Why Do Monstera Aerial Roots Grow?

The uncanny aerial roots pop up from Monstera’s stems, making the plant appear large and monstrous!

Generally, Monstera aerial roots are green when young and turn brown later. They arise from the stem nodes and help the plant cling to the trees, enabling them to climb high above the forest canopy where there is light. In some cases, they help grab the plant’s water and nutrients.

Image represents aerial roots of monstera plant
Aerial roots arise from the nodes present in the stem of the Monstera.

Whenever my friends look at my Monstera plant, they often get baffled by these odd-looking roots and suggest removing them so the plant can look well-trimmed.

I admit that these roots can be an eyesore, but you can manage the roots to keep the Monstera top-notch. To do that, feel free to follow the article and learn the basics!

What are Monstera Aerial Roots?

Monstera plant represents an epiphyte and loves to hang high up on the trees in its natural turf.

It hails from the rainforests of Central and South America, so it has to grow beside tall trees that can often block the light.

For this reason, it needs to ascend upwards to get enough sunlight to support its bulked body!

Image represents the upward growing habit of monstera
Monstera plant has an upward-growing habit of searching for light.

However, it needs something to attach itself to the trees to have the high ground, doesn’t it?

That’s when these roots come in handy, as these aerial roots help Monstera to cling to nearby trees and absorb moisture from the air.

And as their name suggests, there remain Monstera roots above soil or in the air, hence dubbed “aerial.” 

Aerial roots are white when they are just developing, but over time they turn green and later brown as they age a little.

Sometimes these roots touch the soil, behaving as normal roots and absorbing water and nutrients from the soil, but are less efficient.

Monstera also has two types of roots that serve different functions; aerial-subterranean roots and lateral-subterranean roots.

Aerial-subterranean roots arise high up in the air like aerial roots but grow to touch the soil below.

But lateral-subterranean roots are the soil roots that anchor the plant to the soil. They strictly absorb water and nutrients.

Learn some facts about the aerial and soil roots and learn how they differ!

AttributesAerial RootsSoil Roots
Growth DirectionGrows above the ground, but rarely touch the soilGrows below the ground and are also called lateral-subterranean roots
Point of GrowthNodes present on the stemDirectly from the main primary root
LengthAbout 30 meters in natural habitatAbout 10 meters in natural habitat
ColorWhite when developing

Green when young and brown when old
White or lightly tanned
FunctionAnchorage and support above the ground

Absorbing moisture from the air
Anchorage and support from below

Absorbing nutrients and water from the soil

Why Does Monstera Possess Aerial Roots?

To be exact, the Monstera roots above soil prove that the plant is serious about taking itself higher.

Jokes aside, the aerial roots are there to serve their only primary function, i.e., anchorage and support when the plant grows above.

Besides, these roots immediately attach themselves to any kind of support after they are functional.

Image represents the monstera plant growing on a tree
Aerial roots assist Monstera stick to the surface of trees.

However, they can sometimes grow irregularly, making the plant menacing. This overgrowth of aerial roots might signify that the plant is growing larger.

It may also need more support to grow, so be mindful and give it a helping hand.

You can also use a moss pole and bind the excess roots or trim back some of the roots, but use sterilized tools.

Why is my Monstera Not Growing Aerial Roots?

Most people who own Monstera often complain about aerial roots not growing in their plants.

There are a few reasons Monstera roots above soil are not showing positive signs.

  • Your Monstera may not be old enough to produce the aerial roots.
  • The plant may be seeking moisture.
  • Monstera may be lacking ample moist support.
  • The plant may be too far from the damp soil.
Image represents the young aerial roots of monstera
Young Monstera plants have small aerial roots.

Normally, it takes 2-4 weeks for new roots to grow in a propagated Monstera.  

But, sometimes, even the propagated Monstera may take several months to develop proper aerial roots.

Fun Fact!!! Monstera growing after germination may take 2 to 3 years to develop the first set of aerial roots.

However, you can encourage Monstera to grow more aerial roots by considering its humidity requirements.

  • Maintain humidity levels above 50% of the room or surroundings where you keep the plant.
  • Regularly mist the surface (where the plant is attached) with gentle water sprays.
  • You can also put the potted Monstera in summer rain for an hour, and look how it shall show speedy growth from the next day!
  • Dip the aerial roots in a glass of water and change the water every week.

What to Do with Monstera Aerial Roots?

To be honest, you don’t need to worry about the Monstera roots above soil.

These roots are supportive organs for the plant, as their appearance indicates that Monstera is happy with the place that you have offered.

Without the aerial roots, the plant can lose its support or becomes unable to climb.

However, sometimes they become leggy and overcrowded.

Image represents overcrowded aerial roots of monstera
Monstera aerial roots can sometimes become long and overcrowded.

This overcrowding may result in the worst-case scenario of rotting in later stages.

At this time, you would want to trim it down so the plant can look more appealing.

The best time to trim the aerial roots is right after the growing season, which is usually in early spring and summer.

Even though trimming a few may not hurt the plant but does not affect it in any way. You can proceed with caution.

Grab sterilized pruners and then follow the steps below to get an idea of the trimming process.

  • Gently grab the root that is damaged or diseased or overgrowing.
  • Using pruners, trim it off.
  • Ensure that you do not trim too close to the node, or else you can damage the stem.
  • Throw the cut portion out or compost it.

Since the cut portion is without any node, it won’t grow into a new plant even if you try to propagate it.

But, many gardeners have claimed that cutting the extra aerial roots encourages more roots to sprout in their place.

However, new aerial roots can also come from a different stem node.

How to Propagate Monstera Aerial Roots?

Monstera is among the easiest house plants to propagate using aerial roots.

But, it is impossible to propagate Monstera with aerial roots alone.

You should select a new portion of the plant that contains at least a node and a set of one to three leaves.

Image represents the aerial roots of monstera used for propagation
Take cuttings with aerial roots for propagating Monstera.

Alternatively, you can even take an entire cutting with multiple nodes and leaves. You can later divide them while propagating.

Now, you have two options; propagate directly in the potting mix or propagate the roots in the water.

I prefer the latter as it becomes easy to observe the growth of the roots.

Also, you might need a few tools to commence the process, like pruners, disinfectants, gloves, rooting hormones, and potting mixes.

Let’s begin the propagation process by following these steps if all is set.

  • Check for healthy nodes, leaves, and aerial roots from your plant.
  • Take a sharp, sterilized pruner and cut directly below the node.
  • Ensure that the cutting has at least one node, an aerial root, and a single leaf.
  • Pull out any old leaf sheathing from the stem of the cutting to avoid rotting during propagation.
  • Keep the cutting for 5 to 10 minutes only to heal it a bit.
  • Now, fill a glass jar with clear distilled water.
  • Dip the cutting inside the water with the roots folded at the bottom of the jar. If the roots are small, it’s fine.
  • You can also add rooting hormones to the water to speed the process as per pack instructions.
  • Place the set-up near an east or south-facing window that receives bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Change the used water every 3 to 5 days once the cutting looks a bit murky.
  • After 2 to 4 weeks, roots start to develop, and then you can plant the cuttings into the potting mix about 3.5 to 4.5 inches deep.

Get some additional info on propagating the Monstera aerial roots from the video!

Tips for Caring Monstera Aerial Roots After Propagation

After propagating in the soil, the cuttings should be regularly monitored.

Follow these simple steps to get it done!

  • Use worm casting as manure for the cuttings and add just a thin layer over the surface of the soil once in 3 months.
  • Give the plant a well-draining soil rich in peat and pH levels between 5.5 and 7.
  • Place the cuttings in an area that receives 5 to 8 hours of indirect, bright sunlight.
  • Maintain the normal room temperature from 20°C to 30°C.
  • Sustain humidity levels between 60% and 70%.
  • Water once every 2 to 3 weeks.
  • After the Monstera grows adult, you can prune to remove any dead or damaged leaves in 1 to 2 years. Avoid shading more than 1/3rd of the plant’s foliage at once.

How to Repot Monstera Aerial Roots?

One of the pitfalls of having Monstera roots above soil is the difficulty in repotting.

You eventually have to do it once a year or two when the roots poke out from the drainage holes.

So, grab all the necessary tools to initiate the process. You can take help from a buddy of yours for the work.

Follow the proven steps below to repot your Monstera plant.

  • First, keep the plant in one place and gather all the roots by wrapping them under a sheet of paper.
  • Tilt the pot to one side and arrange the leaves without hurting them.
  • Gently rub the side of the planter, and pry the root ball along the inner walls of the pot using a trowel.
  • Avoid pulling out directly by grabbing the base of the stem.
  • Choose a pot with draining holes two inches larger than the previous one, and add some new potting mix to the bottom.
  • Break the root ball of the Monstera and dust off the attached soil.
  • Insert the plant into the new planter, and then add potting soil to the edges and up to the stem’s base.
Image represents root ball of monstera plant
Break the root ball to free the aerial roots and repot.

If the plant is bound to a moss pole or support, you don’t need to untangle them. It will hold the plant in place.

Try removing the damaged aerial roots during the process using sterilized pruners.

Once repotted, stick to all the original care routines you gave your Monstera.

After this, give it a few weeks to adjust, and you are good to go!

How to Encourage Monstera Aerial Roots to Grow?

Look after the entire plant if you want to take sound care of the Monstera aerial roots.

And to take care of the overall plant, you have to cover all the basic requirements for your Monstera.  

  • Place the plant in the correct light setting. If the plant is large enough to move, use grow lights of blue and red spectrum for 12 hours.
  • Ensure to provide the plant with a pot having a good amount of drainage holes.
  • Maintain the acidity of the potting mix and regularly monitor using a soil pH meter.
  • Water your Monstera plant when the top 2-3 inches of the potting soil feels dry to touch. You can also water the plant when the moisture meter reads 3 to 4.
  • Provide a balanced liquid fertilizer once every 2 to 4 weeks of half the strength in summer.
  • Maintain enough humidity and mist your Monstera’s moss pole to keep the aerial roots nimble at the growing phase.

Is your precious Pothos feeling difficult to climb? Learn about the techniques that can help your Pothos ascend higher!

How to Train Monstera Aerial Roots?

You can train Monstera aerial roots to encourage them to grow in the soil.

However, many gardeners believe that this is not a viable option because these aerial roots are delicate and can rot easily!

Instead, you can train the roots to grow on a moss pole with sphagnum moss wrapped around a wooden pole.

Image represents monstera aerial roots twined around a moss pole
Moss pole supports the Monstera aerial roots to grow.

However, if you want to train them, do it when the roots are young and flexible.

Mature and woody roots are hard to bend and may break.

So, if you want to know the ins and outs of training Monstera aerial roots, take help from the steps below.

  • Prepare a pole by wrapping a 1/2 to a 1-inch thick damp sheet of sphagnum moss drenched in water for fifteen minutes.
  • Fold the sheet around a wooden pole and secure it with strings.
  • Leave the lower 1/3 portion of the pole bare as it is later placed inside the soil.
  • Select aerial roots that are young and green and are long enough to twine around a moss pole one time.
  • Take zip ties and bind the roots around the pole to hold it firm but not too tight.
  • Mist the moss regularly to encourage aerial roots to grow.

You can also guide the aerial roots in a new pot filled with same soil as the first pot. Place this pot beside the previous pot and stick the roots in the soil.

Conclusion

Monstera aerial roots grow above the ground and serve the plant in anchoring and supplying nutrients to the plant when it tries to reach out for light. 

By observing the Monstera aerial roots, I have understood that even if there is no one to support you, build support for yourself!

However, these roots sometimes need your guidance to encourage the plant to grow higher.

Additionally, you need to trim the roots if they grow longer and help them to grow freely by giving gentle sprays of moisture.

If all works well, your Monstera will surely flourish with joy!

Waiting for someone to guide you to grow Monstera? Get help on how to get Monstera seeds and the best soils!

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