How Much and How Often Should You Water Your Monstera Plants?
Did you recently welcome a new monstera plant into your indoor garden, but aren't sure how much water they need, or how often to water them? Underwatering and overwatering are both common monstera problems, so it's important to get it right. In this article, gardening expert and houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton explains the proper amount of moisture your monstera plants need.
Watering is one of the most vital aspects of houseplant care. Besides placing the plant in the right area and performing some occasional tasks, it’s really the only job we need to consider on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, it’s also the one area where most houseplant parents make mistakes and the leading cause of so-called ‘black thumbs’.
As moisture lovers, Monsteras are particularly susceptible to watering problems, especially overwatering. But with this complete guide, you’ll find out exactly when and how to water Monsteras so you can avoid their untimely demise.
With information on factors influencing watering schedules, as well as signs of over and underwatering, you can’t go wrong. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in!
The Short Answer
Most types of monstera plants will need to be watered once a week to once every two weeks. You’ll want to water until the soil is saturated, using a finger test. You do not want your plant’s soil to become waterlogged, or you’ll run the risk of disease.
The Long Answer
The Monstera genus is packed with fascinating leafy plants that have stolen the hearts of houseplant lovers.
The most famous is undoubtedly Monstera deliciousa – also known as Delicious Monster or Swiss Cheese Plant – with massive foliage and classic fenestration. However, there are a number of other species gaining popularity, such as Monstera adansonii, to add to your collection.
Monstera plants are one of the most, if not the most, widely grown houseplants around the world. They are appreciated for their tropical look and impressive leaf size. This makes them a much-needed addition for anyone looking to start their own indoor jungle.
They are also relatively easy to care for. These plants typically aren’t as fussy as other common houseplants and can live for several years without problems. The key to this long lifespan is correct care, particularly in watering. And getting this watering right starts with an understanding of the Monstera’s native habitat.
Monstera species are natively concentrated around Central America. They are found in tropical and subtropical forests where they grow underneath trees on the forest floor. From here, they use runners to search nearby trees to climb and use ariel roots to draw moisture and nutrients from the pockets of these trees.
This classifies Monsteras as hemi-epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that grow along other plants – usually trees. They don’t draw nutrients or suffocate the plant as a parasitic plant would, only using them as support away from the soil.
A hemi-epiphyte has the ability to grow in both soil and with aerial roots. They gain the advantage of height, lifting them off the forest floor for more light and air than the plants below, while still absorbing moisture from the soil at the same time.
Matching this growth habit, even when growing indoors in containers, is key to keeping your Monstera alive and thriving. They love moisture, in both the soil and the air around them, but have some epiphytic roots that are sensitive to rotting when waterlogged.
A balance of providing consistent moisture without overdoing it and suffocating the roots is essential to the health and growth of your Monstera.
How Often Do Monsteras Need Water?
To maintain consistent moisture in well-draining soil, you’ll need to water your Monstera once every 1-2 weeks or so. This general estimate will depend on a number of environmental factors (mentioned below) and the performance of the plant. That’s why it’s important to continually check the soil of your plant, rather than setting a reminder to water once per week irrespective of the moisture levels in the soil.
To prevent waterlogging, the soil should be allowed to dry out slightly before watering again. If the top layer of soil is still clearly moist, even if it has been a week, there is no need to water your plant. If it is visibly dry, test the moisture levels lower down in the soil before you consider grabbing your watering can.
To test the moisture levels, you can dig into the soil gently or lift the pot up to test by approximate weight. Once the top third of the soil has dried out, water your Monstera again. This only applies if the soil is well-draining and the pot has enough drainage holes to allow any excess to leave the container, ensuring good oxygen flow to the roots.
How Much Water Do They Need?
With any houseplants, including Monsteras, there isn’t a measurable amount of water you need to use each time. There’s no need to pull out a measuring jug, no recipe to follow to get it right. As long as you’ve used the correct soil mix, you simply need to water until the soil is completely saturated.
The general advice is to water until the excess starts leaking from the drainage holes. However, this doesn’t tell the full story. You need to ensure all parts of the soil are saturated, not just one small area, to make sure you’re watering correctly.
If the soil is drier than usual or compacted, water may run off the soil and down the sides of the pot without ever reaching the roots. You should continue to water until there are no dry patches left in the soil, ensuring all sides of the pot have received equal attention.
One popular watering method that has spread across social media is bottom watering. This involves placing the pot in a bucket or sink filled with water for around 30 minutes and allowing the soil to absorb as much water as it needs from below.
This method ensures even saturation in the soil, especially if the soil is compacted. But bottom watering shouldn’t be the only method used.
Watering from the top and draining the excess also flushes salts from the soil that can build up with excessive fertilizer use or even when watering with tap water over long periods. These salts can damage the roots over time, so removing them often is key to protecting your Monstera from problems in the future.
If you prefer to bottom water, water from the top every third or fourth time for all-around plant health.
Factors That Impact Watering Schedules
There are several factors surrounding the growth of your Monstera and the environment it is placed in that impact how often you should water. Understanding these adjustments can help you avoid issues with overwatering and underwatering, giving your Monstera exactly what it needs at the right time.
One of the biggest influences on your watering schedule will be the amount of sunlight your Monstera receives. All Monstera species grow best in bright indirect light that closely replicates what they receive in their natural habitats. However, they can also handle moderate light quite well, and even small amounts of direct sun when not too intense.
The 1-2 week estimate is based on the optimal amount of light. But in lower light areas, evaporation is much slower, meaning your Monstera will need water far less often. Similarly, Monsteras in higher light will need water more often to stop the soil from drying out too quickly.
After a couple of weeks in the same spot, you should be able to determine how quickly the soil dries out. Take note and check the soil as often as needed to determine the perfect time to water.
Much like light levels, temperature also plays a role in watering. Increases in temperature for long periods will cause the soil to dry out quickly, while cold snaps over the winter months can decrease watering frequency to around once per month.
Humidity also has an impact, although a less dramatic one. When humidity is higher around the plant, evaporation is slightly slower, so the soil will retain more moisture. Low humidity combined with high temperatures will drain moisture from the soil much quicker.
Hand in hand with temperature changes, season and subsequent growth rate will have a massive impact on when you water.
During the active growing seasons – spring and summer – your Monstera will draw plenty of moisture from the soil, requiring a top-up quite often. In fall and winter, when growth slows due to temperature dips, watering can be reduced dramatically as the plant becomes somewhat dormant.
Take note of the size of the plant and the container it’s in to assess how often you will need to water. Young Monsteras in small containers will dry out quickly, needing watering more often. Established plants in large containers can usually go several weeks without another top-up.
Growth and performance can also have an influence. In the right environment, quick-growing Monsteras will use up far more water for photosynthesis than those in less-than-ideal growing conditions.
Signs of Overwatering
If you haven’t quite managed to get watering right, your Monstera will quickly let you know. This is particularly true in cases of overwatering, one of the most dangerous mistakes a houseplant owner can make.
When you water too often, moisture will hang around in the soil, preventing airflow around the roots. These conditions encourage fungal growth which leads to a condition known as root rot. Mushy and dying roots are unable to transport moisture and nutrients to the parts of the plant that need it. This can lead to several concerning signs.
The first of these is drooping or wilting, usually combined with yellowing in some leaves. The stems may also become soft at the base, and the excess moisture can attract additional pests like fungus gnats that begin to fly around the soil. Over time, the plant will stop growing and the leaves will slowly die off as the problem spreads.
Monsteras with severe cases of root rot are difficult to save. You can try repotting, removing all the soil around the roots and trimming off any dying sections, or for less severe issues, you can simply leave the soil to dry out before watering again.
Signs of Underwatering
Underwatering can be just as dangerous as overwatering, although it is far easier to fix. The first signs to look out for are wilting and curling leaves. This is an indication that the plant is trying to conserve moisture. The leaves may also become thin and turn brown at the edges. But dry and compacted soil is the only sign you’ll need to know your Monstera desperately needs water.
In these cases, it’s best to start by bottom watering. This will fully saturate the soil, preventing any patches of dryness around the roots. Allow the excess to drain and the leaves should return to normal in a couple of hours.
Watering Monsteras doesn’t need to be a tricky task once you understand the factors involved. While you need to make sure to avoid both underwatering and overwatering, following the steps outlined in this article will help avoid both issues. So, delete those scheduled reminders and instead water intuitively for lush leaves year-round.