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There are a variety of reasons why your leaves are falling off your Monstera or it’s looking droopy:
- You Monstera needs more light
- Old leaves
- Pest infestation
- It needs fertilising
- The petiole has snapped
- The plant has root rot
- The plant is too dry
- The plant has shock
- The leaf can’t support itself
- The plant is cold
As plants go, Monstera can be droopy. In the wild, they’re br crawling up the side of an enormous tree, not chilling in the back of our front room making do with a couple of bamboo canes and some string.
If your plant is growing like mad, but looks a bit droopy, and maybe drops the odd leaf, it’s more than likely fine. A bit top heavy, but happy and healthy. But if you’re losing lot of leaves, and your plant has droopy, curled leaves, it’s time to have closer look.
If you’re having issues with unfurling, then take a look at this post. It goes through all the things that can go wrong with unfurling leaves.
If you can’t be bothered to read that article, then follow this rule: whilst your Monstera leaves are still all rolled up, or even unfurled but still soft and bright green, don’t touch them.
I know you want to.
But know that if even gentle attempts at ‘helping’ your Monstera’s new leaf be birthed can leave permanent scars. take it from someone that can’t resist opening up the leaves and checking for fenestrations. Do as I say, not as I do.
There are loads of reasons why your Monstera is looking droopy, and maybe even dropping leaves. I’ll go through them in no particular order.
Your Monstera needs more light
This is one of those things that technically isn’t going to damage your plant, but it will make it look sad.
When a Monstera doesn’t get enough light, the leaves stay small and unfenestrated. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se, but it’s not fulfilling its potential.
However, Monstera want to grow big. And they know that to grow big, they need more light. And to get more light, they stretch towards windows.
Both the petioles* and the stem lean towards the light. You can curb this by rotating the plant weekly, but you won’t stop the, er, droopage.
When the petioles and the stem stretch, they get thinner and long, so the leaves on the end are weighed down – so the plant looks droopy.
The only way you can stop this is to increase the light. Grow lights work well, but a nice sunny window is easier for large plants like Monstera.
The leaves are old
Leaves don’t last forever. It’s perfectly natural for old leaves to drop off, especially when going into winter, or when the plant is producing a new leave.
Monstera usually drop the lowest leaf first – when you buy them they often have a couple of teeny leaves at the bottom – they’ll be the oldest leaves, and they don’t usually last very long.
There isn’t really anything you can do to help the Monstera retain these small leaves. Once the plant has reached a certain size, they can’t provide enough nutrients to justify keeping them alive. A sacrifice has to be made. Nature’s harsh.
So, how do you tell if the yellowing, drooping or completely detached leaf is unhealthy or old?
Well, you can’t really. In general, old leaves go through a bit of an autumnal colour palette, and Monstera leaves can go a really vibrant yellow shade before dropping off.
Look at this Phildendron subhastatum:
Oh, and it’s usually a one-leaf-at-a-time type thing, so if you have multiple leaves dying, maybe keep a close eye on your plant.
The plant has pests
The pest that likes Monstera the best (in my experience at least) is thrips. But if you keep your thrips population under control (check out this post for how I got rid of thrips on my Thai Constellation they don’t usually cause leaf drop.
If you have a lot of leaf drop and crispy edges to the leaves, look for spider mites.
Spider mites prefer thinner leaved plants (like Calathea and Alocasia) but they’ll have a go on a Monstera if nothing else takes their fancy.
The problem with spider mites is that by the time you’ve noticed the webs and damaged, there’s a hellish colony going on. I’ve yet to find a bug killer that’ll eradicate spider mites. The best method is to obsessively shower them every few days.
The plant is lacking in nutrients
I’ve mistaken lack of nutrients for pests in the past, and my poor Monstera adansonii had dropped about a dozen leaves before I realised it just needed fertilising. In my defence that thing is ALWAYS hungry. It’s not typical of the species, so I didn’t really consider it.
So if you notice a a lot of drooping, leaf drop, and a marbled pattern like this:
A general plant fertiliser is fine, but I use a seaweed fertiliser. Other people swear by fish emulsion but I’m vegan so won’t use that PLUS apparently it really stinks. Dilute it so that’s it twice as weak as the instructions say, and then apply it to damp soil (basically, water the plant with plain water, leave it a bit, then fertilise).
The petiole has snapped
I had a leaf randomly die on my philodendron golden dragon and I panicked because it had just sacrificed one of the old leaves. Upon closer inspection, the entire petiole (the bit that joins the leaf to the stem) had snapped.
That’s just…one of those things.
This can be a consequence of not having enough light, as we discussed at the beginning of the article.
The plant has root rot
Root rot can cause droopy leaves, so it’s never a bad idea to take the plant out of the pot and have a look. You’re looking for brown, mushy roots and a smell of, er, rotting.
If you do see root rot, cut away anything mushy and gross, and washing the roots in hydrogen peroxide if you have any. This’ll kill any remaining bacteria. Put the plant back into fresh soil and hope for the best.
The plant is too dry
A tell-tale sign that a Monstera wants a drink is curling leaves, but always check the soil before watering. I have one leaf on my Monstera that’s permanently curled – it’s just the way it is.
Whilst Monsteras don’t tend to droop when they’re thirsty (mine don’t anyway) some plants do – peace lilies, fittonias, and syngoniums are all very overdramatic in the drooping stakes.
Some people say you shouldn’t wait till plants droop to water them, but mine don’t seem to mind.
Monsteras are heavy drinkers in my experience, so I like to let them bottom water for a few hours. There’s a post here on how I organise my plant schedule, but basically, I permanently keep out a tray of water and just plonk thirsty plants in it when required.
Monstera can take a while to absorb all the water, but I’ve found that letting them drink heavily really extends the time you can go between waterings.
The plant has gone into shock
Often your plant will droop and/or drop leaves when you first bring it home or you repot it.
I do NOT recommend repotting plants as soon as you buy them, because the plant is even more likely to go into shock than it was anyway. Leave them to acclimatise first, even if it’s just for a couple of months.
There isn’t a lot you can do to stop shock – the plant has to recover on its own. Keeping your plant in a warm, bright spot with plenty of humidity can really speed up the recovery process though.
The leaf can’t support itself
Monstera are big plants with heavy leaves that are designed to cling tightly to trees as they grow. Sometimes the sheer weight of the leaf means that it droops. There’s nothing wrong with it – it’s just gravity.
Sometimes you may notice a brown layer on your plant that looks like wood. Here’s a picture of some on my Monstera:
Sorry it’s a bit blurry, but it’s winter in the UK and the lighting here is truly, truly horrific.
Still, you get the idea. The weird brown stuff looks like some kind of fungus, but it’s a natural thing that plants do to help support themselves, called corking (I don’t know if that’s a noun or a verb).
You’re most likely to see it on cacti, though I think a lot of plants do it.
I think corking only occurs on stems, not petioles so if you let your Monstera grow without a moss pole, you may get it.
Can low humidity makes Monstera leaves droop?
Low humidity is often a factor when it comes to plants drooping, but it’s not something that I’ve found Monstera to be that picky about. I’m not saying it definitely isn’t a factor, it’s just not make or break for them.
Monstera can be fine in lower humidity settings, though you may find that growth is a bit slower and leaves may take that bit longer to unfurl.
If you’re on the fence about getting a humidifier, this article on aerial roots just shows the difference high humidity can make. Spoilers: the aerial roots get rather furry and super unsettling.
Is your Monstera too cold?
Monstera do pretty well over the winter, but they’ll suffer if they get too cold. Here in the UK it’s best to bring them in around late September, because frost will kill them.
If you do start noticing leaves going black and dropping off, check that it’s not sat in a draught. Mine lives by the patio doors in spring and summer, but moves to my office in the colder months. It’s darker, but also warmer and more humid. It’s important to keep a nice balance for your plant (and there’s always grow lights).
Due to their size and weight, Monstera are a naturally pretty droopy plant, especially the older leaves. Whilst it’s always worth checking for pests and other problems, don’t worry too much about the odd leaf drooping or falling off.
Try increasing the light if you can – they really appreciate it and it’ll make a massive difference to speed they grow and the size of the new leaves.