Monstera will grow long aerial roots to search for water and nutrients but it is a healthy sign. They will naturally grow long aerial roots to stabilize the plant as it grows up trees or grow poles. Aerial roots can be removed with sharp, clean secateurs to tidy up the look of the plant.
Aerial roots are a healthy, natural way that your plant aims to absorb nutrients, water and climb. Monstera are a vine that would have naturally found dappled light, water and nutrients in jungles among other trees.
This article will explore my top tips to encourage more leaves and to control aerial roots. These tips will give you a good looking plant with lots of leaves and less roots.
What to do if your monstera is growing long roots and no leaves
Here are the steps you can take to help your monstera to focus it energy on growing leaves and not aerial roots. Monstera send out the aerial roots in search of water and food so removing the roots, giving the plant the water, air and sunlight it needs will help to encourage healthy large leaves.
1. Trim the aerial roots
The first step is to remove any aerial roots that are growing long into an area that you don’t want them to. Long roots growing over the edge of your pot can look a big ugly so grab some sharp, clean secateurs to trim them off.
I like to wipe my secateurs down with eucalyptus oil or rubbing alcohol to clean them before cutting any new plant. This prevents the spread of disease from one plant to another.
Leave any aerial roots that have found their way into the potting soil or the ground. They will help to stabilize the plant, absorb extra nutrients and water and stop the vine from falling over.
2. Move the monstera to position that gets filtered light
Making sure that your monstera is getting adequate light is key to encouraging it to grow more leaves and less roots. The ideal light position is filtered bright light that lasts throughout the day or at least the morning.
I place my monstera near a window that gets bright morning light but is protected from the afternoon sun. This will prevent the leaves from burning and turning brown. You can turn your monstera gradually to encourage leaves to grow from different stems of your plant.
Place the monstera at least 3 feet away from the window glass so that it does not get burnt by the radiant heat, particularly in summer.
I find that over time all of the leaves will point towards the window so turning it helps to keep the plant in balance and looking great.
3. Water the plant regularly
Watering your monstera regularly but not too much is the key to encouraging large leaf coverage. Aerial roots are on the search for water so will grow into the soil if they can reach. Otherwise, you can trim the roots off and allow the main roots of the plant to absorb the water it needs.
I find that monstera need watering around once per 1-2 weeks in summer, once every 2-3 weeks in spring and fall and once per month in winter. You will need to adjust your watering schedule depending on the weather and the size of your pot. Water monstera when the soil is dry 1-2 inches below the surface.
4. Repot the plant
Repotting your plant when it has outgrown its current pot or every 2-3 years will allow it to continue to grow lots of leaves and healthy roots under the soil. Once you start to see roots escaping from the bottom of the pot or when the pot feels firm it is time to give your monstera more room.
While monstera will grow successfully in the same pot for a long time, the soil will eventually run out of nutrients, oxygen and organic matter. It is then time to find a new pot and refresh the potting soil.
Use a premium all purpose potting soil and move your monstera to a pot that is 1-2 inches wider and deeper than the current pot it is in. Take care with the roots and try to avoid breaking and disturbing them when you repot the plant. This will reduce transplant shock.
New soil will provide the plant with more nutrients and can satisfy the plant without the need for it to send out long aerial roots searching. I have found that as my plant grows bigger and is running out of soil space, it will send out more and more aerial roots.
5. Feed the plant with slow release fertilizer
Feeding monstera with slow release fertilizer is essential if you are growing it indoors. Use a slow release indoor plant food to make sure that has all of the nutrients it needs. I feed my monstera twice per year with a general indoor plant food. It lasts for 6 months and keeps the plant growing strong.
Feed monstera at the start of spring and the start of fall to give it all the nutrients it needs for the year. You can give your plant an indoor liquid plant food at the start of spring for a rapid nitrogen boost to encourage more leaves fast.
What causes Monstera to grow long aerial roots
All monstera will grow aerial roots at some stage in search of water, food and to stabilize the vine. It is a completely natural process however I notice that more aerial roots grow when the plant is in need of more water and food. As my plant started to fill out the pot it was sending more and more aerial roots out.
Keep the plant happy by feeding it and moving it to a new pot every 2-3 years to give it the nutrients it needs.
How to safely remove aerial roots
Cutting aerial roots off close to the base of the stem with clean, sharp secateurs is safe and will not cause any harm to plant. Most of the time once the aerial root has been cut off it won’t grow back for months. If it does start to grow back from the same point, just trim it off again.
Results of putting aerial roots in a glass of water (hack)
Putting aerial roots in a glass of water has been a thing recently. I did it recently with my monstera plant and the aerial root grow rapidly within 2 days. It almost doubled in length and reached the bottom of the glass fast. It didn’t result in any changes for my plant but can be a way to water your plant gently if you tend to forget.
Monstera Growing Long Aerial Roots Not Leaves | Summary
Monstera plants will naturally grow aerial roots but you can encourage more leaves and less roots by making sure it has all of the food, water and light it needs. Move it into a bright position, water it regularly (but not too much) and feed it with a balanced indoor plant food. Trim off the aerial roots if they look ugly and you will have a great looking, healthy plant.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.