11 Reasons Behind Monstera Adansonii Yellow Leaves
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Monstera adanonsii is one of the smaller members of the delightful Monstera family, and it’s a perfect way to enjoy a tropical vibe in your own home.
But one thing to know about adansonii plants is that they won’t hesitate to start throwing out yellow leaves at the slightest provocation. Maybe we should be glad this plant lets us know it’s frustrated so quickly?
These are the most common culprits behind your Monstera adansonii yellow leaves:
- Incorrect light levels
- Too much fertilizer
- Nutrient deficiency
- Shock from a location change
- Stress after repotting
- Cold exposure
- Natural shedding
That’s quite a list! But we’ll help you break each problem down into symptoms, severity level, and most importantly, treatment. The good news is that Monstera adansonii is a resilient plant, and once you identify and correct the problem, it will often bounce back pretty quickly.
Let’s dive in!
RELATED: Monstera adansonii may not be shy about turning its leaves yellow, but a proper care routine can really help keep those leaves green and healthy. Learn more in our full care guide to Monstera adansonii!
We’ve said it before on this blog and we’ll certainly say it again: Overwatering is the most common cause of houseplant death. We all want to be good plant parents and give our leafy children the hydration they need, but you can absolutely have too much of a good thing here.
When a Monstera adansonii is overwatered, not only will its leaves turn yellow one by one, but you may also find some or all of these symptoms:
- Mushy stems with brown or black discoloration
- The pot feels heavy from waterlogged soil
- Gnats and aphids
- Mold on soil surface
Not a pretty sight. And when overwatering gets too far out of hand, your plant may suffer serious consequences or even death. So quick action is of the essence!
How to Save an Overwatered Monstera Adansonii
Your rescue strategy here depends on how far the overwatering damage has progressed.
Addressing Mild Overwatering
If your adansonii has just a couple of yellow leaves with no signs of stem rot (mushiness, discoloration), try this method for drying out the soil:
Step 1. Stop all watering for at least a week, possibly longer. If you can, remove the root ball from the pot and allow it to sit on a saucer or plate. This increases the soil surface area that’s exposed to the air and can speed up evaporation.
Step 2. Every other day or so, lift up the root ball to gauge the weight. It should become lighter as it dries out.
Step 3. When the root ball is dry to the touch either on all sides or at least 3 inches below the soil surface, you can begin watering again.
Addressing Moderate to Severe Overwatering
If your Monstera adansonii has several yellow leaves, signs of stem rot or you notice a musty smell, you’re likely dealing with root rot, a fungal infection that can be fatal. This calls for more drastic measures:
Step 1. Spread a large piece of paper, an old sheet or some other protective material over a work surface and take your plant out of its pot. Brush away as much of the old, wet soil as possible, letting it fall onto your work surface. You’ll be throwing this old soil out, so don’t try to salvage any of it.
Step 2. Rinse the roots under cool running water to remove all traces of retained soil. What you’re trying to do is remove as much fungus-infested soil as possible and give yourself a clear view of the roots.
Step 3. Examine the roots, looking for any sections that are soft or mushy, are brown/black or have an odor. Sanitize a pair of sharp scissors or pruners with alcohol, then trim away damaged root sections. Cut all the way back to where you see healthy roots- they’ll be firm to the touch and have a white or tan color.
Step 4. Repot your Monstera adansonii with fresh soil.
If you had your plant in a plastic pot before and you want to re-use it, you’ll need to clean it first to get rid of any lingering fungus that can re-infect your plant. Soak your pot in 10:1 water/bleach mixture for a few hours, then rinse and allow to air-dry.
If you were using a terra cotta or ceramic pot, unfortunately, you’ll have to throw it out since you can’t thoroughly clean porous materials.
Step 5. Wait to water your adanonsii for a couple of days to give the cut roots a chance to heal before exposing them to moisture. Hopefully, your plant will start to perk up in a few days. But if the root damage was severe, it may be too far gone to save. At that point, take as many healthy stem cuttings as you can and use them to propagate new plants.
We cover how to do this in detail in the “Propagation” section in our Monstera adansonii care guide, so make sure to stop by.
Tips for Watering Monstera Adansonii Properly
Going forward, make it a point to water your Monstera adansonii less to prevent another problem. How often you water depends on:
- Your climate
- The season
- The size of the pot
- The material of the pot
- The type of potting soil–some dry out faster than others
Checking your plant for dryness once a week is a good place to start. Push your finger down into the soil; when the top 2-3 inches are dry to your touch, your plant is ready for water. You could also spring for a moisture meter.
When you check the soil moisture, always pick up your pot, too. Over time, you’ll develop the ability to pretty accurately judge the soil moisture by how heavy the pot feels.
It’s confusing- yellow leaves can be the result of either over- or under-watering? Yes. But you should be able to determine which watering issue is going on pretty easily.
First of all, if your plant is too dry, the pot will feel feather-light when you pick it up. This is because there is no moisture left in the soil to weigh it down.
Also, the yellow leaves on an under-watered Monstera adansonii usually look different than those suffering from too much water:
- Wilting between each watering
- Crispy, dry-looking brown edges
- Stems will be withered and thin, not mushy
And finally, a dehydrated plant typically drops the yellow leaves after they’ve become discolored. If you notice your plant shedding older leaves and not producing new ones or only producing very small new ones, under-watering is probably to blame.
How to Rehydrate the Root Ball and Soil
If you think your plant has severely dried out, give water immediately. You’ve got a couple of options for doing this:
Option 1: Top watering. Water the soil surface generously, until water runs out of the pot’s drainage holes. Wait a few minutes, and give another watering.
Why the two-step method? Dehydrated soil can be hydrophobic, meaning that it repels water instead of absorbing it. When this happens, the water just rolls off the surface instead of sinking into the soil.
By giving two separate waterings a few minutes apart, you give the first dose of water a chance to soften the soil a bit. Then the second watering has a much better chance of actually getting into the soil and therefore, your plant’s roots.
Check your plant’s soil moisture again after a couple of hours or the next day. If it feels dry, give another watering.
Option 2: Bottom watering. You can do this either by taking your plant out of its pot or leaving it in the pot as long as it has drainage holes (and it definitely should!). If you’re keeping your plant in its pot, make sure the drainage holes are not obstructed in any way.
Get a bowl, pan or another container that’s large enough for your plant’s root ball or pot to fit in. Fill the container with several inches of tepid water and set the entire plant/pot in.
Allow to soak for a few hours to fully rehydrate the soil. If you want to speed the process up a bit, you can also pour water over the top of the root ball/pot.
3. Incorrect Light Exposure
Sometimes, Monstera adansonii leaves turning yellow is a result of bad lighting–either too much light or not enough. Monsteras in general are understory plants; in their natural rainforest habitat, they climb up tree trunks and are sheltered from strong light by the canopy overhead.
A Monstera adansonii under too much light will have yellow leaves that also look crispy and sunburnt, and may even get dehydrated. And an adansonii that gets too little light will have pale yellow leaves and a sparse, leggy appearance.
How to Find the Right Lighting
The kind of light your Monstera adansonii needs is bright but indirect/filtered. This most closely mimics the lighting these plants naturally grow in.
Try to observe your lighting situations throughout the day. A window might have perfect light in the morning, but as the sun moves around it may shine in at a different angle and be too strong or too weak.
For east, south, and west facing windows, move the plant back 1-3 feet from the window so that it rests within the general halo of light, but not directly under the sun’s rays.
For a north facing window, which has a limited amount of light, try adding a grow light instead.
RELATED: Monstera adansonii plants with all-green leaves are the most common, but did you know that there are also stunning multicolor versions? Visit our post on Monsteras with variegated foliage to see more!
To state the obvious- plants need food. And because houseplants like the Monstera adansonii are “trapped” within a pot, the responsibility falls on us growers to provide a balanced diet.
But in our zeal to provide nutrition for our green friends, we may go overboard. And since your plant is confined to a small pot, that extra fertilizer can easily build up and start to give the roots a chemical burn.
Not surprisingly, your adansonii will let you know it’s displeased by turning some leaves yellow. Not only that, but those affected leaf edges will also curl under.
How to Restore Nutrient Balance
To help an overfed plant, first remove any leftover fertilizer on the soil surface (if you were using granular and not liquid fertilizer).
Then, flush the soil. Place the pot in a sink or outside, and water it repeatedly until the water coming from it runs clear.
If possible, remove some of the soil from the top or bottom of the root ball and replace with fresh soil.
After flushing the soil, don’t water the plant for a few days so that it can dry out a bit.
Then, resume fertilizing–but apply it at half the strength on the bottle or package. Or use a specially blended Monstera fertilizer, like this one from Houseplant Resource Center.
A couple of other fertilizing tips:
- Always fertilize when the soil is wet. This helps the fertilizer dissolve and disperse evenly through the soil.
- Fertilize your Swiss cheese plant once a month in spring and summer
- Do not fertilize at all in fall and winter since your plant goes into a dormant (resting) phase where growth/nutrient demand dip dramatically.
5. Nutrient Deficiency
Although we just covered the risk of too much fertilizer, there’s also a yellow-leaf danger on the flip side.
A nutrient-deficient Monstera adansonii will show pale yellow leaves, as well as stunted or nonexistent new growth. Since it doesn’t have the vital nutrients and energy it needs, an underfed adansonii will appear weak and lack a healthy color.
How to Supply Healthy Nutrients
Give the plant emergency care by treating it with a full-strength dose of fertilizer. Remember that the fertilizer will work better and be safer if the soil is already wet. So if you’re using a granular formula, make sure to give plenty of water along with it. (If you’re using a liquid formula, dilute according to the package instructions.)
During the active growing season of spring and summer, the adansonii is a vigorous grower. Schedule a monthly fertilizer dose with half-strength standard houseplant fertilizer or a Monstera blend.
RELATED: Peace lily is another popular houseplant that can also suffer from unsightly discoloration. Visit our post looking at why peace lily flowers turn brown to learn more.
6. Change in Location
You’ve just brought your new Monstera adansonii home and you’re looking forward to caring for it! And then you start noticing yellow leaves.
Or perhaps your plant has been happily living with you for a while when you decided to move from one location in your home to another. What’s happened now? Unhealthy-looking yellow leaves show up.
Some plants, like some people, just really hate moving. Lots of things can change when you move your plant from one place to another:
- Light exposure
In nature, plants are born, live, and die in literally the same location. So it makes sense that if you move your Swiss cheese plant, it may respond to the disruption by busting out some yellow leaves.
How to Help Your Plant Adjust to Its New Surroundings
Ultimately, it will just take time for your Monstera to come to terms with the move. Be patient, and allow your plant to process the stress in its own time.
But you can help make sure that your adansonii is as comfortable as possible:
- Block drafts from heating and cooling vents
- Confirm that the light level is adequate
- Maintain a regular watering and fertilizing schedule
- Consider playing music to help alleviate stress (scientific studies show plants respond well to this!)
7. Stress from Repotting
Just like moving your entire plant can cause stress, yellow leaves on Monstera Adansonii are very common after repotting. This is because the repotting process is essentially “moving” your plant’s roots, which happens rarely or never in nature.
How to Minimize Transplant Shock
Routine repotting is a necessary piece of taking good care of your Monstera adansonii, even if your plant doesn’t appreciate it at first! So just have some patience with your sulking plant, and it should start getting comfortable in its new quarters after a few days.
And the next time you repot, there are some steps you can follow to make it less stressful on the plant and hopefully result in fewer or no yellow leaves:
- Repot plants in early spring, when they are only just emerging from winter dormancy.
- Water well beforehand, and give it at least one fertilization treatment in the month prior to the repot.
- Do your repotting in an area where the temperature is close to that of the place it normally sits.
- If you have to trim away overgrown or matted roots, never remove more than 25% of the root mass at a time.
- When you cut the roots, always use sharp shears sanitized with alcohol.
- Be gentle, and never pull on the stems.
- Wait to water until a few days have gone by to allow cut roots to seal off wounds.
RELATED: Stop by our photo guide on how to repot a plant to see the process in action. Even we’re using a pothos as our model in the post, the steps are the same for your Monstera adansonii!
8. Cold Exposure
Like all Monsteras, the adansonii is native to warm, tropical regions of the world. The preferred temperature range is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
When temps dip below that, your plant can enter an emergency survival mode, which means diverting energy from older foliage to keep the younger, more vigorous growth alive.
So what happens to these abandoned older leaves? They turn yellow and start to droop.
How to Aid in Recovery from Cold
If your Monstera adansonii got exposed to too-cold temperatures, move it into the warmth as soon as possible.
Resist the urge to give an extra watering or fertilizer right now, and don’t put your plant in direct sunlight in an attempt to make up for lost warmth. Your plant needs time to recover from the cold shock, and too much water, nutrients or sunlight will just add additional stress.
Also, do not cut any of the damaged leaves off just yet. Even damaged leaves can still contribute to photosynthesis, and your plant may also be able to re-absorb some nutrients before the leaf fully shrivels up. So let your adansonii release the damaged leaves at its own pace.
Your plant may certainly look worse for wear for a few months after cold exposure. But just be patient and provide supportive care, and it should bounce back with time.
9. Fungal Diseases
Most houseplant diseases generally fall under the category of “fungus”, and they usually develop either in the roots or in the leaves.
Fungus in the roots is root rot, which we’ve already talked about root rot in the “Overwatering” section above. The damaged roots can’t support the plant’s needs, causing yellow, unhealthy leaves and mushy, discolored stems.
Fungus in the leaves can cause yellow spots with sunken black centers that form in between leaf veins, never on them.
How to Treat Fungal Diseases
To address root rot, follow the steps we outlined above in the “Addressing Moderate to Severe Overwatering.”
If you’re dealing with fungal growth on the leaves themselves, cut off the affected leaves right away. You don’t want to give the fungus a chance to spread to other leaves. Make your cut as close as possible to the main stem, but be careful not to nick the stem itself.
Also, quarantine your Monstera adansonii as far away from any houseplants as possible to prevent the spread of disease. Wait until your plant has been free of all signs of illness for at least 2 weeks before reuniting it with the other plants.
Overwatering is the primary cause for fungal overgrowth, so pull back on watering frequency going forward. Only give water when the top 2-3 inches of soil have dried out.
Why not use fungicides? Two main reasons:
- Fungicides are way more effective at preventing fungal diseases than they are at curing them.
- Once a plant’s tissues have been infected by fungus, they won’t heal and regenerate. So if you use fungicide at this point, it won’t bring back what has already been affected.
10. Pest Infestations
It’s always a puzzle how pests get into your house in the first place, but somehow they find a way. And when they attack, they often leave yellow, damaged leaves in their wake.
Aphids, mealybugs and spider mites are the three top offenders when it comes to houseplants.
Aphids cluster on the growing points and underside of leaves, and they sometimes produce a sticky residue that often makes a mess of the floor or table under the plant. These little pests are easy to overlook because their greenish-brown color blends right in with your plant:
Mealybugs also like to hide on the underside of leaves and anyplace where the plant’s anatomy creates a sheltered nook. But they’re a little easier to spot since their bright-white coloring is a stark contrast to green foliage:
Spider mites, again, like the underside of leaves. Yellow leaves caused by this pest will have a yellow-and-green mottled appearance caused by their tiny bites. And a hallmark sign of spider mites are the webs they produce:
How to Deal with Pests
If any leaves or stems are severely damaged by the pests, cut them off. Unfortunately, they will not recover.
Physically remove any leftover pests by using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or insecticidal soap. Be sure to look under all your adansonii’s leaves and in the crooks of the nodes- pests love to hide away whenever they get the chance.
For spider mites and aphids, you can also try spraying them off with water, either in the shower or outside. Just be careful not to break any stems!
After removing the pests, closely observe the plants for at least the next week. If you spot any new ones, repeat the treatment.
In the future, remember that one key way pests break into your home is by hitching a ride. Quarantine new plants or those you bring in from the outdoors for a week or two until you’re positive they’re pest-free.
11. Natural Shedding Process
Finally, a good reason!!
It’s 100% normal for Monstera adansonii leaves to get old, turn yellow, and fall off. It’s just part of the plant’s natural shedding process, and it makes way for newer, more vigorous leaf growth.
If you’re sure that you have your Swiss cheese plant’s light, water, nutrient level, and location dialed in, and you’ve ruled out diseases or pests, then a yellow leaf is probably just an old one that the plant is about to cut loose.
It’s tempting to try to speed things along and cut it off before it drops, to make things look better. But resist the urge- there are nutrients that your plant can re-absorb from the dying leaf. So wait until the leaf becomes fully drained and shriveled before cutting it off.
Frequently Asked Questions about Monstera Adansonii Yellow Leaves
Yep, that was a pretty big list! Watering your Monstera adansonii too much or too little is the most common problem, so always be sure to check that first. Then address other environmental issues (lighting, temperature) and think back to how often you’ve fertilized. And don’t forget to do a pest inspection!
Hopefully, though, those yellow leaves are nothing more than your plant making room for healthy new growth!
Do you have any horror stories–or good stories, we like those too–about Monstera adansonii leaves turning yellow? Tell us all about it in the comments!