Monsteras are tropical plants from the rainforests of Central and South America. They grow in warm, humid areas with many sudden downpours. This often leads people to assume that Monsteras love wet conditions but, in reality, having an overwatered Monstera can be a real problem for plant owners.
While it is true that Monsteras get soaked from rainfall frequently, they do not thrive in soggy soil. Soil found on the forest floor is humus-rich with lots of bark and leaf litter. This soil drains quickly leaving behind moist soil that is never soggy – which is something that you’ll then need to replicate in your own Swiss cheese plant.
Care must be taken to duplicate the Monsteras natural environment as closely as feasible to prevent issues with overwatering and soggy soil. If not, overwatering your Monstera can lead to root rot which will kill your Monstera plant.
As such, keep reading to find out how to tell if your Monstera is overwatered (or underwatered!) and how you can save an overwatered Monstera.
What is over watering?
Overwatering is the term used when the soil in a plant’s pot remains soggy or too wet for a long time. While it would seem that overwatering is the simple result of giving your plant too much water, there are other factors that can cause your plants to appear overwatered besides the amount of water you give the plant.
You must consider the plant’s overall care, like how often and how deeply you water your plants, but that is not all you need to consider. How wet the soil is in your plant pot also depends on other factors like the rate of growth of the plant, the humidity level in the area, and the condition of the soil.
Can you over water Monstera?
Over watering is one of the most common causes of death of houseplants, including Monsteras. Over watering your Monstera plant can lead to a host of problems from moldy soil to root rot that threatens the life of your plant.
Overwatering can occur from watering your Monstera plant too frequently, giving it too much water at one time, or growing your Monstera plant in soil that does not drain well.
Understanding how to identify problems caused by over watering is the first step to correcting the problem. Here’s what to watch for if you suspect your Monstera plant is overwatered.
Signs of overwatered Monstera
Having an overwatered Monstera is a common problem with these plants as they suffer when the soil stays too wet. When the soil becomes saturated with water, the plant’s roots cannot get any oxygen. This means they are not able to uptake water and nutrients and perform as they should.
Excessive watering or overwatering that is not corrected in a timely manner can also lead to root rot which can be deadly to your Monstera plant. It is important to assess whether your Monstera plant is overwatered and take measures to correct it right away.
1. Drooping or wilting leaves
Many plant lovers associate wilting and drooping Monstera leaves with a lack of water and rightly so. Wilting is a sign that the leaves and stems are not getting the water they need to maintain the proper pressure (called turgor) inside the plant tissue to support the plant.
So many are surprised to learn that too much water in the soil can also cause wilting and drooping of leaves and stems. When water saturates the soil, it fills the pores that are normally filled with oxygen, cutting off the oxygen supply to the roots.
All plant roots need oxygen to perform the task of uptaking water and nutrients to the rest of the plant. If your Monstera leaves and stems are drooping or wilting it may be a sign that your plant is overwatered as saturated soil can also cause problems with the proper transport of water to plant tissues.
2. Yellowed leaves
When the roots of your houseplant cannot access the nutrients and water they need for healthy plant growth, your Monstera plant may develop yellowing leaves. This typically occurs on new growth and is one of the first signs of overwatering.
Leaves will look pale and sickly and will eventually drop from the plant.
If your Monstera receives enough light and has previously flourished in its current location, but suddenly begins to develop yellowing leaves, overwatering may be the cause.
3. Dark brown spots
Just as the lack of access to water and nutrients cause the leaves to yellow on your Monstera plant, it can also cause foliage to develop dark brown spots on the leaves.
Dark brown spots typically appear if yellowing leaves have been ignored and indicate a more serious issue with overwatering. Dark brown spots on the leaves of your Monstera plant may be the first signs of root rot from soggy soil.
5. Soil that remains wet and soggy
The best soil for Monstera plants is well-draining soil that allows the plant to get evenly moist, as this is a plant that will definitely suffer in saturated soil. If the soil in your Monstera plant’s pot takes more than a week or so to dry out, an overwatered Monstera or poor drainage is likely the culprit.
Watering your Monstera plant when the top two inches of the soil feels dry to the touch and then allowing it to dry before watering it again helps to keep the soil from becoming waterlogged and choking out oxygen to the roots.
Check the soil in the pot every few days to determine if it takes too long to dry out and adjust your watering accordingly. If you think the soil is soggy because it drains poorly, repot your Monstera plant using a quality aroid soil mix.
6. Mold or fungi on the soil
Wet, soggy soil creates a breeding ground for mold and fungi. If you see white, gray, or green fuzz on the top of the soil, it is a sure sign the soil is too wet.
Mold and fungi may look like a layer of miniature moss and may appear on the plant stem near the soil level, too.
7. Water drops on the foliage
If your Monstera plant is overwatered and the soil stays soggy, your plant may begin to produce water droplets on the tips or edges of the foliage. This looks a lot like your Monstera is sweating and in a way it is. Water drops form as the plant attempts to get rid of excess water through the plant tissues.
Foliage with water droplets is a signal that something is wrong and usually indicates overwatering.
How do you fix an overwatered Monstera plant?
How you correct for overwatering your Monstera plant requires a little detective work on your part. Before you can correct overwatering you need to know the underlying cause. Consider these common reasons your Monstera plant can become overwatered.
1. Check your watering frequency
How often you need to water your Monstera plants depends on several things. The rate of growth, the humidity level, the size of the pot and the size of the plant all need to be taken into consideration.
Trying to maintain a strict watering schedule of once a week may mean watering your Monstera plant too frequently. Avoid watering your plants just because a particular number of days have passed. Instead, get into the habit of checking the soil every few days to determine whether your plant really needs to be watered.
Monstera plants rest during the winter months and do not need to be watered as frequently as they do in the summer when they are actively growing. Likewise small Monstera plants require less water than large ones.
2. Ensure the saucer under your Monstera’s pot remains empty
The saucer or catch basin under your Monstera plant’s pot is there to catch water that runs through the pot and to avoid messy spills. But they are not designed to hold excess water when your watering tasks are done.
Leaving water in the saucer or catch basin is just an invitation to issues with waterlogged soil. Because soil absorbs the water from the saucer, it may stay wet for too long without your knowledge and lead to you having an overwatered Monstera.
Get in the habit of watering your Monstera plants until the water runs through the bottom of the pot, but don’t forget to empty the saucer right away.
3. Make sure your Monstera’s pot size is appropriate
While Monstera plants need a pot big enough for healthy root growth, a pot that is too large poses risks too. A large pot holds more soil than the plant needs to thrive. That means the water in the soil may not be absorbed by the roots in a timely manner, leaving the soil too wet for your Monstera plant.
If you are growing your Monstera plant in a large pot thinking you are giving it lots of room for the roots to grow, you may need to reconsider your pot choice, as the best pot for your Monstera isn’t necessarily the biggest. Instead, repotting it to a smaller pot may make it easier for you to monitor the moisture level in the soil and avoid overwatering your Monstera plant.
4. Check you’re using the right soil mix
Monsteras need rich, well-drained soil to flourish inside the home. All-purpose potting soil or similar potting mixes are too heavy and do not promote the drainage your plant needs. Your plant needs a quality aroid potting mix to encourage new Monstera growth.
To check how well your Monstera plant’s soil drains, flush the pot with water until it runs freely through the bottom of the pot. Water will run through healthy soil quickly and leave behind the moisture the plant needs.
If you suspect that poorly draining soil is the cause of your issues with overwatering your Monstera, repot the plant with fresh soil.
5. Maintain the right humidity levels
Although most tropical houseplants thrive in warm, humid weather, too much of a good thing can cause issues too. Monsteras prefer humidity, especially at levels of between 60 and 90 percent, but high humidity levels will make it difficult for water to evaporate from the soil.
If it is too humid near your Monstera plants that water drops form on the foliage or the air feels wet and sticky, high humidity levels may be contributing to overwatering.
Try moving your Monstera to a location that is less humid or receives a bit more afternoon sun to help dry up the soil and prevent issues from wet soil.
Does overwatering a Monstera cause root rot?
Overwatering your Monstera plant can cause the soil to remain wet and can lead to root rot. The primary cause of root rot is soggy soil that chokes out oxygen to the plant’s roots and so dealing with this quickly is important as, if left unchecked, your plant will die.
What is root rot?
Root rot refers to diseases caused by pathogens in the soil that attack the plant’s roots and cause them to deteriorate, explains the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There are many soil-borne fungi, such as Rhizoctonia solani, Phytophthora spp., Fusarium spp., and Pythium spp. that cause root rot.
Because these fungi thrive in wet, soggy soil, your Monstera plant is especially susceptible to root rot if it is overwatered.
What does root rot do to a Monstera plant?
If root rot is not treated immediately, it will progress and cause the roots of your Monstera plant to turn to mush. They will no longer be able to absorb water and moisture and carry life-giving nutrients to the plant.
Your Monstera plant will shrivel and die if root rot is not taken care of promptly.
How do you know if your Monstera has root rot?
You can’t always tell for sure if your Monstera plant has root rot unless you remove it from the pot and check the roots. But there are some telltale signs that your Monstera plant may be developing root rot.
1. Yellowing leaves
New leaves or leaves near the base of your Monstera plant may turn yellow and eventually drop from the plant. This weak new growth is a result of a lack of nutrients and moisture reaching the plant cells.
2. Brown spots
Dark brown spots that appear on mature leaves often signal root rot. Bear in mind dark brown spots look different than the light brown edges that can appear when Monstera leaves are curling and turning brown. Light brown leaves with crispy edges are more likely a sign of under watering.
3. Stunted growth
Stunted growth that seems to appear out of nowhere in an otherwise flourishing plant, like a Monstera that was climbing happily before but has suddenly stopped doing so, may be an indication that root rot has set in. Because the roots are no longer able to serve the plant by absorbing moisture and nutrients, the whole plant will begin to suffer.
4. Foul odor
If you notice a foul or sour smell coming from your Monstera’s plant pot, you can be reasonably sure that root rot is the cause. This is the smell of decaying roots that need your immediate attention.
What do you do if your Monstera plant has root rot?
While root rot is a dreaded plant disease, it doesn’t need to be fatal. When caught early, you can rescue your Monstera plant and restore it to good health. Here’s what you need to do.
- Remove your Monstera plant from the pot and examine the roots. Healthy roots are white or light tan. If the roots of your Monstera are brown, mushy, and smelly you will need to give them some TLC.
- Remove as much soil as you can from the roots with your hands.
- Rinse the roots under running water or with the sprayer at your kitchen sink. Use tepid water to avoid further damage to the roots.
- Trim or cut away any discolored or damaged roots with a pair of sterilized garden clippers or sharp knife. When pruning your Monstera, take care to sterilize your tools again after trimming the roots to avoid spreading diseases to other plants.
- Fill a new plant pot with fresh potting mix. If your wish to reuse your existing plant pot, wash it thoroughly with hot soapy water and then sterilize it with a bleach and water solution. Mix 9 parts water to 1 part bleach and soak the plant pot in the solution for 10 minutes to kill any pathogens in the pot.
- Position your Monstera plant into the fresh soil to the original planting depth. Gently fill in around the roots with fresh soil and secure the plant by firming the soil down lightly.
- Water lightly to moisten the soil but avoid saturating the soil at this point.
- Place the Monstera back in its original location and resume normal Monstera care.
How do you tell if Monstera is overwatered or underwatered?
The best way to tell if your Monstera plant is overwatered or underwatered (or if it’s getting the right amount of water) is to check the soil regularly. You can check the moisture level of the soil with either the finger test or with a moisture meter.
Just as the name implies, the finger test refers to testing the moisture in the soil with your finger. Here’s how.
- Insert your finger to a depth of 1 to 2 inches into the soil near the base of the plant.
- Pull out your finger and observe it for any signs of soil clinging to your finger.
- Water your plant if your finger comes out clean and the soil feels dry to your touch.
- Wait a day or two and retest the soil if the soil feels moist to the touch or bits of soil cling to your finger.
- Watch your Monstera plant closely if the soil feels soggy or your finger looks muddy after the finger test.
A moisture meter is an inexpensive tool for measuring the amount of moisture in soil. You can purchase one at your local hardware store or plant supply center.
- Insert the probe on the moisture meter into the soil near the base of your plant. The tip of the probe should be 1 to 2 inches into the soil.
- Wait 60 seconds for the meter to register the moisture in the soil.
- Observe the reading in the display window of the moisture meter. Most display results as “Dry”, “Moist” and “Wet” with a colored band to cover a range of readings in each section.
- If the moisture meter reads in the red zone, your Monstera plant needs water. If it reads in the blue zone, the soil in your pot is too wet and needs to dry. Aim for keeping your moisture readings in the green zone.
How long does it take for a Monstera to recover from overwatering?
If you can identify and remove or correct the cause quickly, your Monstera can recover from overwatering through the soil in your pot drying out within 7 to 10 days. If it takes the soil longer than 10 days to dry, you likely haven’t solved the underlying condition causing the soil in your Monstera plant’s pot to remain too soggy.
Ultimately, how quickly your Monstera recovers depends on the underlying cause of overwatering your Monstera. To that end, many Monstera lovers ask how to revive an overwatered Monstera and in most instances the answer is simple. Let the soil dry out and then resume your normal Monstera care.
It often takes quick corrective measures for your Monstera to recover from overwatering. But as long as you have not ignored the issue until root rot sets in, it shouldn’t take long. As such, review the causes for overwatered Monsteras to determine if there is another reason the soil is not drying out as it should.
How do you stop overwatering Monstera?
Overwatering Monstera plants is a frequent problem with plant lovers. It is easy to assume that they need more water than other houseplants because they are a tropical plant. But this really isn’t true.
Monstera plants need moist soil that does not dry out completely to thrive, but they are fussy about having wet roots, too. That’s why Monstera plants need soil that partially dries before they are watered again. Try these tricks to stop overwatering your Monstera plant.
1. Avoid following a strict schedule for watering your plant
It may need to be watered every 7 days (or even more often) when it is growing rapidly during the summer but may be happy with watering every 10 days or so during the winter when it rests. Banish the notion that your Monstera plant can be put on a strict watering schedule and thrive.
2. Always check to see how dry the soil is before you water your plants
Whether you use the finger test or you use a moisture meter doesn’t really matter but checking the moisture level in the soil does. Learn how to check the soil to determine if your Monstera plants need to be watered instead of just assuming it needs water because other nearby plants do.
3. Empty saucers and catch basins after you water your plants
Standing water left in the saucer under your Monstera’s pot can cause the soil to remain soggy for days. Get in the habit of emptying the saucer as soon as the soil has finished draining.
4. Make sure the soil drains well
Overwatering isn’t always due to giving your plant too much water. Sometimes the problem is that the soil you are using doesn’t let the water drain through it. This means the soil stays soggy instead of gradually drying out over the next few days.
If your Monstera plant’s soil is wet and waterlogged despite your efforts to water it correctly, changing the soil may provide a drastic improvement.
5. Find an alternative way to grow your Monstera
If you really, truly can’t seem to help yourself with overwatering your Monstera, there are other options. Specifically, growing your Monstera in water can actually be a good alternative.
That is, not only does it avoid any question of which soil to use, but you literally can’t overwater your plant when it’s grown like this!
Should I bottom water my Monstera?
Opinions differ on whether bottom watering or top watering is best for a Monstera. For small pots that are easily moved, bottom watering can be accomplished easily. While larger pots may be a bit more difficult to maneuver for bottom watering.
If you choose to bottom water your Monstera plant, be sure to empty the saucer or tray used for watering once the soil in the pot feels moist. Leaving your Monstera plant sitting in a pot or saucer of water can lead to issues with soggy soil.
If top watering is more convenient for you, go ahead and water your Monstera plants from the top. It is best to avoid wetting the foliage.
Learning how to water your Monstera properly to avoid overwatering is an important part of Monstera care. Recognizing the signs of over or under watering will become second nature in no time. Using these tips as a guideline to develop a good watering routine and save an overwatered Monstera will put you on the road to growing healthy, happy Monstera plants. It will also help you avoid nasty diseases like root rot, too.