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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 probs what it is.
The good news is that it’s usually 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.
If you’d like to know reason for leaves turning transparent and what to do about it, continue reading. If you don’t, you’re lost on the internet.
Don’t worry, we’ll look after you. Stay anyway. Get yourself a nice plant.
So, here we are, eight causes of transparent Monstera leaves:
- Root damage
- Nutrient deficiency
- Cold damage
- Bacterial/fungal disease
- Physical damage
There’s the overview, sooo let’s see what can be done about it.
***DISCLAIMER*** there’s no easy way to tell which of these issues cause transparent leaves in your Monstera. Plants only have a few symptoms, but a plethora of causes for those symptoms.
The system is flawed, guys.
I’ve listed them in order of what I think is most likely, so go through the list and eliminate them as necessary.
NB: leaf damage can rarely be rectified. I’m not saying it never happens, but assume it won’t. If you hate the way a damaged leaf looks, chop it off. Your plant is HIGHLY unlikely to give a shit.
1 – Oedema/Edema
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 is the result of the plant’s cells overfilling with water and bursting. It’s caused by watering.
Not even overwatering. Just…regular watering.
Edema goes away on its own. It’s nothing to worry about (though it’ll obvs happen more if you do overwater), but can look very scary.
Monstera commonly have edema that makes the leaves transparent, as do Rhaphidora tetrasperma and alocasia.
Other plants, like Fiddle leaf fig and Schefflera also get edema, but it manifests itself as little red dots on the leaves.
2 – Pests
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’s 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’ve tried many, many things to shift house plant pests, and there are no easy fixes (the easiest one, by the way, is to release predatory bugs, but that’s not an option a lot of people are comfortable with).
When I first started in the house plant hobby, neem oil was the thing everyone used to get rid of pests.
Recently though, I’ve seen a tonne of people saying that neem oil doesn’t work, and you’re better of with Bonide Systemic granules, or Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew.
BUT YOU CAN’T BUY THOSE HERE.
It doesn’t matter if it works or not if you can’t get hold of it without spending, like, a hundred quid.
I tend to treat pests with regular showers of plain water OR chopping all the leaves off.
I’ve tried all the bug killers BUT I don’t find that they work effectively enough to warrant all the crap they release into the air around us. I have pets (including wet ones, which do NOT like bug killers) and it’s not worth it.
I saw so much anti-neem hate in a reddit post that other day that I’d thought I’d give it a go again. I hadn’t used it in a while but I was SURE it worked ok. So I sprayed down my thrips-infested anthurium every week for a while and whilst they do come back if I stop spraying them, it’s keeping them at bay for longer than just water.
Tl;dr pests can cause transparent patches to your Monstera leaves.
3 – Root Damage
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.
Roots should be off white – or occasionally bright orange and plump. If they’re brown and mushy or wizened and dry then you’ve got root death. No roots, no leaves.
You may take umbridge with this, if you think you’re a regular-but-not-too-regular waterer BUT there are ways to overwater/underwater your plants by proxy, by which I mean that you’re doing the action correctly but the conditions your plant lives in means it either hangs onto too much water or it can’t retain any.
Plants that are rootbound need to be soaked (if you don’t have time to repot) so they have a chance to absorb water. Plants in too big of a pot should be down potted or put in a VERY airy soil mix.
4 – Sunburn
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 done here. The plant is 100% a-ok. But that leaf is scarred for life.
5 – Nutrient Deficiency
If you scour the web for phrases like ‘which nutrient deficiency causes transparent leaves’ you get a dozen different answers all citing various nutrients blah blah blah.
Grab yourself a bog standard 10-10-10 house plant and fertilise your plant. It may take a while to show an improvement but we have time!
Except sometimes we don’t.
DO NOT FERTILISE PLANTS IF THEY LOOK SUPER UNHEALTHY
When people show up at the hospital in a critical condition food is generally the last thing on their mind. This is the same with ill wildlife btw – don’t try to force feed them. You’re scaring them and, er, not helping AT ALL.
Make sure that your Monstera has healthy roots before you start feeding it. Otherwise it’ll try harder to grow and tire itself out (you can rewrite this with the proper botanical terms if you wish).
Will the leaf go back to normal? Errrrr so nutruent deficiency leaf damage CAN be reversed if you’re quick enough, but don’t hold your breath.
6 – Cold Damage
A lot of house plants 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 a whole default ‘turn black’ thing going on.
BUT some plants get transparent leaves when they’re either too cold or sat in a draught. Calathea, I’m talking about you. If you have a Calathea with transparent leaves go and move it NOW because they do NOT stay unhappy for long.
7 – Bacterial/Fungal disease
There are various diseases that cause transparent leaves but they’re pretty uncommon. I should really have put this last on the list, but I’ve nearly finished this article and I cba.
There is one common fungal disease that’s quite common that can cause transparent leaves and that’s powdery mildew. I’ve looked at various written sources on treating powdery mildew, but this video from Betsy Begonia is the best resource imo.
8 – Physical Damage
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.
I didn’t include this in the list of reasons, because the leaves aren’t actually transparent, but newly emerged Monstera leaves are pale green and kind of translucent. This is totally normal. Don’t fondle them; they don’t like it.
It’s probably edema!
I was gonna switch between edema and oedema but I don’t like oedema. I get oesophagus, but it starts with an ‘o’, but oedema? Waste of an o.
If you need additional help with weird spots on leaves I have a post on brown spots here or feel free to DM me on Instagram.