Monsteras are beautiful plants that set any room off with massive leaves, thick stalks, and huge aerial roots. These roots give a jungle-like, prehistoric look to the plant, but they also have a job to do.
But are aerial roots a problem? How do you recognize them? Should you cut them back? Here’s everything you should know.
What Are The Aerial Roots On A Monstera?
On a Swiss cheese plant, otherwise known as a Monstera deliciosa, you’ll start to see aerial roots emerge from the plant.
These are still roots, but they survive above the surface of the soil rather than in the pot.
In their natural habitat, these clever plants use their aerial roots to cling onto structures to support the weight of the plant and to get more light.
This is often a tree, but it can be pretty much anything those roots can cling to.
This is why you will often see a monstera turning its new growth away from sources of light.
It’s not because the plant doesn’t want light, but it’s trying to find more support to anchor itself to and keep it living longer, and this little technique has meant its survival in even the strangest of places.
If you think about a monstera’s natural habitat in the jungle, the light is blocked out by larger plants and trees.
This is why your monstera might make a break for the darker parts of your room with its aerial roots, to find something solid to anchor itself to.
They also extract oxygen and moisture from the air, helping to keep the plant healthy.
How To Recognize Aerial Roots On Your Monstera Plant
When aerial roots first emerge on a monstera, you’ll see solid brown bumps growing along the length of the vine.
With time, these roots will get longer, almost resembling jungle vines, and can reach more than a few feet long, sometimes longer than the plant is tall!
Should You Cut Aerial Roots From A Monstera?
Aerial roots don’t do any harm when they are on the plant, and they can often benefit from it, as they extract moisture and nutrients from the air.
However, they can be a problem for us. If they get so long that you might trip over them, or one of your pets or children decides to play with them, this could end up becoming a big hazard that you want to avoid.
So it’s a good thing that you can trim them back without harming the plant in any way. Use strong secateurs or scissors to cut them from the plant, making sure that the blades are sharp and clean.
It won’t stop the plant from producing aerial roots, so you will need to do this every so often to keep on top of it.
Some people like to encourage the aerial roots to grow back into the soil, but this can make it tricky to repot the plant if you do it with every new aerial root.
Others suggest that you should put aerial roots in water to keep the plant hydrated, but this really isn’t a thing you need to do.
As long as you water the plant regularly, you don’t need to hydrate it by misting or watering the aerial roots, as the plant will get everything it needs from the soil.
Can You Propagate New Plants From The Aerial Roots Of A Monstera?
This is an odd question that gets asked often. It’s worth remembering that the roots that grow in soil are not the same as aerial roots.
As such, aerial roots will not make a new plant, or any new growth. That’s not why the plant grows this kind of roots.
Aerial roots are there to anchor the growth, not make more growth.
If you do want to propagate your monstera, you’ll need to take a cutting that has at least one node, and on these plants, they are fairly easy to spot.
The node is where new growth comes from, and you can recognize it in the eye-shaped marking on the stem.
Make sure that a cutting has a node attached to it, as this is where you will see new growth.
Put your cutting into soil, or into water to root, whichever you prefer.
How To Attach Monstera Roots To A Moss Pole
A Monstera deliciosa will happily trail if you don’t give it some support to climb up, but in general it is much easier to care for it as a climbing plant, not to mention that you will have more space in your home (!) as this plant gets rather large.
Aerial roots will eventually attach themselves to structures like poles and bamboo stakes, but it is worth helping them to do so.
You can do this by loosely tying them in with garden twine or string, preferably one that’s not made of plastic.
If you use a moss pole, you can also water the plant through the pole. They’re not exactly difficult to make, either, and you can craft one with a few simple bits.
Don’t Worry If Your Monstera Doesn’t Have Aerial Roots
Aerial roots appear on monstera plants that are mature, so don’t worry if your monstera is not putting out aerial roots, as it won’t need the support just yet.
It’s only when the plant gets bigger that it starts to produce aerial roots in order to anchor its larger growth to something.
Why Are The Aerial Roots Becoming Wrinkled On My Monstera?
Aerial roots on a monstera do not wrinkle up when they want water. This happens with orchids, but not with monsteras.
The reason why aerial roots on a monstera plant might wrinkle is usually because they have suffered some damage, especially if they are in the way, or you’ve recently turned the pot around.
But it’s not the only reason. If they aren’t damaged, the chances are that something is wrong with the growing conditions, and the monstera is not getting what it needs in order to thrive.
Check the soil for its moisture level, and see if it’s too dry or too damp, as this is one of the biggest causes of problems in a monstera.
If that’s not the answer, check that the plant is getting enough light, and that air circulates freely around the plant. Also, make sure that there is enough room in the pot for new growth.
The aerial roots of a monstera plant are fascinating, acting like anchors for the plant to tether itself to.
It’s also a good way to see if the plant is getting what it needs by checking if they have shriveled up or not.