Monstera or the “Swiss Cheese” plant is known for its large, glossy leaves with a unique design but it is especially disheartening to see tips of these leaves turning brown.
But hey! Plants talk and brown tips are definitely their way of indicating specific problems they are probably suffering from!
Brown tips of Monstera leaves most often have to do with a lack of adequate light and water. Salt buildup in the soil, over a course of time, also burns the leaf tips. Moreover, low humidity and tap water containing high fluoride and chlorine can cause brown tips of monstera.
So, hang on with me as I guide you to investigate three most likely causes that can burn the tips of your Monstera.
Excess Light Exposure
Even though Monstera needs bright light to maintain its beautiful glossy leaves, but too bright of a light can also scorch the leaf tips leaving them brown. This is very common in the summers when the days are longer, the sun is too bright and if your plant is very close to a window.
You can examine it by looking closely if the sunlight from the window is shining directly onto your monster leaves. If so then move your plant to another spot- maybe a little far away from the window where it can get a lot of bright light but away from direct exposure to the sun.
This should protect other leaves from developing brown tips. But what if your Monstera leaves still end up with brown tips?
Then it is time to investigate our second prime suspect!
The tips of Monstera leaves turn brown when their water requirement is not adequately met. Even though these plants prefer being thoroughly dry between watering, you must water it at a regular schedule.
Ideally, you must stick your finger about 2inches deep in the soil to check if it’s damp or completely dry. You must water it only when the soil appears to be dry.
However, Monstera likes a hearty drink every 1-2 weeks. But this water intake very much depends on the light it gets. If your Monstera sits near a window and gets about 4+ hours of bright indirect sunlight then you must water it every week.
Water it thoroughly until you see the water draining out from the bottom. This ensures that the root ball is thoroughly wet. As a result your monster will perk up!
Some varieties of Monstera have their leaves curl when they really need a drink.
But what if your Monstera is getting adequate light and the root ball is not super dry but the leaves on your Monstera are still developing brown tips? I suggest you move on to suspect no.3
Salt build up is a common problem and occurs when the soil particles get rich in sodium. This ultimately slows or alters plant growth, the beginning of which is the brown tips of leaves.
In other words, roots absorb the water that enters through the cell membrane but when the water has too much salt, it cannot go through the membranes. As a result, the roots stay dry.
Have you ever come across a situation where even after giving enough water to your Monstera, it won’t grow at a pace you expect? This is because even though the soil is moist to touch, the roots at the bottom are probably bone-dry.
Roots do not get enough oxygen and dehydrate due to the loss of water. Ultimately, the plant is waterlogged and the brown tips on leaves and root rot in the pot is inevitable.
Below are the two culprits that cause salt buildup:
Water also contributes to salt build up. Normal tap water which is commonly touted as “hard water” contains high amounts of chlorine, sodium and fluoride which attach themselves to the soil, hindering water penetration, accumulating salt and turning monstera leaf tips brown.
Using chemical fertilizer also results in salt buildup in soil medium in the pot. This is because chemical fertilizers are known to expedite plant growth through immediate release of nutrients to the roots.
Their excessive use not only contributes to salt buildup but also sometimes shocks the plant resulting in leaves developing brown tips. Ideally, Monstera is content with being fertilized only twice a year – once in spring and once in summer.
How do you get rid of salt build up from your Monstera?
Look for white buildup around the top rim of the pot or at the bottom of the pot near the drainage holes. This white crusty buildup contains all the salt from the water and the fertilizer that the plant does not use and accumulates in the pot.
In order to get rid of salt buildup, Leaching of the soil is recommended. Basically, it is a thorough rinse given to the potting soil. You can leach the salt out of your Monstera pot with twice as much water as the volume of the pot.
All you need is to take the plant outside or keep it in the kitchen or bathroom sink – you can also use a tub or a bucket for this. Now you can pour water on the soil, soaking it completely, letting the water slowly run through the plant.
Normally it takes about 15-20 minutes for the salt particles to break down and get washed through the bottom of the container.
The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources recommends “leaching container soil every three to six months” to prevent salt buildup.
You can also remove the top 1/4th to 1-inch layer of soil from the pot. This will rid the plant of the excess salt accumulated at the top layer of the soil. You can then top-dress your plant with a fresh potting mix.
Once the soil gets free of unused salt and minerals, it becomes airy and promotes air circulation around the root ball.
The roots breathe oxygen and this provides energy to the leaves. As a result, unlike the old leaves, the new growth on the Monstera will not have brown tips
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Some other causes for brown tips on Monstera are:
Lack of Humidity
Monstera generally prefers humidity which is difficult to achieve indoors. Too much dry air can cause the Monstera tips to turn brown. Misting the leaves at least once a week should help solve this problem.
Improper Potting Soil
Well-draining potting soil is extremely important for good plant health. If the soil is not light and porous enough, it will retain water for a long time, causing a root rot.
Monstera, in particular, thrives in well-draining soil. Adding perlite, charcoal, and bark to your potting mix keeps the soil light and provides good drainage.
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How to Prevent Monstera Brown Tips
Some helpful suggestions for keeping the large, lush-green leaves of a Monstera healthy and preventing brown tips:
Give Your Monstera Adequate Light
⦿Place your Monstera in a north or east-facing window for bright light. Or place it near the south or west-facing window for more indirect light.
⦿You can also use grow lights which are specifically for plants.
Monstera Will Thrive In Good Quality Water
⦿Use distilled or rain water for your Monstera.
⦿Try a bottom-up method of watering your plant. Fill a tub with water and then place your Monstera pot in it and let the plant soak in the water for 15-30 minutes. This way, the roots of the plant get a direct chance to have a drink as opposed to the traditional top-down watering. I bet your Monstera will be happy to get a relaxing bath than a cold shower.
Monstera Prefers Humidity
⦿Use a humidifier to keep it hydrated.
⦿Keep it closer to your other plants to raise the humidity levels.
⦿Keep a pebble tray near your Monstera and mist it every day.
⦿Move your Monstera to a bathroom for a day which has higher humidity than any other place in the house.
Prevent Salt Buildup
⦿Fill the watering can with water a day before its time to water your Monstera. Let this water filled-can sit on the counter for a day. This way the chlorine and fluoride in water will dissipate and you can use it to water your lovely monster of a plant.
⦿Use organic slow-release fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers. When using liquid fertilizer, make sure the solution runs through the soil and drains from the bottom. Ideally, Monstera is content with being fertilized only twice a year – once in spring and once in summer.
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Should I cut the brown tips off my plant?
Yes, you should cut brown tips off your plant. But this does not mean you have to cut the entire leaf. Instead, just cut off the browned tip. The leaf automatically adjusts to maintain its original shape and structure.
How often should you water a Monstera?
Monstera should be watered once a week in summers when it is actively growing. During winter months which is the resting period for plants, it can go without water for up to 3 weeks.
Why is my Monstera Adansonii curling?
Plants curl up when they go into survival mode due to the lack of water. Adequate watering should resolve this problem.