Why Monstera Aerial Roots Shrivel Up | Top 5 Causes and Solutions

Monstera aerial roots will shrivel up if they are damaged or if the plant is suffering from a lack of nutrients, lack of water, pest or fungal attack. Monstera roots are hardy and will continue to grow large and long if the monstera is well fed and well-watered. Monstera will start to grow aerial roots as the plant grows older and the plant searches for food and water.

Monstera aerial roots can be snipped off if they are large, damaged or in the way. They grow on monstera nodes and support the plant to grow up poles, vines and absorb extra water.

Young monstera plant will not grow strong aerial roots until they are a bit older and their main stem has established. If the plant is getting the nutrients and water it needs then it will start to grow aerial roots.

This article will explore the top reasons why monstera aerial roots shrivel up and what you can do about each one.

Why monstera aerial roots shrivel up

Here are the top reasons why monstera aerial roots shrivel up and how to solve each one.

1. Damage

Physical damage is the top cause of monstera roots drying up and shriveling. If they are knocked, broken or bent this can cause them to turn black and start to die off. Broken monstera roots will not be able to send water and nutrients to the end of the root and it will start to shrivel.

Damaged aerial roots can be an entry point for disease or pests. If the root is damaged and has started to shrivel up snip them off with sharp, clean secateurs. This will allow the plant to quickly heal the cut point and stop any pests or bacteria from entering.

2. Pest attack

Pest attack can cause monstera aerial roots to shrivel. Sap sucking insects such as spider mite or scale can cause damage to the root and cause it to shrive up. These insects attach themselves to the root or stem of the plant and suck the sap from the monstera.

These insects can be treated with horticultural oils, such as neem oil. Take the plant outside and spray it with neem oil all over the affected area. Leave it to dry and bring it back inside. Repeat this process after a week if the bugs are still there.

Even if the scale are not attached directly to the aerial root they can cause the plant to struggle to grow and the aerial root can wilt. Often scale mite will attach themselves to the leaf joint near the node or aerial root.

You can spray these bugs with a mix of water and detergent before they attach to the stem. Once they attach and form a dark scale over their bodies neem oil will work better.

4. Fungal attack

Fungal growth can cause monstera aerial roots to shrivel up and die. Monstera can suffer from a fungal growth on their roots which causes them to rot, turn black and eventually die. This is usually caused by overwatering which allows the fungus to grow.

If the plant soil is kept too wet, if water sits on the leaves and roots or if there is very high humidity the roots can shrivel up.

3. The monstera is too young

Young monstera plants will not develop aerial roots until they get older, usually over 2 years.

Young monstera will not grow strong aerial roots until they are older. They can grow small aerial roots which can shrivel up and die back before they grow long. Young monstera will prioritize leaf growth before aerial roots so they may not establish well.

Once monstera plants grow to 2-3 years old they usually start to grow more aerial roots. These roots will search for water and nutrients as the plant grows. They can reach into the potting soil or ground to help to stabilize the plant as it grows. Once the aerial root reaches soil it will usually stay strong and will not shrive up if the plant is getting enough water.

4. The monstera is lacking nutrients

Monstera grow strong aerial roots from node points when they are getting the nutrients they need.

A monstera plant that is suffering from a lack of nutrients can develop shriveled aerial roots. Leaves will wilt, they can turn yellow and the roots can struggle to grow. To keep monstera plants happy plant them in good quality potting soil with slow release fertilizer.

Add extra slow release fertilizer in spring to support the faster growth over the warmer months. You will get lots of leaves and lots of aerial roots when the monstera has the nutrients it needs.

5. The monstera is lacking water

Monstera leaves will start to wilt when they need more water.

Monstera plants that are lacking in water will wilt including their aerial roots. Monstera plants are hardy but will start to wilt and shrivel if they are not getting the water they need. Monstera plants like regular deep waterings without keeping their soil too wet.

I like to water my monstera deeply each week in summer and reduce that to once every 2 weeks in spring and fall when the weather is cooler. In summer monstera will grow fine with water once per month.

Why Monstera Aerial Roots Shrivel Up | Summary

Monstera aerial roots will shrive up if the plant is suffering overall from pest attack, fungus, too much water, not enough nutrients or if it drying out too much. Monstera like a position that gets filtered light, they like deep watering and drying out in between and a good quality indoor plant fertilizer.

If you follow all of these steps and wait until your plant is at least 2 years old, you should get healthy long aerial roots on each node. I like to trim these off when they get too long but they are a great way to get a node cutting growing faster.

For more on taking cuttings with aerial roots, check out my previous article here: Propagating Monstera Without a Node | Can it be done?