Why is my monstera droopy?

A hand holding a white pot of monstera

Among the most popular houseplants throughout North American homes, Monstera deliciosa is a treasured indoor species. In warmer climates, it makes an ideal landscape plant. This Monstera plant's most common name is the Swiss cheese plant due to the characteristic lobed, holey leaves. It goes by many other names, including mother-in-law plant, split-leaf philodendron, and hurricane plant. 

Monstera is a genus of flowering plants native to tropical forests, particularly in Central America. Outside of its native habitat, Monstera deliciosa remains a favored houseplant due to its characteristic leaves and relative ease of care. While considered an easy-to-moderately easy houseplant, Monstera has several requirements for ideal growth. If you notice droopy leaves, it's time to reevaluate your routine. 


Why Is My Monstera Droopy?

closeup picture of monstera plant

Monstera deliciosa is a hardy plant once acclimated to your home environment. With beautifully decorated leaves being its signature feature, any damage to the leaves is noticeable. Drooping plant leaves are a symptom of numerous issues with your Monstera, some of which are simple to fix with slight changes to your routine.

Like all plants, the Monstera plant thrives in specific conditions with specific care. You can inadvertently damage the health of your plant by watering improperly, placing it in the wrong location in your home, or overfeeding it. Proper care is vital for all other houseplants, as well. 


Watering Problems

Watered monstera leaves

Adequate water is among the most important factors for all indoor plants, Swiss cheese plants included. While you may equate tropical habitats with abundant hydration, overwatering is one of Monstera plant owners' largest mistakes. 

Drooping Monstera leaves may be the result of excessive water. Avoid overwatering at all costs! Additional symptoms of overwatering include:

  • The leaves fall off easily.
  • Black rings on the stem near the soil.
  • Brown and yellow patches appear on the same leaf. 

To water your Monstera plant properly, water it thoroughly, then let the top layer — the top one-third — of the soil dry completely before watering again. If your soil feels wet, but not overly so, adjusting your watering routine will help breathe life back into your droopy leaves. Overwatering can quickly kill your Monstera plant as it may lead to root rot. 


How Do I Water My Monstera Plant If It Has Root Rot?

upclose picture of plant root rot

If you feel water or a slimy, gummy-feeling soil about 2 inches into the soil, your Monstera's in trouble. Rotting roots don't disappear by adjusting your watering routine; it's time for some additional action. At this point, it's time to repot your Swiss cheese plant and trim any rotted roots from your plant.

Repotting can be a messy venture. Consider laying a drop cloth down to protect your floors from wet soil. When removing the root system from the current pot, gently remove excess soil from the root structure. Identify any rotted roots; rotted roots may be a different color or feel mushy. Prune these roots, carefully avoiding over-pruning.

Place loose potting mix in your new pot, allowing room for the stem-root connection to lie just at the top of the soil. Gently work the roots into the soil, and backfill the soil as you go. If you're using the old pot, wash it thoroughly and sanitize it before repotting. Once your Monstera is freshly potted, water thoroughly.


Poorly Drained Soil

Gardener putting soil on a pot

Poorly drained potting soil and watering problems go hand-in-hand. A well-draining soil is imperative for healthy plants, including Swiss cheese plants. If your soil doesn't drain, the water pools near the roots and creates the same problems as overwatering. Thankfully, poor drainage issues are easily remedied -- especially if your Monstera is a manageable size. 

Soil moisture is a key indicator for adequate watering. Several commercially available potting mixes are well-draining soil. Most have additives in the soil to allow the water to drain through without pooling.

Planting your Monstera in the proper container will also help considerably. Look for a large enough container to allow the roots to grow without too much excess room and a drainage hole on the bottom or sides. Several self-watering containers exist, as well, to ease the worry of overwatering or under-watering your treasured plant. 


Low Humidity Level

A potted monstera plant beside a white wall

If your home is too dry, your Monstera will tell you. Monstera plants are tropical plants by nature, thriving in some of the most humid environments on the planet. While overwatering may prove deadly to your plant, dry air will cause droopy Monstera leaves and other issues.

If you live in a dry area and don't have a humidifier in your home, misting the leaves of your plant will aid in vibrant leaves and an overall healthier plant. Winters are particularly dry throughout the U.S., and air conditioners take the humidity out during the summer.  


Inadequate Lighting

A potted monstera plant on top of white table with dim lighting

Even the most novice plant owner knows that water and sunlight are the two key factors for plant growth. Unfortunately, knowing the proper lighting for your plant remains a mystery to many. Some other plants require bright, direct sunlight, while others thrive in darker areas with less natural light and low light conditions. The Swiss cheese plant is in between -- it loves bright indirect light. If you live in an area with cold winters, placing your plant in direct sun for more light during the colder months may prove beneficial. 

Droopy Monstera leaves may indicate it's not getting enough light. Try moving your plant to a new location in the house that receives plenty of sunlight. A room with a south-facing window is ideal -- but don't put your plant directly in the path of the sun. Consider a corner where the light pours in but doesn't directly hit your Monstera's leaves. 

Monstera's with variegated leaves require a bit more sunlight than their darker, monotone relatives. If your Monstera has leaves with variegated spots, stripes, or patterns, ensure it's in the brightest room (but still out of direct sunlight). 


Pest Infestations

Group of aphids on a branch of a tree

While indoor Monstera plants aren't particularly known for a great number of pest issues, some persistent arthropods may find your plant hospitable. Aphids, scale, mealybugs, and red spider mites may all become an issue on your Monstera, but none result in drooping leaves as a typical symptom. Regularly wiping the leaves with a damp cloth will help alert you to the presence of pests.

Typical pest infestation symptoms include yellowing leaves, white stippling, stunted growth, and sooty mold from the pests' production of honeydew. If you notice any of these symptoms, carefully inspect the leaves of your plant, paying special attention to the undersides. Washing the pests off with water or insecticidal soap is often enough to rid your plant of the infestation. 


Change in Temperature

Thermometer placed on top of a chair

A change in temperature is enough to shock most houseplants, and Monstera is no exception. This tropical plant is tolerant of a range of temperatures and conditions once acclimated to its home, but a swift change in temperature will stunt its growth, and frost exposure will kill your plant.

Temperature stress often occurs when the plant is outside, and the weather changes quickly or unexpectedly. The ideal temperature range for a healthy Monstera deliciosa is between 65- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. The plants will survive down to 45- to 50-degrees, although they may succumb to cold damage if the temperature drops further. 


Improper Fertilization

A hand water spraying a monstera plant

Feeding your Monstera helps produce a strong, vibrant plant. Unfortunately, knowing exactly how much to fertilize and when isn't always easy as every home has a slightly different environment. Over- or under fertilizing your plant can produce noticeable damage to the leaves.

Houseplant fertilizers come in various formulas; some are specific to Monstera species. Choosing the right fertilizer is an important task, and following the instructions even more so. Using the correct amount of a good, general purpose fertilizer made for houseplants is imperative to your Swiss cheese plant's health. In addition to store-bought fertilizers, making your own isn't as difficult as you may think.

Composting is an excellent way to help boost your Monstera naturally while reducing your overall waste at home. A kitchen composter, such as the Lomi by Pela, allows you to compost your food scraps and coffee grounds for gentle, nutrient-dense food for your houseplants, veggie garden, or landscape.

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Overfertilization

Three monstera stems and leaves

Too much of a good thing isn't always a good thing. Monstera deliciosa is highly susceptible to the dangers of too much fertilizer, particularly those that leave high amounts of salts in the soil. A common mistake by houseplant owners is to fertilize throughout the year. In the case of this Monstera, fertilize regularly during the growing season, but not during the cooler months.

Overfertilization symptoms include a burnt appearance on yellow leaves. Occasionally, you'll notice these symptoms in tandem with droopy Monstera leaves. Overfertilization is sometimes referred to as nutrient burn, a fitting description for the burnt-looking edges on leaves suffering from this condition.

Depending on the size of your plant, you can flush the roots and soil in the kitchen sink or bathtub to remove excess nutrients. Give the roots and soil a thorough soak with gently running water. For the best results, use dechlorinated water.


Underfertilization

Brown spots of a monstera leaf

The Monstera is a fairly hardy houseplant that handles various conditions once acclimated. Even healthy Monstera plants may begin to display symptoms of under fertilization. If you begin to notice yellowing leaves that still show their green veins, your Monstera may be asking for help.

If these symptoms show during the winter months, add a gentle compost fertilizer to your Monstera for a bit of pick-me-up and stimulate growth, then begin a regular fertilizing routine during the spring and summer. 


Container Size

A potted monstera plant beside a chair

Unlike some other common houseplants, Monstera plants are more susceptible to damage when in a pot that is too big, than one that is slightly too small. Pot size is important.

Your Monstera will grow even when the root ball touches the bottom of the pot, but don't allow the roots to become bound. The size of the pot should be just larger than the size of the root ball, with a small amount of room to grow. Anything larger than that, and you may notice your Monstera leaves drooping. 


Conclusion: Growing a Healthy Monstera

With moderate care requirements and a distinctive look, it's no wonder the Swiss cheese plant is a favored houseplant. For the healthiest Monstera, remember the basics: water, sunlight, and soil. Once you dial in these three factors, your Monstera should grow strong and healthy with vibrant color. If you notice your Swiss cheese plant leaves drooping, examine the three basics to rule them out, then focus on other factors that may be damaging your treasured plant.