We all know that one of the basic tenets of monstera care is proper watering, and we also know that overwatering is one of the quickest ways to kill a monstera (or any plant, really).
But many of us monstera owners are so afraid of overwatering that we accidentally underwater our monsteras instead, which can be just as damaging. So let’s talk about some signs that your monstera is underwatered so you can correct the problem before it’s too late!
Signs Your Monstera is Underwatered
Sign #1: Drooping
Like many plants, monsteras will often droop when they’re thirsty. If you notice that your monstera’s leaves are limp and drooping, check the soil and see if the top few inches are dry. If they are, water your plant. It should perk back up in a few hours!
Sign #2: Light brown dry spots
If your monstera is severely underwatered, the leaves may start to dry out and die! If you notice dry, crispy spots on the leaves (that aren’t concentrated around the lower leaves), and your soil is dry, you may want to give your plant a good watering!
It’s also a good idea to remove any severely damaged leaves since they aren’t doing anything for the plant but they still may be using up resources. Simply use a sharp, clean knife or pruning shears to remove damaged leaves at the base of the stem.
Sign #3: Slow growth
If your monstera doesn’t seem to be growing, thirst could be a factor! But check your lighting situation first and think about the last time you fertilized. Your monstera needs adequate light, water, and nutrients to grow, so consider the other factors first so you don’t risk overwatering.
But if your monstera’s in a bright spot and you’re fertilizing regularly, keep a closer eye on your soil to see how quickly it’s drying out and whether you need to give it more water or water it sooner.
Sign #4: Curling leaves
Curling leaves can also be a sign of underwatering. It’s also a sign of low humidity, so ensure that your monstera isn’t sitting near a heating or AC vent in addition to checking the soil. If the soil seems to be retaining moisture just fine, you may want to set up a humidifier before watering your monstera more. But if the soil is compacted or just plain dry, underwatering may be the cause.
Sign #5: Yellowing
Yellowing leaves may also indicate that your monstera is underwatered, especially if it’s accompanied by dry brown spots. However, if you see dark brown spots on yellowing leaves, your monstera is most likely overwatered.
Overwatered or underwatered?
By now you may have noticed that many of these signs can also indicate overwatering. So how on earth do you tell whether your monstera is underwatered or overwatered?
The answer is in the soil. If you suspect over or underwatering, always start there. If the soil looks and feels dry, is compacted, or isn’t absorbing water well, underwatering is more likely. If the soil feels wet to the touch (or if you pull your monstera out of the pot and notice a soaked root ball and rotting roots), it’s probably overwatered.
And if the soil feels damp but not overly dry or wet, your monstera’s issues probably stem from something else.
If you still aren’t sure, I highly recommend using a moisture meter to check on the moisture level in the actual root ball, because the surface of the soil can feel bone dry while the root ball is still soaked! This happens when soil compacts and doesn’t drain well, and it can make diagnosing a monstera’s health problems more difficult.
This is the moisture meter I recommend, and it also measures light and soil pH! I use it every time I water my plants. I can’t live without it! Here’s how to use a moisture meter on your monstera plants.
To learn more about watering your monstera properly, check out our other watering posts!