How to Grow a Monstera Deliciosa in Water

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Growing Monstera deliciosa in water is a really popular option. I keep my Monstera Thai Constellation in water because when (not if!) she gets root rot, I can see it immediately.

It’s incredibly easy to grow Monstera deliciosa in water. There are really only three steps:

  1. Remove the soil from the roots
  2. Put your Monstera in some water
  3. Add fertiliser

However, like many things, something so simple isn’t always easy, and there are a tonne of things we need to take into consideration – how we’re going to keep root rot at bay, how we’re gonig to keep the Monstera upright, and how we’re going to feed it being the top three.

monstera deliciosa thai constellation in water

Will Monstera grow well in water?

One of the most confusing things new plant people come across is this:

How can Monstera live in water, but will die if we overwater them?

The answer is simple:

Roots need oxygen. Root rot is caused by an increase of anaerobic bacteria when oxygen levels are depleted.

There’s oxygen in the air AND in water. There isn’t very much water in waterlogged soil.

Soil roots can absorb oxygen from the air, and water roots can absorb oxygen from water. As long as you make sure there’s decent oxygen in both, you’ll have happy roots.

Monstera deliciosa (and most houseplants) will grow soil roots in soil, and water roots in water. Both types of roots CAN absorb oxygen from the ‘wrong’ environment, but not as efficiently.

The trickiest part is moving plants from soil to water (or vice versa) is the adjustment period, because the plant needs time to grow the right roots. The roots they have can absorb enough oxygen for the plant to survive, but they need to grow new roots asap.

Will Monstera grow bigger in water or in soil?

The substrate doesn’t matter to the Monstera – it’ll grow just as big in water as it will in soil if that’s the only variable.

However, one of the best and easiest ways to get a Monstera to grow huge is to have it climb something. Whilst that isn’t impossible in water, it’s a bit trickier.

I have a Monstera Thai Constellation in water, and it grows the fastest out of all similar-sized Monstera I have. And it gets the same conditions as one of them, as they’re right next to each other.

Is it easier to keep Monstera in water or soil?

Speaking as someone who has years of experience with both, it makes barely any difference.

What I will say is that if our Monstera in water gets stem rot (no more likelier in water than soil , if you follow my instructions) it will stink out your entire house, and have you serious considering calling an emergency plumber before realising where the stench is coming from.

Why grow Monstera deliciosa in water?

There are loads of great reasons to keep Monstera deliciosa in water:

You can easily keep an eye on the roots

This is the reason I keep my Thai Constellation in water. Out of all the Monstera I’ve owned, they are by FAR the most likely to get root rot, and it progresses quickly. I tried keeping it in soil for a long time, but it ended up in water after a particularly brutal battle with both thrips and root rot.

Putting it in water seemed like the easiest way to ensure that what I was doing to stop the rot progressing was working, and I never switched it back (and probably never will).

Whenever I saw rot, I would just add in some hydrogen peroxide to stave it off. Other than the Great Stem Rot Incident of August 2023 (which was my fault), I’ve not had any more root rot.

It reduces fungus gnats

Fungus gnats are incredibly annoying. I don’t think they’re particulary attracted to Monstera deliciosa, but due to the popularity of Monstera, it can seem like they’re an inevitability.

I’ve managed to reduce fungus gnats around my soil Monstera by bottom watering, but keeping them in water is a great way to go. Fungus gnats feed on and lay their eggs in the decaying matter in soil, so they’re not interested in hydroponic Monstera.

It makes pest treatment easier

Keeping Monstera deliciosa in water makes pest treatment easier because you can easily take the plant out of the soil and submerge it in warm water, or insectide or whatever.

DON’T spray insecticides around the plant when it’s in its vase because you’ll end up poisoning the water.

When it come to spraying leaves down with insecticidal soap or neem oil, then it’s definitely easier being able to, for example, take your Monstera out of the water, go outside, and thoroughly saturate the leaves.

However, for other pest treatments, it can be a bit of a hinderance. If you want to use systememic pesticides, then make sure you use something like Azamax, that’s specifically made for hydroponics.

Predatory mites can work, but it can be difficult to dose without risking dorwning a few. Make sure you buy sachets to hang on leaves rather than jars that you tip on the leaves.

You can schedule the maintenance

Keeping Monstera deliciosa hydroponically can be a LIFE SAVER if you travel a lot or are super busy, because if you set it up right, you can go ages without having to change the water. I changed the water in my Thai once or twice last year.

It looks cool

This probably reason #1 that people grow Monstera deliciosa in water. And they’re right – it does look cool.

You don’t get soil everywhere

You can get water everywhere though, which is a…different issue. If you have plants in soil and in water, I can highly recommend getting a wet and dry vacuum.

new leaf on monstera thai constellation

Issues with growing Monstera deliciosa in water

I don’t recommned keeping a tonne of plants in water. I have three, and frankly, that’s enough. Plants in water seem tip over more than plants in soil so even though it’s easier to clear up water (depending on your flooring), it seems to happen more often.

It’s more difficult for them to climb

I’m not saying there aren’t ways to attach to moss poles to water, I’m just saying that more though needs to be put into it.

Personally I just direct the Thai’s aerial roots back into the water. It’s in a vase with a tap at the bottom so I technically could add a moss pole without worrying it’d be a pain everytime I need to tip the water out.

I have an article about growing Monstera in an aquarium that goes through the options for allowing Monstera in water to climb.

You have to deal with algae

Algae isn’t harmful to houseplants generally, but it doesn’t look great. In the case of Monstera, which like a lot of light, it’s basically inevitable UNLESS you keep it in an opaque vase.

Now, I’ve just accepted the algae. I have a few snails and bugs in the water that all add up to a nice ecosystem so i just leave it. However, I do appreciate that it looks, er, gross.

There are algae-killing products out there, but chances are, anything strong enough to make an impressio will harm your Monstera’s roots, and anything less strong won’t work.

Your options are:

  • Clean the vase often
  • Use something opaque
  • Make peace with algae

You can get mosquito larvae

Mosquito larvae are common in still water and can turn up in your Monstera’s water. They will eat algae, which is good, but they’ll also turn into mosquitoes, which isn’t.

I’ve never had a problem with them indoors, despite my Monstera being right next to our sliding doors, and those sliding doors are open a lot in summer.

If you do get them, just scoop them out if you hate them. If you have tropical fish, they’ll go wild for them.

thai constellation in aquarium
unorthodox perhaps, but it works

How to transfer a Monstera deliciosa from soil to water

The easiest way to grow a Monstera is water is to take a cutting, put it in water and wait. You’ve removed the step of having to wait for soil roots to grow in so you’re less likely to lose leaves.

However, if you want to move an estasblished Monstera from soil to water, here are the steps you need to follow:

Wash off as much soil as you can

This is important. Roots can live in soil OR water but they DON’T like a mixture of the two, because it increases the chance of bacterial contamination.

That being said, washing off Monstera roots is NOT my strong suit. You’re supposed to remove the bulk of the soil, then soak the roots in water, and then clean the roots further with a toothbrush.

In my experience, you can do more harm than good if you’re too fastidious about cleaning the roots. Aim to get 90% of the soil off the roots, and instead of using a toothbrush, try a hose or even the water pressure from a fast running tap/faucet.

Put the Monstera in a jar of water

Then just find a suitable vessel, fill it with water and you’re done!

Technically, an opaque vase is better. Roots grow better in the dark and you’re less likely to get algae.

However, if the reason you’re putting your Monstera in water is to keep an eye of the roots OR you found a pretty glass vase that’s screaming out for a Monstera, then glass will work just as well. The difference in terms of root growth is negligible.

Make sure the stem is out of the water

This is key. I kept the stem of my Thai in the water for a long time, because it just kept slipping in, and I couldn’t be bothered to get it out.

It was 100% FINE for a good 18 months, and then got stem rot and I had to cut off a LOT of roots. Like, 80%. And my living room smelled like high tide in hell.

How to speed up root growth in water

  • Add hydroponic nutrient water
  • Add seaweed fertiliser

I don’t know why adding nutrient water speeds up root growth – a lot of experts say it burns the roots, but I’ve found that it really speeds up root formation.

Seaweed fertiliser seems to have the right NPK to support soil roots in water, and help them absorb oxygen more effciently. It does smell though.

monstera deliciosa roots in water

How often do you need to change the water for hydroponic Monstera deliciosa?

We don’t really need to change the water for our Monstera – we need to make sure oxygen levels aren’t depleted.

This can be achieved by changing the water.

If you’re just going the manual route, and are planning on changing the water everytime you water your other plants, that works fine.

I have a Syngonium tri-leaf wonder and a Monstera adansonii in water and they both get their water changed weekly, and are growing well.

However, they’re in small vases – one’s actually in a drinking glass – so it takes seconds to dump out the water and refill it.

My Thai is in a big 5-litre ish vase and I can’t be bothered to dump out the water and refill it weekly.

So, if you’re after more hands-off approach to keeping your Monstera’s water well-oxygenated, there are a couple of options:

Add a bubbler

A bubbler is an air pump with an air stone that you plug in and oxygen bubbles will keep the water turned over and well aerated.

These are pretty cheap to buy and work well.

However, they are noisy. Not loud, just an annoying buzz, even though they claim to be silent.

So I prefer option 2:

Add oxygenating plants

I use java moss. I just add a handful (you can buy it from aquatics stores) to the water and let it do its thing. As I said, it works so well I only change the water in my Thai every six months or so. I might top it up if the levels getting low, but it’d have to be really hot for me to need to do that.

One thing to bear in mind is that if you’re having issue with root rot, hydrogen peroxide will kill java moss pretty quickly, so remove it before you add it in. That’s something I discovered the hard way!

What type of water is best for growing Monstera deliciosa hydroponically?

Tap water

I use tap water and it works perfectly well, but then, I have decent tap water. My general rule of thumb is that if you’re happy to drink your tap water, it’ll probably be ok. If you’re not, run it through a filter.

Aquarium water

Aquarium water is a great option, becasue it contains a lot of beneficial microbes that can provide a healthy environment for your Monstera.

Aquarium water also has some nutrients in it, but unless you have a terrible filter (not recommended) it won’t have a tonne. I don’t add fertiliser to my Thai when she’s in aquarium water and she grows fine – I assume the bugs in the water produce waste that the plant can absorb.

Rainwater

Rainwater is a great option BUT you’re way more likely to get mosquito larvae – purely because they love to collect in rainwater butts.

Filtered or distilled water

These are both great options. I tend to try to dissuade people from uing distilled water in houseplants because there can be beneficial minerals in tap and filtered water. However, when you’re keeping houseplants hydroponically you need to add hydroponic fertiliser, which will contain all the minerals the plant needs.

her roots are growing back well

How to fertilise hydroponic Monstera deliciosa

If the Thai is in aquarium water, I never fertilise it. If it’s in tap water, I add fertiliser once, at the beginning. I fertilise my Monstera deliciosa in soil way more frequently and the Thai grows faster.

They are next to eat other. Make it make sense.

I have two plants in water that I change the water of once a week. When it comes to fertilising them, I try replace their water with nutrient water every other time I water, though it’s probably more like once a month.

They sit in nutrient water until it’s time for me to change it, usually a week later.

Hydroponic fertiliser

The most important thing about fertilising Monstera in water is to use a hydroponic fertiliser. There are things like seaweed fertiliser that do work in water, but you risk your plant missing out on certain micronutrients.

I use the General Hydroponics Flora series, and add 1ml of each bottle to 1 litre of water.

Aquarium water

Aquarium water is a great option if you have an aquarium. As I mentioned, I’ve used both, and though root growth increased when I used hydroponic nutrients, the rate of leaves was pretty similar whether I used aquarium water or nutrient water.

This shouldn’t be the case, since aquarium water is pretty heavily filtered, but that’s what happened.

How long can Monstera deliciosa live in water?

Monstera deliciosa can live indefinitely in water. I have no plans to take my Thai out of water.

As long as you care for your Monstera well – Monstera deliciosa care guide here – keeping it in water will not affect it’s lifespan, and Monstera can live for decades.

To make sure your Monstera lives in water for a long time, make sure it gets plenty of light, humidity, and stays relatively pest free.

Before you go, here are some articles you might be interested in

If you have any questions about keeping Monstra deliciosa in water, feel free to leave a comment below.

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

15 thoughts on “How to Grow a Monstera Deliciosa in Water”

  1. Great article! Not many out there on this topic at all. In the process of transferring my plants from soil to Leca or just propagating cuttings, I always put them in water for a few weeks but they end up doing so well in water that I leave some of them in there! With my Monstera Deliciosa I have gone back and forth. I left her in water for months and then decided to put her in Leca. She is doing fine but I want to put her in a larger pot so for now I stuck her back in water. I feel like I will always use water as a safety net since they all do so well in it. I do use the GH Nutrient set but being winter time I haven’t really gotten into a good schedule as of yet, so I’m just going with less is more right now. Thanks again for sharing these tips With others!

  2. I’m really bad at not adding nutrients in winter – I find plant maintenance in general waaay more than a chore. I’m planning on moving my big monstera into Leca because I want to find out the easiest way to secure a moss pole – the one annoying things about Leca is how much it moves about!

  3. This is the best info I’ve found!

    I bought a monstera (that was incorrectly labelled) and two other unknown plants from a garden centre and they’re all growing in water but had clearly previously been in soil. They’ve been doing great on just tap water alone for about 8 months now.

    I have a few questions:
    I had no idea about the aquarium thing! Do I just put some of the aquarium water in with my plants? There are plants growing in the fish tank and at some point nutrients were put in but not recently.

    What happens if you take the plants out of water and put into soil? Do the water roots drop off and soil roots grow? Does the plant wither during that period of transition?

    TIA!

  4. Thank you! I’ve actually just cut out the middle man and put my monstera into the aquarium- my boyfriend has glued plants to the back of the tank so I just wedged the roots into them and the leaves stick out the top. Fortunately the lid is just a piece of glass and there’s space at the back.

    But yeah, the aquarium water is great to use for your aquarium – not only does it have nutrients (from the fish poop – you don’t have to add any), but it’ll (hopefully) have dechlorinator added.

    When you transition the plant will grow soil roots, but I think (not 100% sure) that water roots can work to some degree in soil. It’s still important to keep the soil more moist than you normally would for a few weeks when first transitioning, to give the roots time to adjust. I’d also use an airy soil mix (add in perlite and orchid bark) to ensure the roots don’t suffocate.

  5. Thanks for the reply Caroline.

    I can’t believe they’ve survived this long on hard tap water haha! I will clean and use some aquarium water today.

    Also, I took a cutting from my monstera and left it in the water to grow roots but nothing has happened for a few months. I popped it in damp soil and it shriveled up so I put it back in the water and it’s looking more lively but still no roots. I’ll keep in the water until roots have appeared then dry soil again but keep it quite wet like you suggested.

    Thanks a lot! Super helpful

  6. If you’re cleaning the filter, the gross water from that will be awesome for your plants! Monstera are pretty resilient, so hard water won’t faze them! Wait until you have a couple of inches of roots before trying soil, and use a nice airy mix. The reason a lot of cuttings die when transferred to soil is lack of oxygen.

  7. Thanks so much!

    My boyfriend has kept fish for many years and there’s still so many stores selling unsuitable fish. It’s heartbreaking.

    Bettas are such great pets – they need to be kept singly (or females in small groups) and are small so don’t need THAT big a tank (compared to other commonly available fish like clown loaches and angel fish), they have amazing personalities, and they’re beautiful.

    Seeing them kept in cramped, unfiltered, unheated tanks is so sad. My boyfriend recommends that a betta is kept in a 40l+ tank. Although he wouldn’t recommend them as a great fish for beginners – something like a baddis baddis (we have one that call baddis the bad ass because he’s tiny but rules the big aquarium) or even cherry shrimp would be a better option.

    Interestingly, we have a type of killifish that lives very happily in a 27l (he’s about 1cm in length) tank with no heater or filter (they live in small puddles in the wild) perfectly happily. They’re blue with silver spots (v v pretty) and is so so easy to care for but aren’t very widely available. Like bettas, they’re v aggressive so just be kept singly.

    Most killifish (most fish tbh) require a heated, filtered tank so I don’t understand why the species we have (paraaphanius mento) is only kept by a very niche group of aquarists. He’s so easy and he’s the cutest little character!

  8. you can add fluvic acid liquid to the water to make black water to prevent algae bulid up but the visibility of the roots will go down some.

  9. Soil roots tend to come away a bit easier, but in general you don’t. I just remove everything that’s brown and mushy. Both can leave behind a skinny white root but it’s more likely to happen with soil roots coming off. If you’re unsure and worried about rot, change the water more frequently to ensure there’s plenty of oxygen.

  10. I have just begun growing my monstera in water, and it’s looking great. Roots are developing, it’s growing new leaves, and generally looks beautiful. What kind of hydroponic nutrients do you recommend?

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