Monstera Root Rot: Signs, Causes and Treatment

Monstourous Monstera Plant Unsplash
Monstourous Monstera Plant (Source: Unsplash)

You might have been plagued by Monstera root rot. But, hey, you are not alone in this venture.

Honestly, I have killed several Monsteras as a result of root rot. But, glad I am, soon afterward, I learned how not to kill them after a lot of experimentation and experience.

Overwatering is the most common cause of root rot in Monstera. Poor drainage, improper soil type, fungal infections, and low temperatures are probable causes. Cut off all affected areas of the Monstera and repot after applying fungicides to treat root rot.

Monstera Albo
Monstera (Source: Unsplash)

Solutions lie in the identification of the core problem. Several factors are responsible for Monstera root rot.

Hence, if you want to resolve Monstera root rot, you must identify the specific cause.

Read along to identify causes of your Monstera root rot, ways to resolve them, and adopt preventive measures for the same.

Can Monstera Recover from Root Rot?

Root rot is a gradual degeneration of roots caused by fungal infection and anaerobic activities in the soil.

When the substrate gets waterlogged for an extended period, it creates an anaerobic environment. Increased anaerobic activity and suffocation of roots lead to root rot in Monstera.

Monstera can recover from root rot. However, you must identify the problem as soon as possible and take the required steps to remedy it.

Unfortunately, if your plant’s entire root system has turned mushy, it may be too late to salvage it.

Generally, if you can save its node, you might succeed in reviving the plant. Its nodes are capable of producing a new and healthy root system.

Thus, you might be able to save your Monstera even without root through propagation.

Signs of Monstera Root Rot

As per your convenience, I would like to dissect the Monstera root rot into three different phases.

These phases are based on the severity of the condition and how easy it is to revive them.

Now let us dive directly into the signs of Monstera root rot.

1. Early Stage Root Rot

It is the first stage of root rot in Monstera. Generally, you can easily save Monstera under this stage.

In its first stage, Monstera shows symptoms similar to other problems like lighting, watering, temperature, and humidity. Thus, it might be challenging to identify monstera root rot at first.

Nonetheless, it is not impossible if you sneak peek at your Monstera regularly.

It shows the following signs in the early stage of root rot.

  • Stunted growth
  • Discoloration of leaves, especially yellowing and browning.
  • Wilted and droopy leaves
  • Occasional curling of leaves
Brown leaves of Monstera Adansonii (Source: Unsplash)

2. Intermittent Stage Root Rot

It is a stage accompanied by more severity than the first stage or early stage root rot. However, you might still be able to save your Monstera at this stage.

Generally, Monstera develops more vivid signs of root rot at this stage. Hence, identifying the root rot problem becomes slightly easier at this stage.

Here are signs of Intermittent stage Monstera root rot.

  • Limp and soft leaves and stem
  • Discoloration of roots; dark brown or black
  • Mushy roots
  • Foul order comes from the soil
  • Black patches on leaves
  • Falling off leaves and sudden wilting
  • Thinning of branches and stems
  • Black spots on leaves surrounded by a yellow hue
Black leaf spots (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

3. Final Stage Root Rot (Beyond Saving)

It is the last stage of root rot in which it is relatively difficult to save the plant. However, as said earlier, if you happen to find some of the healthy stems along with nodes, you might be able to save them.

You can always propagate the plant into a new one. As stem propagation is an asexual propagation method, you can obtain genetically identical sister plants.

Here are the signs that your Monstera shows at the final stage.

  • Degeneration of almost all roots beyond the possibility of reviving back.
  • The infection spreads to the upper shoots. As a result, stems and leaves turn limp and dull.
  • Leaves get covered with leaf spots that are broken or black.
  • However, if your plant is busier and mature, you might find some stems for propagation. The phenomenon is rare, and you must be extremely lucky for that.

Possible Causes of Monstera Root Rot

There are several causes of Monstera root rot. All of the problems are related to water issues and the growth of anaerobic activity in the soil.

The following important factor responsible for Monstera root rot is mechanical injuries and fungal and bacterial growth.

Here are the most common causes of root rot in Monstera.

1. Overwatering the Plant

When you overwater Monstera, the tiny air pockets in the soil are replaced by water. You all know that aeration is fundamental for healthier plant growth.

No air pockets equal no air circulation. Your Monsteras root chokes and becomes weak.

Lack of oxygen in the soil invites anaerobic growth. This negative growth brings bacterial, fungal, and other types of soil infection.

Similarly, overwatering allures pathogens like water mold, which severely attack your roots spreading the infection even to the shoots.

Dropping in Monstera due to overwatering

2. Inappropriate Container

It’s also possible that the Monstera roots will rot if they’re kept in the wrong container. It is necessary to get the container with the proper drainage system.

Pots with no drainage hole do not allow the soil to drench surplus water; the extra water fills the pores in the soil, pushing essential oxygen out and lowering the oxygen concentration in the soil.

The soil retains the necessary moisture that the plant requires and excrete excess water and unwanted salts.

Similarly, root rot is prone in oversized pots. In a big container, water takes longer to dry. And as the bottom-most soil remains soggy for a more extended period.

Soggy Soil
Soggy Soil

On the other hand, a small pot too can be vulnerable for your Monstera. Montera does not like to be root bound.

Also, small size pot lacks space for further development of roots, and it hampers the whole physiological functioning of the plant.

The reduced air concentration severely affects the plant’s health. Besides, such soil is a hub for bacteria, pathogens, and fungus leading to root rot in your plant.

3. Improper Soil Mix

Your plant grows healthy only if the foundation on which it is growing is healthy and suitable. Using the correct type of soil is essential for your plants.

Monstera loves the consistently moist substrate. But, hey, too much of anything is dangerous. And, here, too much soil moisture is vulnerable.

However, it is not the only problem that wrong or poor soil yields. Poor soil also symbolizes high soil compaction.

Furthermore, limited air circulation is caused by significant soil compaction because the soil’s compaction leaves little room for air pockets.

Hence, on the one hand, high soil compaction causes root injuries by exerting high pressure. On the other hand, it reduces oxygen concentration in the soil.

Right soil mix for Monstera (Source: Unsplash)

Similarly, too much peat moss, coconut coir, and organic matter in the soil are vulnerable. These matters retain excessive moisture, and hence the potting mix gets waterlogged.

All of these issues invite pathogenic and fungal growth. As a result, your Monstera faces root rot.

4. Low Temperature

Monstera is a hardy plant and is generally not affected by harsh climatic conditions.

But, it is not always the case. Temperature primarily affects soil moisture retention capacity. When the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or so, the rate of soil drying decreases.

Soil temperature range
Appropriate soil temperature range (Source: University of British Columbia)

The lower the temperature, the higher time it takes for water to dry up in the soil. Hence, the longer the soil remains soggy, the higher the chances of root infection.

Hence, always ensure to reduce the watering frequency by half whenever winter approaches to avoid your plant sitting in soggy soil.

5. Inadequate  Sunlight

Generally, non-variegated Monstera needs 5-8 hours of bright diffused light for well functioning. Similarly, a variegated monstera needs about 7-10 hours of light.

Light intensity plays a crucial role in decreasing soil moisture or drying the soil.

When the intensity of the light is high, moisture in the soil remains for a shorter period—drying of the soil.

Importance of Sunlight for Plants
Importance of Sunlight for Plants (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In contrast, when the light intensity is low, moisture in the soil remains longer.

Thus, if you water your Monstera at an ascribed frequency, it takes longer for soil to dry up the water.

According to a research, low light intensity interferes mycorrhizal development (the association between roots and fungi). Mycorrhizal development acts as catalysts in nutrients and water absorption by the plant’s roots from the soil. 

Hence, your Monstera gets prone to root rot and fungal growth.

6. Overfertilizing the Monstera

Fertilizing your Monsteras ensures that they flourish and expand by providing the necessary nutrients. However, if you over-fertilize them, salts will build up in the soil.

Excessive fertilization and salt buildup will also stress the soil and roots, causing them to develop faster.

They’ll provide a conducive atmosphere for root rot to thrive. Fertilizing your Monstera plants after repotting can cause root rot.

Salt Build up due to Overfertilization
Salt Build up due to Overfertilization

7. Fungal Disease Infection

Monstera is prone to root rot, especially in the winter season, as the temperature drops and prolongs soil moisture evaporation.

The primary pathogens that bring root rot in Monstera are Pythium, Phytophthora, and Rhizoctonia.

Pythium Root Rot

Causative agent– Pythium irregulare, Pythium ultimum, and Pythium aphanidermatum

The significant reasons for Pythium root rot in Monstera are poorly draining substrate, overwatering, excessive thatch, and high accumulation of organic matter and fertilization.

Pythium root rot causes discoloration, yellowing, and browsing of leaves. Similarly, it causes wilting and drooping of leaves.

Another reason for Pythium root rot in Monstera is using contaminated soil. Also, avoid using pure garden soil as it does not support fast draining.

Root rot caused by Pythium species
Root rot caused by Pythium species (Source: blogs.cornell.edu)
Phytophthora Root Rot

Causative agent-Phytophthora sojae

It causes root and stem rot in Monstera accompanied by yellowing and wilting of leaves. High soil moisture and temperature above 60°F invite Phytophthora root rot in Monstera.

Overhead watering, frequent misting of leaves, using contaminated soil and water is responsible for this pathogen in Monstera.

Phytopthora root rot
Phytophthora root rot (Source: Ohio State University)
Rhizoctonia Root Rot

Causative agentRhizoctonia solani

Overwatering, overhead watering, and high temperatures are responsible for Rhizoctonia Root rot in Monstera.

It causes irregular leaves, dark patches, browning of levels, and stems in Monstera.

The tell-tell sign of Rhizoctonia in Monstera is a brown threads-like structure resembling a spider web over the plant.

Roots after Rhizoctonia Root Rot
Roots after Rhizoctonia Root Rot (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Is your Monstera leggy? Read our article about How to Fix a Leggy Monstera Plant? to identify problems and act as suggested to resolve them.

Treating Root Rot in Monstera

You can save a Monstera at the early or intermittent stage of root rot. Before heading to the treatment of Monstera root rot, let us first inspect its roots.

You need to take your plant out of the pot and inspect if its roots are brown, black, limp, or mushy.

Here is a warning, taking the plant out of the soil and repotting it might stress your Monstera further.

However, it is always best to save your plant from further rot than letting it rot, assuming that repotting will further stress it.

After you take your Monstera out of the pot, inspect for the signs like soil moisture mushy, and discolored roots. If you see that, you need to proceed with its treatment.

Materials Required

Step by Step Guide to Treat Monstera with Root Rot

Follow the steps below to treat Monstera with Root Rot.

Step 1: Rinse the Roots Off

Take your Monstera out of the container. Now, loosen the soil from its root ball. Try to get off as much soil as you can.

Afterward, wash off its root in running water. As root rot is a disease that can spread further, you need to remove all the contaminated soil.

After taking the plant out of the pot and loosening its soil, rinse the roots off with clean water.

Step 2: Cut all of the Damaged Roots

The primary source of contamination for your Monstera is the infected roots themselves. Thus, you also need to get rid of them.

Take a sterilized knife or pruning shears and chop off all the mushy and discolored roots. By the way, ensure to sterilize your instrument before and in between pruning.

Step 3: Dry and Disinfect Roots

Leave the roots in the air after you are done with the pruning of infested parts. The roots have been exposed to prolonged moisture, so they must dry up completely.

It could take about 1-2 hours. After that, disinfect the roots using a fungicide. Otherwise, you can dip the roots into a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution.

To prepare hydrogen peroxide solution, mix one tablespoon of peroxide for every single cup of water.

Step 4: Prune the Damaged Parts

If the root rot is severe, it is sure that the upper shoots are also affected. Hence, get rid of the infected and damaged leaves and stems.

Prune only the affected parts. Excessive pruning might induce another wave of stress to your Monstera.

Pruning equipments
Arrangements for pruning (Source: Unsplash)

Step 5: Repot Monstera in a New Pot

Now, it is time to grab clean pots.

  • If you use older pots, rinse them off with clean water.
  • Then, soak the pots into vinegar or bleach solutions for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Immediately rinse the pots with water and leave them to dry.
  • Once the pots are dry, layer them with a few pebbles. Avoid using more pebbles; only use them to cover drainage holes.
  • Then, fill 1/3rd part of the pot with a new potting mix. Next, place your Monstera plant into the pot and fill it with soil from the sides.
  • Once you are done filling the soil, press the soil exerting a bare minimum pressure. However, ensure that the root is at the same depth as the earlier pot.

Watch the full video for more information,

Step 6: Leave the Plant in a Favorable Condition

After repotting, the plant generally gets slightly stressed before successful adaptation. As a result, it might wilt and droop for a couple of days.

You need not worry about it as the plant will revive naturally. Besides, as the plant gets stressed after repotting thus, you need to provide it with a suitable environment for better adaptation.

Place the plant in bright indirect light water thoroughly. Also, maintain warmer temperatures and humidity above 40%.

Healthy Monstera getting sunlight from window
Healthy Monstera getting sunlight from the window (Source: Reddit)

Read more to find out why your Monstera is drooping after repotting.

Step 7: Propagate from Healthy Stem Cuttings (In Case of Severe Infection)

Unfortunately, if your Monstera’s root is dead, you can always propagate then. But, for propagation, it needs an unaffected healthier stem with node.

Make an incision at an angle of 45 degrees just below the node. You can opt for both water and soil propagation. Ensure that the node lies beneath the soil while in soil propagation.

Similarly, for water propagation, ensure to have the water every 3-4 days. The stem cuttings will most likely produce roots after 2-3 weeks.

Also watch,

Related article: How to Grow Monstera Albo from Node?

Natural Fungicide for Black Root Rot

Monstera root rot can be annoying as hell. But, hey, I am here with some of the remedies you can apply to treat your Monstera.

While you can always opt for chemical fungicides, I recommend a natural fungicide. Natural fungicides are eco-friendly, cheap, readily available, and enhance soil quality.

Here are a few options you can try to treat Monstera root rot.

Natural FungicideHow to Apply?
Neem OilMix 1 teaspoon of raw neem oil in 1 litre of water.

Add 3-5 drops of dish soap, make a mixture and apply.
CinnamonSprinkle cinnamon powder on soil.

Make a spray using powder cinnamon, make a strong tea and spray on the underside of leaves.
Baking SodaTake a gallon of tepid water, mix 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda and 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Spray the mixture on the soil.
ChamomileTake 1/4 or 1/2 cup of chamomile flower and add 2 cups of boiling water.

Let the mixture cool down and spray it.
Apple Cider VinegarMix 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a gallon of water and spray it to the soil and the plant.
Hydrogen PeroxideAdd 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide in water.

Spray the mixture over the plant and soil as well.

Are your Monstera leaves turning black? Find the solutions to treat them in our article Monstera Leaves Turning Black (Causes and How to Fix)

Prevent Root Rot in Monstera

It is always better to be on the safer side and apply preventive measures rather than being plagued by problems afterward.

Maintaining a conducive environment is the fundamental step to keeping your Monstera Problem-free.

Here are some tips you can follow to prevent root rot in Monstera.

  • Sneak a peek at your Monstera regularly to inspect signs of root rot.
  • Provide ample sunlight and introduce the plant to 1-2 hours of morning sunlight or afternoon shades. Rotate your plant once a week to saturate every part with balanced light.
  • It is best to grow Monstera in an eastern-facing window or about 1 foot away from the western or southern-facing window.
  • Avoid low temperature for Monstera. You can use frost blankets heating pads or provide insulation to prevent plants from the harsh cold.
  • Maintain the humidity levels up to 50 to 70%. You can use Humidifiers or pebble trays which raise the moisture level.
  • Establish a proper watering schedule. Water your plant once a week in summer and twice or thrice a week in winter.
  • Avoid overhead and overwatering. Do not use tap water as tap water contains high salt concentrations.
  • Use well-draining, light porous, organic soil.

Quick Tip: Make an ideal potting mix using 2 parts of regular soil, 1 part of perlite, 1 part of peat moss, 1/3rd part of coarse sand and 1/4 part of activated charcoal.

  • Fertilize your Monstera every 2-4 weeks with slow reading organic fertilizer.
  • Always keep your Monstera in a well-aerated space.
  • Avoid purchasing plants that are unhealthy and show signs of pests and diseases.
  • Avoid grouping your Monstera with other infested plants.
  • Wipe off your Monstera leaves with soap water once a week to knock off pests and diseases.
Monstera Leaves
Healthy Monstera Leaves (Source: Unsplash)

Conclusion

Monstera is not a plant that is hard to care for. If you provide them with adequate light, water, temperature, nutrition, etc., it thrives well.

However, if, unfortunately, your Monstera root beings to rot, treat it as early as possible. You can apply natural fungicides or synthetic depending on the severity of the infection.

The prominent cause of Monstera root rot is overwatering soggy soil, and poor drainage. Thus, sneak peek at these conditions timely.

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