Do you think your Monstera is one of the hardest houseplants around? The fact is that like any other houseplant, Monstera Deliciosa or Swiss Cheese Plant is also susceptible to issues like root rot. Even though over-watering is one of the most common reasons behind root rot, several other reasons such as underwatering, fungal infection, temperature stress, and over-fertilization can also invite the fatal problem.
Root rot is a deadly disease and it can kill your beloved plant if it is not diagnosed and treated on time. Well, as a plant parent you may find these words scary but the positive part is that the condition is treatable and you can do it without even hiring an expert.
We are here to tell you everything you need to know to save your adorable Monstera from the root rot problem. Remember, early diagnosis and treatment are very important and we hope our comprehensive guide will help you encounter signs, find the reasons and initiate treatment to save the houseplant from dying.
Root rot is a serious health issue and overwatering is considered the primary reason behind the problem in Monstera Deliciosa plants. However, the problem is treatable and as a plant parent, you can easily help the plant heal from root rot problems and thrive naturally. On-time diagnosis of the disease is very important, as early detection can help your Monstera revive quickly.
What is Root Rot?
Before we discuss everything in detail, let’s have a little bit of a discussion on root rot. As the term suggests, root rot indicates the worst condition of the roots of a plant. If your Monstera is sitting in a pool of water for a long period or the soil is wet, root rot is inevitable.
Once health issues like root rot take place, the roots of your Monstera get destroyed. The infection moves further to affect the stems and branches and eventually kills the entire plant.
Also, a damp and dark atmosphere makes the condition ideal for bacterial and fungal infections. However, there are some common symptoms through which you will be able to determine if your Monstera is suffering from the root rot problem. Here are some common root rot signs to watch out for.
Signs of Root Rot in Monstera Deliciosa Plants
If you have not dealt with such an issue before, identifying the symptoms of root rot can be a little bit difficult for you. In most cases, signs become visible once the infection has intensified. Here, the problem is that some common signs that indicate root rot also signify other issues. Hence, it can be difficult for a plant parent to hold root rot responsible for all the signs. However, based on our experience, we have chosen some common signs of root rot and hope this will help you save your Monstera with a well-thought-out treatment plan.
When root rot takes place, pathogens and bacteria start taking over the plant. Black spots across the leaves are major signs of root rot and you should take it seriously. Sometimes you can find yellow circles around the black spots. These are also a sign of danger and you must take immediate action to prevent the infection.
Yellow and Brown Leaves:
The condition of foliage reflects how healthy the plant is. Issues like yellow and brown leaves can develop due to overwatering practices, which is also a key reason behind root rot. So, if you find the leaves of your Monstera Deliciosa plant are getting yellow or brown, root rot can be the actual reason behind this.
Nutrient deficiency can lead to wilted leaves issues in Monstera Deliciosa. In such a condition, your Monstera struggles to extract nutrients from the soil. If the roots of the houseplant are not healthy, they will never be able to absorb nutrients out of the soil. Overwatering can also cause the wilted leaves problem, as excessive water makes roots suffocate inside the pot.
Mushy and Weak Roots:
When the problem gets intensified, the roots of a Monstera plant become weak, mushy, and brown. However, since the sign is related to the root itself, you have to pull the plant from the container to check the condition of the root. Weak roots break down easily and you can also check the roots by digging a few inches deep on the surface.
If you detect a foul odor from your Monstera, it is time to be serious. Root rot is the primary reason behind the foul odor issue. If you can encounter the symptoms early, it is possible to save your Monstera from severe health issues. If not diagnosed and treated on time, the infection can reach the stem and leaves and kill the plant consequently.
Monstera Deliciosa is one of the fastest-growing tropical vines. They are sturdy and usually do not get affected by houseplant diseases. For Monstera, summer is the growing season and you can see your beloved houseplant growing unstoppably in this season. Unfortunately, issues such as root rot can halt or cease its growth. If your Monstera is under stress, you may witness little or no new growth even in the pick growth season.
You can encounter the sing in advanced stages. In this stage, the stems and branches of your Monstera start getting thin and brown. Prolonged stress can lead to such grave issues and it is almost impossible to save your plant in such a condition. If root rot is caused by over-fertilization and overwatering, the thin canopy problem is inevitable.
Reasons Behind Root Rot In Monstera Deliciosa
You already know about the signs you need to look out for to save your Monstera from dying. Let us focus on the major reasons behind the issue.
Overwatering can kill your dear Monstera in many ways. Overwatering is the reason behind many problems in Monstera Deliciosa plants. However, if you go deep, you will find several factors responsible for overwatering issue. Overwatering means you are giving more water to the plant than it needs to survive. Overwatering makes soil damp and moist and a container with a poor drainage system can make the situation worst. Have a look at some key reasons that can lead to the overwatering issue.
- Frequent Watering: Frequent and unnecessary watering can invite the overwatering issue. Your Monstera does not need water all the time. So, if you add extra water to the pot, the soil will remain wet for a long period.
- Poor Draining: The combination of frequent watering and a pot with a poor drainage system can make the situation worst for your Monstera. If the drainage holes are ineffective, water will remain in the bottom. Ultimately, the anaerobic environment will start damaging the roots and soil.
- Availability of Organic Matters in the Soil: Plant parents often use too many organic matters to help them thrive. Excessive organic matters in the soil prevent water from going through the soil. In due course, the water sticks around and takes time to get absorbed by the soil.
- Wet and Damp Condition: Tropical vines like the Monstera Deliciosa love moisture. However, the availability of too much moisture in the air is not good for your Monstera. In damp conditions, the soil remains wet all the time. A damp environment makes it tough for the soil to absorb water and get dry consequently.
Underwatering is not as harsh as overwatering for your Monstera. The physiological system of Monstera Deliciosa plants can adapt to dry conditions. Hence, if you forgot to water the plant for an extended period, the roots get smaller in size. Underwatering is not directly responsible for root rot but when the roots get shrunken due to lack of water, the existence of rootless soil sections increases. It is like placing your Monstera on a larger container. When you water the plant after a long interval, rootless soil sections take time to get dry. In such a condition, root rot may take place.
Read: How Often Do You Water Monstera Deliciosa? (Monstera Watering Requirements)
Your Monstera loves hot and humid climates and it grows faster in summer. Tropical vines like Monstera do not like cold climates. In cold months the houseplant prefers to get into a dormant state, where it requires nominal or almost no watering.
Some plant parents want their Monstera to grow in colder months too and prefer to encourage the plant with a lot of watering. So, watering the plant at the wrong time can lead to conditions like root rot. If you find the topsoil of the plant remains damp, abstain from watering the plant.
Over-fertilization can damage your beloved Monstera in many ways and root rot is one of them. The availability of excessive fertilization in the soil can make it difficult for the roots to extract water. The application of too much fertilization increases the level of salt and when the roots get in touch with these soluble salts, the condition of the roots gets deteriorated.
Funguses like Rhizoctonia, Pythium, and Fusarium can kill your plant at any time. If the soil is infected with these types of fungi, root rot is inevitable. Funguses love damp places and fungal infestation can be very dangerous if not diagnosed and treated on time.
Overwatering can give funguses an ideal environment to thrive. However, even if the soil of your Monstera has these fungi they are unlikely to cause any damage to the roots unless you make the soil waterlogged with overwatering practices.
If the soil inside the pot is heavy, the drainage holes will not work. The water needs a gap to flow through the soil but if the soil is heavy, it will not leave any space for the water to flow. So, heavy soil can be a reason behind the root rot issue in Monstera plants.
Pebbles In The Pot:
Some plant parents place pebbles at the bottom of the Monstera container believing it will make drainage more efficient. Well, the sole purpose of placing pebbles at the bottom of the container is to hold soil from flowing through the drainage holes.
However, gravel stones or pebbles at the bottom can lift the level of soggy soil making the pot shallower for your Monstera. In such a condition, the water does not drain out effectively and makes the situation unfavorable for the roots.
How to Treat Root Rot In Monstera Deliciosa?
Once you have identified the definite reason behind the root rot problem, you can fix the problem on your own. So, do not panic even if you have not dealt with the issue before. Root rot is a treatable problem and you can help your Monstera to revive with a few simple steps. Here is what you can do to save your Monstera from dying.
Repot the Plant:
This is the first thing you can do to save the Monstera plant from the root rot problem. Various factors like soggy soil, fungal infection, and fertilizer burn can be responsible for the problem. Your job is to get the plant out of the pot immediately to prevent further damage.
Discard the old pot carefully and wash the excess soil out of the roots. Now you can see all the affected and damaged roots. You may find the affected root mushy, a little bit dark, and with a foul odor. Cut the affected roots off from the plant and rinse the healthy roots with a moderate hydrogen peroxide solution.
It is time to focus on the old pot. You can purchase a new pot if you are not happy with your old pot’s drainage system. However, if everything is fine with the old pot, you can use it after cleaning it with anti-fungal solutions. Let the root of your Monstera Deliciosa dry before you prepare the plant for repotting.
Repot Your Monstera in Fresh Soil:
It is time to prepare new and fresh soil for your Monstera. But before you repot the plant make sure the unaffected roots of the plant have dried out completely. Remember, if you use the same old and infected soil for your Monstera, the remaining roots will get infected pretty soon.
So, use new and fresh soil to help your Monstera revive and thrive again. Well-drained soil can help the plant to extract nutrients from the soil and water without being wet all the time.
Remove the Affected Leaves from the Plant:
To prevent the infection from spreading, you have to cut the affected leaves off the plant. Do not worry; your Monstera will grow new leaves again. This can be an effective way to get rid of ugly spots and stains on the leaves.
Another benefit of pruning the affected leaves is that fewer leaves will reduce the demand for water and nutrients. The combination of fewer roots and leaves will help the affected plant to revive quickly.
Give Your Monstera Bright But Indirect Light:
As a tropical vine, Monstera Deliciosa does not like dark or low-light environments. However, when growing in nature; Monstera plants thrive under the shade of giant trees. Hence, placing the plant under bright but indirect light would be a good idea.
So, help the plant access enough sunlight. You can place your Monstera near a window or on your balcony. Adequate light will help the plant to revive quickly from root rot. Enough light will also facilitate plants’ physiological processes like photosynthesis, which is very important for the growth of new roots and leaves.
Read: How Much Light Does A Monstera Plant Need? A Complete Guide To Monstera Light Requirement
Be Careful with Your Watering Schedule:
Since overwatering is the primary reason behind the root rot problem in Monsteras, you have to water the plant carefully when the plant will be in recovery mode. Well-drained potting mix and an active drainage system of the pot can increase the water demand. But when watering the plant never forget to check the level of moisture in the topsoil. If you find it dry, never hesitate to water the plant.
How To Avoid Root Rot Problem In Monstera?
Ultimately, you can save your Monstera from dying by taking measures at the right time. Well, you do not have to break the bank to prevent the root rot problem in your Monstera, as it is quite easy to keep your Monstera away from such issues. Here are some steps you can follow to avoid the root rot problem in your Monstera.
It does not matter how beautiful or expensive the pot is, it should have active drainage holes. You cannot ignore this anyways. Unfortunately, some containers do not come with drainage holes and they can create problems for your Monstera.
However, if you find that the pot you have has no drainage hole just make it on your own. It is easy to drill drainage holes in a plastic pot. If you are planning to purchase a new pot, make sure it has drainage holes.
Let The Soil Breathe:
Apart from ensuring proper drainage of excess water, you have to let the soil breathe freely. The process is known as aeration and you can aerate the soil of your Monstera by adding sand or perlite to the potting mix. By doing so, you will allow the air and water to flow freely through the soil. This will prevent the soil from being soggy and help the roots to remain always healthy.
Water the Plant Only When It Is Needed:
Well-drained soil and active drainage holes cannot save the roots from being waterlogged if you are not careful with your watering practices. If you water your Monstera too frequently, overwatering issues are inevitable.
Limit your watering schedule if you find the soil damp and soggy. If the plant does not get enough sunlight, the soil will take time to absorb water completely. For example, winter is not the best time to give your Monstera enough water.
To learn whether your Monstera requires water at the moment or not, inspect the soil. To do this, just push your finger a few inches down from the top. If you find it damp, refrain from watering the plant.
Inspect Regularly to Detect Fungal Infection:
Fungal infections can become deadly if you fail to detect them on time. A damp and cold environment is ideal for fungal infection. To detect any kind of fungal inspection, you have to inspect the leaves, stems, and soil. Soil discoloration, black spots, drooping leaves, and yellow leaves are some of the common signs of fungal infection in Monstera Deliciosa plants.
Early detection of fungal infection can help to take action. To save the plant from fungi, you can apply natural fungicides like cinnamon, hydrogen peroxide, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, etc.
FAQs About Root Rot In Monstera Deliciosa
Should I Place a Moss in the Middle of the Pot to Help Monstera?
Yes, moss on the top of the surface can mimic the natural habitat of the Monstera Deliciosa plant. Moss can also help the plant extract water and nutrients from the soil.
Are Reddish Roots a Sign of Root Rot?
No, the reddish roots of Monstera Deliciosa plants are normal. Make sure roots are not smelly and mushy.
The Leaves of My Monstera are Drooping. Is it a Sign of Root Rot?
Drooping leaves are the basic sign of underwatering. To determine root rot, watch out for wilted, brown or yellow leaves.
Should I Water the Roots Before Putting the Plant Into the Soil?
No, the roots of Monstera should be completely dry during the process of repotting.
Is it Mandatory to Change the Soil That Had Root Rot?
Yes, because if the soil dealt with root rot, it can be the home of various types of fungi that can infect the new and healthy roots too. So, you must throw away the infected soil to avoid further damage.
Root rot is a treatable health issue in Monstera Deliciosa plants. However, it is very important to identify the signs like wilted, yellow, and brown leaves, mushy and smelly roots, stunted growth, and thin canopy that indicate root rot issues in your Monstera. As a plant parent, you can save your Monstera by adjusting your water schedule, changing the soil, and disinfecting the container. Monstera is a strong tropical vine and it can revive quickly if you fulfill its basic requirements. We hope our simple but effective guide will help you save your beloved plant from dying. If you have some better ideas in mind, never forget to share them with us.
Anthracnose disease of Swiss cheese plant by Research Gate
Monstera Growing in the Florida Home Landscape by University Of Florida
Gardening is my greatest passion, and I love indoor and outdoor plants so much. Plants make me happy, and I enjoy taking care of them. I know keeping plants happy and healthy is a challenging task. But as a plant enthusiast, I do my best to help my little friends thrive. I am here to help people who nurture similar points of view about plants with my little knowledge and experience.