Watering houseplants the right amount, at the right time and in the right way can be a daunting challenge for all plant parents as the wrong methods can have pretty negative consequences. However, watering your Monstera no longer has to be stressful as below we cover everything you need to know to keep your plant thriving.
Beloved and iconic, the Monstera plant has earned its place in the limelight with its split heart-shaped leaves and jungle-like aerial roots. It helps bring a little bit of the outside right into your home and although Monstera plants are quite adaptable compared to so many other plant types, watering correctly is vital to their long term health.
In this article we will be covering how to know when your Monstera needs water, the different methods to water it, how to prevent over and underwatering plus all of the tips we have gathered over the years. By the end, you’ll be confident in watering your Monstera properly to keep it happy and healthy for years to come.
Signs your Monstera needs water
The soil is dry
This may seem obvious that dry soil means it’s time to water but it’s not actually just as simple as this. Monstera plants do need their potting mix to dry out between waterings, but don’t like bone-dry soil for extended periods of time as this can quickly dry out their roots.
There are several methods you can choose from to determine whether the soil is dry and they depend on how you water your plant. If you use bottom up watering then we recommend using a moisture meter to determine soil moisture.
Alternatively, if your plant isn’t super mature and you can still pick it up easily, then lift up your Monstera before and after watering to get a sense of how heavy it is when it needs water.
If you water your Monstera from the top down then you can use the finger/ chopstick method to check if the top few inches are dry. If your finger or chopstick comes out without much soil on it, then the potting mix has dried out. Alongside this, if the potting mix has turned quite light brown, this also suggests it is dry. When you water, pay attention to the differences in colour between wet and dry soil.
The reason we don’t recommend looking at the soil colour or using the finger method when you bottom water is that the top of the soil will actually rarely get that moist so it’s not a good indicator of whether the rest of the soil has dried out or not.
Your Monstera is displaying issues
There are a few visible issues that can occur when your plant hasn’t been watered for a while including drooping stems, brown leaves or leaf edges and curling leaves.
We do recommend always testing the soil moisture if you notice any of these issues as they can also by overwatering or other issues entirely.
The reason that these issues can also come about with overwatering is that once the roots have started to rot, they aren’t able to take up any water. Ironically, this leaves your plant thirsty and it will start to display signs of underwatering, such as dry brown leaves and drooping stems.
How to water a Monstera
Watering schedules: yes or no?
Whilst it’s good to keep track of roughly when to water your Monstera, we are against rigid watering schedules and timetables. There are so many factors that play into how quickly the soil dries out (and therefore how often you need to water your Monstera), that it’s impossible for it to fall at the same intervals all the time.
One of the main factors that will impact how often you need to water your Monstera is seasonality. During winter you’ll need to heavily cut back the amount of water you give your plant. This is because the cold temperatures and lack of sunlight mean that not only does the soil take longer to dry out but your plant will also be quite dormant in terms of new growth so won’t need to take in as much moisture.
Because temperatures and light levels fluctuate from day to day, it’s important you are flexible with when you water your plant, rather than doing it at the same time each week of the year.
Our advice on using tap water
Monstera plants are pretty hardy and adaptable compared to so many other houseplants and they aren’t often sensitive to tap water. However, if you do live in a particularly hard water area, you might want to look at using rainwater or distilled water instead.
Another great tip which we use is to let the water stand overnight in your watering can before giving it to your plants. The fluoride then sinks to the bottom which means you can water your plants as normal, but just get rid of the last few inches of water. This is a great way to prevent fluoride sensitivity without much hassle.
Choosing the right watering method
There are several different ways you can water your Monstera, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Ideally, our recommendation is to mix and match the methods rather than always doing the same one.
This method of watering is when you add water from the top of the pot and let any excess run out of the bottom into a saucer. It’s really important with this method that you do have drainage holes in your pot so that any excess water can escape rather than your roots swimming in waterlogged soil.
The benefit of top watering is that you are able to have even moisture throughout the pot rather than just at the bottom of the soil. Another benefit is that is flushes out any excess minerals or fluoride that might be hanging around in the soil. However, the other side of this is that it can sometimes flush out nutrients from the potting mix which can be damaging.
This method of watering is where you add water to the saucer or tray that your Monstera is standing in and let it soak up the water from the bottom up. This method has more benefits as firstly, it’s a lot harder to overwater your plant as long as you remove any water still left in the saucer about 15 minutes after watering. It allows your Monstera to take up as much as it needs but no more.
The second benefit of watering your Monstera through bottom-up watering is that it encourages the roots to grow downwards, towards the moisture. This helps the overall stability of the plant which is crucial for a tall plant like a Monstera Deliciosa.
Soaking your plant
The final method of watering your Monstera is by soaking it in a bowl of water or a bath. We don’t recommend this for regular watering as it can be a bit messier and requires moving your plant around a lot, but can be a nice way to water your Monstera if it’s been underwatered for a while or in really hot weather.
By soaking your plant, you’re also only allowing it to take up as much water as it needs in about 10-15 minutes. It’s also important that you let it drip dry before putting your plant back to avoid the soil being too soggy.
How to prevent overwatering and underwatering
Only water when the soil has dried out
It’s a fine balance between leaving it long enough for the potting mix to dry out but not leaving it too long that the roots start to dry out. This is why regularly monitoring the soil moisture is crucial and will allow you to understand exactly when the right time to water is.
Equip yourself with methods including the chopstick method and the lifting method alongside owning a moisture meter (these things are a lifesaver). A combination of these will help you know when the soil has dried out enough to be watered again.
Adjust how frequently you are watering
Pay attention to fluctuations in temperature and sunlight to figure out when your Monstera needs more water. Over the winter months you want to cut back quite a bit as not only does your plant need less water, but the potting mix will take longer to dry out in cooler weather.
Alongside this, cold wet soil is a breeding ground for fungal growth so just another reason to ensure it dries out properly.
There are also other factors alongside environmental changes that will impact how quickly the soil dries out. If your plant’s root system takes up a lot of the pot, then there is less soil to absorb moisture and overall the potting mix will dry out quicker. However, if the root system is quite small for the pot and there is a lot of soil, then this will take longer to dry out. So don’t just think that pot size indicates how much to water, as root ratio will have an impact too.
Adjust how deeply you are watering
Outside of frequency, it’s also important to pay attention to how much water you are giving your Monstera each time to water it. It’s best to water deeply but less frequently as it allows the potting mix to dry out. Watering a little bit and often is more suited to plants that like evenly moist soil that never dries out.
Just like frequency, you’ll need to see how best to adjust how much water you give your plant depending on temperature, light level, plant maturity, size and location in the room.
It can be a bit of a dance getting the right balance of how much and how frequently to water your Monstera plant. This is why regularly monitoring the soil moisture will help you figure out patterns throughout the year.
Our top tips for watering your Monstera
Use room temperature water
It’s really important that when you water your Monstera that you use room temperature water. If you are using super cold water then it could shock your plant and if you’re using hot water it can actually burn the roots slightly. Make sure to test it against your hand before giving it to your plants.
Water when it’s light outside
Another tip that we live by is only watering when the sun is out. Watering in the evening or at night just means that the temperature tends to be a lot lower which doesn’t pair too well with super soggy soil.
Watering during the day also means that if any part of the plat (stems or leaves) are splashed during watering, that there is enough time for the water droplets to evaporate before nightfall. Although Monsteras aren’t super sensitive to this as they have thicker leaves and stems, cold temperatures do increase the risk of leaf rot which is best avoided.
Cut back watering in winter
During the colder and darker months of the year, you want to make sure that you are significantly cutting back how much you water your Monstera for two reasons.
Firstly, the colder weather means the soil will take a lot longer to dry out which can not only cause root rot but also fungal growth. This can appear as white fluffy patches across the top of the soil. Whilst it’s not immediately harmful to your plant, it’s important it is removed quickly.
The second reason why you need to cut back how muhc you water your Monstera in winter is simply because your plant is more dormant. You’ll see a lot less growth, often even completely stagnant growth, all winter so your plant will be taking up less moisture.
Use a terracotta pot rather than a plastic one
If you find yourself often overwatering your Monstera (or at least worrying about it a lot), one thing we recommend is switching to a terracotta pot instead of a plastic one. The reason terracotta pots are so good is that they are permeable which means some excess water can evaporate out of the sides.
This reduces the risk of overwatering compared to plastic pots which retain every drop of moisture. Terracotta pots also look great so that’s another bonus!
Always have drainage holes
Never try to grow a plant without drainage holes, ever! They are a really important feature that allows excess water to either drain out of the pot or allows your plant to take up just enough and leave the rest in the saucer.
Watering the exact right amount is impossible and means you would have to be topping it up precisely pretty much every day without drainage holes.
It’s also really important to make sure that they aren’t blocked by anything so if you find not much water coming out the bottom or your plant isn’t taking much water from the saucer, it’s worth checking that these aren’t being clogged up.
If the soil is very dry, water from the bottom up
If your Monstera is suffering from severe underwatering and the soil is completely bone dry, then we recommend watering from the bottom up for a while. This is because when you water really dry soil it will simply flow over the edges of the soil, straight down to the bottom of the pot and out of the drainage holes.
This is because really dry potting mix doesn’t absorb water as well so needs to either be watered from the bottom up or by soaking it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much should I water my Monstera?
It’s important that you alter how much you water your Monstera depending on the season so that you’re cutting back in the colder, darker months. On average in summer you want to be watering your Monstera about once a week and only about twice a month or less in winter.
How do I know when my Monstera needs water?
Your Monstera likes its soil to dry out between waterings so it’s important you only water when the potting mix is dry. Use a moisture meter, the chopstick method or the lifting method to determine how much moisture is in the soil.
What is the best method for watering my Monstera?
We recommend bottom up watering for a Monstera plant as this encourages the roots to grow downwards towards the moisture. This increases overall stability of the plant.
Should I water my Monstera from the top or the bottom?
Whilst you can water your Monstera in both ways, we recommend trying to mostly water from the bottom up. This increases the root stability as they are encouraged to grow downwards. It’s also a good idea to switch up which method of watering you use to mitigate some of the downsides that come with each one.
So that’s pretty much everything you need to know about watering a Monstera Deliciosa plant! Alongside light level, ensuring you are watering correctly is one of the main pillars of plant care so it’s crucial that you pay attention to when your Monstera needs water and if you are watering it correctly.
You also need to keep a close eye on your plant to spot any early warning signs that you’re plant is unhappy with how much water it’s receiving. This like drooping stems, curling leaves and brown or yellow patches across the leaves can all be an indication that you are overwatering or underwatering.
If you want to learn more about how to care for your plant and keep it happy and healthy, check out our Monstera care guide.