6 Signs Your Monstera Is Under-Watered

  • By: SFUAA
  • Date: August 15, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Various Monstera species are among the most popular houseplants, mainly because of their peculiar leaves and low maintenance requirements. However, when they feel neglected and could use a bit more water, they can communicate their needs through some telltale signs. 

You would know that your Monstera is under-watered if the soil is dry and has cracks. In addition, the leaves may be drooping, curling, yellowing, or have dry, brown tips. If your adult Monstera has stunted growth and fails to produce fenestrated leaves, that may be another sign of under-watering. 

These signs are easily noticeable. While some of these signs also appear when the plant is overwatered, this article will discuss how to identify under-watering signs and suggest ways to fix the problem.

Photo 222715928 / Dry Monstera © Megantoro Arief Yudono | Dreamstime.com

How To Tell That Your Monstera Is Under-Watered

Monstera plants are native to the tropical forests of Mexico and Central America. As they’re originally from a humid environment, they require sufficient moisture for optimum growth. As such, they have aerial roots that allow them to absorb moisture in the air, in addition to their underground roots. 

It is best to ensure that you use soil with good drainage and rich in peat. These qualities can provide the proper balance to remove excess water while retaining sufficient moisture that the Monstera needs. Water the plant once a week in late spring and summer and once every two weeks in fall until winter. 

These plants require a moderate amount of water and can thrive well enough when watered once every one to two weeks. Watering the plant very frequently may cause more harm than good. Therefore, you need to wait for the upper layer of the soil to dry out a bit before adding water. 

If you want to know more about the signs that your plant needs more water, check out the details below: 

Dry, Cracked Soil

Dry soil, per se, is not a direct indication that your Monstera is under-watered. However, when you see visible cracks on the upper layer, you may want to check out the lower layers as well to see how far down has dried up. 

You can use a small shovel to dig three inches (7.6 cm) or deeper into the soil to check how dry it is. If it feels and appears bone-dry, then your plant is definitely under-watered. Turn over the soil so the water can pass through. It can also help with the proper drainage of excess water later. 

If only the upper 1 – 2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm) of the soil is dry, you may use a small rake to turn it over and let the water through to reach the roots. 

Check out this FANHAO Garden Tool Set (available on Amazon.com). The set includes a shovel with inch and centimeter calibrations to see how deep you are digging. It also has a small rake to help aerate the soil before watering. 

Leaves Are Curling or Drooping

Monstera leaves curl, droop, or shrivel if they cannot get enough moisture from their underground or aerial roots. If there isn’t enough water in the soil, your plant would typically try to absorb moisture from the air through its aerial roots. 

However, if the air feels dry or not humid enough, your Monstera’s leaves will start to shrivel. It is an early sign that your plant is under-watered. After checking the soil, add enough water until you see some build-up on the plant saucer. 

You can improve the humidity by misting the leaves. Be sure to remove dust or dirt that builds upon the leaves to let them breathe. 

Yellow Leaves

When Monstera leaves turn yellow, it is an indication that there is a problem with the plant’s growth requirements. 

It can be because of: 

  • Too much or too little water 
  • Not enough sunlight 
  • Cold drafts 
  • Too much or too little fertilizer 

To find out if the problem is due to under-watering, check the texture of the leaf. If it feels dry and crisp, then it is most likely because it needs more water. Another clear indication that your plant needs more water is when the yellow leaves come with dry, crispy brown areas. 

Leaves With Dry, Brown Tips

Dry, brown leaves can be a sign of either too much sun or too little water. If the spots are anywhere on the leaf other than the tips, it indicates sunburn. You would know for sure it’s due to under-watering if the tips and edges of the leaves are brown and dry and the area next to it is turning yellow. 

Usually, Monstera leaves only turn this way if they suffer a prolonged shortage of water. Cut dead or dried leaves off your plant because they cannot provide enough support anymore. They may also pose risks for infection for your plant. 

After providing sufficient water to your Monstera regularly, you will see healthy new leaves grow out. 

Stunted Growth

Monstera deliciosa in their natural habitat tend to grow 30 – 70 feet (9 – 21 m) tall. It is expected to grow much less at home—only 10 – 15 ft (3 – 4.6 m). They usually grow 1 – 2 feet (0.3 – 0.6 m) per year as a houseplant with proper care. 

If your Monstera grows less than a foot (< 0.3 m)per year, you might need to pay more attention to its water and nutrient requirements. If the stunted growth is coupled with any of the signs mentioned above, the problem is most likely due to under-watering. 

Failure To Produce Fenestrated Leaves

A happy and healthy adult Monstera will produce beautifully fenestrated leaves as it reaches maturity after two to three years. If your plant doesn’t show fenestrations after such time, check your care routine and see if you missed out on any of its needs. Enough moisture is one of the requirements for Monstera plants to produce their characteristic perforations.

Final Thoughts

While your Monstera cannot speak to express its thirst, it can communicate such through its appearance. Since it needs to be watered only once a week, most owners tend to forget the last time they watered their plant. 

Most of the signs of under-watering appear together to help you ascertain the main issue. Try to keep a diary of your gardening routine or regularly check your plants on a particular day per week. It can certainly go a long way and lead to vibrant-looking foliage!


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