In the heart of the rainforest, the Monstera Deliciosa thrives – but in our homes, it’s as needy as any pet you may have. And if you happen to be one who has a lot of things going on, forgetting to water your plant may cause some unsightly damage.
An underwatered Monstera Deliciosa exhibits drooping leaves, yellowing, and crispy, brown spots when left as is. Eventually, consistent underwatering can lead to stunted growth and reduced vitality. Watering once every 1-2 weeks when the top 1-2 inches of soil dries out ensures the plant’s health and vibrancy.
Below, I talk about the symptoms of an underwatered Monstera Deliciosa, along with its solution and prevention:
(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
What does an underwatered Monstera Deliciosa look like?
While overwatering may be a common problem for most plants, including a Monstera Deliciosa, people can also accidentally underwater the plant. This can lead to a range of issues that can affect its appearance and overall health. Here’s what you should look out for:
1. Monstera Deliciosa not growing
This is one of the most elusive parts of the symptoms because you really have to be paying attention to your plant. It’s either the growth slows down tremendously or completely stops. Any leaves that the plant does manage to grow are often too small with very weak stems to hold them. These are also unlikely to split because there’s not enough nutrients and water to go around. While this can mean other things, a sure way of knowing that this symptom is the cause of underwatering is to check if the soil is bone-dry.
2. Drooping leaves
A lack of water in a Monstera Deliciosa’s soil can cause the leaves to droop or sag. This is because the plant’s cells aren’t turgid with water, leading to a loss of rigidity. It’s also worth noting that this symptom also appears in an overwatered plant, but under the context of dying roots in waterlogged soil.
In some cases, the leaves may even curl inwards or upwards to prevent more water loss through transpiration.
3. Leaves turning yellow with dry, brown spots
Soon after, random leaves on the Monstera Deliciosa turn yellow with several dry, brown spots. This usually happens with newer leaves on the plant. Since there’s not enough water to sustain the new growth, it starts taking a hit rather than the older leaves first.
4. Leaves turning brown and crispy
When left as it is, the yellow leaves on the Monstera Deliciosa soon turn completely brown and take on a crispy texture. This is a result of insufficient moisture reaching the leaves, causing them to dry out.
5. Losing leaves
If you leave the Monstera Deliciosa with its brown, crispy leaves long enough, it’ll start falling off as the plant struggles to support its overall structure. There’s no point in the plant holding on to these dead leaves as it desperately tries to save the rest of its parts with the little resources it has.
Monstera Deliciosa Overwatered vs Underwatered
|Leaf Appearance||Drooping leaves; some turning yellow with brown spots.||Drooping leaves; older leaves turning yellow with brown-ish black, water-soaked spots.|
|Soil Condition||Top 2-5 inches of soil feels dry to the touch.||Soil is wet on the surface and all throughout for extended periods.|
|Growth||Reduced frequency of new leaves or stunted growth.||More leaf drop with no signs of new growth|
|Root Condition||Roots are not affected.||Possible root rot due to prolonged exposure to excessive moisture.|
The best way to determine if your Monstera Deliciosa is too dry is to check the moisture level of the soil with a moisture meter. Insert the tool into the soil down 2-3 inches. If it’s marked ‘dry’, it’s time to water the plant. You can also use the finger or chopstick method but it’s more reliable to use a moisture meter.
But if your soil’s moisture level is wet, then it’s an overwatering problem. You can read our Overwatered Monstera Deliciosa Problems to find out how to spot the symptoms and fix it!
How to save an underwatered Monstera Deliciosa?
You’d be surprised to know it’s actually very easy to save an underwatered Monstera Deliciosa. Here’s how you can start:
- Water the plant thoroughly until excess water flows out of the drain holes. If your plant has a saucer, wait 30 minutes before throwing out the water collected in it.
- Trim off the brown and yellow from the plant with a sterilized cutting tool. These are not going to turn back green once the plant is watered. So you might as well get rid of them.
- (Optional) Propagate the plant if it is severely underwatered and doesn’t have much healthy leaves. Ensure that the cutting includes at least 2 nodes, as this is essential for successful propagation. You can read more about this in our Propagating Monstera Deliciosa article!
How to avoid underwatering Monstera Deliciosa?
We all get busy from time to time, so forgetting to water our plants can be inevitable. But here are a few tips to ensure your Monstera Deliciosa receives the right amount of water each time:
- Use an automatic watering system. Some people who live extremely hectic lives rely on these systems to ensure their Monstera Deliciosa watered consistently. But obviously, there are some cons to them depending on which system you use. Here are a few articles we have that may interest you:
- Set a weekly to biweekly watering schedule. Because it’s a large plant, Monstera Deliciosa can take a while to dry out its soil depending on its environment. When in doubt, check the top 1-2 inches of soil to determine if it’s dry enough to water the plant. But during fall and especially winter, monthly watering is advised as the plant is dormant at this time.
- Keep an eye on the plant’s light exposure. The more indirect light the plant gets, the faster its soil will dry out. So you may need your Monstera Deliciosa more frequently.
- Observe signs of underwatering on the plant. If the leaves of the Monstera Deliciosa start to wilt or turn brown, it might be a cry for help from the plant. Check the soil as needed before watering it thoroughly.
- Use a new potting mix when the soil has become too compacted. Sometimes, it’s not a case of forgetful watering but rather the soil has become too packed to properly absorb water. It usually takes a while before this happens but the best way to check is to take the plant out of its pot and inspect the soil.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why is my Monstera Deliciosa dripping water?
Monstera deliciosa may drip water to get rid of excess water. This process is called guttation and occurs usually during the night or early morning. It’s a natural mechanism that happens when the soil is overwatered or the humidity is high. I mentioned this briefly in our Overwatered Monstera Deliciosa article!
How do I prop Monstera Deliciosa?
Here’s how to ‘prop’ or propagate a Monstera deliciosa:
- Cut a stem containing at least 2 nodes (the bump where leaves emerge).
- Ensure the cutting has 1-2 leaves.
- Place the stem cutting in water, changing the water weekly to keep it free of algae.
- Once the roots are 2-3 inches long, plant in soil.
- Keep the soil moist and provide indirect light.
For more information, check out our Propagating Monstera Deliciosa article here!
How to take care of a Monstera Deliciosa?
Monstera Deliciosa requires indirect sunlight, well-draining soil, and weekly to biweekly watering when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry. Ensure good humidity, avoid cold drafts, and fertilize monthly during the growing season. Prune old or yellowing leaves and provide support as it grows.
How do I know if my Monstera Deliciosa needs water?
Drooping or yellowing leaves can indicate a Monstera Deliciosa needs water. Check the top 2 inches of soil to see if it’s dry before watering. If it’s wet, the plant is overwatered and may be suffering from root rot.
How do you revive a dehydrated/shriveled Monstera Deliciosa?
Watering thoroughly until excess water drains out is the best way to revive dehydrated/shriveled Monstera Deliciosa. Drooping leaves will soon perk up again as if nothing happened at all. However, it’s recommended to trim off yellow and brown leaves as these won’t recover and turn back to green.
How do you tell if a Monstera Deliciosa is over or under watered?
The easiest way to tell if a Monstera Deliciosa is over or underwatered is by looking at their leaves:
|Condition||Overwatered Monstera Deliciosa||Underwatered Monstera Deliciosa|
|Yellow Leaves||Older leaves will turn yellow||Yellow leaves with brown, dry spots anywhere|
|Brown/Black Spots||Water-soaked brown-ish black spots will appear||Just have brown, crispy leaves|
How long can a Monstera Deliciosa go without water?
A Monstera deliciosa can go 2-3 weeks without water but this highly varies according to its environment. Even though an underwatered Monstera Deliciosa is easily salvageable than an overwatered one, it’s still not best to keep it dry for too long. If you’re not sure when to water it, just wait until the top 2 inches of soil are dry.
What does a thirsty Monstera Deliciosa look like?
Drooping leaves and yellow leaves with dry spots are signs of a thirsty Monstera Deliciosa. Over time, the plant may also develop into crispy, brown leaves before it stops growing new leaves altogether. Regularly check the soil moisture and ensure proper watering to help prevent this condition.
Why does my Monstera Deliciosa look healthy but not growing?
Inadequate nutrients may be the cause of stunted growth in Monstera Deliciosa. Use an all-purpose fertilizer and remember to apply it once a month for the plant’s best growth. As a potted plant, the only source of nutrients it can get is from what we can provide it.
- Houseplant Problems Management Guidelines–UC IPM. (n.d.). Ipm.ucanr.edu. https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74172.html
- Kluepfel, M., & Blake, J. H. (2021, September 10). Houseplant Diseases & Disorders (J. Williamson, Ed.) [Review of Houseplant Diseases & Disorders]. Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center. https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/houseplant-diseases-disorders/
- lurkingvirgo. (2020, November 14). How Long Can Monstera Go Without Water? https://www.reddit.com/r/Monstera/comments/jubgav/how_long_can_monstera_go_without_water/
- Propagating Monstera deliciosa. (n.d.). Extension.umn.edu. https://extension.umn.edu/houseplants/propagating-monstera-deliciosa