Monsteras are considered relatively easy houseplants to care for, though there are some key things they dislike that may surprise you. Avoiding these issues will lead to a healthy and thriving monstera you can be proud of.
- Monsteras originate in tropical jungles with consistent warmth and humidity. Replicating this environment precisely in our homes is challenging.
- While monsteras tolerate occasional dryness, large fluctuations in moisture and humidity stress the plant.
- Additionally, some common care techniques and potting methods can secretly harm monsteras.
Below is a helpful table outlining 6 key things to avoid with your monstera:
|Why Monsteras Hate It
|Causes extreme humidity fluctuations
|Leads to stem rot from moisture
|Gravel in pots
|Traps water and causes root rot
|Blocks leaf pores, reducing photosynthesis
|Limits leaf splits and holes
|Repotting too deep
|Also causes stem rot
By understanding monsteras' preferences and avoiding these missteps, your plant will thrive!
II. Things Monsteras Hate
A. Being Misted
One of the most persistent myths in caring for houseplants is that you should mist your plants daily, especially tropical varieties like the monstera. If you're in the habit of misting your monstera every day, you may be causing more harm than good.
The idea behind misting plants is that it replicates the high humidity of the jungle environment that monsteras naturally grow in. We assume that since monsteras thrive in humid tropical areas, misting them daily must make them happy in our homes.
But this is a big misconception - it's just not feasible to maintain 80% humidity in our indoor environments 24/7. If we did, there would be major mold issues in our homes which are unhealthy.
It's not actually the lower humidity that damages monsteras - it's the swings in humidity levels that stress them out.
Imagine you live in a very dry climate and are used to dry air. Suddenly you go on vacation to a humid area - the thick, muggy air makes you feel like you're suffocating! You sweat a lot and your skin gets clammy - you're very uncomfortable.
Plants react similarly - they don't like rapid changes in humidity. If the humidity shifts too quickly, it can make plants prone to disease.
So if you have a monstera, aim for stable humidity rather than high humidity. But misting doesn't actually raise humidity much, despite what many think.
When water droplets from a mister hit the leaves, they evaporate quickly - leaving the leaves moist but not increasing the air humidity. The tiny bit of extra moisture put into the air by misting is insignificant.
In fact, misting can make problems worse by creating an ideal environment for fungal and bacterial growth on the leaves.
As the water evaporates off the leaves, it leaves behind mineral deposits that can burn leaf tissue. So misting may actually make your monstera more prone to diseases like leaf spot.
I know what you're thinking - if monsteras don't like moisture on their leaves, how do they survive constant rain in jungles?
Good question! The key difference is air circulation. Outdoors, the wind and breezes dry the leaves quickly after rain. Indoors, there is little air movement so moisture lingers on the leaves for longer.
Here's a helpful table summarizing the problems with misting monsteras:
|Why Misting Is Bad
|Causes extreme humidity fluctuations
|Leads to fungal & bacterial growth
|Leaves mineral deposits on leaves
|Doesn't actually increase humidity
|Keeps leaves wet for too long
Instead of misting, keep your monstera happy by:
- Providing good air circulation with a fan
- Grouping plants together to boost humidity
- Keeping humidity levels stable
- Gently wiping leaves to remove dust
So skip the misting and try these alternatives for a healthy, happy monstera!
B. Having Their Stems Buried
Monsteras use their aerial roots to cling onto trees and supports in their natural jungle habitat. It's common advice to bury these aerial roots in the soil when repotting to help anchor and support monstera plants.
However, while the aerial roots can go in the soil, the main stems should stay above the soil line. Burying the stems too deep is a mistake that can seriously harm your monstera.
I learned this lesson the hard way with my own monstera. I had a long, floppy stem that kept falling over the pot. I hoped burying part of the stem would encourage the aerial roots to grow into the soil and support the plant.
But I buried the stem too deeply, which caused it to start rotting from all the moisture. Monsteras stems aren't made to be underground - they will likely rot if buried.
This can critically damage or even kill your plant. Stem rot is one of the worst problems you can run into with a monstera.
To avoid this mistake, be sure to plant your monstera at the same depth it was originally growing at. Don't bury those stems deeper just to prop up or control the plant.
It's tempting to bury droopy stems for support, but resist the urge! Keep stems above the soil line or you risk severe rot issues.
If you're unsure how deep to replant your monstera, it's best to go more shallow rather than too deep. A little too shallow is better than stem rot.
Here are some good guidelines for planting depth:
- Keep stems at same level as before
- Never bury stems more than 1 inch deeper
- If uncertain, plant more shallowly
To give a new monstera support without burying the stem, use these methods instead:
- Stake it to a moss pole or trellis
- Weave stems through bamboo sticks
- Tie stems to wooden planks
- Place a plant caddy underneath
And remember, only aerial roots should be beneath the soil - never the main stems!
Burying those stems too deep is one of the worst things you can do to your monstera. The soil moisture will quickly cause the stem tissue to break down and rot.
So if your monstera starts looking sickly, the first thing to check is that you didn't bury the stem too far down in the potting mix.
Dig down and examine the stem - if it's dark, mushy or hollow, you unfortunately have stem rot.
At that point, propagation is your only hope of saving the plant. Try taking cuttings higher up the stem and rooting them in water - just don't bury those stems when potting!
Here's a helpful table summarizing what NOT to do when planting monsteras:
|Don't Bury Stems...
|More than 1 inch deeper
|Causes stem rot
|Just for support
|Still causes rot
|In heavy, wet soil
|Rot risk increased
Avoid making this painful mistake! Always keep monstera stems above the soil line when repotting. A little shallow is way better than too deep!
C. Gravel in the Drainage Layer
For decades, a common houseplant potting hack has been to add a layer of gravel at the bottom of pots before filling with soil. But this gravel drainage layer is actually harmful for monsteras and other plants - especially when kept constantly moist.
The idea behind gravel in the pot is that it will supposedly create a barrier between wet soil and the drainage holes. This is thought to prevent roots from sitting in water, avoiding root rot.
But in reality, this gravel technique doesn't work and can make root rot issues worse. Here's why:
First, water doesn't easily move from fine soil to coarse gravel. In fact, the coarser the material, the harder it is for water to flow into it from soil.
So water will only drain from soil into gravel when the soil is completely soggy and saturated.
Therefore, adding gravel below soil creates a perched water table. The soil on top stays wet and muddy, while gravel below stays dry.
This soggy soil leads to root rot because the monstera's roots sit in stagnant water, unable to drain. The opposite of what we want!
Secondly, roots seek out moisture and will grow toward water. So when roots reach the gravel layer, they won't stop or turn around. They'll grow right into any water pooling at the bottom, rotting in the process.
The gravel doesn't block or stop them at all.
Instead of gravel, monstera pots should have:
- Lots of drainage holes
- Free draining, aerated soil mix
- Plastic nursery pots inside decorative ones
This allows excess water to easily drain out the bottom, preventing root rot.
Additionally, a thinner layer of activated charcoal or leca pebbles at the very bottom can help absorb some moisture. But never a deep gravel layer.
Avoid these pitfalls by skipping the gravel myth. Use a fast draining monstera soil formula and let the water flow out the holes freely.
Here's a summary of what NOT to do when adding drainage layers:
|Don't Use Gravel...
|In a thick layer
|With frequent watering
|With dense soil
|As a moisture barrier
|Roots grow through it
Proper soil and drainage are key to healthy monsteras. Skip the gravel and stick with free draining mixes. Your plants will thank you!
D. Accumulating Dust
Monsteras have big, beautiful leaves that unfortunately make perfect places for dust to collect. Within just a couple weeks, you'll notice a thick layer of dust on the leaves and stems.
This dust buildup spells trouble for your plant. One of the most important things you can do to keep your monstera healthy is to regularly remove dust from the leaves.
Why is dust such a problem? It blocks the tiny pores on the leaves called stomata. These pores allow plants to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen - part of photosynthesis.
When the stomata get clogged with dust, it prevents the monstera from photosynthesizing properly. Lack of photosynthesis leads to stunted growth.
To understand why, let's do a quick science recap:
- Photosynthesis uses sunlight to convert CO2 and H2O into oxygen and sugar.
- This process is essential for plant growth and survival.
- The stomata are the pores that allow CO2 and O2 exchange.
So when dust blocks the stomata, the monstera can't take in CO2 or release O2 efficiently. It also blocks sunlight from reaching leaf cells.
Without enough sunlight and CO2, photosynthesis slows down or stops. And without photosynthesis, your monstera won't grow properly.
Signs of insufficient photosynthesis include:
- Smaller, stunted leaves
- Slow growth
- Leaf yellowing
- Drooping or wilting
- Leaf drop
To prevent dust issues, wipe leaves gently every few weeks with a damp cloth to remove accumulated dust. Be sure not to damage the delicate leaves.
If you live in a very dusty area, you may need to dust-proof your monstera even more frequently.
Some options include:
- Putting nylons or sheets over plants when working
- Mist leaves then gently wipe dust away
- Move monstera away from dusty areas
- Keep floors vacuumed and dusted
- Use an air purifier
Keeping your monstera dust-free is easy with regular gentle wiping. A clean plant will reward you with healthy, vibrant growth!
Here's a quick summary of dust problems and solutions:
|Use air filtration
|Move away from dust
Don't let dust buildup sabotage your beautiful monstera. Keep those leaves clean and watch your plant thrive!
E. Lack of Light
Monsteras thrive when given bright, indirect light. One sign your plant is unhappy is a lack of fenestrations and perforations in the leaves.
Fenestrations are the iconic splits or slits in monstera leaves. Perforations are the holes in the center of the leaf.
Getting nice fenestrations is doable if you give your monstera decent light. But perforations are trickier, especially if you don't have the rare large-form variety.
The key is providing as much bright, indirect light as possible. The more light your monstera gets, the faster it will produce leaves with perforations.
I learned this firsthand by comparing my bedroom monstera to the one in my living room. They are actually the same plant - the living room one is a cutting from the bedroom plant I took two years ago.
Despite being younger, the living room monstera has a glorious leaf with multiple perforations. But the bedroom plant doesn't have any perforations yet, even though it's older.
The reason? Light exposure. The living room plant sits right on the windowsill and gets western light all day.
But the bedroom monstera is a couple meters back from a west-facing window. That small difference in distance makes a huge difference in light intensity.
So if you want your monstera to make perforated leaves faster, get it as close to a bright window as possible.
Avoid these common low-light issues:
- Smaller, stunted leaves
- Leggy growth with fewer fenestrations
- Paler green leaves
- Leaf drop
Signs your monstera is getting good light:
- Big, vibrant leaves
- Lots of fenestrations/slits
- Dark green leaves
- Frequent new growth
Maximize light by:
- Putting monstera right in west or east window
- Using sheer curtains to filter harsh direct sun
- Turning the plant to equalize light exposure
- Using grow lights to supplement natural light
Getting adequate sunlight is crucial for monsteras to thrive and produce stunning perforated leaves. So set up your plant in the brightest spot in your home and watch it flourish!
Here's a quick light summary:
|Move closer to window
|Put in brightest window
|Small, pale leaves
|Turn plant to equalize light
|Add sheer curtains to soften light
Proper lighting is vital for your monstera. Give it the brightest indirect light possible and enjoy those gorgeous perforated leaves!
F. Being Repotted Poorly
Repotting is a necessary part of caring for any houseplant, including monsteras. But it's important to avoid some common mistakes that can seriously harm your plant.
One key rule - don't bury the stems deeper than they were originally growing. I learned this the hard way and buried my monstera's stems too far down.
I was hoping to encourage the aerial roots to grow into the soil for support. But I ended up with a rotten, dying stem from all the moisture surrounding it underground.
Monstera stems aren't meant to be buried at all. Even just 1-2 inches deeper can cause stem rot because the tissue breaks down from the constant dampness.
So when repotting, be sure to plant your monstera at the same depth as its previous pot. Resist the temptation to bury it deeper just to keep it upright or contained.
If unsure, it's always safer to plant a little more shallow rather than too deep. A bit too shallow won't harm the plant, but too deep will likely lead to rot.
Use these tips for proper planting depth:
- Keep stems at the same level
- Never bury stems more than 1 inch lower
- If uncertain, go more shallow
You can provide support through staking, trellising, or other methods - just keep those stems above ground!
Burying the stems too deep is one of the worst mistakes you can make when repotting a monstera. The wet soil leads to quick stem rot.
If you notice your plant declining after repotting, dig it up and check that the stem isn't buried too far down. Look for dark, mushy, or hollow stems which indicate rot.
At that point, taking stem cuttings to propagate in water may be your only hope of saving the plant. Just be sure not to bury the stems when potting the propagations.
Here are some key tips to avoid repotting issues:
- Carefully remove from old pot, keeping soil intact
- Loosen roots but don't damage them
- Place in new pot at same depth as before
- Pack soil around stem base without burying
- Water well to settle soil
Follow these steps and your monstera will transition smoothly into its new home. Avoid burying stems and you'll prevent a lot of headaches!
Here's a quick repotting summary:
|Don't Bury Stems...
|More than 1 inch lower
|Causes stem rot
|Just for support
|Still causes rot
|In heavy, wet soil
|Increases rot risk
Repot properly and keep those stems above ground! Your monstera will thank you with vigorous, healthy growth.
Caring for a monstera really isn't too difficult if you avoid some key mistakes. While monsteras are fairly forgiving plants, there are some things they really dislike.
With the right care, your monstera will reward you with huge, gorgeous leaves and thrive for years to come. Avoid these common issues for a truly stunning, healthy plant:
Misting the leaves - Causes extreme humidity fluctuations that stress the plant. Instead, provide good air circulation.
Burying the stems when repotting - Leads to stem rot from excess moisture. Keep stems above soil.
Using a gravel drainage layer - Traps moisture and causes root rot. Opt for free draining soil.
Letting dust accumulate - Blocks leaf pores, reducing photosynthesis. Wipe leaves regularly.
Insufficient light - Limits leaf splits and perforations. Provide bright, indirect light.
Repotting too deeply - Also causes rot when stems are buried. Repot at the same level.
Here's a helpful table summarizing what monsteras hate and how to make them happy instead:
|Good air circulation
|Keep stems above soil
|Free draining soil
|Wipe leaves often
|Bright, indirect light
|Repot at same level
Follow these tips and you'll have a gorgeous, thriving monstera you can be proud of! Avoid things like deep watering, dense soil, and drastic humidity swings.
Give your monstera the proper care it craves and this iconic tropical plant will brighten your home for years to come. The key is understanding what monsteras hate so you can avoid those common pitfalls.
With the right conditions, your monstera will reward you with stunning, expansive leaves. Give it a moss pole for support and watch the large, fenestrated leaves unfurl. Just be sure to avoid overwatering, deep planting, and excessive dust for monstera success!
IV. ## Frequently Asked Questions About Caring For Monsteras
Monsteras are incredibly popular houseplants known for their iconic split leaves. Here are answers to some common questions about keeping these tropical beauties healthy and happy.
How can I get my monstera to produce split leaves?
- Make sure the plant gets adequate bright, indirect light. Insufficient light limits leaf splits.
- Provide a moss pole or trellis for support. This encourages larger, split leaves.
- Be patient! It takes several years for monsteras to start producing their iconic divided leaves.
Why are the stems of my monstera turning black and mushy?
This is a case of severe stem rot, usually caused by overwatering or planting too deeply. To avoid it:
- Allow soil to partially dry between waterings.
- Ensure container has drainage holes to prevent moisture buildup.
- Keep stems above soil level when repotting to prevent rot.
What should I do if my monstera drops a lot of leaves?
This can be caused by:
- Over or under-watering
- Low humidity
- Transplant stress
- Insufficient or excessive light
Gradually improve care and give the plant time to adjust. Add a humidifier, check watering frequency, treat pests, and make sure light exposure is adequate.
Are monsteras toxic to pets?
Yes, monsteras contain insoluble calcium oxalates that are toxic to both cats and dogs if ingested. Keep plants out of reach of pets. Seek vet care if your pet shows signs of poisoning like mouth irritation or vomiting.
With proper care, monsteras make a gorgeous, rewarding houseplant! Just be sure to give them adequate light and humidity, watch the watering, and keep those stems above soil. Your monstera will reward you with stunning, fenestrated leaves.
V. Reference links
Monstera Plant Resource - The Sill's guide to monstera plant care, troubleshooting, and growing tips.
Monstera Repotting Guide - Bloomscape's step-by-step guide on how to properly repot a monstera plant.
Monstera Propagation - The Spruce's article on propagating monsteras from stem cuttings and aerial roots.
Monstera Light Requirements - Gardening Know How's explanation of optimal light levels for monsteras and signs of insufficient light.