Overwatered Monstera

When you first brought it home, you were enthralled by your beautiful Monstera plant with its striking green, swiss cheese leaves! You have been lavishing it with water and loving care to make sure it doesn’t die, but now its leaves are turning wizened and yellow, and you’re wondering what you did wrong. Unfortunately, you have probably overwatered it.

If you overwater your Monstera, its leaves will go yellow or brown and start to wilt. This means the roots are damaged and can’t supply sufficient nutrients and oxygen. To remedy the situation, remove the soil from around the roots, trim off all dead parts and repot in fresh well-draining substrate.

The Monstera species most commonly kept as houseplants are Monstera adamsonii and Monstera deliciosa. They are tropical plants originating from Central America and don’t like wet feet. If the plant starts to smell foul, this is a sign of rotten roots, and your Monstera is dying.

Overwatered Monstera

The Monstera’s Natural Habitat

If you understand a Monstera’s natural habitat, you can better know its watering requirements. The plants grow in tropical rainforests where there is heavy rainfall, but the soil of the forest floor does not retain water very well. It quickly runs off into the small streams and the rivers because the soils in rainforests are not very deep or dense.

The holes in the Monstera’s leaves ensure that they do not hold water that can trickle down the leaf stem and into the roots. Wind and rain pass straight through the “windows” in the leaves. The young leaves don’t have these windows at first, so immature Monsteras can be confused with pothos and philodendrons.

Monsteras are semi-epiphytic, which means they can grow on other plants as well as in the soil of the jungle floor. This is why they grow aerial roots. Aerial roots do not sit in water for any length of time because the plant is suspended above the soil and is growing on a tree or other plant.

When a Monstera plant seed germinates, the first thing the young shoot does is grow towards the darkest space in its environment because it is searching for a tree. It anchors itself to the tree by growing many roots and then grows upwards to get to the light within the canopy.

Sometimes a Monstera can be seen growing on trees with no apparent attachment to the soil below. However, it can send out aerial roots to re-establish contact with the earth if it chooses. It is clear from this that Monsteras do not naturally grow in waterlogged soil or marshy ground.

 Signs Of Overwatering

Sings of overwatered Monstera

The first sign of overwatering a Monstera owner is likely to notice is that the leaves start to go yellow or brown. The leaves are no longer that lovely deep green they used to be. This is a sign that the plant’s roots are not healthy, but you will not notice this until they start to smell bad.

You may also notice large brown flecks on the leaves surrounded by yellow rings. This is evidence that your plant is not getting sufficient nutrients. It is another indication that all is not well with the plant’s root system.

Too much water creates an anaerobic environment in the pot which means oxygen can no longer reach the roots. The brown spots on the leaves indicate cell death due to a lack of nutrients and oxygen. The plant cannot absorb nutrients, oxygen, and water through its leaves and is totally dependent on its roots.

Then you may notice the roots start smelling bad, and the plant begins to wilt and shrivel up. The foul odor is strong and unmistakable. The root rot is noticeably dark brown.  You would have been overwatering for some time for the roots to start rotting.

When you check the substrate in the plant pot, you will see that it is waterlogged. Urgent action is necessary to save your plant, and the steps to take are discussed below.

Read more: Thrips On Monstera

How To Save An Overwatered Monstera

To save an overwatered Monstera, gently remove it from the pot and inspect the root system for damage. Carefully remove all the waterlogged soil from between the roots by running them through your fingers.

Look for rotting roots and other dying plant parts and trim them off. Rotten roots and plant parts will feel mushy. Obviously, if the entire root system is rotten, you will probably not be able to save the plant since it can’t survive without its roots.

If slightly less than half of the healthy roots remain, you’re in luck. The plant needs at least forty percent of its original roots to recover. Treat the remaining roots and other parts of the plant with a fungicide and make sure there are no insect pests on the leaves and stems.

Before repotting, make sure there are ample drainage holes in the pot. If there aren’t any, use a different pot or make some holes yourself. Placing some pebbles at the bottom of the pot will also improve drainage and prevent the holes from becoming clogged with the substrate.

Fill a third of the pot with a light aerated potting soil containing perlite. Then introduce the plant and cover the roots with the rest of the potting mix. Monsteras like a well-aerated potting mix that doesn’t retain much water.

Don’t give it too much water after repotting because the roots need time to recover. It is best to water sparingly for a week or two. Make sure you relocate the Monstera in bright indirect sunlight in a humid room if you think the plant may not have been receiving sufficient light in its previous position.

How To Correctly Water A Monstera Plant  

Correct watering Monstera

Before watering, check the soil in the pot with your finger to see if it feels dry or wet. If it feels damp, don’t water it. If the top of the substrate is dry, you can water it. You can also buy a moisture meter, a small, inexpensive device sold by many garden shops and Amazon.

It has a stem that you insert into the soil halfway between the plant and the pot rim and a gauge that tells you how moist the soil is. It is also called a hygrometer and does not require batteries.

A hygrometer only tests the moisture levels in soil, so don’t put it directly into any water that may have pooled around the plant. In any event, water should never be pooling in your Monstera’s pot!

You can also use a wooden chopstick. Push it a couple of inches into the substrate halfway between the pot’s rim and the plant, then pull it out and inspect it. If it comes out with bits of soil stuck to it, your Monstera doesn’t need more water. If it comes out clean, you can give your plant some water.

When you water your Monstera, watch for water running out of the drainage holes. When it starts to run out, you have given it enough water. Remove the drainage tray and empty it of water.

If you don’t have a drainage tray, you should get one as they are inexpensive. In the meantime, if your Monstera is still small, you can put the pot in the sink and water it until you see water running out of the drainage holes.

Avoid wetting the leaves, and don’t soak the soil. Use a watering can to add water to the base of the plant only.

Monsteras don’t like to be wet, but they don’t like being too dry either. You should only water until the top two inches of soil feel moist. Room temperature water is best and if your tap water contains many chemicals, let it sit overnight before using it.

Your Monstera will generally need less water in winter than in summer. In the winter, you should only water every few weeks, while in the summer, you may need to water weekly or every other week, depending on how dry the climate is.

Monsteras are pretty forgiving, so don’t panic if you have accidentally given it too much water on occasion. Just empty the drainage tray and wait for a while until the soil dries out before watering again.

Related: Monstera Brown Leaves

Conclusion

It is better to slightly underwater your Monstera than to overwater it. The plant does not like a soggy substrate as this causes root rot and, ultimately, death. Repotting in fresh well-draining soil is recommended if you have overwatered it too often and the leaves are turning yellow.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monstera_deliciosa

https://www.gardenista.com/posts/gardening-101-monstera-deliciosa-tropical-plant-guide/

https://monsteraplantresource.com/history-of-monstera/

https://monsteraplantresource.com/howtowateramonstera/