Why does my monstera have black spots?

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First of all BREATH. We’re going to get to the bottom of what causing black or brown spots to appear on your Monstera. This is going to be fine.

There are 8 reasons why your monstera is developing black or brown spot on its leaves:

  1. Root rot
  2. Dehydration
  3. Sunburn
  4. Physical damage
  5. It’s too cold
  6. Not enough humidity
  7. You’ve been misting
  8. It’s not getting enough light
  9. It’s diseased.
  10. Pests

Before you panic, I’ve listed these causes in order – i.e. the brown spots are way more likely to be caused by root rot. Disease is probably unlikely.

And root rot isn’t necessarily the end. It’s not great, but they can recover.

Brown or black marks on Monstera leaves don’t always mean there’s an issue with the plant – it may just be one leaf that’s having trouble with something.

The main obstacle when it comes to spots on Monstera leaves is diagnosis. It’s NOT easy. Sunburn can look like root rot. Root rot can look like fungus. Over time you can become better at identifying issues, but it’s not an exact science.

Black spots on Monstera can be caused by root rot

Root rot is extremely common in plants, usually because we love to over water them. Other signs of root rot are yellowing leaves.

Plants don’t need watering nearly as much as we think (there’s an article here that’ll teach you how to do it properly), and they can get root rot extremely easily.

The good news here is that Monstera deliciosa are, in my experience, pretty hard to push past the point of no return. I mean if you want to be rid of one, overwatering is absolutely the way to go, but also, they can be brought back from it.

Once the leaves have blackened, browned, or turned yellow, it’s irreversible. The leaf might not drop, but it won’t return to its original green.

I have an article here that will go through exactly how to rehab your plant. In short, you’re going to need to cut off any sad-looking leaves (provided you have at least one left), and roots, take the plant carefully out of its pot, gently wash the soil off the roots, and put it in a jar of fresh, room temperature water.

Make sure only the leaves are in the water. Change the water every couple of days and wait for new roots to grow.

Root rot is caused by bacteria attacking the roots. The roots will go mushy and smell, er, gross, and will no longer work efficiently. But as I mentioned before, roots can regrow, and pretty quickly in Monstera.

There’s often a little bit of confusion around putting an overwatered plant in water, but let me explain.

Plants that are growing in water grow water roots, plants that are growing in soil grow soil roots.

They both do the same thing – extract oxygen from their surroundings – but in slightly different ways.

A more extreme way to think of it is like how humans can get oxygen by breathing in the air (but will drown in water) and fish are the opposite way around.

Plants can develop a root system that best suits their surroundings.

monstera leaf

Black spots on Monstera can be caused by dehydration

Or, as professional people call it ‘incongruent watering’.

Monstera like a lot of water, but only when they’re dry.

Watering once a week is often far too much, especially in colder climates, or if your Monstera is in a low light situation.

If you’re unsure, pick up a moisture metre (they’re pretty cheap) and only water when the needle points to 2.

If you keep watering your plant and the soil is drying out really quickly then try bottom watering your plant.

Leave it to soak in a couple of inches of water until the top of the soil is damp.

If you have a big monstera, you can do this in the bath.

Soil can become hydrophobic, and not absorb any water.

Instead, the water runs in the gap between the soil and the plant, and through any cracks in the soil. Giving it a soak rehydrates the soil thoroughly, and helps it hold water again.

If the soil is still drying out in a couple of days, check that the plant isn’t rootbound.

The roots will displace the soil so then there’s not enough soil to hold an adequate amount of water.

If the roots are almost entirely encircling the rootball, it’s time to re-pot.

Don’t be tempted to dramatically increase the size of the pot, because you’ll end up with the opposite problem, and the plant could be at risk from root rot.

A pot a couple of inches bigger is fine.

monstera leaf

Black spots on Monstera can be caused by sun burn

Wild Monstera (as it were) live in rainforests, below the canopy. They don’t get a lot of bright, direct light, so if they are exposed to it, then they can get burned.

This is especially true if you have a variegated Monstera – they burn incredibly easily.

Now the conflict we have here is that in order for your Monstera to grow those big, beautiful fenestrated leaves, it needs A LOT of light.

If you’re lucky, you have a room filled with bright, indirect light. If you have a south-facing room with great windows, put the Monstera next to window, but hang a sheer curtain.

This should stop the plant from burning.

Alternatively, you can gradually increase your plant’s tolerance to the light – this is time-consuming and always carries a risk of burning.

If you have a warm enough climate your Monstera could grow into a BEAST if you acclimatise it to living outdoors. Put it somewhere where it gets nice light but is shielded from the strongest rays – under a porch or shady tree would be good.

I have an article here about acclimatising your plants so they can live outside in the summer.

Both my Monstera are in south-facing windows, and they’ve acclimatised well without any burning.

You can try grow lights if your Monstera lives in a low light situation and you don’t want to move it.

I have these ones and they get the job done without burning the plant.

Variegated plants are WAY more susceptible to sunburn than green plants because chlorophyll is a layer of protection.

I don’t think this plant is actually burnt because it’s a way away from the window, but I would still consider this sun damage. See how crispy it looks?

monstera leaf

Black spots on Monstera can be caused by physical damage

Especially on new growth. Plants don’t like being touched, and you can easily cause damage by touching new growth, however lightly.

I’m as guilty as anyone for trying to sneak a peak at a newly unfurling monstera leaf (there could be holes!) but try not to.

As well as new growth, plants can get damaged in transit. If the black spots on your leaves look quite straight, it’s probably old damage. If a plant was packed in tightly with others and had a leaf bent back, that can leave a scar.

If the leaf is young, not only is it more delicate, but it may still be growing.

Something happened to my baby Monstera and now it has a gnarly leaf tip. I still love him the same.

A small scar you didn’t notice might look huge by the time the leaf has finished growing.

The scar may also change and get a brown edging as the plant tries to heal itself.

monstera leaf

Black spots on Monstera can be caused cold temperatures

Tropical plants hate the cold. The biggest culprit of black spots caused by the cold is unheated sunrooms or conservatories.

They remain warm during the day until quite late in the year (especially if they’re south or west-facing) but get really cold at night.

Fun fact: my mum killed a Sansevieria (yes – she’s got that much of a black thumb) by leaving it in the conservatory over winter.

I’m not 100% if the plant starts self-destructing as a way of conserving energy – like a form going dormant – or if the cold weather and immuno-compromised plant attract fungal diseases.

I think it’s probably the latter. The problem with glass rooms is that they give the plant a lot of light, so the plant tries to continue growing when it really doesn’t have the resources. Either keep the room warm or move your plant to a warmer spot.

Plants that are kept in a cold spot for a few hours can look FAR worse than mine below. I actually think this spot was caused by watering it with too-cold water when the leaf was still new. It’s just a theory though.

Black spots can be caused by low humidity

Monstera aren’t THAT fussy about humidity. They grow better with high-ish humidity, but it’s not the end of the world if you live somewhere pretty dry. But you may end up with brown, crispy edges to your leaves.

If you have low humidity (ie. less than 40%) consider getting a humidifier. It’s the only way to provide constant humidity to your plants. If you have medium humidity try these tricks to increase your humidity without a humidifier.

To be honest, Monstera will happily live in 40% humidity. But if you want optimal growth and massive leaves, try to increase your humidity to around 65%.

monstera leaf

Black spots on Monstera can be caused by too much misting

Plants don’t like getting their leaves wet – it cause the leaves to rot (which will lead to black spots) or it’ll lead to fungal and bacterial diseases (again which will lead to root rot).

I have a whole article on why I think misting is a waste of time, but there are people that swear by misting, so it’s up to you to decide which side of the fence you want to sit on.

Whilst misting can cause brown spots, remember that Monstera come from tropical rainforests, where it, er, rains, so they won’t die if they get wet leaves.

Monstera in the wild often look quite gnarly, since they’re sometimes exposed to brighter light (especially if they’re growing somewhere more exposed – there’s some massive wild ones in Florida) that they’re evolved to deal with.

I guess that’s the price you pay for being an invasive species!

(I joke. I think it’s mad that plants get accused of being invasive when it’s humans that moved them. When it comes to staying still, plants are great at that. You can’t tell me a Monstera climbed from Brazil to Hawaii with no help).

monstera leaf

Black spots on Monstera can be caused by not enough light

I personally don’t think this is very likely, unless your plant isn’t getting any light at all, but it can happen.

Monstera are pretty tolerant of low light situations, but they do best in bright, indirect light. Whether this is the cause of your brown spots or not, giving your Monstera more light will definitely help it grow.

Just, you know, don’t put it directly in a south-facing window.

Again, grow lights are an option.

Black spots on Monstera can be caused by disease

If you’ve exhausted all the other possibilities, your plant could have a disease. Cut off the affected leaves, and read this post on how to give your Monstera great conditions and help it grow.

Be sure to check any nearby plants for signs of disease too.

monstera leaf

Your Monstera may have pests

The most common pest that afflicts Monstera is, in my experience. Thrips.

Thrips are a pain. A nightmare.

But they probably won’t kill your plant unless you let them run wild. They’ll just make it look TERRIBLE. Here’s my sad looking specimen with a touch of thrips damage.

If you look closely, you can actually see the thrips here. They’re the little green/yellow blobs that look like teeny grains of rice.

The big brown spot at the top isn’t anything to worry about. It’s just a result of…winter. The humidity is lower, as is light, and plants are just less resistant to any hardship that comes their way.

But the little spot just above? That’s thrips. Those little sods.

Should I remove the leaf if there’s a brown spot?

It depends. Unless the leaf is diseased or rotten, the brown leaf won’t harm the plant. It won’t turn green again though.

I tend to snip off badly affected leaves and trim the smaller brown spots out of leaves if I can. It’s really a judgement call. Leaves will only a small amount of browning will still help photosynthesis, so it’s in the interest of the plant to leave it be.

monstera leaf

What about tiny black spots on Monstera?

The things I talked about above cause black patches, rather than actual little spots. There are two things (that I know of) that cause tiny little black pinpricks:

  • Thrips
  • Old leaves

Thrips poop is black, and looks like this:

thrips poop on monstera

I don’t have a picture of what old leaf black spots look like, but they have three main characteristics:

  • They occur on smaller leaves
  • The leaf is already very yellow
  • The spots are quite uniform – not in neat rows or anything, but waaay more uniform than the thrips poop.

YEARS ago I read an article on this, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called. IT DOES HAVE A NAME THOUGH.

What’s happening here is that the leaf is being sacrificed by the plant, but before it unceremoniously stops being nourished, the plant takes the time to suck out all the nutrients it can.

Waste not, want not.

Harsh though. Hey, leaf! You’re too small and/or old, so imma kill you off, but not before I literally suck you dry.

This tends to be an aroid-centric thing (though correct me if I’m wrong. Uniform black dots on other plants can be a sign of edema.

Final thoughts on spots on Monstera

  • If the spot is crispy it’s probably sunburn or dehydration – move it and water it

  • If the spot is super dark and there are a few and they look kind of uniform it’s probably a disease. Snip snip, clean the leaves with a dry microfibre cloth and monitor it.

Don’t overpay for your Monstera!

If you want to buy a monstera of whatever type, I have an article here on how much monstera cost.

There are loads of Etsy shops you can get Monstera from if you live somewhere where they’re super pricy:

monstera leaf

14 thoughts on “Why does my monstera have black spots?”

  1. I bought a monstera deliciosa two weeks ago repot in to a 29cm pot gave it a good soking I noticed a couple of black spots on to leaves it has opened up since I’ve reported it gets light it’s seven feet from the front window and eleven from the kitchen window

  2. Repotting is very stressful to plants – it’s not something they’d ever experience in the wild so it can really shock them.

    Don’t repot plants until they need it – even if they’re rootbound I’d give them at least a week to acclimatise to their new environment. The only time I’d repot immediately is if it were a case of life or death, root rot for example.

    Don’t water it again until the soil is dry – black spots are most often caused by overwatering.

    Make sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom, and that the soil has good drainage – I always add perlite if I’m using shop-bought potting mix. Gravel in the bot of the pot doesn’t count as drainage, and does more harm than good.

  3. I left the monstera deliciosa a week then then fed with baby bio in whater till its seeping out of the bottom I have noticed more black /brawn spot on other lefs help please ken

  4. You typically don’t need to fertilise new plants for a good few months after you’ve bought them, because the soil usually has slow release fertiliser in it. I actually leave mine for a year. Also make sure you’re fertilising damp soil – fertilising dry soil can cause root burn.

    If the brown spots continue, flush the soil through with water. Monstera are pretty tough – it should be fine.

  5. Help! I’ve bought two monsteras albo variegated about two months ago and both started developing brown spots about a week ago! It’s rapidly increasing and I’m very worried 🙁 They are in terracota pots and it’s very warm where I live (about 28C /82F) and the humidity is high (50-60%). I think I may have underwater them but I water them 3 days ago and they are still browing everyday and very rapidly.. I don’t know what to do!!! What can I do??

  6. More likely to be overwatered, but it could be sunburn. Also, the white parts do brown because they’re pretty delicate.

    Take the plants out of the soil and check the roots – you’re looking for brown, mushy roots. Cut away any rot and put back in the soil. You can also rinse the roots with diluted hydro peroxide to prevent further rot.

    I actually like to put my plants in water, perlite or leca (whichever you have) so I can better keep an eye on the roots.

  7. My Monstera Thai Constellation seems to be brown-ish around the base of its stems, where it’s stems join or meet right before the top of it’s soil. I’m afraid it is something NEW and WRONG, I’M NOT POSITIVE, but it doesn’t seem right, and I never noticed it on it before. It is dry, I can pretty before. I can pretty much peel it off, but I don’t want to “mess” with it too much. I’ve had it for over three months, and it just produced it’s first leaf. Also, about a month ago, I treated it for little tiny flying bugs, with NEEM spray and then, when that didn’t work, I used a diluted rubbing alcohol mixture. I would really hate to lose this beautiful plant, it was very expensive. ANY HELP PLEASE! WOULD be greatly appreciated.

  8. The flying bugs sound like fungus gnats – they’re annoying but won’t damage your plant unless you have a huge infestation. If the brown stuff is crispy, then it’s less like.y to be something to worry about, though I can’t tell without a picture (feel free to email me). If it’s squishy then it sounds like rot and you need to remove the brown stuff and let it dry out.

    If the brown stuff is on the petioles (the bit where the leaves meet the stem) it could just be the part that protected the leaf as it was growing – it naturally goes brown once the leaf is unfurled.

  9. Yes, but I would add more soil to the bottom, rather than the top (take plant out, add layer of new soil, put plant back in) to encourage the roots to grow down, not up. This isn’t a big deal, but since the soil at the top dries out quickest, it means you can go longer between waterings.

  10. Mine has been having black spots with a small yellow ring around the black spot. I have it in chunky soil, near a north facing window and I have only watered it 4 times since I got it back in August. I have also checked the roots and they are all looking very healthy. It is also by a humidifier which is currently at 75%. Please help!

  11. My Monstera Adasonii and Mini Monstera (I know the latter isn’t a monstera and rather a raphidaphora but still) both have brown spots with a yellow ring around them. The adansonii has it on the cutting I just planted back into the soil, while the mini monstera has it on some lower leaves.

    I’ve been fertilising once a fortnight/month since spring began last month, and water once a week. It’s been raining for the past fortnight though, and I have the humidifier running constantly, would this be why they have brown spots?

  12. Firstly, I’d try cutting down on both watering and fertilising.

    Every two weeks is usually plenty in terms of watering – especially if you have high humidity. Check that the soil is at least partially dried out before watering. I wouldn’t fertilise any more than once a month and maybe don’t do it any more until you see new growth without brown spots.

    If that doesn’t do the trick, it could be sunburn – make sure there aren’t any water droplets (or oil/pesticides) on the leaves that could exacerbate burning.

    It’s also worth considering the soil mix they’re in – if it’s super dense it could be retaining too much water. Add a bit of perlite, orchid bark for drainage. Make sure there’s a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, and that there are no rocks in the bottom that are causing a perched water table.

    Hope this helps!

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