Monstera Aerial Roots: 7 Things to Know About Them

Close up of aerial roots of a monstera

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Are you looking for an on-trend houseplant that looks stylish and easy to care for? You can't go wrong with a type of monstera. The fenestrate foliage (holey leaves) that develop in mature plants is what most enthusiasts covet them for.

But there's one feature of monsteras that can turn their look from beautiful to bedraggled, and that's their aerial roots. So, what do you do with these prominent protrusions? Can you cut them off, or is it better to leave them be?

Read on to learn more about fast-growing monstera aerial roots and how to handle them.

Aerial Roots

Aerial roots grow above ground. They are classed as adventitious roots because they grow from the stem. The roots help provide anchoring support, reach for light, and absorb moisture and nutrients from the air. You typically find these types of roots on epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants), tropical swamp trees, and vining plants, like English ivy, and, of course, monsteras.

1. Monstera Aerial Roots Aren't Harmful

While you might not like the unruly look that the thick, brown aerial roots give your monstera, they won't harm your plant or surrounding structures. Plus, they help the plant in terms of support. When they curl around a moss pole or trellis, they can stop it from drooping over.

Some enthusiasts embrace aerial roots and the unique, jungle-like vibe they create, while others might cut them off or train them to go back down into the soil for a cleaner look.

2. You Can Direct the Aerial Roots Back into the Soil

If you're not a fan of the rebellious roots, before you lop them off, consider training them back down into the potting medium. That way, they can continue to absorb beneficial nutrients and, more importantly, it helps provide support without always having to train your monstera onto a moss pole, a plank of wood, or a wall.

You might hear the hard brown root casing snap when you bend mature woody roots down. Unless you've gone overboard on the bending, it's likely the inner aerial root is still intact.

Don't forget, though, that aerial roots continue to grow and will likely eventually poke out the soil again at some point.

3. It's Fine to Cut Off Aerial Roots

Monstera aerial roots have an erratic and fast-growing habit. Mature plants can sprout thick aerial roots that grow to be several feet. If you prefer a sleek appearance, it's absolutely fine to trim these roots off close to the stem; just make sure you use sterilized, sharp shears to prevent the risk of spreading disease. And get ready to do it all again, as more will take their place over time.

4. Train Aerial Roots For a Tidier Look and Extra Support

The aerial roots of a monstera have a natural climbing habit, and you can train them to grow up against walls (although they can lift paint if growth is aggressive), shelves, moss poles and other trellises. Juvenile roots are very pliable, but the woodier, mature roots might need extra encouragement.

Trellises make it easy to wind the roots through the sections. For moss poles, especially if the mature roots are stiff, you may need to mist the pole and roots and tie the roots to the pole to encourage attachment.

5. Repot Monsteras with Aerial Roots Carefully

With the right conditions, fast-growing monsteras are houseplants that need repotting annually. When their aerial roots wrap around a trellis or other support, this can be tricky.

Gently tipping the pot onto its side and arranging the foliage and aerial roots on top of a supportive blanket helps prevent any damage. Roping in an assistant to help support the plant makes things easier, especially when dealing with a large, mature plant. Tease the root ball out of the pot gently, taking care not to pull the bottom of the plant stems.

Keep the roots and foliage from flapping around when you lift the plant into it's new pot. If you have concerns or are attempting this solo, try wrapping everything in a light sheet. Support the root ball and climbing support while filling around the root ball with potting soil.

If a few aerial roots or stalks break off during the process, don't panic. Large, healthy plants can cope with this.

6. Propagation Isn't Possible From Aerial Roots

Unfortunately, you're not going to be able to create new monstera plants from all those aerial roots you are lopping off. They don't have any nodes on them to encourage new root growth. Thankfully, monsteras are pretty easy to propagate from healthy stem cuttings (providing there's a node where a leaf will develop), air layering or division.

7. Don't Put Aerial Roots in Water

An often touted hack is to put your monsteras aerial roots in water. The theory is that this helps it absorb more moisture to stay healthy. However, the aerial roots aren't designed to be permanently submerged in water, and it could lead to root rot and a less healthy or even dead plant.

Instead, focus on providing the right moisture levels via watering the soil. Monsteras have moderate moisture needs, so always check the top few inches of soil are dry with your finger before deeply watering.