Monstera root rot doesn’t have to mean that your plant is done for!

Monstera Root Rot ~ PlantAmerica

Turns out that there are many stages a Monstera genus plant goes through with rot before it dies, and analyzing and recognizing it in time can save your plant.

In this article, we’ll outline every stage of this unfortunate condition and help you battle it out. Here’s to no more monstera plants ending up in trash bins!

How Can You Recognize Root Rot in Your Monstera Plant?

You can recognize root rot in your monstera plant by looking at some common signs. Some of these include stagnant growth or wilted leaves. Yellowing leaves or falling leaves can also alert you that something’s wrong, and so can foul odor coming from the pot or a mushy stem.

Monstera deliciosa, also called the Swiss cheese plant because of the naturally occurring holes in leaves, is a delicate plant from the philodendron family native to southern Mexico and Panama. It’s an easy-to-care-for plant with largely no pests bugging it. However, things can go sideways if your monstera develops signs of rot on you.

One would think that root rot is just a problem of overwatering, but it’s a fungal disease triggered by overwatering and, as such, requires a more delicate solution than just keeping the water far from your plant for a few days!Possible Causes of Monstera Root Rot ~ PlantAmerica


Once this disease starts, it begins destroying your plant’s roots and slowly crawls up the stem. The infected roots appear black and slimy and eventually die off. This disease will spread quite fast once it takes full swing. So, to treat monstera root rot properly, early detection and proper reaction can be a lifesaver for your plant!

Before we get into signs of rotting roots and how to prevent monstera from dying, let’s see what will trigger it!

One would most plainly say that the root cause is overwatering, and that’s true. But there is more than this single factor that leads to your Monstera catching this deadly disease. By resolving all this right at the beginning, you can grow your monstera fairly carefree.

– Stagnant Growth

This is an early sign of disease, but it usually goes past our concerns and radar. You’ll recognize your monstera isn’t growing at the rate it normally does. If you live in a temperate climate, this will naturally occur in the winter months.

The plant will have a growth period and a rest period, which usually happens from fall to the end of winter. In this period, your Monsteras will require low amounts of water and less frequent watering sessions. Be sure not to water as frequently during the cold months!

As we said, recognizing and catching the problem early on will determine the life-saving chances of your plant. Monsteras usually go through several stages of disease once they catch root rot, and spotting it early will help you bring it back to health sooner!

Several other factors will influence stunted growth. Either light conditions, water conditions, or fertilization conditions have suddenly changed. If none of these have changed, then you likely have all the reason to worry about root rot.

– Wilted Leaves

Another early-stage sign of rot is wilting leaves. Wilted and curled leaves usually indicate one of many watering issues, but for one reason or another, the bottom line is that your plant isn’t receiving enough water!

Check your soil. If it is soggy, then it means that your roots have likely caught rotting disease and aren’t able to drink! If the soil is dry, then it’s just a matter of giving your monstera a long drink of water.

– Yellow Leaves

If your monstera sits in soggy soil for too long, the leaves will begin to turn yellow. This is a gateway into the next phase of the disease, and this is where you have to become alert!

Stop giving your monstera too much water. If the leaves recover after the soil has become dry, then your problem is solved. If a few days pass and leaves still haven’t recovered, then you’re likely dealing with a disease!

– Root Discoloration

Your healthy roots will look like any other plant roots — pale yellow to a whitish color. When the disease of root rot commences, your roots will quickly turn brown and eventually black in infected places. As soon as you can, you should cut these blackened roots before the disease can spread to the healthy parts of the root ball!

– Foul Odor

No two ways around this – in time, the plant’s roots will begin to stink and emit an odor throughout the place! However, there are two ways you can recognize this. Place your face close to the topsoil, and if you notice it smells of rot, it’s probably the roots.

The other way is if your soil is too compact and you cannot rake the roots — just pluck your monstera out of the container, and the smell should be obvious even if you cannot see the roots.

The smell of root rot can easily be described as the smell of rotting salad leaves or onion peels. Also, the stronger the smell you get, the worse the infection you’re dealing with. Consequently, the harder it will be for your monstera to make it out alive.

– Black Spots

As below, so above, as the saying goes. The same can be said for every living thing, especially plants! If you have healthy-looking monstera roots, then you’ll have healthy foliage and growth! Foliage will be the first to reflect something is well off with your roots.

Monstera leaves will be quick to show something is wrong down below. The leaves will develop black spots, often accompanied by yellow circles around them — this is the first indication that your roots are going bad. As root rot develops and eats away at your plant, so will the black and brown spots on leaves — becoming larger and larger, ultimately overtaking entire leaves!

– Dead Roots

Here’s where we enter the zone of no return. Sometimes, we may ignore or miss out on the signs of root rot until it’s too late. Although dead and mushy roots may mean that the plant is still salvageable, in most cases, your monstera will already be too far gone.

You’ll likely recognize this stage as the sickness has already begun to show itself on the bottom parts of your stem. As you dig your monstera out, you’ll likely see the roots are all blackened and shrunk, the blackness has already bitten into the stem, and the stem looks shriveled and black.

At this point, your plant is likely lost, but you can still salvage it by cutting the rest of the stem that looks healthy and trying to use it for propagation!

– Mushy Stem

The very last stage occurs when your entire stem has been infected and it’s not able to transfer water and nutrients to your leaves. The entire stem will at this point appear dark, mushy, and shriveled up. Stem rot often means your monstera is beyond the point of ever having a chance to make a comeback!

Best try to get yourself another plant and hope to do better with it. Let’s hope that you spotted root rot much sooner than this, so let’s see how you can nurture your monstera plant back to health!

How Can You Nurture a Monstera With Root Rot Back to Health?

You can nurture a Monstera with root rot back to health by taking out the plant from the pot, cutting away diseased portions of roots, disinfecting the rest, and replanting it in dry soil. If the rot is advanced, you may be able to use the stem for propagation.


Let’s hope that you’ve discovered a root rot disease before the point they’ve bitten into the stem of your Monstera. Now we’ll go through the process of treating root rot and recovering your plant from the example stage of leaves going yellow.

When your monstera leaves have begun to go yellow, this is a pretty serious indicator of not just root rot but a case of overwatering or even poor soil or even all three. This doesn’t mean that your plant isn’t salvageable as it very much is, so what a step-by-step guide to nurturing it back to health would look like!

– Prepare The Turf

We always recommend working in an environment that’s safe for you, your infected monstera, and the other plants! Work in a shed or in a room where you store your plant tools, soil, etc. We recommend keeping your monstera in quarantine for a few weeks after this preparation, so your working shed can be an ideal place for this — provided you have the room.Solutions for Monstera Root Rot ~ PlantAmerica

Next up, you’d want to clean your tools, such as pruning shears, root rakes, soil scoops, etc. Those will largely be made of metal, so a solution of rubbing alcohol and water will suffice to clean them.

– Dig And Rake The Roots

Now that you have everything prepped, you can begin the actual work on your plant. Bring the plant together with the pot and pull it out of the pot. If your soil is overwatered, it may show some resistance to being pulled out of the pot, so if the extra effort doesn’t work you can separate it by sticking a small digging tool and working it around the pot edge.

Once you have the soil and the plant out of the pot, it’s time to separate the soil from the roots. If you are dealing with root rot, you’d want to keep as many roots safe from damage as you can. 

Also, the soil is probably too moist and won’t separate from roots as easily as it would when it’s dry. Shaking or pulling the soil from your roots won’t do them any good. Instead, try to rake the roots from the soil with a root-raking tool.

– Rinse Your Root Ball

Now that you have your roots all freed from the soil, it should be much easier to spot which ones have been infected. We cannot still jump onto the next step in the process. As we mentioned, root rot is a fungal disease, and once it kicks off, some pathogens will surely end up in your soil.

That’s why you need to get rid of all the old soil! Don’t keep any of it for later repotting either — simply store it in a garbage bag and throw it away. To rinse the mud away from your roots, simply hold the roots below a stream of water or give them a thorough shower. This should remove even the tiniest particles of soil from your roots!

– Cut Infected Roots

Now is the time to act quickly — this isn’t a task to be left for the other day. Your roots will benefit from being in the air. But they won’t handle air for more than a few hours. You can soak them from time to time during this process or mist them with a mister.

Root rot is by itself a fungal infection, but several fungi species will cause it combined with too much water! The most common fungi causing roots to go rotten are Pythium, Fusarium wilt, and Rhizoctonia. If any of these fungi exist in your soil, they will cause root rot as soon as your soil becomes too mushy.

What you want to do now is inspect all the roots and cut all of the damaged roots. Cut the ones that have gone black and aren’t showing that fresh and healthy whitish color. If only a part of the root is infected, take only that part. Don’t be afraid at this point, as all plants will easily recover from a sudden partial root loss, just as they do when you partially defoliate.

– Dry And Disinfect

If you still suspect your roots have rot inside them, let them air dry before you pot them again. The fungus has developed in moisture, and without moisture, it will die out. For extra protection, you can disinfect roots – disinfection is done by dipping the root ball in previously diluted hydrogen peroxide or natural fungicide like neem oil and drying them afterward. 

This mixture will ensure that all remaining fungi are killed off. Prepare the mixture by mixing one tablespoon of peroxide per cup of water! As the roots dry, it’s time to prepare your pot. If you plan on using your old pot, you’ll have to clean and disinfect it too! You can use the same hydrogen peroxide mixture to disinfect your pot as well, or you can use some rubbing alcohol. 

Whatever you do, make sure your pot is cleaned carefully, as some pathogens could cling to the sides. For the best effect, use a fresh pot and one that’s made of clay for extra water evaporation properties.

– Pot In New Soil

Time to pot your plant back! Along with the disinfected and fresh pot, you should use new and fresh soil. Avoid using old soil particles at all costs.

The best potting mix for monsteras will be largely inorganic, such as clay particles, volcanic grit, or perlite — such soil will allow proper drainage and will promote aeration of the roots. In such conditions, your roots are bound to recover fast! Your soil mix can use some part of organic matter, but make sure it’s porous enough – the best will be pine bark.

After you’re finished repotting, you can freely water your plant generously. Ensure that the water is properly draining within seconds after it’s being poured. You should provide proper soaking for the first watering. Remember, no new watering before the potting soil goes completely dry!

– Pruning

Now you’ve solved the bottom part, time to address the top! As we’ve said, your foliage will likely take a hit from the root rot disease or even from overwatering. Yellow and curled leaves are usually the most common indicator, and now it’s time to get rid of these!

Take simple pruning shears and cut all of the infected leaves right to the stem! Don’t worry if most of your leaves have to go — if you’ve done everything properly new leaves should emerge within a few weeks after repotting!

– Picking a New Spot

Your freshly repotted monstera needs a condition change even when it comes to where it’s grown, and this has to factor in light and temperature conditions. For the first few weeks after repotting, place your monstera in a shaded room at an adequate temperature. Your monstera will crave bright indirect light, but this will make it shoot new leaves faster.

After the first few weeks have gone by, you can place a monstera in its usual spot or place it somewhere where it can receive plenty of sunlight, but preferably at room temperature. These first few weeks of monstera recovery should be enough to show if you’ve gotten rid of the disease and if you can safely place it in its usual habitat!

– Propagating From Cuttings

This isn’t one of the steps included in the process of recovery – rather it’s a step you hopefully won’t even have to take. And it concerns the situation in which your monstera is on the brink of death, and the stem slowly gets infected.

In this scenario, take stem cuttings of the rest of the healthy stem parts and, if possible, with any remaining foliage – if the foliage got infected, remove it.

There are a couple of ways to propagate your monstera cuttings – water or soil. If you’re propagating in soil, then you pot the stem just as you would the plant if it had some roots surviving and wait for it to make a comeback. Of course, add water when the soil has run dry. 

Better is water propagation — and much more fun, as you can see the roots develop! Simply place a cutting in a glass of water and place this in a shaded space. After a few weeks, new roots should emerge from the stem! Replace the water if it gets smoky or dirty.

– Add Drainage Holes and Avoid Overwatering

Of course, poor drainage and overwatering are what ultimately kicked off this disease since these led to water accumulation near the roots and favorable growth conditions for fungi and, ultimately, root rot. Your roots should always feel and look like a wrung-out cloth instead of being completely wet.

That’s why you should avoid watering your plants too often. Always check your soil before watering, and don’t rely on any scheduled watering regime.

Touch, feel, and sight are your most reliable friends – as soon as the top two inches of soil feel and look dry, you’re welcome to water your Monstera plant. Remember, overwatering issues will begin as soon as you water the plant when the soil is already moist!

Poor drainage will also add to this problem. Choose a pot that has one or even a few drainage holes at the bottom. Plant your monstera in the inorganic matter and pine bark mixture! These soils have larger particles which will dry out faster and aerate your roots properly. treatment of Monstera Root Rot ~ PlantAmerica

On the other hand, too much clay and organic soil will add to overwatering issues. You should also avoid too big a pot for your Monstera, as water will surely take longer to evaporate in larger pots!

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