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The monstera (Monstera deliciosa), which originates from Central and South America, is also known as window leaf. It is still one of the most popular indoor plants. The tropical plant is not particularly demanding when it comes to care and is popular as a beginner's plant. Even if the arum plant (Araceae) is extremely easy to care for, it can get brown leaves or leaf tips.

Causes of brown leaves

With good care, the Monstera can grow to a height of three meters or more. The heart-shaped leaves, which are up to 45 centimeters wide and sit on 30 centimeter long stems, are very attractive. In young plants the leaves are entire and in older specimens the impressive leaves are deeply incised between the individual leaf veins. Sometimes brown discoloration can occur on the tips of the leaves. These can also extend over the entire sheet. Various causes are to blame for this brown discoloration:

Unsuitable location

Lack of light, blazing sun or too dry air can very quickly lead to brown leaf tips or leaves on the Monstera. Especially in winter, the plants can get too little light. In their homeland, the window leaf grows in the light shade of the leafy canopies of huge trees. Normally, the Monstera can also cope with darker locations. However, growth suffers and there are no more incisions.
In addition, drafts when airing, temperature fluctuations and cold in general can also cause brown spots on the leaves. This tropical plant does not tolerate cold. This can be remedied by the following measures:

  • Avoidance of drafts
  • bright to semi-shady location
  • avoid blazing sun
  • ideal place on east, west or north windows
  • attach sun protection to south-facing windows in the afternoon
  • Minimum distance to window or wall two to three meters
  • Temperature from April to September between 20 and 28 degrees
  • from October to March 16 to 21 degrees

From June to September, the Monstera can also take a partially shaded place on the balcony. However, protection from the blazing midday sun must be provided.

Notice: Constant contact with the window pane or wall can also lead to brown discoloration of the leaves of the Monstera. Therefore, keep the appropriate distance to prevent mechanical damage.

Not enough water

If there is a lack of water, there is not enough of it to transfer from the roots of the Monstera to the individual parts of the plant. Ultimately, the leaves turn yellow at first, later brown, wither and die. The moisture in the substrate can be checked very easily using a moisture meter or simply with a finger test.

To do this, the index finger is pressed a few centimeters deep into the soil substrate. If there is no moisture to be felt there, the plant is suffering from drought stress. Too low humidity can also cause brown leaf tips and leaf edges. As a resident of the rainforest, the Monstera is used to high humidity. There are various measures to avoid drought stress in the plant:

  • Water plentifully in summer and moderately in winter
  • The substrate should always be moist but not wet
  • Use of stale, room-warm water
  • 50 to 60 percent humidity is ideal
  • Spray leaves regularly with lime-free water
  • avoid dry heating air
  • Use humidifiers and hygrometers to check humidity
  • divert long aerial roots to a container filled with water
  • if necessary, dip the root ball in the water
  • put the root ball in a bucket of water
  • submerge until no more air bubbles rise

Notice: All parts of the Monstera plant contain substances that irritate the mucous membrane. Particular caution is required if children and pets live in the household. Gloves should also be worn when handling this plant.

Avoid waterlogging

Waterlogging is sometimes more harmful than a temporary lack of water. The wet soil is compacted and no air can get to the roots. They literally suffocate and are therefore no longer able to transport water and nutrients to the remaining parts of the plant. As a result, the tips and edges of the leaves turn brown. In addition, the roots in the over-soaked soil also begin to rot.

Waterlogging can result from frequent watering, watering in large quantities, but also from clogged drainage holes in the pot and standing water in the saucer. Watering must be stopped immediately so that the substrate can dry as quickly as possible. However, it would be better to immediately repot the window leaf in fresh and dry soil. The procedure is as follows:

  • Lift plant out of pot
  • remove wet substrate
  • Rinse the roots carefully with lukewarm water
  • remove already brown, diseased roots
  • cleaning pot with hot water
  • Drainage holes must be free
  • insert drainage five centimeters high at the bottom of the pot
  • use expanded clay, potsherds or gravel
  • Fill the pot halfway with fresh soil
  • Insert root ball
  • fill in the remaining soil
  • Do not place the plant deeper than before
  • Leave a pouring edge of two centimeters
  • Do not water the window leaf
  • first watering after a week
  • then water regularly
  • Let the soil surface dry a little between waterings
  • Always pour off excess water from the saucer
  • optimal use of moisture meter

Notice: Light brown spots with a darker border on the leaves are a sign of sunburn. These spots only appear where the sun shines directly on them. This can be remedied by changing the location in the light penumbra.

nutrient deficiency or over-fertilization

If there is a lack of nutrients, the leaves initially discolour and are eventually shed. Over-fertilization also leads to brown leaves in the Monstera. The roots burn and the leaves turn yellow at first and later brown and finally die. Over-fertilization is an over-supply of nutrients. This can happen, for example, when using undiluted liquid fertilizer. In principle, only repotting in fresh substrate helps here. During the main growing season, the Monstera regularly needs additional nutrients to ensure healthy growth. The following should be observed:

  • Nutrient requirements moderately high
  • Fertilize every two weeks from March to September
  • Use of liquid fertilizer for green plants
  • Administration with irrigation water
  • For dosing, observe the manufacturer's instructions
  • alternatively use fertilizer sticks for green plants
  • Stop fertilizing from October

Tip: The leaves should be washed regularly with seaweed juice. This gives them a subtle sheen. At the same time, the required nutrients, minerals and vitamins are supplied.

Brown discoloration due to fungal infection

Eye spot disease (Spilocaea oleagina) on olive leaf. Source: The original uploader was Michele.iannizzotto at Italian Wikipedia., Occhio di pavone, crop from Plantopedia, CC BY 3.0

Brown leaf spots or completely brown leaves on Monstera can also be caused by a fungus. This is eye spot disease (Spilocaea oleagina). The spots are round and light brown in color on the inside, with the edge being slightly darker. This disease is also known as peacock eye because these spots resemble eyes. The pathogens spread very slowly and the fungal spores can be transferred to other leaves. This disease should be recognized early, otherwise the plant can suffer great damage and even die in the end. Regular checks are important. If an infestation is present, action must be taken as soon as possible:

  • complete pruning
  • Administration of tonics
  • use of horsetail stock or liverwort extract
  • always remove affected leaves
  • use sharp scissors that have been disinfected with alcohol
  • otherwise transmission of other germs possible
  • Disposal of clippings in household waste
  • do not put on compost heaps, danger of spreading

One cut is usually enough. The Monstera will recover and sprout again.

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