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It can be quite alarming seeing water droplets forming on the ends of your Monstera’s leaves when you’ve been so careful not to overwater it.
As you can see from the image above, my Thai Constellation is currently weeping, and whilst I’m confident that this isn’t a sign of my plant’s imminent demise, I’m attached enough to the plant that I thought I’d research the issue and write about it.
I mean, I have nothing better to do. If the government is telling me to stay at home, something I’ve fought to do my entire life, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.
Ok, let’s crack on.
Why is my monstera weeping?
It’s a process called guttation and it’s not exactly water that’s accumulating on the end of the leaves, it’s xylem sap, which is basically water and minerals your plant doesn’t need anymore.
Plant pee, if you will.
When you water a plant, it takes up water (shocking, I know). But, rather like us when we have wine, the plant doesn’t know when to stop sucking up water. If it takes up more than it needs, it expels the excess moisture (plus some other crap it doesn’t need) through its leaves.
Is guttation the same as dew?
No. Guttation is an internal thing a plant does, but if you’re looking at outside plants, it can look the same.
Usually, a plant gets rid of excess moisture through transpiration, and you can’t see the moisture leaving. You know, because it’s tiny molecules of water vapour. But plants don’t transpire at night, and the roots carry on sucking up water.
Understandably, with the roots taking up water and the leaves not expelling any, pressure builds.
Guttation occurs when the water is forced out of the stomata and collects on the tip of the plants, like a little teardrop.
Dew, on the other hand, has never been within the plant.
It’s moisture that’s been hanging around in the air and the condenses on cold surfaces such as plants.
It’s unlikely to occur indoors unless you’re leaving your windows open at night, so if you have water droplets forming on your plants, it’s probably guttation.
Is guttation bad for your plants?
I’m going to say no, but keep reading, because obviously I’m going to mention overwatering, because when don’t I?
Guttation is a perfectly natural part of a plant’s life, and it isn’t a sign that your plant is any other than totally healthy.
My own observations have found that plants weep more when they’ve just been watered, so if you’re noticing more guttation than normal, then maybe check your soil.
If you’re not overwatering, then maybe inadequate drainage is the issue.
I want to reiterate that there may be nothing wrong with your plant – since it’s a natural response to excess water there are a plethora of reasons (temperature, humidity, plant size) that your plant is…guttating? Is that a word? Surely there’s a verb form of the noun guttation?
So whilst guttation is nothing to worry about, it’s always worth keeping an eye on your plant, especially if it was a £89.99 Thai Constellation.
By the way, my Thai does need repotting, I’m just waiting for my worm castings to show up. I’m transferring her into terracotta too so her roots can be very aerated. She deserves the best.
I’m also shuffling her around the house a lot so that she gets the best light and humidity, so I notice when she drips on me. My other plants could be guttating just as much, I’m just not noticing it.
Guttation does seem to happen in monstera more than other plants, but maybe I just notice them more because of the huge leaves.
Guttation is only bad when…
- It’s ruining your furniture. Water damage is real kids.
- Your plants are over fertilised. If you see a white mark that looks like an ink blot, then this may be a sign that you need to ease of on the fertiliser, or switch to a gentler one like bunny poop or worm castings (also poop). Your plant can get leaf burn from the excess fertiliser present in the xylem.
Does guttation happen in every plant?
No – big woody plants (some would call them ‘trees’) don’t guttate because they’re big and gravity is a real thing so the plant doesn’t have the ability to resist gravity to push the xylem up the stem.
I’m assuming it’s either pushed out of the roots, but I really have no idea. Presumably, they can just take in an awful lot of water.
Why is my plant sticky?
Xylem fluid isn’t sticky, so if your plant is covered in sticky droplets, that’s not a sign o guttation.
But if you have philodendron, you may have noticed sticky drops on the stem.
Firstly, you need to check for pests. Scale insects in particular produce honeydew, which can cause sticky leaves.
In fact, if you google ‘sticky philodendron’ all you get is a load of scale horror stories. But in my experience, either philodendron start expelling seriously sticky xylem once their stems reach a certain girth, or they’re just naturally sticky.
I have no idea which it is, but my P. golden dragon, P. hastatum, and P. subhastatum are all healthy, have no bugs (famous last words) and are sticky as hell.
So this article from the Spruce seems to suggest that guttation is different from the roots sucking up excess water and expelling them through its leaves, but every other article suggests that it’s the same thing.
I’m not saying the spruce is wrong, but it’s unlikely that a plant can suck up water and expel it, unchanged.
I mean, when we drink a lot of water, we pee it out, but it’s not pure water. It’s pee.
Water plus other stuff we don’t need. Salts etc.
It’s the same with plants.
I conclude this essay by comparing the process of guttation to the process of peeing more when you’ve drunk (drank? what’s wrong with me today?) too much water – it won’t kill you but maybe chill it with the hydration.
Hope that helps.
I’ve seen a lot of people in Facebook groups that have been FLEECED when it comes to buying Monstera. There’s no need. Monstera are very common (they’re literally an invasive species in MANY countries).