The Monstera deliciosa is one of the most popular houseplants currently on the market. Hailing from the rainforests of Central and South America, their habitats can make watering them seem like a difficult or confusing task. But don’t worry, watering a Monstera is actually very straightforward.
A Monstera deliciosa should only be watered when the top one to two inches of soil have dried out. Always water thoroughly until excess water drains out of the pot. When in doubt, always wait a few extra days before adding more water as underwatering is less harmful than overwatering.
There is a lot that you can know about watering Monsteras properly. Keep reading, and I’ll discuss the benefits of rainwater, what to do if your Monstera has been overwatered, and many other key aspects of Monstera water maintenance.
How Often To Water Monstera Deliciosa
There is no set schedule for when to water a Monstera deliciosa. Each plant is unique! There are a lot of factors that will go into determining how often to water your Monstera, like the location of your home or apartment (desert dwellers will probably need to water their plants more often than someone living in Florida), to the location of your plant inside (a bathroom Monstera will probably need less water than one kept in a bedroom).
Because of this, I recommend against having a set schedule for watering. Schedules can result in over- and underwatering, both of which can be detrimental to the plant’s health. There are better ways that set schedules to determine when it is time to water your Monstera.
The best way to know if your Monstera needs to be watered is to test the soil’s moisture with your finger. Stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep, possibly two inches for a larger plant, and feel for dampness. If the top of the soil is completely dry, this indicates that it is time to water. Soil that is still moist can go a little while longer before being watered again.
For anyone that wants to take the guesswork out of it, a
If you’re just getting started with your Monstera, try to check its soil weekly. Getting into the habit of checking it often will prevent your plant from going too long with being watered and will make it easier to identify if there’s an issue like overwatering.
The Problem With Overwatering Monsteras
Monstera deliciosas will struggle just as much as any other plant when they are persistently overwatered. Overwatering results in waterlogged soil that can’t drain properly, which causes the plant’s roots to sit in wet soil for too long. Besides preventing oxygen uptake, this can also cause root rot.
Root rot is a serious problem for all plants, not just Monsteras. When root rot occurs, a fungus present in the soil attaches to and grows on the roots. This causes them to wither away, turning brown and mushy. While the plant can survive a small infection, allowing it to spread to the main root can quickly kill the plant.
The indications of root rot happen first in the leaves. Should you notice yellowing or browning leaves or tips, check the soil right away. Catching root rot quickly can make a big difference in the likelihood of the plant’s survival.
If caught before the rot has spread to a significant amount of the plant’s roots, cleaning and trimming back the diseased portions may prevent further spread. It is vital that the plant be replanted with a sanitized pot and fresh soil! Reintroducing the plant to a container that has already held root rot is dangerous and can result in a recurrent outbreak.
Do you suspect your Monstera has root rot? Click here to learn how to try to save your plant!
For Monsteras, Drainage is Key
The only way to guarantee that your Monstera won’t develop root rot or otherwise suffer from any ailments caused by sopping wet soil is to ensure that the plant has adequate drainage. This means both a planter with drainage holes and a properly draining soil mixture are necessary.
Most store-bought planters come with a hole or series of holes drilled into the bottom of the container. While one hole is generally enough, larger plants may need more, so keep that in mind when shopping for pots. Any non-traditional novelty planters, such as mugs or jars, will need to have drainage holes added.
Adding drainage holes to a ceramic container can be difficult because this type of pot requires a special drill bit and extra care. Plastic containers, however, only require a drill and can be done in a few minutes.
If possible, always avoid containers that don’t have drainage holes. Without having somewhere for the excess water to drain, the water will sit in the pot and drown the roots. This is a contributing factor to the development of root rot and poor plant health!
Soil is another important thing to consider for adequate drainage for your Monstera. A soil that is too thick can hold in excess moisture, resulting in similar issues. To avoid this, always purchase a good quality potting mix. If you currently have soil that you are concerned is too thick, adding an orchid potting mix can help lighten it and allow it to drain easier. Soil can also be lightened using sand, peat, and perlite. For more information on the best soils for Monsteras, read this article.
Poor drainage can be caught relatively if you keep an eye on your plant. Watering thoroughly is one way to tell: if the water isn’t draining out of the bottom quickly enough, there may be an issue with the drainage hole. Remove your plant and check to see if there is some kind of blockage that can be cleared away.
If water is draining out the bottom, but the soil is taking over 10 days to dry out, there’s probably a problem with the soil drainage. Try to remedy this quickly because a plant left in sopping wet soil will suffer.
Water Thoroughly Less Often Instead of Shallowly and Frequently
The best approach to watering a Monstera deliciosa is to water it thoroughly. This means that, when watering your Monstera, you water it with enough water that some of it drains out of the bottom. The water that drains out should be about 20% of what was added to the plant and be emptied from the plant’s saucer afterward. Never let your Monstera sit in pooled water—this can force it to take up more water than it needs, leading to overly saturated soil.
After watering thoroughly, your Monstera should only be watered as often as it dries out. This can be checked by putting your finger about an inch into the soil or using a moisture meter. These techniques will indicate if the soil is still moist or dry. If it is still moist, hold off for a few more days before watering.
Watering shallowly and frequently, which is an alternative technique, makes it more difficult to track whether or not the soil is reaching the roots of the plant. Watering too frequently can also cause root rot, so avoid this method if possible.
A thorough watering ensures that the water has reached all of the roots and allows maximum water absorption. Thorough watering is the best practice not just for Monsteras but for all of your houseplants.
Watering During Growing Season vs. Dormancy
All plants go through periods where their growth slows down significantly. This is called their dormant season, and for most of us, this happens in the winter months. Dormancy helps plants to conserve their energy and resources during months when sunlight is less available.
When Monsteras are dormant, they don’t need as much water as they do during their growing season. During the winter months, watering should be cut back to accommodate the Monstera’s new needs. Checking the soil’s dryness regularly can help you learn how much water your Monstera needs during the winter. How much you have to cut back depends on your region and the weather, so keep those factors in mind.
Come early spring, your Monstera will enter its growing period again and will return to needing more water! Be sure to adjust when the weather starts warming so that your Monstera has everything it needs to start producing new leaves.
This is why it is always important to check your plant’s soil before adding more water. Many things can alter the amount of water a Monstera needs, so always feel for moisture before every watering.
Can You Use Tap Water on Your Monstera?
Generally speaking, water that is safe for us to drink is also safe for our plants. But just because tap water won’t kill a Monstera doesn’t mean it is the best option available. Tap water is filled with chlorine and calcium, which will be absorbed by your Monstera when watered.
The best solution to watering your Monstera is to use rainwater. (Learn about the benefits of rainwater here!) This can be collected using a jar or small bucket left outside during rainstorms. Rainwater is what Monsteras would receive in their natural habitats, so it’s closest to what feels natural to them. This is a great option for most regions, but be wary if you live in an area with high levels of pollution.
If rainwater isn’t an option for you, distilled water can work instead. Distilled isn’t as good as rainwater because it is free of all impurities, which means that your Monstera won’t be getting the added goodies it would from rainwater. It also has a completely neutral pH, which isn’t always what a plant needs. If this is what you end up using, be sure to regularly fertilize your Monstera to make up for any deficiencies.
If you do use tap water, leave it out in an open vessel for 24 hours before watering. During this time, many of the harsh chemicals will evaporate out and leave you with something much more similar to distilled water.
The Benefits of Watering Your Monstera with Rainwater
Rainwater is the best choice for watering a Monstera deliciosa, as well as any houseplant. Rainwater is naturally filtered, making it what is called “soft” water. In most regions, tap water is “hard water” due to the accumulation of various chemicals used in water processing.
Rainwater is also slightly acidic, which is ideal for most plants, and can be used to balance the pH of your plant’s soil after being watered with tap water. Rainwater also contains traces of certain beneficial things, like organic matter that it collects when rolling from the rooftop and nitrates that are essential for plant growth.
For those that live in areas prone to droughts, collecting rainwater is a good way to take advantage of any rainfall in your area and is an excellent option to cut back on your own water usage. But be sure to check with your local government restrictions first, as rain barrels are not allowed in some areas.
Signs You’ve Given Your Plant Too Much Water
There are plenty of signs that a Monstera deliciosa has been overwatered, most of which show up as discoloration in the leaves. However, a diagnosis isn’t always straightforward. If any of these issues pop up on your Monstera, take time to do a proper diagnosis to rule out other issues, like pests or underwatering.
Yellowing leaves and stems are one of the first signs that a Monstera is distressed from being overwatered. It will usually begin at the tips of the leaves. If you’ve noticed yellowing, check the soil right away—soil that is wet and has been wet for over a week is a good reason to believe that the yellowing is from being overwatered.
Any leaves with brown spots also indicate that a Monstera has been overwatered. Brown spots are a more severe sign that points to a Monstera having root rot. If you notice that brown spots have started forming, pull your plant from its pot and carefully check its roots. Roots that are mushy or brown have been damaged by root rot and will need to be removed quickly to prevent the spread.
How To Save An Overwatered Monstera
Saving a Monstera that has been overwatered depends on how severely the plant is suffering. If the overwatering has only happened a handful of times, leaving the Monstera to adequately dry out should be enough to save it.
If the Monstera is beginning to show signs like yellowing leaves or brown spots, it will need more help. These can be signs that the plant has root rot or has been left in wet soil for a long time, so the soil will need to be replaced.
While doing this, it’s also vital that you check the roots for any indications of root rot. Healthy roots are crispy and white; a diseased root will be mushy and brown and may fall off when touched. Trim back any roots that look like this.
When changing the soil, it’s best to put the plant in a different pot or to sanitize the one that it was in. After getting the pot ready, the Monstera should be placed in it with fresh, well-draining soil. Never reuse soil when overwatering has occurred.
For a more in depth, step-by-step guide on saving an overwatered Monstera, read this article.
Monsteras are such beautiful plants, and they seem like they would be complicated to care for… but the longer I’ve had my Monsteras, the more I’ve realized that they are just like my other houseplants. They are quick to let me know that they’ve been dry for too long, which is why I preferred to underwater my Monsteras until I learned how to properly water them.
If you feel uncertain about watering your Monstera, you should know that they can go a little while without water before any permanent damage is done. They are also extremely expressive, so check for indications that it’s time to water. For more information on identifying underwatered Monsteras, click here.
Letting a Monstera dry out completely isn’t ideal because it can stress the plant and prevent it from producing new growth, but it is much safer than chronically overwatering your Monstera. It is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to avoiding root rot!