Beneath the tropical facade of the Monstera Deliciosa lies a cautionary tale of overwatering. Because after all, too much of a splash can lead to a crash in any plant’s world.
Overwatering a Monstera Deliciosa can lead to root rot, yellowing leaves, and bacterial infections. Other harmless symptoms may include leaves dripping water i.e., guttation and fungus gnats. These can be easily prevented by ensuring proper drainage and watering only when the top 2 inches of soil are dry.
Below, I elaborate more on the common symptoms of an overwatered Monstera Deliciosa, along with its solutions and prevention:
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What does an overwatered Monstera Deliciosa look like? (Symptoms)
There are a few tell-tale signs of an overwatered Monstera Deliciosa, starting from the mildest of cases to the severe kind. Here’s what you need to look out for:
1. Drooping Leaves
This symptom usually indicates that your Monstera Deliciosa is not getting enough water and oxygen through its roots due to the waterlogged soil. Alternatively, it could also mean the plant is severely underwatered. Check your soil with a moisture meter – if it’s marked ‘wet’, then it’s overwatered.
But if the soil moisture is just right, your Monstera Deliciosa is likely suffering from other problems, such as lack of humidity and nutrients.
2. Older leaves turning yellow and falling off
When the drooping leaves are not addressed, the lower and older leaves of your Monstera Deliciosa will start to turn yellow. This is because the roots are unable to take up the necessary nutrients due to the very wet soil. Eventually, these leaves will fall off.
3. Brown & black spots on leaves
Over time, other leaves on the Monstera Deliciosa will develop water-soaked, brown-ish black spots with a yellow halo around it. This is a sign of a bacterial infection called leaf spot disease, often exacerbated by overwatering. When left as is, they quickly develop into large patches on the leaves. They usually appear on the underside of the leaves but will quickly take over the entire leaf.
4. Root rot
Once you can smell a foul odor coming from your Monstera Deliciosa’s pot, this means the majority of the roots are dead. They have likely become brown or black and mushy. In worse cases, the plant’s stems have also turned yellow and mushy.
If you suspect your Monstera has root rot, it’s essential to act quickly. You can follow the instructions on How to Fix Root Rot in Monstera Deliciosa in this article.
While the above symptoms goes from good to worse, the ones I’ve listed below are more of the harmless symptoms that you can easily fix once you notice them:
5. Fungus gnats
Overwatering can attract the attention of fungus gnats. These are small, black flies that hover around the soil. While they aren’t necessarily harmful to your Monstera Deliciosa, they are a nuisance. They will lay their eggs in the soil, allowing their larvae to feed on fungi that grow in the damp conditions and multiply. The only way to choke them out is by letting the soil dry out completely. If you’d like to know more about fungus gnats and other pests, here’s an article on Common Houseplant Pests for your perusal.
6. Guttation (Why is my Monstera Deliciosa dripping water?)
If you notice your Monstera Deliciosa sweating water, it’s likely experiencing guttation. This is a natural process where the plant exudes excess water from its leaves. I like to think that they’re crying because you’re giving them too much water. Usually when this happens, you really just ought to hold back on watering them too much or possibly changing their soil composition. Either way, give it what it needs but don’t overfill their cup.
Now, if you’ve been watering your Monstera Deliciosa too much, it can go from dripping water to having translucent leaves. You can usually see these when you look at the underside of the plant near a light source. This is a condition where the plant takes up more water than it can use, resulting in burst cell walls in the leaf. Usually this is permanent but you can stop it from happening to your other leaves by watering less frequently.
Monstera Deliciosa Overwatered vs Underwatered
There are some symptoms that overlap between an overwatered and underwatered Monstera Deliciosa. But there are some obvious ones you can look out for in case you’re not certain:
|Soil Condition||Soggy soil, remains wet for extended periods||Dry soil, even several inches below the surface|
|Yellowing Leaves||Only on older ones at the bottom of the plant||Everywhere at random on the plant|
|Root Condition||Brown, mushy roots with a foul odor (root rot).||Roots are unaffected.|
|Leaf Condition||Brown spots with a yellow halo (potential bacterial infection)||Edges turn brown and crispy|
|Growth||Leaf drop, more frequent shedding||Slow growth, smaller leaves than usual|
If you suspect your plant is suffering from underwatering issues, you can read more about it in this Underwatered Monstera Deliciosa Problems article!
How to fix an overwatered Monstera Deliciosa?
While it may be disheartening to see your Monstera Deliciosa in a struggling state, it may not be too late to fix it! Here’s how to get started:
- Check the soil’s moisture with a moisture meter. Insert the tool about 2 inches into the soil. If the meter reads high moisture levels or ‘wet’, your plant is likely overwatered. Alternatively, you can use a dry bamboo chopstick. If it comes out with a different/soaked color, the soil is wet.
- Remove the plant from the pot, placing it on several newspapers. This will help absorb the excess moisture from the soil. At the same time, inspect the roots. Healthy roots should be white or light tan and firm to the touch. If they are brown, mushy, or have a foul smell, they are likely rotting due to overwatering.
- Trim damaged leaves roots using sterilized scissors or pruning shears. Cut off affected leaves and all brown or mushy roots, wiping the scissors with alcohol wipes each time. This will help prevent the spread of root rot and give the healthy roots a better chance to recover.
- (Optional) Propagate healthy cutting stems. If your Monstera Deliciosa has severely damaged or dying parts, consider propagating the healthy sections. You can read more about this in our Propagating Monstera Deliciosa article!
- Repot the plant into a new pot with fresh soil. Choose a well-draining potting mix, and a new, sterilized pot that has adequate drainage holes. When repotting, be gentle with the roots to avoid causing further damage.
- Water the plant sparingly once repotted. This is to help the new soil around the plant.
How to avoid overwatering Monstera Deliciosa?
While it’s a relatively easy plant to care for, most of us can be pretty overzealous with spoiling our Monstera Deliciosa. Here are some tips to avoid overwatering the plant:
- Use a well-draining potting mix. This ensures that excess water drains away quickly, reducing the risk of root rot. Consider using a mix designed for aroids or adding perlite or sand to improve drainage. Some people even add bark to retain just the right amount of moisture for the plant.
- Check the soil’s moisture level before watering. If the top 2 inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water. Depending on the environment, this might mean watering once every 1-2 weeks.
- Ensure your pot has proper drainage holes. This is to prevent water from sitting at the bottom. If you have a saucer, throw out excess water after you’re done watering your plant. Ideally, you want to stop watering once a little bit of water appears in your plant’s saucer.
- Adjust watering frequency according to the seasons. Monstera Deliciosa usually need more frequent watering during the growing season (spring and summer) and less during the dormant period (fall and winter). This also has to do with the amount of indirect light it is getting. So the more light there is, the faster the water evaporates from the soil.
- Keep an eye out for signs of overwatering. Don’t let the problems escalate once you see something is wrong on your plant. Immediately assess and adjust the situation and cut back on watering as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can Monstera Deliciosa recover from overwatering?
Monstera Deliciosa can recover from overwatering provided its soil is allowed to dry out. In milder cases, this works fine. But in the worst case scenario, the plant should be taken out of the pot and checked for root rot. If rot is present, trim affected roots and repot in fresh soil in a new pot. Monitor the plant’s health and adjust care as needed.
How to tell the difference between overwatering and underwatering Monstera Deliciosa?
Apart from taking a quick check of the soil’s moisture levels, here’s the following main differences between an overwatered and underwatered Monstera Deliciosa:
- Overwatering Monstera Deliciosa will cause older leaves to turn yellow and fall off, while an underwatered one will have yellow leaves everywhere.
- Overwatered Monstera Deliciosa will have water-soaked, brown-ish black leaves while an underwatered one will have brown, crispy leaf edges.
How do I prop a Monstera Deliciosa?
Prop or propagate a Monstera Deliciosa by taking stem cuttings with at least two nodes. Place the cutting in water until roots develop, then transfer to soil. Ensure indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. For more information on this, our Propagating Monstera Deliciosa article may just be useful for you!
How to take care of a Monstera Deliciosa?
Here is the basic care you need to know to make a Monstera deliciosa thrive in your home:
- 6+ hours of bright, indirect sunlight, ensuring to rotate the pot occasionally for even growth.
- Well-draining soil with adequate moisture-retentive capabilities.
- Weekly to biweekly watering after the top 1-2 inch of soil dries out.
- Monthly fertilizing with an all-purpose fertilizer.
- Provide a moss totem pole as trellis support for it to grow upwards.
- Keep in a humid environment, away from cold drafts.
- Prune old or yellowing leaves to promote growth.
- Financial-Plantain-3. (2021, March 22). Is there something wrong with my monstera? https://www.reddit.com/r/plantclinic/comments/marhmn/is_there_something_wrong_with_my_monstera/
- Houseplant Problems Management Guidelines–UC IPM. (n.d.). Ipm.ucanr.edu. Retrieved September 12, 2023, from https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74172.html
- lmaomoments. (2022, January 3). Guttation or edema? Noticed this on the underside of some of my leaves… more prominent on the older leaves. The newer leaves don’t have it. Watered it yesterday and had some water droplets on the top side. Is this normal? Will it go away on its own? https://www.reddit.com/r/Monstera/comments/rv33mo/guttation_or_edema_noticed_this_on_the_underside/
- Shannon, L. (2022, February 23). Monstera deliciosa | Home and Garden Education Center. https://homegarden.cahnr.uconn.edu/factsheets/monstera-deliciosa/
- University of Minnesota Extension Service. (n.d.). Bacterial Leaf Diseases of Foliage Plants [Review of Bacterial Leaf Diseases of Foliage Plants]. Retrieved September 12, 2023, from https://conservancy.umn.edu/bitstream/handle/11299/207208/MN2000_FSPP_030_revised1976.pdf?sequence=1