Monstera plants are some of the most popular houseplants in the United States. They are coveted by plant lovers for their beautiful leaves that have holes, or fenestrations, that develop as the leaves mature. Some monsteras also have variegation on their leaves, which gives them striking and unique color patterns.
They are native to tropical climates and are accustomed to specific living conditions that you should be aware of before acquiring one of these plants.
Monsteras make great indoor plants, bringing an instant pop of color and life to any living space. However, a common problem encountered by monstera owners is when the plant starts to droop.
A droopy monstera is a sign that there is an environmental factor causing plant stress. Establishing exactly the cause of the problem is the first step toward returning it to health.
The most probable causes of droopy monstera leaves are too much or not enough light, underwatering, overwatering, pests, temperature changes, too much fertilizer, or humidity problems.
In this article, we will discuss each of these causes as well as how to fix them.
Why is my monstera droopy?
Too much or not enough light
If your monstera is placed in a spot where it gets too much sunlight, this can lead to drooping.
Some plant owners believe their plants will grow faster if placed in a sunny spot. This is not true, because monsteras are tropical plants that live under a canopy of trees in the rainforest and are only ever exposed to the dappled light that filters through this canopy.
Direct sunlight is not suitable for your monstera; the intense light and heat can cause the plant to dry out, weaken and become droopy.
Direct light can also cause the soil in the plant’s pot to dry out too quickly, which can lead to drought stress. This will also contribute to drooping.
However, even though your monstera wants nothing to do with intense, direct light, that does not mean you can keep it in constantly low-light conditions, either.
All plants need light – it is essential to the process of photosynthesis. Without light, the plant will not be able to produce chlorophyll, and its leaves will become pale and droopy.
A common indication that your monstera is lacking in light is when it starts to grow asymmetrically, in the direction of its nearest light source. This is called etiolation. The plant is so desperate for light that it will literally stretch toward the light by concentrating its limited resources into growing toward the nearest light source.
Etiolation does not harm the plant, but it does have an effect on its overall aesthetic. If you continue to deprive the plant of the light that it needs, it will slowly die from being unable to photosynthesize adequately.
If you think your monstera is drooping because it is getting too much light, transfer it to a shadier spot immediately. You can place it under a large tree or on your patio or porch.
Monsteras prefer bright, indirect light, so a spot where they can be in the shade for several hours a day is ideal. If the soil in the pot feels dry from being under the sun for too long, water it. Make sure to soak all of the soil in the pot to the point that the excess water flows out of the drainage holes at the bottom.
If, on the other hand, you think your plant is droopy because it is not getting enough light, transfer it to a spot where it can get more light. If you are keeping it indoors, place it next to a north- or east-facing window. These windows let in gentler light throughout the day. If the only window available lets in harsh light, you can still place the plant next to it, but you will have to place a sheer curtain over the window to reduce the intensity of the light.
If you live in a place where natural light is scarce for some months of the year, you can use a grow light as an alternative to support the plant’s light requirements.
Not enough water
Another reason your monstera might be droopy is that it is not getting as much water as it needs and is therefore drying out.
Monsteras are tropical plants, which means that they are accustomed to getting an abundance of rainwater in their natural habitat. While they are more forgiving of drying out than some other plants, that does not mean you can neglect to water them whenever you want to.
These plants need water not only to preserve the moisture content in their bodies; they also use water as a vessel to transport nutrients from the soil into their roots. If there is no water in the soil, your plant will be unable to absorb the important elements it needs to survive.
This is why it becomes droopy and weak when it is not watered sufficiently.
If the soil in the pot is dry to the touch, you should water your plant immediately. There are two ways of doing this: You can water from the top until all of the soil is soaked and you can see excess water draining from the bottom of the pot. This works well for plants whose soil has not dried out to the point where it becomes impenetrable to water.
If, however, the monstera’s soil has dried out so much that the topsoil has become hydrophobic, you can try the soak method. Place the plant’s pot in a tray or basin with about two inches of water and leave it there for an hour. Allow the soil to absorb the water through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. This is a better method for a plant in this condition because it ensures that the soil will get properly wet and all the roots will have access to water.
After soaking the plant for an hour, place the pot on a rack to allow the excess water to drain for a couple of minutes before returning the plant to its usual spot.
The best way to avoid underwatering is to know exactly when to water your monstera. There are many factors that can affect the speed at which the soil dries out, so the best way to work it out is by touching the soil with your fingers. If the top two inches of soil are dry, water the plant, but if the soil is still damp, wait one or two days before checking again.
Too much water
Even though monsteras are tropical plants that like to be watered more often than most, they can still be badly damaged if they are overwatered for a long period of time.
There are plenty of factors that can lead to overwatering. You could be giving the plant more water than necessary each time you water it, watering it more often than necessary, using a poorly-draining potting medium or pot, or not adjusting your watering habits to changes in the weather, season, or climate.
When a monstera is overwatered, its leaves and vines can become soft and mushy, and the leaves will turn yellow or brown. The soft and mushy texture comes about because the water in the soil has nowhere to go, so the plant ends up absorbing water to the point that the cells in its tissues burst from the overload. This excess water also makes the leaves and vines heavier, thus contributing to droopiness.
The change in leaf color is most likely due to the roots becoming so damaged that they can no longer do their job of absorbing nutrients and minerals from the soil. This will make the plant weak and discolored from nutrient deficiency.
A serious consequence of overwatering is root rot. This is a condition caused by prolonged exposure of the roots to waterlogged soil so that they eventually suffocate and die. Plant roots need time between waterings to dry out and absorb oxygen; being in constantly wet soil inhibits this and will kill them.
The drowned and dead roots will start to rot and will be susceptible to opportunistic pathogens, such as fungi and bacteria, which can make them rot more aggressively and cause them to spread even faster to the rest of the plant. Before you know it, the entire plant will be affected by the rot and may die.
If you think that your monstera is drooping due to overwatering, stop watering it immediately and move it to a sunnier spot with good air circulation so that the soil can dry out quickly. Do not water the plant again until all of the soil has dried out.
If you suspect root rot, remove the plant from its pot and wash off as much soil as you can from the roots. The roots will be fragile, so it is important to be careful not to damage them during this process.
Once the roots are visible, inspect them all for sections that are brown or black in color; those are rotten and will have to be removed. Use a sterile knife or pair of scissors to cut off the rotten roots until only healthy, white roots remain.
Then, lay the plant on a dry surface to allow the roots to air-dry for a few hours, and fill a new pot halfway with a well-draining potting mix. Place the plant in the middle of the pot and cover the roots with more potting medium.
Place the plant in a spot where it can get bright, indirect light, and good airflow, and do not water it again until the top two inches of soil are dry to the touch.
If you are keeping the plant outdoors, make sure that it does not get soaked by rain for days on end. If it has been raining for some time, take the plant onto your porch or patio to give it a break from all the water.
The only way to prevent overwatering in the future is by developing good watering habits, as discussed above, and understanding the needs of your monstera.
The presence of pests and insects on your monstera can also lead to its foliage becoming droopy. Most pests cause drooping foliage by feeding on the plant’s sap, essentially dehydrating the plant.
The larger the infestation, the more damage is inflicted; the plant’s growth can even become stunted by a pest infestation. Its leaves can also become deformed, and the areas where the insects have fed on the leaves will become discolored and might develop brown spots on their surfaces.
The presence of pests can also keep the plant from absorbing the moisture that it needs to remain healthy. The longer the pests are allowed to stay on your monstera untreated, the higher the possibility of the plant dying.
If you notice the leaves on your monstera drooping, take a closer look at the vines and the undersides of the leaves to check for the presence of pests. The earlier you can detect them, the smaller their population will be, and the easier they will be to control.
Before considering commercially available insecticides, you may want to try some organic pest control methods.
Place your plant in the shower and spray the leaves and vines with a steady stream of water to knock the pests off. The water will also wash off the honeydew that the insects secrete on the leaves, which attracts other insects. Make sure you dry the plant well after washing it, because moisture on the foliage if left for too long, can encourage the growth of fungi.
You can also use neem oil to kill the pests. Pour some neem oil onto a cotton pad and wipe the plant’s leaves and vines with it. Neem oil works by disrupting the circulatory system of pests, thereby killing them.
You can also apply the neem oil via a spray solution. Mix two tablespoons of neem oil into a spray bottle of water and spray this mixture on the affected areas of the plant. Repeat the application every three days until you are sure that all of the pests have been eradicated.
Another method is to spray the affected areas with rubbing alcohol. This can kill the pests while being gentle enough to the plant when applied sparingly.
Your plant’s leaves cannot withstand drastic temperature fluctuations. If the temperature falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant will begin to show signs of stress, including droopy and brown leaves, and stunted growth.
Your monstera can be affected by cold temperatures due to your local climate, the season of the year, or current weather conditions. Cold wind from air conditioning or cold drafts coming in through cracks in windows and doors can also have a negative effect.
If the plant is kept in a room with cold temperatures, its soil will also slowly dry out and this can also contribute to drooping and curling leaves. Try to keep the room temperature between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Too much fertilizer
It is wonderful to care for your plants, but excessive feeding is not beneficial for them. Overfertilization causes an excess of mineral salts in the soil, which could kill any beneficial microorganisms in the soil. While it may accelerate the growth of your monstera, the plant will be deprived of the nutrients it requires.
Increased feeding only attracts more problems, such as curling leaves, brown tips, brown blotches, root rot, fungal growth, and other issues.
Your monstera is a vigorous grower, so you can fertilize it every two weeks to once a month during the summer to provide the nutrients it needs to thrive. Fertilize every two months during the fall and winter.
To reduce the chances of overfertilization, try to use an organic fertilizer. If you choose to use a commercial fertilizer, dilute it to half-strength so that it is not as potent.
Tropical plants are accustomed to high humidity levels in their natural habitat, and a lack of humidity will cause the luster of your monstera’s foliage to diminish.
It is not recommended to keep monsteras near vents, fireplaces, or drafty windows because the airflow and warmth will cause sudden changes in humidity around the plant. The monstera’s leaves will lose their moisture at an accelerated pace, resulting in drooping.
If your plant is displaying signs of stress due to low humidity, keep a humidifier close by to keep the humidity levels more consistent.
You can also group your plant with other houseplants so that they all create a microclimate around each other, or place the plant on top of a water pebble tray. As the water evaporates, it will add moisture to the air around the plant.
Monsteras are popular vining houseplants prized for their attractive, fenestrated leaves. They are tropical plants and therefore have a specific set of requirements when it comes to their living conditions.
One of the most common problems in monstera plants is drooping. If your monstera has become droopy, it is likely due to an environmental factor that is causing the plant stress.
The most common causes of a droopy monstera are too much light, underwatering, overwatering, pests, temperature changes, too much fertilizer, or humidity problems.
The sooner you are able to determine the cause of the drooping, the sooner you can apply the correct treatment measures to salvage your plant.
Image: istockphoto.com / Galina Burgart