We will be talking about how often to water monstera and look at the things that influence how soon you will need to give this plant a drink. They are primarily environmental, but some have to do with the soil, pot, and plant size.
Also, we have insight on the bottom and top Monstera watering techniques, giving you their pros and cons. Both the methods are ok and are unlikely reasons why your plant has watering issues.
Since watering is one of the critical parts of your Monstera care, we will tell you the common mistakes and how to know that this plant is thirsty. You don’t want to kill your plant unknowingly. One is such a mistake following a watering schedule.
Last but not least, we give you the signs of underwatered or overwatered monstera and how to save this plant if you overwater them.
What you will learn will apply to watering Swiss cheese plants, i.e., Monstera deliciosa, Monstera adansonii, or Monstera obliqua. They will also apply to other species, forms, and varieties, including the variegated ones. These plants have similar water needs.
Table of content
- Quick overview
- About Monsteras
- Factors that affect Monstera water requirement
- Monstera watering
- How to water newly transplanted Monsteras
- Underwatered Monstera
- Overwatered Monstera
- Frequently asked questions
Just to give you a quick summary, you should water your monstera when the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil is dry. And always test the soil before because how often to water monsteras depends on your environment and conditions, soil and pot type. Otherwise, you will end up overwatering or underwatering this plant.
Ordinarily, it will be after 5 to 10 days in summer or spring (growing season). In winter or when your plant is dormant, it may take between 2 weeks to a month. But this is a rough estimation, and it may not apply to your case.
Last but not least, overwatering is more harmful than underwatering. But both are will cause issues. Thus, you need to strike a delicate balance.
Monstera is a tropical climbing plant genus native to Central and Tropical America plus surrounding islands. It is an aroid, i.e., it belongs to the arum family Araceae.
The most popular species is Monstera deliciosa, followed by Monstera adansonii. But there are still other astounding species like M. obliqua, M. siltepecana, the shingling M. dubia, and many others. You will even get the variegated Monsteras.
What makes these houseplants unique is the large split and fenestrated mature leaves, i.e., they may have holes, splits, or both. We bet you will love these hemiepiphytes.
Lastly, it is good to know that these plants come from warm and humid tropical rainforests. Also, they need indirect light.
Factors that affect Monstera water requirement
How much water your monstera needs depends on several factors. This is why we don’t encourage the use of a watering schedule. Let us look at these factors.
1. Season – growing season vs. dormant season
During the growing season, i.e., spring and summer, your monstera needs more water. Why? Because at these times, it is warmer and there is enough light. So, your plants will need more water for photosynthesis and other functions.
Additionally, since growing seasons are warmer, your plant will lose more water through transpiration. Also, you expect the potting mix to evaporate faster.
On the other hand, in winter, or when these plants are dormant, they minimally grow because it is cold and there is less light. Consequently, they will require less water. Also, little water will be lost by evaporation and transpiration.
The amount of light you give your monstera will affect the rate of transpiration and photosynthesis. A monstera needs bright, indirect light. Direct sun will burn their leaves, and too little will make it grow slowly, be leggy, have yellow leaves, and so on.
How does light affect water requirement? It is straightforward. More light means more photosynthesis and transpiration. Also, the soil dries faster. Thus, your plant will need more water. The vice versa is true.
This means that if you put your brighter spot, it will need more watering than a low-lit area. For instance, a plant on a south-facing window will need more water than the one on a north-facing window.
Monsteras prefer places with above-average humidity, 60% or more. Luckily, it can tolerate slightly lower. But when in lower humidity, your plant will lose more water through soil and leaves (transpiration) than in high humidity.
When it losses more water, your plant responds by absorbing more water. Thus, plants in such an area will need more watering than those in high humidity. But ensure your humidity doesn’t go so low as it will affect your plant’s health. You don't want those curling leaves, brown, crispy edges, a drooping plant, and so on.
The ideal temperature for Monsteras should range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 27°C). A lower temperature will slow growth and reduce water loss from leaves or soil. Such a plant will require less water.
On the other hand, higher temperatures will mean more growth and photosynthesis. Also, there will be more water loss by transpiration and evaporation. Thus, your plant will need more water to photosynthesis and do other functions.
That said, you need to avoid very high temperatures and low ones as they will affect your plant.
5. Soil mix
The best Monstera soil should be chunky, well-drained, aerated, and rich in organic. Also, it should be slightly acidic. A mixture of houseplant potting soil + coconut coir or peat moss + perlite, pumice, or bark is ok.
The exact mix you pick will affect how soon you will need to water your Monsteras. For instance, if it is high in perlite, pumice, or bark, it may dry quickly. Also, those with very little of these constituents will not drain well.
On the other hand, the quantity of sphagnum moss, coco coir, and potting mix will affect how well your potting mix holds water. So, it would help if you have a good balance.
Last but not least, avoid compact or heavy soil. They will get waterlogged and cause root rot. Also, sandy soils that don’t hold moisture are not good either.
6. Plant size
Needless to explain any further, a small plant will need less water than a large one. It has smaller leaves, needs lesser water for various functions, and losses through transpiration are small.
7. Pot size
Your pot size will also affect how soon you water your plants. A small one will need more watering and may increase the risk of your plant being rootbound.
On the other hand, a larger pot means that you have more potting mix. So, your plant will have much water to use. But if too large, it may result in overwatering and root rot because the plant will take a long to use the water. So, pick the right pot size, depending on your plant size.
8. Pot type
People with porous pots like terracotta or concrete will need to water their plants slightly more than those with ceramic, glass, or plastic ones. Why? Because porous pots allow some water to seep to the outer surface and evaporate.
Even though they require more watering, terracotta pots are better since they also allow soil aeration. Also, they will reduce instances of root rot, and you can see moist soil levels.
9. Indoor vs. outdoor monstera
The other factor that may affect watering is where you are growing this plant. In general, outdoor monsteras will need more frequent watering than those indoor ones. But again, this will depend on the conditions inside and outside your house.
It is time to look at the details of Monstera watering. Here will tell you how often to water monstera or when. We will also look at the watering methods and common mistakes many people make when watering their monsteras.
1. How often to water Monstera?
Water your monstera when the top 2 or 3 inches of potting mix or soil dries. In most cases, this will be after 5 to 10 days in summer or spring or growing season. In dormant or non-growing season, you will water once after 2 to 4 weeks.
There is no exact duration, and don’t rely on a monstera watering schedule. Why? Because we have seen the reasons that affect water needs. These factors revolve around your environmental conditions, potting mix, pot type, or plant size.
It is wise to learn your plant’s water needs over time. Why? because it will keep changing. But it shouldn’t take too long or too short in depending on the season.
If you take too long before watering, there may be an issue with blocked drainage holes, heavy or compacted soils, an oversized pot. Also, low temperature or light may be the reason.
On the other hand, if your plant becomes thirsty too fast, your potting mix doesn’t hold water, you have a small pot, or your plant is rootbound. The other reasons are low humidity or high temperature.
2. How to tell your plant needs water?
The surest way to know your plant needs water is by feeling the soil with your finger. If the top about 2 inches (somewhere on your second knuckle) feels damp, wait for a few more days. However, if it feels dry, it is time to water your plant.
If you don’t like touching the potting mix, here are alternative methods you can use.
a). Moisture meter
If you have a soil moisture meter, stick the testing probe into the soil, halfway distance between the plant base and pot edge. Then check the reading, if it reads 3 or less, you need to water this plant. Soil meters are not so expensive.
A good soil moisture sensor or meter to buy is XLUX. It is affordable, accurate and best rated at Amazon. However, Sonkir and Gouevn are also good.
If you haven't used one before, worry not. These meters are color-coded, and they will indicate if your plant is thirsty or not. We bet you will not have any trouble reading it.
Poke a stick into the potting mix to about a depth of 2 to 3 inches and see if it is damp or it comes out clean. If some soil is stuck on it or looks damp, the potting mix still has some water. But if it comes out clean and dry, you need to water this plant.
c). Lifting the pot
This isn’t a very accurate method. But it may give you a hint. Just lift the pot to feel if it is lighter or heavier. If it is lightweight, your plants need to drink.
d). Wet terracotta pot
If you have a terracotta pot, you can tell the water level by touching or looking at the pot. The area with moisture will look darker or feel moist.
d). Look at signs of a thirsty plant
3. What water to use?
The best water to use on your monstera is rainwater because it is slightly acidic. So, it will help keep the correct soil pH. But since they are hardy plants, you can still use tap water. Even filtered water (reverse osmosis) is ok.
However, if your municipal water is high in fluoride or chloramines, don’t use it. Alternatively, it would help if you let the tap water be in an open container overnight. This may help dissipate some of these compounds.
4. How to water monstera – methods
On the watering method, you are free to go for the bottom or top watering method. Both the ways are ok, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
a. Top watering
This involves the use of a watering can with a long neck. Slowly and evenly saturate the soil until you see some water coming from the drainage holes. If you don't have a cachepot or saucer, take your plant to the sink.
Let the excess water drain for the next 15 minutes or until no more is flowing through drainage holes. Discard any water that collects on the saucer.
If the leaves look dusty and dirty, you can shower the whole plant. It will help clean the leaves and remove any pests present.
- Easy and very convenient
- Top watering helps leach or flush mineral salts deposits from fertilizers. So, you will not have issues with mineral deposits.
- Flushes some pests, their eggs or larva on the soil down to the sink or pot saucer.
- It may help boost humidity, just as misting does
- Less messy
- May encourage fungus gnat and any other pests that love moist soils.
- Water may flow out without reaching all the root structures
- It may stain leaves primarily if you use hard water. You will see some whitish residue on the leaves.
- If you wet the leaves, ensure they get dry as soon as possible. Leaving damp leaves in areas with poor air circulation may cause rot.
- This method may contribute to soil impaction because the water will push the soil downward and make it compacted
b. Bottom watering
The other option is the reverse or bottom watering. It involves placing your plant in a basin or sink and filling water a quarter to half the pot height. Let the plant sit there for about 30 minutes for the potting mix and roots soak in and absorb moisture.
Feel with your finger if the water has reached near the top of the soil. If that is the case, remove it from the basin and let it drip the excess water for the next 15 minutes.
- It encourages deep root growth since they grow towards a water source.
- This method doesn’t wet leaves.
- Bottom watering ensures even moisture distribution
- There will be a reduction in fungus gnats and other pests that like moist soils.
- It will not wet or stain leaves
- Allows for a more even and uniform wetting of the soil
- This method is tedious or cumbersome if you have huge plants. You have to lift your plants and place them in a basin or sink.
- Very messy as you move the plant to the basin and back to where it ways.
- It requires more time
- Reverse watering will not effectively flush minerals in the soil
5. Common Monstera watering mistakes
You already know some of the common mistakes that many monsteras and other houseplants owners make. Here they are:
a. Following a Monstera watering schedule
The number one mistake that many people make when it comes to Monstera watering is following a routine. If you blindly follow a watering schedule, you may end up over or underwatering these plants. As already noted, the amount required depends on various factors.
b. Shallow frequent watering
Don’t go for shallow, frequent watering, i.e., pour a little water to make the surface soil wet, every other day. The lower soil may dry, or you may also overwater the plant. Instead, go for deep soaks, allowing a few top inches of the potting mix to dry before another session.
Also, this method may encourage roots to grow on the potting mix surface where there is water. If this happens, they may not support your plant well. Also, if you forget to water the plant, it will suffer faster.
c. Misting your plant
Misting isn’t the same as watering, and it only raises humidity. Also, doing so often may cause leaf diseases or rot if you have high humidity and poor air circulation.
d. No or blocked drainage holes
We recommend that you go for pots with large drainage holes, even if it is terracotta. This will help prevent overwatering. Also, check if the holes are blocked by compacted soil or roots and dislodge whatever is causing the blockage.
You can quickly tell you have blocked drainage holes if the water fills the pot and nothing or too little comes from these drainage holes. But you need first to ensure that your potting mix isn’t compacted.
e. Letting pots remain pot saucer or cache pots
If you have a pot saucer that helps prevent spillage as you water your plant. Please discard any water that collects on these saucers. Otherwise, you will overwater your plant since the potting mix will absorb the water back into the soil. If this happens for a long time, you will have root rot.
Also, pour any water that collects in decorative pots or cachepots if you grow your plant in an inner plastic container. It will cause the same issue.
f. Wrong potting mix
Having potting mix that doesn’t hold moisture will cause underwatering issues. Why? The potting mix will dry almost immediately.
On the other hand, heavy or compacted soils will cause overwatering because they don’t let water flow through them. Instead, they will be soaked or soggy. Signs of such potting mix is water not flowing through drainage holes as usual or not flowing at all.
How to water newly transplanted Monsteras
We know you can propagate monstera in water or soil, and it is straightforward. If you transplanted a baby monstera, you need to adjust your watering slightly.
In the beginning, water them more frequently, mainly if they were propagated in water, ensuring the soil remains moist. We recommend that you lightly water these plants when the top potting mix starts drying.
As they adapt, you can slowly reduce the watering until you get to what we have discussed.
Monsteras grow in tropical rainforests. This means they need moist soil and are not drought resistant. But you can allow the potting mix to somewhat dry in-between the watering session.
Reasons underwatering are forgetting to water, negligence, or extreme conditions that promote quick soil drying and lots of water loss from leaves.
Dry and soil pulled away from the pot edges is the surefire indication of an underwatered Monstera. But there are other signs, which may also have different reasons. These signs are:
- Leaves curling upwards or inward
- Limp plants with drooping leaves
- Dry feeling papery thin leaves with brown crispy edges and tips
- Yellowing of leaves
- Slow or stunted growth
- Other possible signs include leaves not having fenestration. But this can also happen if you don’t give it a place to climb or the light is low. Also, Monstera Peru (Monstera karstenianum) doesn’t have fenestrations or splits.
- The plant will drop leaves to help conserve water
- Withering and death
2. What to do
If the soil is dry, give your plants a good drink. For the next couple of months, monitor your plant’s water needs and set a reminder alert. This alert will ensure you don’t forget watering. But when you go to water your Monstera, first feel the soil.
Also, check if you have low humidity, high temperature, too much light, and heat. These conditions often cause some of these symptoms.
The other thing to do is check if your plant is rootbound and repot it. Furthermore, if your potting mix dries too quickly, change it.
3. What to expect
Your plant will recover quickly. But if there were any brown or yellow leaves, they wouldn’t turn green after watering. You may consider trimming some dead areas. Otherwise, they will attract pests and make your plant look unsightly.
Overwatering is a serious and more often issue than underwatering. These plants are susceptible to soggy or waterlogged soils.
While it may be due to watering too often, it may occur due to heavy, poorly drained soil, oversized pots, or those without drainage holes. Also, watering frequently during dormancy, low light, high humidity may contribute.
When overwatered, the roots will not get enough oxygen. Thus, they cannot absorb water and nutrients well. Also, these conditions favor the growth of soil bacteria and fungus. If not corrected, soil fungus and bacteria may attack the weakened roots causing them to root.
1. Signs to expect
The first sign of an overwatered Monstera will be a constantly soggy or wet potting mix even after not watering for a few days. Next, leaves will start turning yellow, beginning with the lower ones, later affecting younger leaves.
Other signs to expect that may include those of root rot are:
- Wilting and drooping leaves that don’t feel crispy or dry.
- Black or brown splotches on leaves
- Leaves curling
- Brown or black spots with a yellow halo in case of leaf fungus
- Mushy stem base
- Moldy potting mix
- Slow growth
- Leaf and stem edema, characterized by brown, white, or tan wart-like growths
- Leaves dropping
- Mushy brown or black roots that may have a foul odor
2. How to save an overwatered Monstera
The first thing to do is stop watering and check the roots for any signs of root rot. If all they are white or yellowish, there is no root rot yet.
Next, consider changing your potting mix to a better draining one. If the soil is ok, use a chopstick or pencil to poke some holes to help improve aeration. The other thing is if growing in low light and a cold place, provide enough light and warmth.
If your monstera has root rot, you will only be able to save it if it is at its early stage.
To keep it alive, repot it immediately. As you repot, cut any brown or black roots using sterilized pruning scissors. Also, you can spray the roots with hydrogen peroxide to help kill the microorganisms causing the rot.
Frequently asked questions
If you see water dripping from the edges of your monstera, it is not crying. Some people say that their monstera is sweating or leaking water. But this is a normal phenomenon known as guttation. And it is not the transpiration or dew formation.
Guttation occurs when you overwater your plant, or the soil has a lot of moisture. The roots absorb a lot of water and create pressure to push the water to leaves and out through hydathodes at leave edges. It helps relieve water pressure.
Lastly, guttation occurs during the early morning or at night. Also, the plant exudes water and not vapor. Thus, this process is not the same as transpiration, which occurs when stomata are open to absorb carbon dioxide. Also, what is lost is water vapor and not liquids in transpiration.
The best time to water your monstera is in the mornings. Why, because, the soil is still cool, and they will have enough time to absorb water for use during the day. But you can also water this plant in the late afternoon or evening.
If you opt for late afternoon or evening, make sure you don’t wet the leaves or damp. Why? Because if the water remains on leaves throughout the night. They may cause leaf disease or rot. Remember, nights are cooler, and not much evaporation occurs.
If you must, afternoons are still ok. But your plant will lose a lot of water to evaporation. So, we don’t recommend it, especially for outdoor plants.
Surprisingly yes. While soggy soil will cause root rot, monstera can live or grow in water. Some people have successfully grown Monsteras in hydrophobic systems or semi- hydroponics like LECA. The Monstera roots in water look just as healthy.