How to Save Overwatered Monstera (And Watering Rules)


Indoor potted monstera plant showing symptoms of over watering

As a tropical plant that grows in a humid climate, Monstera (lat. Monstera deliciosa) loves plenty of water. However, overwatering can leave disastrous consequences.

Does your Monstera float in the water and have a wizened appearance? Instead of saying goodbye to it, read this article and I will guide you on how to bring your overwatered Monstera back to life.

The first thing to do is to improve the drainage system. Look for root rot symptoms, if found any trim off the infected parts and treat with a fungicide. Now consider repotting the monster using fresh new soil and pot.

Signs of Overwatered Monstera

If you swamp Monstera with water you will notice the yellowing of leaves soon. The rotten and stinky root is already a serious indication that this plant has been overwatered for a while and in danger of dying. 

In a nutshell, waterlogged Monstera has a wilted and shriveled appearance, and shiny green leaves replaced by yellow and brown ones.

Root rot is the most striking symptom of overwatering. You can recognize the rot by its dark brown color caused by decomposers activity and its foul odor. 

Read on and I’ll explain to you each of the signs of overwatered Monstera, so you will know how to solve these problems.

Brown Spots on Leaves

If you notice big brown flecks surrounded by yellow rings on the leaves that is an obvious sign of leaf wilt caused by lack of nutrients.

If you apply large amounts of water to your Monstera, the root environment becomes anaerobic, and supplying the plant with oxygen is considerably aggravated.

As a result, cells of the leaf tissue begin to die and this is manifested by brown spots. Read this article to know how to fix brown spots on monstera.

Root Rot

This occurrence is not so obvious and sometimes it’s not easy to react on time. If your Monstera has a shrunken look with faded leaves try to remind yourself if you were exaggerating with the water. 

Check the soil. It’s okay for it to be moist, but if it’s wet for a while you will probably find rotten, stinky, and gooey root under the ground.

Wet soil is a perfect place for fungus spreading. As saprophytes, fungi decompose the root tissue leading to its decay. 

Mold Growing on Soil

This occurrence is like some kind of signature of swamped and acidified soil. Not to mention that mold produces compounds, called mycotoxins, which are toxic even to humans, causing respiratory issues. 

Like I said before, a soggy and deoxygenated environment is established when all pores in the soil are filled with water and these conditions do not suit the plant, but fungus certainly love it. And just like that – you have mold on the soil surface!

Yellowing of Leaves

Yellow leaves are among the first signs of overwatering and thus caused a lack of oxygen in the plant.

The yellowing of leaves is caused by a lack of micronutrients such as iron and manganese. 

Iron is an essential component in photosynthesis, known to be one of the most important processes that take place in plants. 

Overwatering and water retention in the soil causes root rot. Consequently, the root will not be able to function properly and there will be a lack of nutrient supply to other parts of the plant. 

Source: sciencedirect

Edema

You can recognize your Monstera suffers from edema when it has small watery balls on the leaves.

Edema is caused by abnormal water retention when the intensity of water uptake is much larger than transpiration intensity.

Overwhelming with water leads to a high concentration of carbon-dioxide and compression of this gas in the plant tissue with cells getting collapsed and piled in lumps.

Monstera leaves can turn brown due to edema. Read this post to know how to fix brown monstera leaves

Improper Soil Mix

Clay-like soils, with tiny grains, tend to compact and clump together, especially when you’re watering. It is clear that those soils are draining badly.

Also, such soils are impermeable for air. People often compress soil in the end when planting, but this is not a good idea. 

How to Save Overwatered Monstera

Correct Soggy Soil

If your plant doesn’t have visible symptoms of waterlogging and the only problem is too much water left in the soil, then you should just dry the soil out.

⦾ Drain away the excess water carefully and refrain from watering for a couple of days.

⦾ Put a finger in the soil to check its moisture; if it’s dry at the depth of two inches, you can water your plant.

⦾ To provide good drainage, tilt the pot to the side and tap it to separate the soil from the pot and allow air to penetrate. This allows air pockets will form and the soil will dry out sooner.

⦾ Make sure the pot where Monstera sits has enough holes for water draining. Put the saucer under the pot which will collect the excess drained water.

⦾ Try to imitate the wind flow in the room. You will establish a faster and more efficient drying of the soil. You can do this simply by putting a fan nearby.

⦾ For a more efficient water uptake, provide good lighting conditions. Monstera should be in a bright room with plenty of sunlight. Indirect sunlight would be the most optimal solution.

⦾ Add fertilizer to enrich the soil with nutrients that are in short supply.

Monstera Already Shriveled 

Yellowing of the leaves, wilting of the entire plant, and that rotten stink of the soil means your Monstera was overflowed with water for a while.

There’s a big chance for the root to rot. It’s time to assess the damage and treat the decayed parts of the plant.

⦾ Prune wilted leaves carefully to save as much energy as possible for recovery. Plants should remain a healthy entity overall.

⦾ You must check what is happening with the root. Take the Monstera out of the pot and do so very carefully. Remove the soil from the roots slowly to avoid its injury.

⦾ The healthy root should have a white color. If most of the root still has its white color then you can just leave the whole plant out of the pot to let the roots dry on a paper surface.

⦾ After returning Monstera in the soil, you should not fertilize it immediately. Your plant is in a state of stress and you should wait until it becomes healthy again.

Root Rot Treatment

Root rot is an advanced stage of damage. Once you identify it, you must estimate if your Monstera can be saved.

Even though this is one of the worst things that may happen to the plant, that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Here are the steps for treating the root rot:

⦾ If you can still notice white, healthy parts of the root among the brown, slimy appearance, then you should remove the rotten parts.

⦾ Wash the root under running water and try to remove as much soil and affected roots as possible.

⦾ Use sharp scissors, carefully cut the rotten pieces, and try not to damage the white parts. Sterilize the scissors with alcohol before cutting.

⦾ Apply a fungicide solution to prevent progression of the damage.

⦾ Repot the plant in a clean and fresh potting mix. Don’t forget to provide good drainage. 

⦾ Make sure the pot is well cleaned to prevent the progression of pathogens.

Fungal Infection Treatment

Swampy soil is a perfect environment for fungus reproduction. As decomposing beings, fungus leads to root decay.

Also, they deplete nutrients from the soil and aggravate their resorption by the plant. Follow the steps below to beat the fungus:

⦾ Remove the whole plant from the pot.

⦾ If the root is affected, then wash it to clean it from the old soil and do this very carefully to avoid stressing the root or injuring it. Cut off the already damaged parts of the plant with sterilized scissors. Treat the remaining part with fungicide.

⦾ Change the old, musty soil with clean, airy soil with good drainage. Fungus tends to spread throughout the soil, so you shouldn’t keep it for planting anymore.

⦾ Wash the pot with hot water and detergent to get rid of the infected compost completely.

⦾ Repot the plant into the new, healthy, and fresh potting mix.

⦾ If your Monstera isn’t doing well after those treatments and if the damage has gone far, there is still a possibility to save a part of it. 

⦾ Cut off the healthy part of the trunk and let it root to form a new plant. After forming adventitious roots, plant it in a new potting mix and follow its progress from then on.

How to Water Monstera?

Watering Rules

Monstera has holes in its leaves as an adaptation for heavy rain showers in tropical forests. The other thing is a smooth leaf surface which makes raindrops easily slip off the leaves.

Top watering is good for getting rid of pests and for washing down the impurities from the leaves. 

But the problem with top watering is that the root can get insufficient water.  Bottom watering makes the water distribute properly in the soil and the root gets enough of the same.

So, if you practice bottom watering you are also sure the root gets enough water. 

Be careful with bottom watering, because the biggest risk of it is actually waterlogging.

When you do this don’t let Monstera soak for too long and empty the saucer on time. However, prefer bottom watering and only occasionally use the top watering manner.

Watering Frequency

Monstera is a tropical plant so it is clear that it needs moisture in quite a big percentage.

You should keep it in a humid environment and water it once or sometimes two times per week. When you notice the soil has become dry, water the plant.

Factors Influence Watering Frequency

Type of Soil

If the soil has the high water-holding capacity, then you should water your Monstera less frequently than usual.

On the contrary, if the soil is sandy where the water sinks quickly with about half of the added water retained in the soil, then you should water Monstera more than 2 times per week, even more, depending on soil moisture. Use your own judgment.

Sunlight

You should keep your Monstera from direct sunlight. As the brightness increases, the need for water increases.

And if your plant is in a dark place, watering frequency should be lower. However, the temperature for Monstera cultivation should be around 68ºF (20ºC).

Humidity

Monstera naturally lives in conditions with quite a large percentage of humidity (above 50%). It is difficult to imitate the tropical conditions in the house where you are actually living, but then, you should water your Monstera more frequently to make up the lack of humidity.

If you have heat-generating objects or an air conditioner in the room where you keep Monstera, then watering frequency must be even higher.

Stage of Growth

With the growth, watering needs are increased. The stage of flowering and fruiting would be a peak of watering needs, but indoor cultivated Monstera rarely gives flowers and fruits.

When you notice the forming of new leaves or buds on your Monstera, you should increase the watering frequency because the metabolism is on a higher level. If your Monstera is young, then watering should be lighter and more frequent.

Season of the Year

You should water Monstera less frequently in the winter months. Winter watering should be reduced to once every few weeks.

In the summer months, you should water your plant once or two times per week because of increasing the isolation, temperature, and lack of humidity in the air.

You should sometimes mist the leaves of Monstera to emulate the humidity conditions from its natural habitat.

Pot Size

Pot size can also have an impact on watering frequency. A bigger pot means a larger amount of soil.

If you grow your Monstera in a large-sized pot, then you should reduce the watering frequency to let the soil drain out and increase the water volume to moisturize a larger amount of soil to a sufficient extent.

But if you decide to grow it in a smaller pot, then you should water Monstera more often with smaller amounts of water.

It is probably better to cultivate an adult Monstera in a large-sized pot because of its growing air roots to climb up the surfaces.

Water Quality

You can use tap water for your Monstera, but you should filtrate it to get rid of dirt, scale, and other impurities. Tap water often has too much chlorine or calcium and filtering can reduce the concentration of it. 

I recommend buying a water filter so you can filtrate the water for your Monstera and also for you to drink. You can use distilled water after fertilizing.

Rainwater is welcome for your Monstera, too. Also, you can sit out the water overnight to let the chlorine and fluoride evaporate and then use it for watering.

The temperature of the water should be equal to the room temperature. Coldwater could damage the root.

How Much and When to Water Monstera?

Although this kind of plant, like all another from the arum family, lives in a habitat where rainfall showers are common, that doesn’t mean Monstera likes liters of water.

One average-sized bowl of water would be enough. You should use the amount of water just enough to moisture the whole soil and make sure the root gets enough of it. 

If we speak about the part of the day when you should water your Monstera, the first thing I want to tell you is that you shouldn’t water it when the Sun is at its zenith, that is, during the heat of the day.

This way you avoid the risk of your Monstera experiencing a temperature shock. 

Also, if you water it during the hottest point of the day, large amount of water will evaporate and there is a chance of getting Monstera underwatered.

Watering in the morning and early evening are probably the most optimal for your Monstera.

When to Water After Transplanting Monstera?

Consistent with the fact that transplanting is stressful for any plant, you should refrain from watering during this period or maybe pour a little water.

If the roots have succumbed to slight damage after transplanting then watering may cause worse injuries. And in that way, you could destroy your Monstera completely.

You should add some water right after transplanting just to encourage the roots to grow and thus recover faster.

Common Mistakes in Watering Monstera

It’s definitely impossible not to make any mistakes when you water your plants. It can be really difficult to estimate how much and how often your plant needs water because it doesn’t just depend on the species of plant.

Many factors are concluded and I mentioned some of them before. I’m going to list down the most common mistakes in watering Monstera.

Inconsistent Watering

If you water your Monstera in irregular time intervals you will have some of the issues I listed before very soon. You can’t water Monstera from time to time when it occurs to you.

Or an often-made mistake – watering when the soil becomes crusty dry and begins to separate from the walls of the pot. In this case, you are risking to get Monstera underwatered. You have to water it properly as I said, the best rate is once per week.

Watering too Much

This is the thing we talk about this whole time, aren’t we? I explained what happens when you soak your Monstera with water. Swampy soil is a bad environment for root activity and definitely great substrate for growing fungus. And it is clear that fungus are not very friendly to Monstera. 

Also, when too much watering is combined with a poor drainage system with few little holes on the bottom of the pot, wilt leaves and root rot are inevitable.

Reduce the amount of water used for Monstera and don’t water it too often. Always check the moisture of the soil and then decide whether to water your Monstera or not.

Wet Soil from Overwatering

This is very common mistake in gardening generally. Choosing the clayey soil whose layers tend to thicken together and keep excess water around the root.

Also, the main reason is the poor drainage system. Pots with few openings through which water drains are guilty of your Montera growing in a swamp. Ensure the good drainage for your Monstera to fix this.

Watering the Leaves and Not the Roots

Top watering leads to unnecessarily wet leaves and insufficient water supply to the root. I mentioned that top watering can be good for getting rid of pests and washing dirt from leaves.

But you shouldn’t pick this sort of watering as the main one. Bottom watering can enable proper watering of the root without drenching the leaves.

Watering During the Heat of the Day

It may seem logical to water Monstera when the Sun shines the brightest, but that can only lead to disturbed ratio of transpiration and water absorption. When watering in the hottest part of the day most of the water just evaporates and the gain for the Monstera is minimal.

Here is a table where I listed most common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Common MistakesHow to Avoid
Inconsistent wateringWater once per week
Watering too much Check the moisture of the soil
Wet soil from overwateringProvide a good drainage system
Watering the leaves and not the roots Prioritize bottom watering
Watering during the heat of the dayWater in the morning or early evening

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I water my Monstera?

You can’t water Monstera once in a month or, on the contrary, you can’t fill the pot with water every two days. The suggestion to you is to water your Monstera 1-2 times per week.

How do I know if my Monstera needs water?

This can be difficult to estimate, too. You shouldn’t wait for your plant to show it by its shrunken appearance and to let it wilt and then apply the water. You can purchase one moisture meter for checking the moisture of the soil. You can also try checking it by finger into the soil. And if the soil is dry on that depth, the plant is likely thirsty.

Can you bottom water Monstera?

This kind of watering certainly provides enough water to the root. Just don’t do this for too long because you can have a problem with overwatering and also, don’t forget to provide proper drainage.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope I helped you to save your Monstera and go forward, to evade issues with overwatering.

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

Recent Content