One area that is often ignored when caring for Monstera plants is thinking about the potting soil. To a Monstera, the soil is not only their home but it’s also how they receive nutrients and plays a large part in watering issues too! So it’s no wonder that getting the right soil is crucial to the long-term health of your Monstera.
Ever wondered if your Monstera is growing in the right potting mix? Thinking of repotting but not sure what mix to buy? These are all really important questions and we will be going through everything you need to know in this article.
Understanding your Monstera’s Potting Soil Requirements
Soil is so commonly overlooked and plant parents will often just keep their plants in the same soil that it came with, or find the cheapest bag in the garden centre and hope for the best. However, the more you think about it, the more important soil becomes. It impacts the root system, water retention, aeration and nutrient levels.
Changing out the soil is also a really important thing to bring into your annual plant care routine. This keeps it fresh, bringing more nutrients to your plant.
If your Monstera is growing in the wrong soil or potting mix that is too old, you won’t see issues develop overnight but it can cause long-term problems slowly. Signs such as yellow leaves or leaves falling off your Monstera can indicate that the soil is nutrient deficient, whereas root rot and smelly soil can indicate that you need something that’s better at draining.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Soil for Your Monstera Plant
The pH of the potting mix plays a very important role because it can impact the bacteria balance which either benefits your Monstera or can damage it. If the pH is off, it can impact your plant’s ability to absorb certain nutrients which can leave it with a nutrient deficiency or an excess of nutrients, both of which can have a negative impact on growth.
It’s important that the potting mix has a pH somewhere between 5.5 and 7. Whilst they can sometimes adapt to a pH level slightly outside of this, you want to avoid any extremes.
Nutrient content of the soil
Choosing a potting mix that is high in the main nutrients is key. Monstera plants need over 15 different nutrients to thrive but only a few are needed in higher quantities. These are nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Look for these in the descriptions of the potting mix options to make the best choice.
You don’t need to worry too much about getting soil that hits all of these boxes as nutrient content is something that you can boost very easily with fertilizer.
Drainage and moisture retention
You need to make sure that you are choosing a well-draining potting mix but not a succulent or cacti mix. A cacti mix will contain too much sand which means it won’t retain much water at all. Instead, a general well-draining soil designed for the majority of houseplant types will often contain perlite which improves the structure of the soil is great for drainage but also ingredients that help to retain some moisture.
It may seem counterproductive to have ingredients to help drain and retain moisture but Monstera plants need a good balance. They don’t like to have fully dry soil for extended periods of time but also hate waterlogged soil.
Your Monstera will thrive in a potting mix that has at least some organic matter. This is commonly peat moss but can also be different types of bark. Peat moss can easily be bought separately and added to existing potting mix so we recommend doing that if you can’t find one that includes it and ticks all of the other boxes.
The Best Soil Types and Ingredients for Monstera Plants
Pre-mixed houseplant potting soil
Most of the time your Monstera will grow nicely in a pre-mixed houseplant soil as long as you’ve made sure it contains some of the main important ingredients. You want to avoid using a cacti or succulent mix as whilst your Monstera will likely still grow in it, your plant won’t thrive.
Make sure that the mix is well-draining though as this will be crucial to avoiding root rot and the consequences of that.
This is a must-have for your Monstera’s soil as it contributes to the potting mix being well-draining which helps to prevents waterlogged soil and root rot. Perlite is also another benefit in that it helps aerate the soil which promotes healthy root growth and fights bacterial growth.
This is also another ingredient that you’ll find in many potting mixes as it acts as a water retainer and then slowly releases it. It’s also another one that helps with soil aeration which is a bonus!
This is a great ingredient to bring into your Monstera’s potting mix as it acts as a water retainer but is also organic and much better at re-moisturising compared to peat moss. This means that once the soil dries out fully, coconut coir is great at taking in moisture quickly.
Tips on Potting your Monstera
Now that you’ve chosen or created the ideal potting mix for your Monstera, it’s time to actually repot your plant.
Choosing the right pot
If your Monstera is showing signs of being rootbound, then you may need to increase the pot size at the same time as swapping the potting mix. Signs that your plant needs a bigger pot include roots growing out of the drainage holes or the top of the pot, the roots being in tight coils and stagnant growth during summer.
If you are upsizing the pot, choose one only a few centimeters wider in diameter. It can be tempting to choose a pot much bigger so that you don’t have to repot for a while but this can impact the root stability of your Monstera. Another disadvantage to this is that the more soil is in the pot, the longer it will take to dry out, which increases the risk of root rot.
Other than size, you also need to consider the material of the pot. Ideally you want to choose a terracotta pot as these are permeable and let some of the excess water escape out of the sides. Plastic pots do have benefits in terms of price and weight but terracotta is better for the overall health of your plant.
Preparing the soil mixture
Make sure that the ingredients are well mixed before repotting your Monstera. Another thing you want to look out for are pests in the soil. This is very rare in new potting mix but it can happen from time to time so just make sure to check it over.
Potting your Monstera Plant
We have two main tips when it comes to removing your Monstera from its pot and replacing the soil. Firstly, make sure to untangle any roots that are growing out of the drainage holes. If you remove your plant before doing this they will snap and break off.
The second tip is to always pull from the base of the plant and the stems, rather than the leaves. Pulling from the leaves can very easily damage them.
Watering and monitoring your Monstera after potting
Once you have replaced the soil, make sure to give your Monstera a deep watering to help it recover from the shock. Then make sure to monitor your plant over the next few weeks to spot any signs of unhappiness.
Testing your Monstera’s soil
The importance of soil testing
If your plant is having problems and you can’t seem to figure out what’s causing it, it might be worth testing the pH of the soil. Aside from problems, it can also be a good idea to do this about once a year to make sure that everything is OK. An extreme pH score can impact the health of your Monstera so you want to make sure it’s falling within or around the 5.5 to 7 range.
How to test soil pH
The easiest way to test the pH of your Monstera’s soil is to use pH test strips. They are really easy to use and will give you a fast and accurate result. You can also often send off to or drop off a sample at your local garden centre and they’ll usually test it for free.
Adjusting the soil pH
To raise the soil pH, agricultural lime or wood ashes are the most commonly used methods. To bring the pH down, pine needles can be an effective way of doing this. It can be tricky to adjust the soil pH to the right amount so it might take a little bit of trial and error.
What soil is best for a Monstera?
It’s important that you choose a high-quality well-draining potting mix for your Monstera. This will ensure that excess water can flow out of the soil rather than creating waterlogged soil and risking root rot.
Can I use regular potting soil for my Monstera?
Regular houseplant mix will be fine to use on your Monstera but ideally, you want to choose a well-draining mix that includes some perlite.
Should I use perlite in the soil for my Monstera?
Perlite is a really beneficial ingredient to have in the potting mix for your Monstera as not only does it help with drainage but it also aids aeration of the soil.
How do I know if my Monstera is unhappy with its soil?
If your Monstera is developing yellow leaves, is losing leaves or is not growing during summer then this can indicate there are issues with the soil.
What pH range of soil is ideal for a Monstera?
You want the soil of your Monstera to be between or around 5.5 to 7 on the pH scale.
Can I use coconut coir in the soil for my Monstera?
Coconut coir is a great ingredient to use in the soil for a Monstera as it helps to retain some of the water moisture to prevent the roots from drying out completely.
How can I improve the drainage of my Monstera’s soil?
The best thing to do is add perlite to the potting mix as this helps with drainage.
Should I remove old soil before repotting my Monstera?
We recommend replacing about two-thirds of the overall soil when repotting your Monstera. This will allow for a refresh of the nutrients and aid healthy, strong growth.
We hope that this soil guide for Monstera plants has been useful and you’re now equipped with everything you need to know about choosing the right soil for your plant. It can be a tricky decision as there are a lot of pre-mixed options as well as benefits from making it yourself.
However, the most important thing is that you choose a high-quality mix and don’t reuse potting mix from an old plant. There can be harmful bacteria and even pests living in old soil so we don’t recommend repurposing it for your Monstera (or other houseplants).
To learn more about caring and watering your plant, check out our Monstera care guide.