A monstera typically does well with weekly or bi-weekly watering, but sometimes it can seem like the soil is getting dryer long before it should. It can be worrying when this happens, but there’s usually an explanation and an easy fix.
Monstera soil dries out quickly because you’re not watering it enough. These plants need moderate amounts of water, which means you need to water them when their soil feels dry, approximately 1-2 inches beneath the surface. High temperatures and undersized pots can also cause this problem.
In this article, I’ll explore this and other reasons why your monstera soil can dry out too quickly and how you can fix the problem.
Reasons Why Your Monstera Soil Dries Quickly
Not giving your monstera plant enough water is usually the main reason its soil dries out too quickly, but topping up on its water supply isn’t always enough. Although underwatering is the leading cause, a few things can cause your potting soil to dry out quickly.
With this in mind, here are some common reasons why your plant isn’t maintaining moisture:
The most likely reason your monstera soil is dry is that you’re not watering it enough. While there may be other factors causing your soil to dry out faster than it should, an altered watering schedule goes a long way.
A monstera typically does fine with a good watering session every week. While watering, you should ensure you water the soil directly rather than the leaves. Continue watering the plant until you see the excess come out of the drainage holes. This indicates that the soil has enough moisture.
This helps minimize the amount of water touching the leaves and splashing off and also gives you a clearer idea of how much water is actually getting to the soil.
You should never forget that a watering schedule is an ideal rather than a reality. Other factors can affect how much water the soil holds, so checking the soil for dryness 4-7 days after watering is essential.
Low Humidity Levels
Monstera plants are tropical, so they thrive in moisture-rich conditions. Their humidity requirements usually lie somewhere between 60-70% humidity (although they should be fine slightly outside this range).
Essentially, humidity refers to the moisture content in the air. There’s a bit of science behind it, but in summary, lower humidity makes it easier for water to evaporate. This means that low enough humidity than the recommended range will cause your soil to lose water from evaporation shockingly quickly.
Low humidity also affects the transpiration rate of your plant, making the problem two-fold since your soil is also losing water.
In contrast, higher humidity will cause your plant and soil to lose water more slowly. Ensuring high humidity levels for your monstera plant will prevent the air from becoming dry, keeping the soil moist for extended periods.
You can increase the humidity around your plants in the following ways:
Use Pebble Trays
Pebble trays are an easy and inexpensive way to increase the humidity around your plants. Pebble trays are simply that—a tray of pebbles (sitting in water). The pebbles keep the bottom of the pot out of direct contact with the water, and the water evaporates over time to create a humid environment for your plant.
Here’s how to create an easy DIY pebble tray at home:
- Fill your tray with two inches (5 cm) of pebbles. Spread them out so the surface is even.
- Fill the tray with water, leaving about half an inch (1.27 cm) of pebbles above the water’s surface.
- Position your potted plant in the middle of the tray.
- Water the tray as regularly as the plant needs it.
- Every week, clean the pebble tray and change the water to avoid attracting pests and microbes.
Mist Monstera Plants Weekly
Spraying your monstera plant with a misting bottle filled with water is an easy way to give your plants more moisture and a short-term rise in humidity. Misting also helps dislodge dust or debris that accumulates on your plant’s large leaves.
Mist your plant once a week with a gentle spray, and do this in the mornings on days you don’t water the plant so that the water will evaporate by the end of the day instead of accumulating on the plant.
Windy Conditions Can Reduce Humidity
If your indoor monstera is sitting right in the path of a draft, this can dry out its soil and decrease the surrounding humidity levels. With an increase in air circulation, your monstera will be sitting in dry soil sooner, so keep an eye on your plant when the fan is on in the room.
Direct Sunlight Increases Evaporation
Monsteras require room temperature that’s between 65-85 °F (18-29 °C). They don’t want to be exposed to temperatures that are lower than 60 °F (15 °C). If you want your monstera plant to grow at a faster rate, you should place it in bright light. Nevertheless, the sunlight should be indirect.
Many indoor gardeners place monsteras in brighter rooms to reduce heating costs. The consequence of this is that the plant will use and require more water as it grows. Therefore, you have to ensure that you water your plant a bit more frequently if it gets a lot of sunlight.
You should water your monstera as soon as the top 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of the soil feels dry. Make sure you soak the soil thoroughly with each watering.
Take your climate into consideration when watering your monstera. If it’s hot and sunny, your indoor plants will require more water. If it experiences moderate or cold temperatures, you should water your plants less regularly as they won’t experience as much evaporation.
If you’ve planted a monstera in a pot that’s too large for it, this can be detrimental to how the plant manages to draw water from the soil because the plant will take longer to access it.
You should plant the monstera in a pot in which it feels snug. Monstera plants do the best when they’re a bit rootbound, so don’t re-pot them too quickly. When you can see the plant’s roots through the pot’s drainage holes, you can move it to a pot that’s one size larger than its current one.
When finding a pot for your monstera plant, you need to use one made out of less porous materials. Avoid unglazed terracotta pots, as these are too porous and cause the soil to dry out too quickly. Choose a partially glazed or plastic pot instead, as they maintain moisture longer.
Regardless of the material, your pot should always have drainage holes. Otherwise, you risk overwatering your plant, which can have worse consequences than underwatering.
Your Potting Soil Is Not Retaining Water
While most of the other problems on this list have been external, it’s perfectly possible that your soil simply doesn’t hold enough water. Not all potting soils are made equally, and this is a particularly important thing to remember for plants—especially indoor plants.
Potting soil compositions vary depending on the brand and purpose. For instance, some potting mixes don’t contain soil at all.
It is widely known among avid gardeners that garden soil is not the best choice for potted plants. Using it for potted plants will eventually leave you with waterlogged, compacted soil.
Of course, the problem here is dry soil, so if you’ve run into that, you’ve probably used potting soil that’s far too light and airy, allowing water to evaporate or drain much faster. But don’t worry. Potting soil can be changed quite easily or mixed with a few amendments to make it hold more moisture for longer.
Some of the best amendments for better moisture retention include:
- Sphagnum peat moss: This is a popular potting mix ingredient because it is light, maintains moisture well, and doesn’t become soggy, therefore preventing issues such as root rot. However, peat moss is not a sustainable material, so you may want to go for more eco-friendly alternatives.
- Coconut noir: This is a fibrous layer that you find around coconut shells. It works well for monstera plants because it maintains soil moisture without becoming compacted.
- Vermiculite: This comes from silica deposits and works well to prevent soil compaction so that the monstera plant will be able to draw enough moisture from the soil.
Amending your potting soil so that about a quarter of it contains any of the materials above will significantly improve the moisture retention capacity.
There are also premade potting mixes that contain a combination of various materials that promote a balance between drainage and moisture-holding capacity. I’d recommend the Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix from Amazon.com. It contains coconut coir that maintains moisture and releases excess water, so your monstera plant gets exactly how much water it needs to thrive.
Do you know what happens to the soil when it dries out? Read my guide to learn more about how you can measure the soil moisture content and what you can do for dried-out soil: Here’s What Happens to Soil When It Dries Out
Signs You’re Underwatering Your Monstera
You can tell if you’re not giving your monstera plant enough water by checking the plant for specific signs.
These include the following:
The Leaves and Stems Are Drooping
Larger monstera plants are less likely to lean over if they’re underwatered, but this is a common sign of underwatering in smaller plants.
The Leaves Are Curling
If your plant has curled leaves, it could be a sign that you’re not giving the plant enough water. However, once you give the plant enough water, its leaves should uncurl within two or three days.
The Plant Doesn’t Have Fenestration
As your monstera grows, it should form holes in its leaves, which give it its “Swiss cheese” appearance. If your plant is over 2 years old but doesn’t have fenestrated leaves, it’s a sign it needs more water. A study found that monstera leaves with holes had a higher amount of water captured by their roots than plants without holes.
The Soil Feels Dry to the Touch
Dry soil is the most common sign that you’re not giving your Monstera enough water. Dig your finger about one inch (2.54 cm) into the plant’s soil before watering it. If it’s dry, your plant needs water.
The Older Leaves Are Turning Brown
If there are brown spots on the leaves, this could be a result of underwatering or a lack of sunlight. The leaves might also turn brown and dry at the tips and edges.
The Leaves Are Turning Yellow
Healthy monstera plants should have waxy, dark green leaves. If you keep seeing that the plant’s new leaves are becoming yellow, check the soil’s moisture.
It’s important to note that most of these symptoms alone do not necessarily indicate underwatering. Plants can run into a lot of problems, and many symptoms of different problems appear similar.
However, concurrently having two or three of the problems on this list can signify that your plant needs more water.
If your monstera plant has soil that’s drying out, this means you’re not watering your plant enough. You need to ensure that you encourage the plant to absorb the water it needs.
You can do this in the following ways:
- Water your plant deeply.
- Increase your plant’s humidity with pebble trays.
- Mist your plant regularly.
- Add moisture-retention ingredients to the plant’s soil.
- Avoid putting your monstera in a pot that’s too large.
- Water your plant more regularly if it’s in bright light.