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Monstera deliciosa can go two months without water without suffering any long-term damage.
A Monstera that hasn’t been watered for six months (or even longer) will lose leaves but will still be able to be revived.
That being said, there are a lot of factors that affect how long a Monstera deliciosa can go without water. They tend to be a houseplant that can tolerate underwatering well, and if you know you’re going away for a few weeks in advance, there are steps you can take to minimise the damage your Monstera will take.
What factors influence how long a Monstera deliciosa can go without water?
The more light your Monstera has, the faster it will grow, and the more water it’ll need to maintain basic functions, like keeping it upright.
Also, The more light, the more your Monstera will photosynthesise, so not only will it need more water to maintain itself, but it’ll release more through its stomata.
Dry air (so low humidity) will sap moisture out of both your Monstera and the soil. A Monstera kept in higher humidity can go much longer without being watered than one keep in low humidity.
Hot weather dries Monstera out much more quickly than cold weather. My Monstera in North Yorkshire can go a lot longer without being watered than one in Arizona.
Time of year
If you go away for a month in August, your Monstera might be clambering for a drink when you return. If you go away for a month in January, then your Monstera might still be a little damp.
There are a few different things happening here:
- Monstera don’t tend to grow in winter, so they won’t be using as much water
- It’s colder so the soil isn’t drying out as quickly
- It’s more humid so the soil isn’t drying out as quickly, and
- There’s less light, so the soil isn’t drying out as quickly
Monstera kept in terracotta pots dry out a lot more quickly than those in plastic or ceramic pots.
Terracotta is very porous, so air can get into the pot and moisture can get out. If you’re worried about overwatering terracotta is a great option, but if you go away on vacation a lot, it, er, isn’t.
Pot size is also a factor – a Monstera in a bigger pot can go for longer without being watered because the soil can retain more water.
Super chunky soil mixes are great for epiphytic houseplants like Monstera deliciosa but they dry out quite quickly. If you stuck your soil in regular houseplant soil without any amendments, then you’ll find that your Monstera needs watering less frequently than someone with a homemade aroid mix.
The age of the plant
Young Monstera deliciosa tend to grow much faster than older ones, and they go through a lot more water than a very mature one.
I have a very old Monstera that I can leave for MONTHS without watering and it really doesn’t seem to care. A younger Monstera would have brown, crispy leaves in a couple of months.
Baby Monstera shouldn’t go for more than a week or so with dry soil. Their roots are less established and they can quickly die from dehydration.
Preparing your Monstera when you go away
I went away for four days last year in the middle of a heatwave. I know it’s not that long but it was seriously hot (38˚C) and my Monstera lives in my south-facing window.
Instead of worrying about moving it or preparing it, I just closed the curtains.
I actually did it because I have house rabbits that literally die in the heat, and they were my obvious priority (they were absolutely fine – they totally ignored the slab of stone and frozen bottles wrapped in towels our pet sitter offered them).
My plants were also absolutely fine. If you’re going away for a week or so in a heatwave, just keep your curtains closed. It won’t stop plants from drying out but it’ll slow its way down.
What if you’re leaving your Monstera for a few weeks?
Basically, do the opposite of what you’re supposed to. In order to conserve water, we need to slow growth.
So here’s a few things to try:
- Water them thoroughly before you go
- Move them somewhere with lower light
- Put them in a denser soil – preferably a few weeks before you go so you can make sure they’re acclimated
- Take them out of terracotta
- Try to keep them somewhere cool
You can also try putting them in cloches or clear plastic bags to keep them humidity in, but I appreciate that that isn’t practical if you have a big Monstera.
Sticking the aerial roots in water might also help give them a boost BUT they won’t work as well as ‘proper’ roots until they’ve roots.
You can try things like wicking cord, but it’s not that effective over long distances.
These instructions are assuming you haven’t got someone coming to water your plants. If you do, leave your plants where they are – the less disruption, the better.
Instructions to leave for plant waterers
Leave clear instructions for plant waterers. Almost all people tasked with watering other people’s plants will overwater.
Don’t move your plants, and tell your plant waterer to water your Monstera every two weeks.
Every two weeks is likely not often enough, but every week is potentially too often.
If your plant sitter is a total plant newbie, they may well assume that every two weeks is too infrequent and may try to help by watering more often.
Make sure that they know that it’s every two weeks MAX. Tell them that watering more frequently causes mould or flies – people tend to respect that.
Another option is to give your plant babysitter a pressure sprayer, rather than a watering can, and tell them to water for 30 seconds whenever the top of the soil is dry.
They’ll struggle to overwater this way because they’re only giving the plant a bit of water at a time.
What about watering moss poles?
- Thoroughly soak your moss pole before you go. I’m a bit fan of hosing them down with a pressure sprayer
- You can also sit a plastic cup with a few holes poked in the top and fill it with water. If it has good contact with the moss it *should* drip out slowly. Tbh results vary with this.
How to rehab a dehydrated Monstera
Ok, you’ve got home from your trip and your Monstera is looking sad af. What now?
Chop off any dead leaves
Brown crispy leaves won’t come back, and they can even attract pests. Cut them off where the petiole meets the stem.
Thoroughly soak the soil
You need to rehydrate the soil. Soil can become hydrophobic when it’s extremely dry, so you’ll need to soak it. I stick the pot in a bucket and fill it so the water comes halfway up the pot, and then leave it for an hour or so.
Check the roots if it doesn’t perk up
It can take a week or so for your Monstera to perk up again. If it doesn’t, check the roots. Chop off any that have dried up and shrivelled.
If the roots are a shadow of their former self, it might be an idea to rehab it in water. Adding nutrient water to the roots can encourage growth. I use the GH Flora Series, but seaweed fertiliser and Superthrive are popular options.
If you’ve left your Monstera without water for months, and all the leaves are dead and you’re left with a load of bare stems, it’s time to chop and prop.
And that’s it for this article. Before you go, you might find these articles useful:
- How to grow Monstera deliciosa outside
- Ultimate guide to Monstera deliciosa
- How to care for Monstera deliciosa