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7 Ways to Identify & Fix Monstera Root Rot

It’s been four years since I got my first monstera plant, and I was excited about it. But I soon realized I was overly concerned with its growth, leading me to water it too often initially.

And when its growth stopped, I panicked and watered it even more. Little did I know that this was a recipe for disaster, as it often causes root rot.

Root rot is a condition that can cause your Monstera’s roots to become thin and may lead to poor growth. When you remove a plant suffering from root rot from its pot, you’ll notice that the roots have turned black and crumble off like molting.

Although I haven’t experienced root rot often, there have been cases where it has occurred due to neglecting to repot the plant for years or leaving it in a clogged state. There have also been cases where the root rot was present or due to individual differences when I first purchased the plant.

In this article, I’ll dive into everything you need to know about root rot, from its causes to the telltale signs that your Monstera is suffering.

And don’t worry; I won’t leave you hanging i’ll also share some easy tips and tricks to help you deal with root rot and bring your beloved plant back to life. 

What Are The Symptoms of Root Rot In Monstera?

So, a couple of months ago, my Monstera (deliciosa) plant at home started acting up. The leaves looked pretty sad, and I was worried it might be root rot. Who wouldn’t be, right?

I took matters into my own hands and took the plant out of its soil to check for any signs of root rot. But guess what? I found nothing! I was so relieved; I thought everything was back to normal.

But a few days later, I found my Monstera plant down again! What the heck? So, I took it out of its soil once more to investigate. That’s when I came across a handy list of signs for root rot. 

When you touch the roots, they start falling off, and the surface of the roots is crumbly and easily broken when touched. Healthy roots are supposed to be white, but the roots affected by root rot can turn black.

I learned that root rot is no joke and can cause severe damage to your plants if left untreated. So, if you notice any of the symptoms, it’s important to deal with them immediately!

Now let’s check out the above-ground primary indications manifesting when Monstera suffers from root rot and what you can do about it.

1- Symptoms of Monstera root rot: New shoots die

The death of new leaves and shoots is often linked to root rot or soil that does not drain well, leading to root suffocation and a lack of oxygen for the plant’s tissues

When your Monstera plant is dealing with root rot, it can’t absorb water and nutrients properly. And you know what that means?

As a result, it won’t be able to sprout new leaves or, even if it does, those fresh shoots won’t make it and will wither away.

So, if you’ve noticed a lack of new growth in your Monstera or any new shoots are dying off, it might be time to check for root rot. 

Watch out for Roots Sticking Out of the Pot: A Sign of Clogged Roots

Monstera roots coming out of drainage holes indicate root-bound plants, which can stunt growth and reduce nutrient uptake.
Monstera roots coming out of drainage holes indicate root-bound plants, which can stunt growth and reduce nutrient uptake.

If you’re having trouble with the leaves on your plant, it’s a good idea to peek at the bottom of the pot. If you see any roots sticking out from the drainage hole, it’s a clear sign that the roots are clogged.

Clogged roots occur when the roots grow excessively and fill up the pot’s interior. If you don’t address the issue, the pot’s interior can become too humid and lead to root rot. So, watch for those sneaky roots and give your plant the care it deserves!

2- Signs of Root Rot in Monstera: Leaf Color Deterioration

Monstera leaf discoloration can be caused by root rot, which affects water and nutrient uptake, leading to wilting.
Monstera leaf discoloration can be caused by root rot, which affects water and nutrient uptake, leading to wilting.

When your Monstera plant suffers from root rot, its roots won’t be able to soak up the water and nutrients it needs to thrive.

This can lead to stunted growth and discoloration in the leaves, which may start turning yellow or brown.

If you haven’t repotted your plant in over two years, even if the roots are poking out of the pot, the soil may have degraded to the point where drainage is poor.

Over time, the soil particles can become clumped and hardened, making it difficult for your plant’s roots to get the necessary nourishment.

That’s why repotting is essential, not just to clear any blockages in the roots but also to refresh the soil.

Sticky Leaves and Scattered Colors: Signs of Pesky Insect Pests!

If your Monstera’s leaves become discolored and gooey, insect pests may have attacked the plant.

Look closely at the leaves and check for any small insects on the surface, base, or underside of the leaves or in the spaces between the petioles. If you spot any, remove them immediately.

Thrips on a Monstera plant can be identified by observing tiny, slender insects with fringed wings, which feed on the plant’s tissues and can cause damage to the leaves

Common pests that can damage Monstera include thrips and spider mites. They suck the leaves and leave a sticky residue on the foliage with their excrement, which can cause further damage.

If you find that the number of pests has grown out of control and are too numerous to handle or unpleasant to touch, consider using insecticides.

3- Symptoms of Root Rot in Monstera: Soil Remains Wet for More Than 7 Days After Watering

If the soil remains wet for more than seven days after the last watering, it may indicate that the roots are damaged and unable to absorb water.

In this case, avoid watering the plant until the soil dries out, and try to place the plant in a well-ventilated area as much as possible.

At least 59°F (15 °C) in warmer weather, remove the plant from the pot and check the roots. If the roots are black and damaged, cut them off and replant the Monstera in well-drained soil.

If you’ve recently transplanted your Monstera, wait a few days before fertilizing it. This will give the plant time to adjust to its new environment before introducing new nutrients.

Adjusting Your Watering Routine for Winter

Monstera is a native of tropical America, and it thrives in temperatures above 68°F (20°C). However, when the temperature drops below 59°F (15°C), the plant enters a dormant phase, and its growth slows.

Adjusting your watering routine is essential to keep your Monstera healthy during the colder months.

Check the weather forecast regularly, and if the minimum temperature is expected to fall below 59°F (15°C), space out your watering.

Wait until the soil has dried out for 3 to 4 days before watering again. And avoid watering at night because it can cool the roots and weaken the plant.

If you’re seeking ways to ensure your monstera flourishes through the winter, then this article contains all the essential information you need.

4- Symptoms of Monstera Root Rot: Roots Are Soft and Slimy

Soft and slimy texture of Monstera roots affected by root rot is caused by the breakdown of root tissue due to infection by pathogenic fungi

If you notice that the base of your Monstera’s roots is slimy and soft, it could mean that the root rot has spread to the rest of the plant. Sadly, improving the environment may not save your plant at this point.

But don’t give up just yet! Monstera is a tough and resilient plant. If there’s still a healthy stem, you can cut it off and propagate it to regrow a new plant

If your Monstera shows signs of distress, the first thing to try is watering it less frequently and see if that helps. Then, give it some time; if you notice any improvement, great!

However, if your Monstera is still struggling after 3 to 5 days, it may be time to take more drastic measures. If any healthy stems are left, you can take cuttings and try to propagate them.

5- Roots Turning Black And Lack of Firmness

If your Monstera plant has black roots that lack firmness, it’s a sign that root rot has progressed significantly. But don’t give up on your plant if the roots are still white and bouncy.

Here is my Monstera growing in water; the development of black roots in a Monstera grown in water is a telltale sign of root rot caused by an infection of the fungus.

Upon inspecting the plant, you may notice the black and decayed roots. This is likely due to the roots being weakened by exposure to high humidity and cold temperatures.

Remove Black, Damaged Roots And Repot in Well-Drained Soil

Removing black and damaged roots is crucial to give your plant a chance to survive. You can easily detach the rotten roots with your hands or use scissors to remove them as much as possible. 

Here are some steps you can take to help your Monstera get rid of root rot:

  • First things first, you’ll need to remove any roots that look rotten or discolored. These roots can’t be saved, so get rid of them to give your plant a fresh start.
  • Next, it’s time to give those remaining roots a good cleaning. You can use a commercial fungicide spray for plants to eliminate lingering fungi or bacteria.
  • Unfortunately, any leaves or branches the root rot has weakened are probably beyond saving. Give your plant a good trim to get rid of these parts.
  • Now it’s time to give your plant a new home. Put it in fresh, clean soil and reduce watering for a little while. This will help your plant recover without getting too stressed out. 

To prevent any further waterlogging, make sure to drain the soil properly. Place the pot on a cloth or kitchen paper to remove excess water.

Give your plant some love by putting it in a warm, well-ventilated spot. Keep an eye on it and water it only when the soil feels dry. Make sure to drain the water thoroughly after watering.

During the colder months, improve air circulation by using an air circulator. Reviving a plant with root rot is more challenging, but you can nurse it back to health with a little effort.

6- Leaves Drooping and Turning Black

Blackened Monstera leaves are a symptom of both root rot and bacterial leaf spot disease which can spread through the plant’s vascular system and cause extensive damage to the foliage

When your monstera leaves start drooping and turning black, it’s a telltale sign of root rot.

This means the corrosion has progressed from the bottom of the plant, making it difficult for the leaves to maintain their health. As a result, the roots are rotting, and there’s a lack of water supply.

Don’t wait too long to take action because black leaves can spread quickly, making saving your Monstera even harder.

It’s important to act fast and remove the affected leaves. Once the leaves turn black, they’re no longer needed and can be cut off.

7- Stem Turning Black

If you notice that the stem of your Monstera has turned black, it’s a sign that the root rot has progressed from the roots to the stem.

Monstera lower stem turn black and causing symptoms such as wilted leaves, soft stem tissue, and discoloration
Monstera lower stem turn black and causing symptoms such as wilted leaves, soft stem tissue, and discoloration

This is a severe condition, and the plant may die, but there is still a chance of revival under certain conditions.

However, it’s not always root rot that causes a black stem in Monstera. Sometimes, the stem can turn black even without root rot.

To check if this is the case, touch the stem and see if it feels firm and solid. If it does, it’s normal, and there’s no need to worry.

Another reason for black growth in Monstera can be aerial roots. These black growths can appear from the sides of the trunk nodes.

They’re completely normal and are a sign of a healthy plant. So, don’t worry if you see them on your Monstera.

Tips to Prevent Monstera Root Rot

So how should you manage your Monstera to prevent root rot? Here are some measures to prevent root rot of Monstera.

Watering Schedule for Monstera: Spring to Fall, Only When Soil is Dry

To keep your Monstera healthy, you need to water it generously when the soil is dry. But be careful not to overdo it, as waterlogged soil can lead to root rot.

During the growing season (spring to fall), when the temperature is above 68°F (20°C), your Monstera will need more water.

Sticking your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle is the best way to check if it needs watering. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Fertilizing: give it a boost

Just like people, plants need proper nutrition to thrive. That’s where fertilizers come in. I recommend using FoxFarm Organic Big Bloom, a balanced solution of 15 essential nutrients for plant growth.

Dilute it with water and give it to your Monstera once every 10 to 14 days during the growing season. Don’t worry about the dosage; use 1/2 cup per gallon of water every time you water during the growth or flowering phase in the soil.

Before using FoxFarm Organic Big Bloom, give it a good shake. The solution tends to separate when it sits, so covering up the vent hole and shaking it well will ensure that the nutrients are evenly distributed.

This will improve growth and enhance the color of the leaves. Just stop using it after the fall when the growth slows down.

Avoiding fertilizer burn: less is more

Too much fertilizer can harm your plant’s roots and lead to fertilizer burn. So it’s essential to follow the recommended dosage and not overdo it.

Once a week is the general rule of thumb, but the author suggests giving it once every 10 to 14 days.

The color of the solution turns light yellowish when diluted with water, making it easy to use. If you mix the fertilizer solution with water, use it within 24 hours.

This will prevent the nutrients from breaking down and losing their potency. It’s important to read the instructions on the bottle before using any fertilizer. This will help you understand the proper dosage, frequency, and application method. 

Soil for Monstera to Prevent Root Rot

If you’re a beginner, don’t stress too much. You can use commercially available houseplant soil for your Monstera, and it should work just fine. It’s already blended to have all the right stuff your plant needs.

But if you’re feeling adventurous and want to make your soil blend, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The most important is good drainage, so your Monstera doesn’t get root rot (yuck!). Mix some red ball soil and humus to blend your soil.

Then, add river sand to the mix for even better drainage. A good ratio is 5 parts bark (or coco chips), 3 parts perlite, 1 part sand, and 0.25 parts organic plant food.

When using commercially available soil, one thing to remember is to add a layer of pumice stone or other material at the bottom of the pot to improve drainage and prevent root rot.

But be careful not to use too much or too little soil, especially in a shallow pot, or it might interfere with your Monstera’s growth. Just consider the size of your Monstera and the amount of soil needed.

Repotting Your Monstera: Why Every 2-3 Years Matter

As your Monstera grows bigger and bigger, it’s going to need more space to spread out its roots. That’s when it’s time to repot!

Most people recommend repotting every two or three years, but you should monitor your Monstera’s condition to know when it’s time.

For example, if you notice the plant looking top-heavy or the roots poking out of the bottom of the pot, it’s probably time to repot.

But be careful! Repotting can damage the roots and lead to root rot if you’re not careful. The best time to do it is during the growing season, which runs from May through September. This gives the roots the best chance to recover.

When it’s time to repot, gently take the plant out of the pot and brush off any old soil. If you see any damaged roots, snip them off to prevent further damage.

Then, place your Monstera in a new, larger pot with fresh soil and plenty of water. Repotting can help your Monstera avoid rot root if you do it right.

After Fall, Water Sparingly: Wait 3-4 Days after the Soil is Dry

Let me help you make your plant watering routine more manageable during the colder months. Shifting to moderate watering is a good idea as the weather gets cooler and growth slows down.

A good rule of thumb is to check the weather forecast to know when to water your plants. When the temperature drops below 59 °F (15 °C), it’s best to refrain from watering until the soil dries.

This is because the roots are not as efficient in absorbing water, and overwatering can lead to root rot.

  • To check if your plant needs watering, lift the pot and see if it feels light. A
  • Another way is to stick your finger an inch into the soil to see if it’s dry. 
  • You can also check if the soil is dry from the bottom of the pot or if the leaves are drooping. These are all signs that your plant needs some water.

But let’s be honest; it can be challenging to keep track of all your plants and check their soil moisture regularly.

That’s where a moisture meter comes in handy! The XLUX Soil Moisture Meter is highly accurate, unlike other meters on the market that often provide unreliable readings.

As a result, a moisture meter can prevent watering mistakes and make plant management much easier.

Key Takeaways

  • To keep your Monstera happy and healthy, you’ll want to ensure it gets some bright shade – it loves that! And don’t worry, it’s a tough little guy and won’t give you too much trouble if you follow some essential growing and management tips.
  • But here’s the thing – if you start to notice signs of root rot, it’s essential to act fast. Root rot can be a real pain for your Monstera, but if you catch it early and take care of it properly, your plant can return to its happy, healthy self in no time.
  • So, how do you know if your Monstera is suffering from root rot? Look out for wilting leaves, yellowing leaves, and a musty odor from the soil. If you notice these signs, it’s time to take action.
  • Ensure you’re using the proper growing method and giving your plant the environment to thrive. And remember, with a bit of care and attention, you can watch your Monstera grow into a beautiful, healthy plant that’ll brighten up your space for years to come!

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