Also known as the Swiss cheese plant, Monstera deliciosa is a gorgeous houseplant popular for its large, fenestrated leaves and low-maintenance profile.
Although these plants are hardy and do not demand much attention, they can still be affected by prolonged neglect and inappropriate care, which can cause their leaves to droop and go limp.
The most common culprit if your Monstera’s leaves are limp is a lack of water, but other problems like temperature stress, nutrient deficiency, repotting, improper use of fertilizer, pests, and plant diseases can also contribute to the problem. Hence, it is critical to determine the underlying cause of your plant’s droopy leaves in order to revive its lush appearance as soon as possible.
If you are struggling with a limp Monstera, hopefully this guide will give you the answers you are looking for!
Why are my Monstera leaves limp? Common causes
Monstera leaves can become limp for many reasons. Dry soil is the most common culprit and should be ruled out first. Detailed below are all the most common causes of limp Monstera leaves, so work your way through the list and try to establish which description fits the bill for your own plant.
Like most houseplants, Monsteras will become limp when given too much water. Plants breathe through their roots, and soggy soil does not allow space for air pockets between the soil particles, resulting in a limited oxygen supply. In simple terms, overwatering can drown your plant.
Standing water around the roots can also cause root rot, which means that even if you are watering your plant adequately, it will not be able to hydrate itself due to its damaged root system. With continued bad watering habits, your plant will eventually die.
Probably the most common reason Monstera leaves go limp and floppy is underwatering. When your plant is dry and thirsty, its leaves will also become dull and their tips will turn brown.
The Monstera is a rainforest plant from the tropical forests of Central America and Southern Mexico. This means that it needs a moist environment to ensure proper growth and healthy foliage, without which it will quickly deteriorate. Aside from becoming limp, the lack of moisture in the leaves will also result in wilting, yellowing, and leaf falling.
3. Temperature stress
Monsteras prefer a warm and steady temperature to thrive, ideally between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures outside this range are not suitable for your Monstera and can cause problems such as limp leaves.
If the temperature is too cold, the plant becomes vulnerable to pest infestation and diseases which affect the leaves, while extremely hot temperatures can cause the leaves to wilt as the heat increases the plant’s rate of transpiration.
Sudden changes in temperature can also have ill effects for your Monstera, so it is important to protect it from hot or cold drafts from heaters, radiators or air conditioners. You should also keep it indoors if you live in an area with cold winters.
4. Low humidity
Monsteras prefer to be kept in a humid environment. Low humidity levels can compromise the health of the plant and affect the turgidity of the leaves. As a rule of thumb, it is best to keep the humidity above 50 percent to prevent the leaves from curling or going limp. Keep in mind that these tropical plants are native to warm, damp rainforests, and it is important to mimic these natural conditions as best you can to ensure healthier foliage and better growth.
5. Nutrient deficiency
Limp leaves can also be a sign of poor nutrition. This problem can be due to a damaged root system, or because the soil is depleted of the vital macronutrients that support the plant’s vibrant foliage.
If you suspect your Monstera plant is struggling with a nutrient deficiency, consider using an indoor plant fertilizer to give it a boost. Fertilizers contain the essential nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that promote foliage growth and a strong root system. Artificial fertilizers are the easiest option, but you can also use natural compost to provide nourishment for your plant.
6. Incorrect lighting
Bright sunlight might seem ideal for tropical plants like the Monstera, but this is not the case. Monsteras cannot tolerate direct exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays, and this will cause their leaves to scorch or go limp.
That said, do not keep your plant in a room where the light is too dim, either! The lack of sufficient light can weaken its stems and foliage as it will not be able to produce enough chlorophyll to keep itself healthy.
The ideal is to expose your Monstera to indirect sunlight. An ideal spot for this is near a window that lets in dappled light. This will allow it to efficiently perform photosynthesis without being burnt in the process.
8. Drainage issues
Planting your Monstera in a container with poor drainage can have detrimental effects similar to those of overwatering. As mentioned before, soggy soil can damage the plant’s root system. Pots without proper drainage can trap too much water inside, causing the soil to become waterlogged, and this will deprive the roots of oxygen and eventually kill your plant.
To prevent your plant from drowning, make sure that the plant’s container allows excess water to drain freely. It is also highly recommended to choose a loose soil mix to prevent too much water retention.
9. Plant disease
Plant diseases are often responsible for foliage damage, manifesting as limp leaves, moldy coatings, rotting plant tissue, and wilting. If your Monstera’s leaves have become limp and you suspect disease, check it thoroughly for further symptoms. Inspect the foliage and, if you can, unpot the plant and check the roots.
10. Pest infestation
Pests can be a big threat to your Monstera, inflicting damage on all parts of the plant. These tiny creatures compete for the nutrients your plant needs to stay healthy and vibrant, so if your plant is infested, you will likely notice the leaves going limp, some form of leaf discoloration, spots and holes on the leaf, and defoliation.
11. Repotting shock
Repotting a Monstera disrupts its growing conditions, and the resulting shock will likely cause its leaves to droop until it recovers. Do not be afraid if your plant goes limp or droopy immediately after repotting it; this is to be expected and it should make a full recovery once it has adjusted to its new container.
How to fix limp leaves on your Monstera
Seeing the leaves of your Monstera limp can be worrying, especially if you do not know the actual cause. Thankfully, your Monstera is a hardy plant, so you will probably just need to make some minor changes to your care routine to help bring back its vigor.
Here are some quick tips to do that:
1. Provide adequate water
As mentioned, your Monstera cannot tolerate overwatering or underwatering. The best approach is to water it only when the soil feels dry. Poke your finger into the top layers of soil to determine their moisture level, or take a visual cue by simply inspecting the soil’s surface – moist soil is usually darker than dry soil.
Another way to check is to use an XLUX Soil Moisture Meter. Unlike the previous methods, this device is more reliable and accurate in measuring the soil’s moisture level.
2. Provide indirect sunlight
Monsteras do better in shady environments with access to partial sunlight. If you are growing your plant indoors, you can move it near a window so that it receives sufficient light. Although Monsteras are tolerant of low light levels, they grow healthier when exposed to bright, indirect sunlight.
3. Ensure the correct humidity level
Monsteras hate dry climates, so give your plant a boost, especially during the winter season, by misting its leaves and placing several bowls of water nearby. Water evaporation helps increase the humidity levels in the room to keep your plant in good condition.
Another solution is to invest in a humidifier, which will ensure that the environment maintains a desirable level of humidity to keep your houseplant happy.
4. Select the appropriate pot size
If nothing seems to be reviving your plant, the last resort would be repotting it. However, you must be careful in choosing the right pot size, as your plant cannot thrive if its roots are too tightly packed in its new container.
Make sure to transplant your Monstera carefully, without damaging its root ball. If you notice dark or mushy roots, trim them off using sterilized pruning shears or scissors. Do not forget to clean the roots gently in running water before finally replanting the Monstera in its new pot.
Should I cut limp Monstera leaves?
Cutting the limp leaves alone will not help your plant recover – you need to determine the cause of the problem and address it appropriately. Drooping leaves are generally repairable once you are able to solve the underlying issue.
If you notice yellow or blackened leaves, you can trim these eyesores to maintain your Monstera’s neat appearance. Pruning can also help encourage your plant to bloom, especially when done during the growing season. However, do not prune your plant during winter – this is its dormant season and pruning can harm it.
If you are looking for an easy-to-care-for houseplant with an amazing aesthetic, the Monstera might be your best option. These plants can adapt well to various environments and are not difficult to grow, making them a favorite among novice and experienced growers alike. They are also easy to revive if you catch the problem in time, so if your Monstera’s leaves look a little limp or droopy, it might just need a bit of your attention to bring its iconic leaves back to life.
Image: istockphoto.com / Ekaterina Petruhan