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What are Monstera Aerial Roots?

Monstera aerial roots keep them attached to tall trees when the plant can no longer support the weight of its own body! 

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 to collect water and nutrients for the plant.

Aerial roots can be an eyesore due to overgrowth, but keep the plant tidy by periodically trimming these roots. Learn the basics to manage and guide these roots from the article.

Monstera Aerial Roots and their Functions

Monstera is an epiphyte hailing 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 bask in the sun. These aerial roots allow Monstera to cling to nearby trees and absorb moisture from the air.

And as their name suggests, these flaring roots help Monstera root above the soil in the air, hence dubbed “aerial.”

Sometimes aerial roots touch the soil, behaving as normal roots. They also absorb water and nutrients from the soil but are less efficient.

However, Monstera aerial roots contribute to captivating moisture from the air.

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

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 downwards to touch the soil.

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

Learn some facts and differences about the aerial and soil roots from the following table!

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 primary root
LengthAbout 30 meters long (in natural habitat)About 10 meters long (in natural habitat)
ColorWhite when developing

Green when young

Brown when matured
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 is my Monstera Not Growing Aerial Roots?

Monstera may not sprout aerial roots due to the following reasons. 

  • Monstera may be immature to produce aerial roots.
  • The plant may be seeking moisture or moist support to grow.
  • It may be growing 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 it may take 2-3 years to develop proper aerial roots in Monsteras germinating from seeds.

However, you can encourage Monstera to grow more aerial roots by managing humidity or moisture requirements.

  • Maintain surrounding humidity levels above 50%.
  • Regularly mist the surface (where the plant is attached) with gentle water sprays.
  • Place potted Monstera in summer rain for an hour.
  • Dip the aerial roots in a glass of water and change the water every week.

What to do with Monstera Aerial Roots?

Without the aerial roots, Monsteras can lose their stand and become unable to climb.

However, sometimes they become leggy and overcrowded. Crowded roots have a high chance of rotting.

Cut down these lanky, dead, or injured roots from early spring to summer to shed some weight for the plant.

  • Select the root that is damaged, diseased, or overgrowing.
  • Trim the roots using sterilized pruners.
  • Ensure not to trim too close to the node, or you can damage the stem.
  • Cast away the cut portion for composting.

Cutting the extra aerial roots encourages more aerial roots to sprout in their place but from a different stem node.

How to Propagate Monstera Aerial Roots?

To propagate Monstera, select a new portion of the plant with at least a node or multiple nodes and a set of one to three leaves.

You can propagate directly in the potting mix or propagate the roots in the water.

  • Select a cutting with healthy nodes, leaves, and aerial roots, and pull out any old leaf sheathing from the cutting.
  • Air dry the cutting for 5-10 minutes to harden the cut portion.
  • Place the cutting in a jar containing rooting hormone solution with roots folded at the bottom.
  • Place the set-up near an east-facing window or 3-5 feet away from a south-facing window that receives 5-8 hours of indirect sunlight.
Image represents the aerial roots of monstera used for propagation
While taking the cuttings for propagation, ensure to take the one having aerial roots, stem nodes, and a few leaves.
  • Change the water every 3-5 days, maintain a room temperature of around 20°C to 30°C, and sustain humidity between 60% and 70%.
  • New roots start to develop after 2-4 weeks. Hereon, plant the cutting into the potting mix about 3.5-4.5 inches deep.
  • The potting mix should have a pH between 5.5 and 7. Water once every 2-3 weeks to moisten the topsoil.
  • Apply worm-casting manure over the surface of the soil every 3 months.
  • After Monstera grows considerably, prune about one-third of the plant parts every 1-2 years. 

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

How to Repot Monstera?

You can repot Monstera every 1-2 years when the roots poke out from the drainage holes. Water 1-2 days before repotting the plant.

  • Gather all the roots by wrapping them with a sheet of paper and arrange the leaves by tilting the pot to one side.
  • Pry the root ball along the inner walls of the pot using a trowel and avoid pulling out directly by grabbing the base of the stem.
  • Take out the topsoil from the pot to ease the root ball.
  • Choose a pot with draining holes two inches larger than the previous one, and add fresh potting mix to the bottom of the pot.
  • Break the root ball and dust off the attached soil. Try pruning the dead or damaged roots along the way.
  • Insert the plant into the new planter, then add potting soil to the edges and the stem’s base.
  • After a few weeks, the plant will return to normal health and continue with regular care.

How to Encourage Monstera Aerial Roots to Grow?

There are a few things to consider for encouraging Monstera to grow aerial roots.

  • Place the plant in the correct light setting. If the plant is large to maneuver, use artificial lights for 10-12 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.
  • Monstera aerial roots would love it when you water them after potting soil’s top 2-3 inches is dry.
  • Provide a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks of half the strength in summer.

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 the young, flexible aerial roots to grow on a moss pole.

Follow these easy steps to complete the process.

  • Fold a half to a one-inch thick damp moss sheet around a wooden pole and secure it with strings leaving the lower one-third portion of the pole bare.
  • 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.
Image illustrates the importance of moss pole for Monstera
The moss pole support Monstera to climb and also supplies moisture for the aerial roots of the plant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s clear some confusion about the aerial roots of Monstera.

Can You Bury Monstera Aerial Roots in the Soil?

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

However, the aerial roots are delicate and can easily rot.

Can You Feed Monstera Aerial Roots?

Monstera roots above soil using aerial roots. These roots are there for support and get moisture from the air.

So, feeding them is not necessary.

How Long Should Monstera Roots Be Before Planting in the Soil?

If you are rooting Monstera in water, wait for the roots to grow about 1 inch long before transplanting them into the soil.

From Editorial Team

Encourage the Aerial Roots of Monstera To Grow by Feeding it Water
You can use a moss sheet encased on a wooden pole and bind the aerial roots to the sheet, but ensure to dampen the moss sheet for about 15 minutes before tying the roots.

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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