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The most likely reason that your Monstera leaves have become transparent is edema.
There are a few other causes, but if you’ve recently watered your plant, that’s what it is.
The good news is that edema is nothing to worry about.
The bad news is that there are a few other reasons that your Monstera leaves might be transparent that need addressing asap.
Potential causes of transparent Monstera leaves:
- Root damage
- Nutrient deficiency
- Cold damage
- Bacterial/fungal disease
- Physical damage
What causes transparent Monstera leaves?
I’m gonna stick with edema rather than oedema, because…I prefer it.
None of my Monstera are currently, er, edema-ing, so I’ve had to include a picture of my Scindapsus pictus. See that darker green bit near the bottom? That’s edema.
Monstera have thinner leaves than Scindapsus, so edema looks more dramatic – it can cover larger areas and can look almost completely transparent.
Edema can be caused by overwatering, but it’s also extremely common in properly hydrated plants.
In the wild, Monstera root will be kept evenly moist. They won’t be consistently waterlogged OR dry out.
It rains a lot in the rainforest (believe it or not), so the ground is watered often. The warm temperatures and competition for water from other plants mean the ground rarely gets too wet.
We can’t replicate that indoors easily.
The recommended approach of thoroughly soaking your Monstera’s soil, then waiting for it to dry out almost completely is the most efficient way of keeping them healthy without spending hours a day hovering over them with a water sprayer and a grow light.
Whilst edema isn’t great for the plant, they can recover from it easily, and it rarely leaves a lasting impression on Monstera leaves.
How to stop edema in Monstera
A few transparent spots here and there isn’t an issue, but repeated edema across the whole leaf can cause permanent damage.
If you’re getting a tonne of edema every time you water, do this:
- Increase the light
- Water less frequently
- Add chunky amendments to your soil – orchid bark or LECA are good options
- Water little and often – a pressure sprayer might be better than a watering can
- Move it away from a humidifier (if it’s close to one)
It can take a bit of trial and error to work out what’s causing the edema, but the upside is that all of these options will help your Monstera grow better.
If you’re new to Monstera, these article might help:
- How to water Monstera deliciosa
- Light requirements for Monstera deliciosa
- The best soil for Monstera deliciosa
What are some other causes of transparent leaves in Monstera?
Transparent leaves aren’t commonly caused by pests, but I thought I’d put it second because the sooner you begin treatment the better.
Look at new growth and the junction between the leaf and the petiole – both the top and the bottom of the leaf. That’s where the pests like to hang out.
If you’re not sure if there are pests, spray your plant down with diluted neem oil just in case. It can help prevent pests and it’s a nice way to clean your plants.
I like to use predatory mites to get rid of pests, but systemic pesticides are a popular alternative.
Root damage is an innocuous little phrase, that’s a catchall for issues like:
- Too dense potting mix
- Too big of a pot
Healthy roots are the key to healthy leaves. If your leaves aren’t healthy (and say, have gone transparent) then that could be an indicator that there’s a problem with the roots.
I’m a big advocate for putting house plants outside in the summer. I harp on about A LOT.
BUT I live in the UK where it’s not that hot most of the time. As long as you acclimate your plants properly (i.e. don’t shove them into the blazing hot sun after they’ve lived for years in the cupboard under the stairs) and water then often enough, most plants that like bright indirect light will thrive outside.
If you’d acclimate your plants properly, or there’s a sudden heatwave, house plants can burn quickly.
Sunburn can present in different ways, depending on the plant, where it was placed, whether there was any oil on the leaves, etc. It usually looks like a black patch, but can also be brown tips on the leaves or this weird transparent webbing a lá my rubber plant:
Yeah, there’s nothing to be done here. The plant is 100% a-ok. But that leaf is scarred for life.
Nutrient deficiency usually manifests itself in slow/small growth, but it could also cause transparent leaves.
Monstera are pretty heavy feeders. I aim to feed mine every other time I water. I use the General Hydroponics Flora Series.
A lot of houseplants aren’t too fussed about being cold. They’re not gonna get THAT cold when they’re inside unless they’re in a bathroom or unused room. Monstera are fairly cold-hardy – just not at all frost-hardy.
A Monstera that’s been cold-damaged often looks sunburned. Extremes of temperature often show the same signs on plants, and Monstera have a whole default ‘turn black’ thing going on.
This is unlikely but could happen. There are tonnes of bacterial infections out there. They can usually be dealt with by making sure you have adequate airflow – water on the leaves and stagnant air is a great breeding ground for bacterial infections.
Physical damage rarely causes transparent leaves – usually, it causes tears – but if you regularly touch leaves that aren’t hardened off yet, you can get weird translucent patches.
You might be all ‘I don’t touch new leaves’ and I believe you.
However, I’ve seen dozens of *hilarious* Facebook posts showing damage to a leaf and words along the lines of ‘why does my plant look like this?’ and a dozen people immediately reply with ‘…do you have a cat?’
The range of issues that can stem from leaves getting brushed past regularly, chewed, ‘helped’ out of the cataphyll etc etc is…vast.
Again, physical damage to leaves can rarely be rectified, but it doesn’t usually impact the rest of the plant.
In conclusion, BY FAR the most likely reason your Monstera has transparent patches on the leaves is edema, caused by the plant not being able to regulate how much water it takes up.
Before you go, you might find these articles useful:
- The ultimate guide to Monstera deliciosa
- How to treat edema in fiddle leaf figs
- How to care for Monstera deliciosa