Monsteras are tropical plants leading many plant lovers to assume they need a lot of water. While they do enjoy consistently moist soil, they are susceptible to root rot and will suffer from wet soil, leading many to ask when to water a Monstera. It is vital that you provide your Monstera plants with a good soil mix that drains well and that you develop a good watering routine to provide them with the right amount of moisture to thrive.
When to Water Monstera
Water your Monstera plants whenever the soil dries, but don’t wait until the soil is so dry it pulls away from the pot. Monstera plants thrive in evenly moist soil. That means soil that is moist, but not soggy and soil that never dries out completely. The soil should feel dry in the top half of the pot, but still feel moist in the bottom half.
Check the soil often to determine when your Swiss cheese plant needs to be watered. To measure the soil moisture in your Monstera plant's pot, insert your finger into the soil (or use a moisture meter) to see if the soil feels moist. You can buy a reliable meter for $10 to $15 to monitor the soil moisture. A moisture meter provides readings of dry, moist and wet and are easy to use and read. If you are leery about using your finger as a guide to monitor if the soil is dry in your Monstera plants pot, a moisture meter is a great way to monitor the moisture level in the soil and gives you the peace of mind of knowing how moist the soil really is in the center of the pot.
The watering frequency for your Monstera plants depends on several factors making it difficult to say how often to water Monstera plants. But by following a few simple steps and monitoring the soil moisture frequently, you can soon develop a watering schedule that works for you.
Knowing the factors most likely to affect how often you need to water your Monstera Deliciosa plants. Deliciosa plant will help you get it right.
Larger plant pots typically require more watering to moisten all the potting soil but don’t be fooled into thinking because your Monstera plant is growing in a large pot you automatically need to increase your watering frequency. A pot that is too large for the plant may pose an issue with waterlogged soil that does not dry out sufficiently. It is important that your Monstera plant is in a pot that provides enough room for the roots without being overly large.
Potting Soil Mix
Monsteras, like most plants, need soil that will retain moisture, yet drains well. If your Monstera soil is overly dense it may retain too much moisture and leave the roots sitting in waterlogged soil. Lighter potting soil mixes will drain quicker and may mean your Monstera plant needs more frequent watering.
Type of Pot
The type of pot your Monstera is growing in affects its need for water, too. A Terracotta pot absorbs moisture and releases it into the soil as the soil dries, however they can also dry out excessively whisking moisture from the soil, especially if you are growing your Monstera plant in hot, dry conditions and low humidity levels. A plastic pot is non-porous and tends to keep the soil moist for a longer period after watering.
Time of Year
Nearly all plants grow rapidly from spring until fall and then rest for the winter. Your Monstera plant is no exception. During the growing period from spring until fall your plant will require more watering than it will during the winter when its growth slows.
Like the time of year, which determines when your Monstera is likely to show the most growth, your plants may go through growth spurts due to the amount of sun they receive, whether you have fertilized them, and the stage of growth in the plant itself. Plants that are actively growing need more water to keep them healthy and may absorb the water in their soil more quickly. Monstera plants experiencing a growth spurt should be monitored closely, as they will need more frequent watering.
How to Water a Monstera
The jury is out on the best way to water your Monstera plants. While many claim top watering is best, others swear by bottom watering. Some prefer to try both methods and choose the method that works best for them.
Sometimes, conditions dictate which method to use. For example, it may be difficult to bottom water a large climbing Monstera in a heavy pot, while small Monstera plants can easily be moved to the kitchen or counter for bottom watering.
Regardless of the method you use to water Monstera plants, there are some things you should know.
Use distilled water or allow your tap water to sit out overnight before using it to water your Monstera plants.
Municipal water often contains chlorine and other chemicals that will build up in the soil of your Monstera plants making it difficult for the plants to thrive.
Use water at room temperature to water Monstera Deliciosa
This avoids shocking the tender roots with cold water. Tropical plants may be accustomed to sudden downpours, but the rain is warm, unlike the chilled water from your tap.
Top Watering Monstera Plants
Top watering is a simple procedure that can often be accomplished without moving the plant. While some prefer to move the plant to the sink to water it, that isn’t always practical. Here are the essentials to top watering a plant.
1. Check that you have a saucer or catch basin under the plant pot that is large enough to catch the water that flows through the soil when your top water Monstera Deliciosa plant. You can buy inexpensive plastic saucers made for this purpose, but any saucer (or even a pie plate) will do.
2. Use a watering can or pitcher for the water. This helps direct the water onto the soil and helps to avoid wetting the foliage when watering your plants.
3. Pour the water directly onto the soil evenly distributing it over the area in the pot. Be gentle and pour slowly, so the dry soil has time to absorb the water as it makes its way to the bottom of the plant pot and out through the drainage holes.
4. Water the plant until water runs freely through the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot and the soil is visibly moist in the pot.
5. Allow the water to drain for 10 to 15 minutes and then empty the saucer or catch basin under the plant pot. Neglecting to empty the saucer can lead to waterlogged soil that cuts off oxygen to the roots of your Monstera Deliciosa plant, leading to root rot.
Bottom Watering Your Monstera Plants
Bottom watering Monstera plants allows the soil to soak up moisture naturally, but it does require a little more work from you. Here are the essentials to bottom watering Monstera plants.
1. Pour several inches of tepid water into a large bowl or bucket large enough to accommodate the size of the plant pot.
2. Set the Monstera Deliciosa plant in the basin of water. Make sure the water level is above the bottom of the plant pot and the drainage holes rest in the water. If your plant pot has a removable saucer on the bottom, it should be submerged in the water while you bottom water your Monstera plants.
3. Allow your plant to sit in the basin of water until the soil absorbs enough water through the drainage holes to moisten the soil from the bottom of the pot to the top.
4. Remove the plant from the water and allow any excess water to drain from the pot through the drainage holes, so the soil will not remain soggy.
Rescue Watering Your Monstera Plants
If you have been away on vacation, or have neglected your Monstera plant, it can become overly dry before your notice. If your Monstera plant has extremely dry, compacted soil that is pulling away from the sides of the pot it will benefit from rescue watering right away. Here’s how.
1. Find a bucket or large container that is large enough to cover the entire plant pot when it is submerged.
2. Fill the container halfway with room temperature water. Use distilled water or tap water that has been sitting out overnight.
3. Submerge the pot of your Monstera plant into the water. If the water does not cover the top of the pot, add more water until it does.
4. Gently push the pot under the water, covering the soil surface with your hand to prevent it from floating, if necessary. Air bubbles will rise to the surface of the water as water fills the air holes in the soil. This is necessary and desired.
5. Keep the pot under the water until air bubbles can no longer be seen rising to the top of the water. This can take up to half an hour, depending on the soil condition in the pot is.
6. Remove the pot from the water and allow it to drain completely.
Signs of an Overwatered Monstera
Over watering can be devastating for a Monstera plant as this tropical plant is prone to root rot. Root rot is a plant disease that causes the roots to decay and eventually kill the plant. While it can be caused by soggy soil, it can also be caused by bacteria and fungi living in the soil.
But root rot caused by bacteria and fungi is rooted in overly moist soil, too, as this feeds the bacteria and fungi which then infect the roots of your plants.
Here’s what to watch for in overwatered Monsteras.
- Fuzzy green or gray mold on top of the soil.
Sometimes the mold looks like a fine layer of moss, but it’s not a good sign for Monsteras. Mold growing on the soil is a sign of excess water and that your Monstera plant is overwatered.
- Large, dark brown spots on the leaves.
These spots typically appear in the center of the leaves and look leathery or wet.
This typically appears on young leaves because of a lack of oxygen and nutrients as the roots are not able to get oxygen or the nutrients they need when they are trapped in soggy soil.
- Wilting of stems and drooping leaves.
While you might think wilting is a sign of under watering, too much water can have the same effect. If the plant’s roots cannot uptake water and oxygen due to soggy soil the plant tissues will wilt.
- Sweating leaves.
Drops of water on the tips and edges of leaves are a sure sign your Monstera is taking in more water than it can use.
Treating Root Rot in Monsteras
If your overwatered plants succumb to rot root, corrective measures are needed right away. Here's what you will need to do.
- Remove your Monstera plant from the pot and inspect the roots. If the roots are dark brown and mushy root rot is likely the culprit.
- Trim away any damaged roots with a clean, sharp knife.
- Rinse the roots to remove the old potting mix.
- Repot it in a new pot (or sterilize the old pot) filled with fresh soil.
- Resume your regular plant care but remember to check the soil often and avoid over watering or other improper watering techniques.
Signs of an Underwatered Monstera
There are a number of reasons you may need to increase the amount of water for your Monstera plant. Growing it in too much indirect light, areas with low humidity or simply in a pot that is too small for the plant are common reasons. An underwatered Monstera will let you know with some telltale signs. Here’s what to look for.
- Wilting or droopy leaves and stems.
Monstera plants, like other house plants, rely on adequate moisture to maintain turgor in the plant tissues. This is what maintains the shape of the foliage and stems. When the plant cells lack enough moisture, they are not able to remain rigid and resulting in wilting. Wilting is a tell-tale sign of under watering your Swiss Cheese plants.
- Dry, brown edges on leaves.
A severely underwatered Monstera will let you know as its leaves begin to turn brown and curl. Unlike the dark brown spots from overwatering, brown spots from underwatering typically occur on the margin of the leaves and progress to the entire leaf and result in crispy leaves.
- Slowed growth.
Monsteras that are underwatered can’t absorb the water and nutrients they need to thrive. In response, their growth rate will halt (or cease) until their watering needs are met.
- Soil pulling away from the pot.
Severe neglect or underwatering can cause the soil to dry completely and pull away from the sides of the plant pot. It may be compacted and extremely dry to the touch. This calls for a quick remedy with rescue watering to restore the water balance in the soil.
Learning to give your Monstera plant the right amount of water isn’t difficult if you observe them carefully and develop a watering schedule that is specific to each plant's needs. Remember it is important to water a Monstera when the soil mix is dry to maintain the plant's health, but the soil should not be allowed to stay dry for extended periods. Like other plants, a healthy Monstera needs sufficient water to thrive.