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Yellowing leaves is EXTREMELY common, so you can calm down. I see at least one post a day on Reddit about yellowing leaves, and 99 times out of 100, it’s either down to age or overwatering, and it’s 100% recoverable.
It’s ok. We can sort this.
Using data I’ve half made up/half got from trawling the r/houseplants subreddit, I’ve organised the reasons that your Monstera is yellowing in order of likeliness.
Chances are your plants is yellowing for entirely natural reasons, and there is nothing wrong with it. Even if there is a problem, we can probably still help your plant.
I have never, ever, had a plant yellow because if a mineral deficiency.
And only once did a yellowing plant have pests, and that was a toxic combo of thrips, winter, and the fact it was a young Calathea (absolutely the pickiest of all house plants).
Don’t worry, Calathea Freddie is ok now. He’s thrips free, and we’re just waiting on some new growth.
What causes Monstera leaves to turn yellow?
If you have one yellow leaf, it’s probably just old. Older leaves tend to be near the bottom of the plant, and they go HELLA YELLOW. Not a bit sad and pale but YELLOW.
See? Yellow. It’s actually a bit brighter irl.
The plant is healthy, but the leaf is old. It’s a totally natural part of the plant’s lifecycle, and it can even produce some beautiful leaves:
If several leaves are yellowing, and they’re looking a bit limp and sad, then overwatering is the most likely culprit.
Monstera (and indeed most plants) are far more tolerant of underwatering than overwatering.
Overwatering isn’t necessarily just a case of watering too often. It’s easy to overwater by proxy, if the soil your Monstera is in is retaining too much water.
Regular house plant potting mix is ok (I don’t recommend it, but a lot of people swear by it) if you’re not the most dilligent of waterers. However, it retains a lot of water, and doesn’t allow for much airflow at the roots.
Monstera are semi-epiphytic, so they’re not designed to have their roots be covered in heavy, soggy, material. They need to be kept relatively dry will benefit from air flow, and even light.
I actually keep some philodendron in clear pots so that they can get a bit of light to their roots, but I prefer to keep Monstera in terracotta for the air flow. If someone could go ahead and invent clear terracotta, that’d be great.
Still, pot type isn’t nearly as important as potting mix. Check out my repotting article if you fancy making some from scratch, but adding some perlite or orchid bark will do the job. It’ll help the water drain more quickly, and allow a little more airflow.
In some cases, if you keep your Monstera in a cold place (somewhere where temperatures are below 12C/55F regularly, and it doesn’t get much light, you can get yellowing leaves.
You’ll need to move it somewhere warmer, and preferably brighter, asap.
Neem oil, horticultural oil, and a persistent nature are required to get rid of the bugs. Treat every three days until they’re gone.
If you’ve exhausted all other options, then you may have a mineral deficiency. I wouldn’t recommend fertiliser if your plant looks really weak, because it likely do more harm than good,
Instead, work some worm castings in to the soil. You can get them from eBay. If you can’t get worm castings, try a really gentle balanced fertiliser – a 5-5-5 would be a good option.
How to stop the leaves yellowing from overwatering
It’s not always possible to stop the yellowing process once it’s started, but you can certainly prevent more leaves from yellowing, and you can help the roots recover.
- Stop overwatering – only water when the soil is dry. A moisture metre will help
- Repot if you suspect you have heavy soil that isn’t drying out quickly enough. Add in some perlite or pumice
- Check the roots. If they’re looking ok (i.e. not mushy and brown) just wait. Your plant may be in recovery, so it may take a few weeks for new growth to come.
- If the roots look, er, fucked, then read this post, or keep reading this article for the tl;dr version.
Should I cut off yellow Monstera leaves?
In general, yellow leaves won’t go green again. They’re pretty much a burden to the plant now, so you can chop them off.
I don’t chop off old leaves, because they’re beautiful.
Also, surely they’re beautiful for a reason? I leave them on just in case the plant is doing something important with it’s autumnal display.
But if you suspect your leaves yellowed due to overzealous watering, then chop them off. As long as your plant has some leaves, it’ll be able to photosynthesize and hopfully recover.
Even if you have to chop off all the leaves, you have a chance at regrowing it, as long as you can save the roots.
How do you revive a dying Monstera?
I have a full article on this, but here is the abridged version of reviving a plant with root rot. Although if any of my plants look sad and I don’t know why, I go through this process.
- Remove the plant from the pot
- Clean off as much soil as possible
- Snip off any squishy, gross, or stinky roots
- Remove any leaves that look beyond help. Be as conservative as you like, you can always remove more later.
- Put in water, as you would a cutting that you wanted to propagate.
- Repot when perky again.
Final thoughts on yellowing Monstera leaves
Yellowing leaves are really common, and they usually stem from easy to fix issues.
The most important thing is to keep an eye on your plants. Most problems can be fixed if they’re caught early. If you spot a slightly yellowed leaf tip, check the soil. check the other leaves, and check it more frequently for any changes.