Monstera Root Rot: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Monstera plants have surged in popularity as houseplants, mainly because of their unique big, split leaves that can change up any indoor spot into a tropical oasis. They’re pretty easy to care for, making them a top choice for both newbs and experienced plant lovers. However, like all plants, Monsteras have their vulnerabilities, and one of the most common ailments they face is root rot. Left unchecked, this condition can spell doom for your beloved green companion.

In this comprehensive guide, We’ll check out why rotten roots happen, the key signs every plant owner should be on the lookout for, and more importantly, how to stop it or fix it up. So, whether you’re an old-hand Monstera owner or just joining this green squad, there’s something valuable here for everyone. Let’s get started!

Yellowing leaves

Yellowing leaves are one of the main signs that something’s wrong with your Monstera. While it’s normal for older leaves to turn yellow once in a while, when a lot of leaves start yellowing, especially the young ones, something’s up. Another key sign of root rot is wilting, where the plant appears lifeless and droopy.

Root rot by yellowing leaves symptoms treatment

Treating Root Rot by Yellowing leaves Symptoms

If you suspect root rot, here’s a quick action plan:

  • Inspect the Soil: First and foremost, check the moisture level. To do this, touch the soil. It should feel slightly moist but not wet. For a deeper inspection, insert your finger or a stick about two inches into the soil. If it feels wet, it’s an indication of overwatering.
  • Remove the Plant: Carefully remove the Monstera from its pot. Examine the roots. Healthy roots are firm and white, while rotting roots are mushy and dark.
  • Trim and Treat: Using sterilized scissors or shears, trim away the affected roots. It might seem drastic, but it’s essential for the plant’s recovery. After cutting, you can treat the remaining roots with mold killer to stop more rot.
  • Replant: Once treated, replant your Monstera in fresh, well-draining soil. Make sure the pot you’re using has enough holes so you don’t water too much later on.

Preventing Root Rot by Yellowing leaves Symptoms

Prevention is always better than cure. To ensure your Monstera stays healthy:

  • Watering Routine: Water your Monstera only when the soil feels dry to the touch. This might vary depending on the season and the climate of your location.
  •  Check Before You Water: Before watering, always check the top two inches of the soil. If it’s dry, then it’s time to water. If it still feels moist, wait a couple of days.
  • Pot and Soil Selection: Always choose a pot with good drainage and use a well-draining soil mix. This stops water from sitting around.
  • Monitor for Signs: Stay observant. If you see yellowing leaves or any other symptoms, check out your plant and its roots right away.

Wilting Leaves

Wilting, in general, indicates that the plant isn’t receiving enough water. However, the irony with root rot is that it often comes from too much water. When the roots of the Monstera are attacked by fungi because it’s too wet, they start to rot and can’t suck up water right. This leads to monstera drooping leaves, even if the soil is damp.

Other signs accompanying wilting might include:

  • Dark, mushy roots as opposed to healthy, firm, and white ones.
  • A stagnant or foul smell emanating from the soil, indicating decaying roots.
  • Stunted growth despite appropriate care.

Treating Wilting Leaves due to Root Rot

  • Immediate Action: If you see drooping leaves and think it’s root rot, get your Monstera out of its pot quick. Check out the roots, looking for any that are squishy, discolored, or emitting an unpleasant odor.
  • Trim Damaged Roots: Using sanitized scissors or pruning shears, carefully trim away the rotting roots. This is essential to prevent the rot from spreading to the healthy parts.
  • Treat with Fungicide: Consider using a fungicide treatment to target and eliminate the fungi causing the root rot. This move can stop more harm when you put the plant back in a pot.
  • Repotting: Choose fresh, well-draining soil and ensure the pot has proper drainage holes. When repotting, be gentle to not stress the plant further.

Preventing Wilting Leaves and Root Rot

  • Proper Watering Routine: Ensure you’re watering your Monstera only when necessary. The top 2 inches of soil should be dry to the touch before the next watering session.
  • Avoid Waterlogged Soil: The type of soil and pot you use is crucial. Opt for a soil mix that doesn’t retain excessive moisture and always use pots with drainage holes.
  • Regular Inspection: Frequently check the bottom of the pot and the soil for any signs it’s too wet or has fungi. Early detection can help in preventing significant damage.
  • Optimal Environment: Make sure your Monstera is chilling in a spot where it gets not too bright light. This aids in maintaining a balanced moisture level in the soil.

Stunted Growth

Having stunted growth basically means your Monstera plant isn’t growing as it should, even though you’re doing your best of it. Besides not growing much or at all, you might spot:

  • Smaller than usual new leaves, or leaves that don’t fully unfurl.
  • A longer than usual interval between the sprouting of new leaves.
  • Roots that look dark, feel mushy, and perhaps emit a foul smell, showing it’s rotting.
  • Soil that remains wet for a long time, hinting at poor drainage or overwatering.
Monstera root rot symptoms

Treating Stunted Growth due to Root Rot

  • Root Examination: If your Monstera isn’t growing like it should, have a look at its roots. Remove the plant from its pot and inspect the root system for signs of decay.
  • Prune Affected Roots: Using sterilized shears, snip away any rotten, mushy, or discolored roots. This can prevent the spread of rot to healthier parts of the root system.
  • Use Fungicide: After trimming, it’s beneficial to treat the remaining healthy roots with a fungicide. This acts as a protective measure against future fungal attacks.
  • Repot in Fresh Soil: Opt for a high-quality, well-draining potting mix. Ensuring the pot has adequate drainage holes is vital.

Preventing Stunted Growth and Root Rot

  • Mindful Watering: Wait until the top couple of inches of the soil are dry before watering. This can prevent overwatering, a primary culprit for root rot.
  • Soil Selection: A well-aerated, loose potting mix is best for Monsteras. It makes sure roots get ample oxygen and that water doesn’t stagnate.
  • Regular Checks: Familiarize yourself with your Monstera’s normal growth patterns. If you notice growth slowing down or halting, it’s a sign to check on the plant’s health.
  • Adequate Light and Temperature: Ensure your Monstera gets sufficient indirect sunlight and is kept in a warm environment. Proper light can support growth and help regulate soil moisture.

Mushy Roots

The first thing you’ll probably notice with this kind of root rot is when the roots go all soft, squishy, and maybe even turn black. That’s a big red flag that the roots are going bad. Not enough air and too much dampness are the main culprits. When roots become unhealthy, they can no longer support the plant, leading to other symptoms such as yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and eventual wilting.

Treating Mushy Roots in Monstera

  • Repotting the Plant: If you see those mushy roots, you gotta change pots ASAP. Begin by carefully removing the Monstera from its current pot.
  • Rinse and Trim: Using lukewarm water, gently rinse the root system to remove as much of the old soil as possible. Once clean, examine the roots closely. Using a sanitized, sharp knife or scissors, cut away any mushy, discolored, or black roots. This step is crucial to halt the spread of rot.
  • Choosing the Right Pot: When you’re picking a new pot, go for one that’s just a bit bigger than the old one. This ensures the roots don’t get overwhelmed by excessive soil moisture. And don’t forget, the new pot needs to have good holes at the bottom for drainage. 
  • Reintroduce with Care: Once replanted in fresh, dry soil, water your Monstera sparingly. The aim is to let the soil dry out entirely between watering sessions. Watering too much can make the root rot come back.
  • Consider a Fungicide: If you wanna give your plant some extra protection, think about mixing some fungicide into the soil. This can deter the recurrence of the fungi responsible for root rot.

Preventing Mushy Roots and Root Rot

Watering Regime: A strict and mindful watering routine is your best defense against mushy roots. Only water when the top couple of inches of the soil are dry to the touch.

  • Soil Choice: Opt for well-draining, aerated soil. This means the roots get the necessary oxygen they need and aren’t sitting in water all the time.
  • Observation: Regularly inspect the base of the pot and the roots, especially when repotting or if the plant shows signs of distress. Early detection is the best form of prevention.
  • Make sure your Monstera’s hanging out somewhere warm and indirect sunlight. Avoid placing it in spots where it might be exposed to cold drafts, as this can stress the plant.

A Foul Odor from the Soil

The unmistakable smell of decay or a musty scent is the primary symptom here. It indicates the presence of fungi and bacteria breaking down decaying organic matter, usually the roots. Along with that smell, you might notice:

  • Soil that stays wet for extended periods.
  • Yellowing or browning of leaves, especially at the lower parts of the plant.
  • Mushy, dark-colored roots when inspected.
  • A general decline in the plant’s vigor and appearance.
Root rot by A Foul Odor from the Soil symptoms treatment

Treating Monstera with Foul Smelling Soil

  • Immediate Unpotting: As soon as you detect a foul odor, remove the Monstera from its pot. This will allow you to inspect the roots and assess the damage.
  • Root Cleaning and Pruning: After unpotting, rinse the roots gently with tepid water. This will help remove excess soil and give a clearer view. Also Snip off any rotting, gooey, or stinky roots with clean scissors.
  • Fresh Soil and Pot: After that, put the Monstera in some fresh soil that drains well. If you think the old pot might be part of the problem, either grab a new one or give the old one a deep clean. And make sure the pot’s got good drainage holes.
  • Mild Watering: Initially, water sparingly. It’s super important for the plant to establish itself without the risk of further waterlogging.
  • Fungicide Application: Introducing a fungicide can serve as an added protection against lingering fungi in the soil. It might help in preventing a recurrence of the issue.

Preventing Foul Odors and Root Rot

  • Regulated Watering: Overwatering is a prime culprit for root rot. Develop a routine where you water only when the top layer of soil is dry.
  • Aerated Soil: Using a well-draining, aerated soil mix ensures roots have access to air and don’t sit in prolonged moisture.
  • Regular Inspection: At least once a month, give your soil a sniff. Detecting a problem early can make all the difference.
  • Elevate the Pot: Using a saucer or stand that lifts the pot slightly can aid in better drainage and prevent water from stagnating at the base.

The plant falling over

Sometimes for some reason such as strong winds or a physical impact can knock the monstera plant falling over and make weak or rotted roots.

Treatment for Root Rot:

  1. Repotting: Gently pull out the plant from its pot. Trim off the rotted roots and repot your monstera in fresh soil.
  2.  Dry Out: Before repotting, you might want to let the plant sit out for a day or two to let the roots dry out.
  3. Sterilize Tools:  Always use clean tools so you don’t spread any yucky of disease.
  4. Avoid Overwatering: Ensure that you’re not overwatering your Monstera. It should be in well-draining soil and the pot should have drainage holes.

Preventing Root Rot:

Well-draining Soil: Use a soil mix that provides good drainage.

Proper Watering: Only water when the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry. Make sure the pot has drainage holes so excess water can escape.

Check the Plant Regularly: Frequently inspect your Monstera’s leaves and stems for signs of distress.

Preventing Falling Over:

  • Support: Use stakes or trellises to support your Monstera as it grows, especially if it becomes top-heavy.
  • Proper Pot Size: Ensure your pot size is appropriate for your plant’s size.
  • Location: If your Monstera’s outside, put it somewhere it won’t get knocked around by big winds.

Black Spots

Root rot typically originates beneath the soil surface and progressively moves up the plant. Early detection is crucial to protect your Monstera from potential decline.

If you don’t catch it in time, you might see black spots on the stems, which can even reach the leaves if the fungal infection becomes severe.

These black spots on monstera indicate areas where the plant is dying due to the underlying fungal issue. On stems, these spots have a sunken, water-soaked appearance. While it’s rarer for leaves to exhibit these symptoms, any affected areas should be promptly pruned to halt the spread of the infection.

If the black discoloration engulfs your entire Monstera, the plant is probably beyond rescue. When that happens, it’s best to chuck it to keep your other indoor plants safe.

Conclusion: Nurturing Your Monstera Back to Vibrant Health

The magnificent Monstera, with its striking split leaves, is undeniably a gem in the plant world. But like all living beings, it too can face health challenges. From the alarming sight of black spots on the leaves to the distress of a leaning plant, root rot manifests in various ways. Yet, with timely intervention and adequate knowledge, a Monstera battling root rot can not only be revived but also thrive with renewed vigor.

The super important thing is to water it just right, make sure it drains well, and give it the right vibes. Often checking out your Monstera, watching out for signs, and taking steps can make all the difference.

For folks looking for full-on guidance and top tips on plant care, FamiPlants is a great go-to. Dive into their content to not only get the details of Monstera care but also to explore a world of plants and the fun of growing them. Basically, with good info and care, your Monstera and other green buddies can rock it, jazzing up your spaces for years to come.

Hi, I'm Cathleen Clemens. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in plant science. I gained detailed knowledge about various kinds of plants and how to properly care for them. My experience has enabled me to easily detect any issues such as pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, or signs of diseases in the plants.

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