7 Signs it’s Time to Repot Your Monstera Plant
Is your Monstera plant looking a bit worse for wear? When these popular houseplants have certain issues, oftentimes repotting is the best method to rehabilitate the plant. In this article, gardening expert and houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton looks at the most common signs that it's time to repot your Monstera plant.
Repotting is a tricky task to time correctly. Many gardeners repot far too early and too often, while others forget about the task altogether. But, rather than repotting at random times and risking interrupting growth in your Monstera, it’s better to wait for signs that it needs some extra space.
Depending on the signs that your plant is giving you, repotting your Monstera may be more urgent. Some problems with Monsteras require more urgent action than others. So, when is it really time to repot?
Look out for these 7 signs your Monstera needs repotting before you bring out the new potting soil. Some of these issues require immediate attention, but for minor issues it’s best to repot in early spring. Let’s dig in and take a deeper look!
Roots Growing Through The Drainage Holes
The first sign to look out for is an easy one to spot – roots growing through the drainage holes. Once your Monstera’s roots have filled up all the available space in the container, they will begin seeking out new areas to expand to.
Often this means drainage holes, especially if your plant is placed on a drip tray. Any water left on the tray will draw the roots downwards and out of the container. Unfortunately, the roots can’t do their job in these conditions and need new soil and space as soon as possible.
Removing the plant from its container can be tricky in these cases. The roots can form a strong grip around the base, especially if they’ve been growing this way for a long time. Make sure you loosen them gently before trying to pull out the plant to do as little damage as possible.
This sign is also only possible if your container has any drainage holes at all. Drainage holes are a must-have for any houseplants, but especially Monsteras that are prone to rotting. But if you’ve mistakenly planted in the wrong container without drainage holes, you may see roots appearing in a different way, evident in the next sign…
Roots Growing Above The Soil Line
Roots grow above the soil line for the same reason they grow through the drainage holes. But this likely indicates a more severe problem. The roots may have wrapped around the entire pot looking for space before growing upward – certainly a direction they shouldn’t be growing in.
This issue can also be caused by incorrect watering technique. Whenever you water your Monsteras, moisture should flow evenly through the soil and out the drainage holes. Often, plants that are not placed on drip trays or are in containers without any drainage holes are watered lightly to avoid spilling. Some Monstera owners do this to avoid root rot.
The water only drenches the top layer of soil without reaching the bottom of the pot. This causes the roots at the bottom to grow upwards in search of moisture.
If you know you haven’t drenched the soil when watering recently, that may be the cause. In any other scenario, your Monstera likely needs repotting.
This doesn’t apply to aerial roots found growing along the base of the stems. Aerial roots are completely normal and a sign of a healthy plant. They help the plant climb and also absorb moisture from the air. Only soil roots growing above the soil line are an issue.
When given the space to expand, Monsteras grow quite quickly. Larger species may appear to grow quicker than others, but in the right conditions, all Monsteras are considered fast growers. That’s why it can be quite concerning when your Monstera stops growing altogether.
There are many causes of stunted growth, typically related to incorrect care. Lack of water or overwatering, underfertilizing or overfertilizing, and especially lack of sunlight can all cause growth to slow or stop altogether. Start by checking the plant for other signs of concern and analyze your care routine to consider any of these issues.
If you’re sure none of those issues could be the cause, it’s time to consider repotting. Once the roots run out of space to grow, they cannot support any new stems or leaves and will slow growth until conditions improve. With space and a bit of time to recover, it should bounce back quickly.
It’s important to rule out any other causes before repotting as this process can lead to further stress. If lack of space is not the problem, repotting may only exacerbate the issue (depending on the cause). This could make growth problems even worse.
Soil Dries Out Quicker Than Usual
Monsteras that have been in the same pot for a while will have been living in the same soil for a long time. Even if you keep a regular fertilizing schedule, the quality of the soil will eventually degrade. Soil particles become finer and won’t be able to hold onto moisture or nutrients, drying out incredibly quickly.
After caring for your Monstera, you should recognize when the soil dries out and how environmental conditions impact the plant. So, when the soil starts drying out unusually quickly and water drains from the drainage holes almost immediately, you’ll know there is a problem.
In these cases, it’s best to repot as soon as possible. A Monstera kept in these conditions will eventually face more soil-based growth problems until repotted. Avoid causing any more stress and top up the soil as soon as you can.
Wilting & Curling Leaves
Wilted, curling leaves is a common problem in Monsteras. It is caused by a long list of issues like lack of sunlight and overwatering. Repotting is another potential cause to add to the list.
As mentioned previously, a root-bound Monstera struggles to draw up moisture and nutrients. The roots then wrap around each other and become restricted. The limited moisture causes the leaves above the soil line to wilt and curl, potentially turning brown at the edges too.
Soil can also contribute to this problem. Once the soil stops retaining moisture, the roots don’t have time to absorb moisture when watering. This causes the leaves to wilt and the stems to fall over, unable to hold themselves up.
With so many causes to consider, make sure you rule out any care issues first. Much like stunted growth, repotting when the plant is stressed can potentially cause more problems in your Monstera.
Lack of root growth, limited moisture absorption and lack of nutrients – all issues caused by a root-bound Monstera – can also lead to leaf discoloration. Yellowing is common in Monstera plants due to lack of nutrients. A lack of moisture can also cause the ends of the leaves to turn brown.
These leaves won’t regain their color after repotting and will only get worse until conditions improve. In these cases, repot as soon as you can, no matter the season.
Yellowing or brown leaves are one of the most common problems in Monstera plants. Although repotting is not the most likely cause, discoloration in conjunction with any of the other signs on this list means you should try repotting first. Also prune the affected roots at the same time (as long as there aren’t too many) to encourage new and healthy growth.
It’s Been Several Years Since You Last Repotted
Finally, even if none of these signs are present, you should still consider repotting every couple of years. Two years is recommended for younger plants, while older plants in large pots can wait three or four years before they need some more space.
This will keep them as healthy as possible, refreshing the soil and adding more space before any of these other signs of stress appear.
Knowing when to repot a Monstera can be tricky. Many of these signs are shared with other growth problems, making it difficult to pin down the perfect time. But as long as your plant is not stressed, it’s always better to repot when you are concerned than wait too long and risk further growth problems.