your Monstera’s growth will slow, and it may develop yellowing leaves.
Luckily, you can get them off your Monstera, and keep them away, by ensuring their humidity and moisture needs are met. Spider mites thrive in dry environments, which Monsteras hate. Simply increase the humidity levels around your Monstera to scare them off.
Larger infestations may call for insecticidal soap, which suffocates spider mites.
Unfortunately, there are a few other diseases, that can plague your Monstera. Some cause odd yellow or brown spots across your plant’s leaves, as mentioned.
Bacterial Leaf Spot is a common disease affecting Monsteras, and several other house plants. It causes yellow spots that develop tanned centers as they age. Eventually, the tan becomes dark brown and secretes a sticky substance. If left, a Bacterial Leaf Spot can kill your Monstera and spread to your other houseplants.
Anthracnose is another common disease that can kill Monstera plants. The first symptom is yellowing leaf edges. Eventually, the yellow turns sickly brown color and spreads until it covers the entire leaf. Anthracnose kills off foliage quickly and can leave large lesions on the Monstera’s stems.
As devastating as these diseases can be, they’re luckily not too difficult to prevent. If you spot either of the diseases on your Monsteras, act quickly and swiftly.
Isolate the infected plant and prune off any affected foliage to stop the diseases from spreading. You can use copper-based fungicides to combat severe infections, but it’s always best to prevent them from taking hold.
Avoid overwatering your plants and follow the correct watering methods mentioned above. You shouldn’t mist your Monstera’s leaves either, as this creates an ideal environment for diseases to take hold. And, always ensure there is plenty of airflow between your plants, and their foliage.
While monsteras are notorious for being low-maintenance and easy-going, they can still give plant parents a hard time. Luckily, with the right care and these few tips above, you can keep your Monstera happy and thriving. Follow the guidance for any of the monstera problems you are having, and your plant should be back on the road to good health in no time!