Monstera Aerial Roots: Care, Prune, Propagation, & All

In the realm of houseplants, few species capture the imagination quite like the Monstera deliciosa.

Known for its distinctive split leaves and tropical allure, this popular plant has a unique feature that often raises questions among enthusiasts and novices alike: its aerial roots.

In this complete guide, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of Monstera aerial roots, exploring their growth patterns, functions, and essential care tips to ensure your Monstera thrives in optimal conditions.

Understanding Monstera Aerial Roots

Monstera Aerial Roots: Purpose, Care, Propagation, & All
Credit: Instagram/boram_fg

Anatomy and Growth

Monstera aerial roots are remarkable structures that play a vital role in the plant’s survival and growth. These roots emerge from nodes along the stem, often starting out as small, nub-like protrusions.

As they grow, they extend outward in search of support. This growth pattern is an adaptation to their natural habitat, where Monstera deliciosa typically grows as an epiphyte.

The outer layer of these roots is covered in velamen, a specialized tissue that acts as a protective barrier and facilitates water absorption.

This adaptation allows the plant to extract moisture from the air, an essential function in environments where ground soil may become dry.

Read: Monstera Fruit: Care, How to Eat, Taste, Benefits & All.

Purpose and Function

1. Structural Support

In their native rainforest habitats, Monstera plants often find themselves in competition for sunlight amidst a densely forested environment.

Their aerial roots provide a clever solution. These roots reach out and attach themselves to nearby trees or structures, offering stability and support as the plant grows upwards.

This unique adaptation allows Monstera to thrive in conditions where other plants might struggle.

2. Nutrient Absorption

Aerial roots also serve as supplementary roots for the Monstera. They have the remarkable ability to absorb moisture and nutrients directly from the air.

This function is especially critical in environments where the availability of nutrients in the soil might be limited.

It ensures that the plant can access the essential elements it needs for healthy growth.

3. Adaptation to Changing Environments

Rainforests can experience significant variations in moisture levels, especially in the higher canopy layers where Monstera typically resides.

Aerial roots enable the plant to adapt to these changing conditions. During periods of reduced ground soil moisture, the roots absorb moisture directly from the air, providing a reliable source of hydration.

Understanding the intricate interplay between Monstera aerial roots and their environment allows us to create conditions that nurture the plant’s natural tendencies and promote optimal growth.

This knowledge forms the foundation for successful Monstera care and cultivation.

Cultivating a Healthy Aerial Root System

A thriving aerial root system is not only visually captivating but also crucial for the overall health and vitality of your Monstera deliciosa.

Here are detailed strategies to ensure your plant’s aerial roots flourish:

Light and Placement

Proper lighting is a cornerstone of healthy aerial root development. Monstera plants thrive in bright, indirect light. This mimics their natural habitat in the understory of tropical rainforests.

Place your Monstera near a window with filtered sunlight. If direct sunlight hits the leaves, consider using a sheer curtain to diffuse the light.

Remember, finding the right balance is key. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and hinder aerial root growth. On the other hand, insufficient light can lead to weak, underdeveloped roots.

Humidity and Moisture

Creating a humid environment is vital for the well-being of Monstera aerial roots. In their native rainforests, these plants are accustomed to high humidity levels. To replicate this, consider the following steps:

  • Regular Misting: Use a spray bottle to mist the air around your Monstera regularly. Focus on the area around the aerial roots, leaves, and the soil surface. This helps increase humidity levels, creating a more favorable environment.
  • Humidifier: If you live in a dry climate or your home tends to have low humidity, consider using a humidifier. This is particularly beneficial during winter months when indoor air tends to be drier.
  • Pebble Tray: Place a tray filled with water and pebbles near your Monstera. As the water evaporates, it increases humidity levels around the plant.

When it comes to watering, aim for consistent moisture without overwatering. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again.

This prevents waterlogged conditions, which can be detrimental to both roots and foliage.

Read: Do Monsteras Like Humidity?

Support and Training

Providing the right support structure is essential for encouraging aerial root growth.

Monstera deliciosa are natural climbers in the wild, using aerial roots to latch onto trees or other structures. To replicate this environment:

  • Moss Pole or Trellis: Install a moss pole or trellis in the pot to give your Monstera something to grip onto. Make sure it’s tall enough to accommodate the plant’s potential growth.
  • Gentle Securing: As the aerial roots emerge, gently guide them towards the support structure. Use soft ties or twine to secure them in place. Avoid any forceful tugging or bending, as this can damage the delicate roots.

Temperature Considerations

Maintaining the right temperature range is crucial for overall Monstera health, including the development of aerial roots. Aim for temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C).

Avoid exposing your plant to sudden temperature fluctuations or drafts, as this can stress the plant and hinder root growth.


During the active growing season (spring and summer), provide your Monstera with balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks.

This supplies essential nutrients for the development of both foliage and aerial roots. Be mindful not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to nutrient buildup in the soil.

By following these detailed strategies, you’ll create an environment that fosters robust aerial root growth, contributing to the overall health and vibrancy of your cherished Monstera deliciosa.

Remember, patience and attentive care are key in nurturing this remarkable plant.

Read: Monstera Plant Care: A Complete Guide for Beginners.

Monstera Aerial Roots in Water

Monstera deliciosa, with its striking split leaves and distinctive aerial roots, is a favorite among plant enthusiasts.

These aerial roots can be utilized for propagation, allowing you to expand your Monstera collection or share this captivating plant with others.

Propagating Monstera Aerial Roots in Water

Materials Needed:

  • Healthy Monstera plant with established aerial roots
  • Sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears
  • Clear glass or jar filled with water
  • Optional: rooting hormone (for speeding up the propagation process)

Step-by-Step Process:

  1. Selecting a Healthy Aerial Root:
    • Choose an aerial root that is healthy, plump, and at least a few inches long. Ensure it has at least one node, which is the small bump or nub on the root.
  2. Prepare the Cutting:
    • Using sharp scissors or pruning shears, make a clean cut just below the node on the selected aerial root. This will be the cutting you’ll propagate in water.
  3. Placing the Cutting in Water:
    • Place the cut end of the aerial root directly into a clear glass or jar filled with water. Ensure that the node is fully submerged, as this is where new roots will emerge.
  4. Provide Indirect Light:
    • Place the glass or jar in an area with bright, indirect light. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight, as this can lead to excessive heat and stress on the cutting.
  5. Maintain Water Levels:
    • Check the water level regularly and top it up if needed to ensure the node remains submerged. Change the water every 1-2 weeks to prevent stagnation.
  6. Optional: Rooting Hormone (if desired):
    • To expedite the rooting process, you can dip the cut end of the aerial root in rooting hormone before placing it in water. This is an optional step and not necessary for successful propagation.

Also Read: How to Propagate Monstera: A Step-by-Step Guide.

Caring for Monstera Aerial Root Cuttings in Water

  1. Monitor Root Growth:
    • Over time, you’ll notice new roots emerging from the node of the cutting. This is a positive sign of successful propagation.
  2. Transplanting into Soil:
    • Once the roots are several inches long (usually 2-3 inches), you can transplant the cutting into a well-draining potting mix. Ensure the soil is consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  3. Provide Adequate Support:
    • Use a moss pole or trellis to support the growing Monstera. Gently secure the roots to the support structure using soft ties or twine.
  4. Maintain Humidity and Light:
    • Continue to provide a humid environment and bright, indirect light to encourage healthy growth.

By following these steps, you can successfully propagate Monstera aerial roots in water, expanding your plant collection and enjoying the beauty of this remarkable species.

Remember, patience and attentive care are key to nurturing your new Monstera cuttings.

Troubleshooting Aerial Root Issues

Aerial roots are a distinctive feature of Monstera deliciosa, but sometimes, they may encounter challenges. Here are some common issues related to aerial roots and how to address them:

Yellowing or Browning Roots

Yellowing or browning aerial roots can be a sign of underlying issues, typically related to moisture levels:

  • Overwatering: If the roots are consistently waterlogged, they may develop discoloration. To remedy this, adjust your watering routine. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. Ensure that the pot has drainage holes to prevent water accumulation.
  • Poor Drainage: Inadequate drainage can lead to waterlogged soil, which in turn affects the health of the roots. Consider repotting your Monstera in a well-draining soil mix and ensure there are sufficient drainage holes in the pot.

Read: Monstera Leaves Turning Yellow: Causes, Diagnosis, & Solutions.

Limited Aerial Root Growth

If your Monstera is not producing aerial roots, it may be due to environmental factors:

  • Low Humidity: A lack of adequate humidity can discourage the development of aerial roots. Increase humidity levels by misting regularly, using a humidifier, or placing a pebble tray filled with water near the plant.
  • Insufficient Light: Inadequate light can hinder aerial root growth. Ensure your Monstera receives bright, indirect light. Consider adjusting its placement to provide optimal lighting conditions.

Aerial Roots Not Attaching

Sometimes, aerial roots may not attach themselves to the support structure as expected:

  • Guiding and Securing: Gently guide the roots towards the support structure. Use soft ties or twine to secure them in place. Be patient, as it may take time for the roots to establish a strong grip.
  • Support Adjustments: Evaluate the support structure to ensure it provides adequate surface for the roots to attach to. Consider adding more moss or a coir pole if needed.
  • Avoid Forceful Manipulation: Avoid any forceful tugging or bending of the roots, as this can damage them. Instead, provide gentle guidance and let the roots naturally find their way.

By addressing these common issues, you can help your Monstera aerial roots thrive and contribute to the overall health and vigor of your plant.

Remember, each Monstera is unique, and it may take some time for the roots to adapt and grow. Patience and attentive care are essential in ensuring the success of your Monstera’s aerial root system.

How to Prune Monstera Aerial Roots?

Pruning Monstera aerial roots is a task that requires a delicate touch to ensure the continued health and vigor of your plant. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to prune these roots effectively:

Assessing the Roots

Before you start pruning, carefully examine the aerial roots of your Monstera. Identify any roots that appear discolored, mushy, or damaged. These are the ones that may need pruning.

Gather the Right Tools

To prune Monstera aerial roots, you’ll need a pair of sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears. Ensuring your tools are clean helps prevent introducing infections to the plant.

Trimming Unhealthy Roots

  1. Select the Roots: Focus on the roots that are visibly unhealthy. These may be discolored, soft to the touch, or have signs of decay.
  2. Make Precise Cuts: With your sharp scissors or pruning shears, make clean cuts just above the damaged or unhealthy section of the root. Ensure that the cut is smooth to minimize stress on the plant.
  3. Optional: Use Rooting Hormone (for Propagation): If you’re pruning aerial roots with the intention of propagation, you can optionally dip the cut end in rooting hormone. This can stimulate the growth of new roots.

Avoid Excessive Pruning

While it’s important to remove unhealthy roots, avoid the temptation to prune too many healthy aerial roots. These roots play a crucial role in the plant’s stability and nutrient absorption. Focus on those that are clearly compromised.

Post-Pruning Care

After you’ve pruned the aerial roots, take a moment to observe the plant. Ensure it remains stable and secure in its pot. If needed, adjust any support structures like moss poles or trellises.

Monitoring for New Growth

Keep an eye on the remaining aerial roots and observe if new growth emerges. Healthy, well-maintained roots will continue to support the plant’s growth and overall well-being.

By following these steps, you can effectively prune Monstera aerial roots, promoting a healthy root system and ensuring the continued vitality of your cherished plant.

Remember, always handle your Monstera with care, and take the time to assess the specific needs of your individual plant. Happy gardening!

Related FAQs:

What are aerial roots in Monstera?

Aerial roots in Monstera are specialized structures that emerge from nodes along the stem.

They serve various functions, including providing structural support, absorbing moisture and nutrients from the air, and adapting to changing environmental conditions.

What to do with Monstera aerial roots?

Monstera aerial roots serve several functions. In their natural habitat, they anchor the plant to trees for support.

In indoor settings, you can leave them as they are for aesthetic appeal, or guide them towards a support structure like a moss pole or trellis to help the plant climb.

Can you cut Monstera aerial roots?

Yes, you can cut Monstera aerial roots if necessary. However, it’s generally recommended to only prune unhealthy or damaged roots.

Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to make a precise cut, ensuring minimal stress to the plant.

How to repot Monstera with aerial roots?

When repotting a Monstera with aerial roots, carefully remove the plant from its current pot, being mindful not to damage the roots.

If the aerial roots are long, consider gently wrapping them around the base of the plant. Place the Monstera in a new pot with fresh, well-draining soil, and water thoroughly.

Why do Monstera grow aerial roots?

In their native rainforest habitat, Monstera plants grow as epiphytes. Aerial roots allow them to anchor themselves to trees or other structures for support and stability.

Additionally, these roots absorb moisture and nutrients from the air, providing supplemental resources for the plant.

What do Monstera aerial roots look like?

Monstera aerial roots typically appear as slender, light-colored extensions protruding from the nodes along the stem.

They are covered in a spongy tissue called velamen, which aids in moisture absorption. As they grow, they may branch out seeking support.

Can I trim or prune Monstera aerial roots?

It’s generally recommended not to trim or prune healthy aerial roots. These roots play a crucial role in the plant’s stability and nutrient absorption.

If an aerial root appears unhealthy (brown or mushy), it can be pruned carefully using clean, sharp scissors.

My Monstera has aerial roots but they’re not attaching to anything. What should I do?

This is a common occurrence. Gently guide the aerial roots towards a support structure such as a moss pole or trellis.

Use soft ties or twine to secure them in place, but avoid forceful manipulation. With time, the roots should naturally attach themselves.

Why are my Monstera’s aerial roots turning yellow?

Yellowing aerial roots can be a sign of overwatering or poor drainage. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again and ensure the pot has adequate drainage.

If the roots have turned mushy, trim the affected parts to prevent further damage.

Should I mist my Monstera’s aerial roots?

Misting can be beneficial, especially in dry environments. It helps increase humidity levels around the plant, which supports the health of aerial roots.

Focus on misting the roots, leaves, and the soil surface regularly, but ensure that the plant isn’t constantly damp.

Do Monstera aerial roots eventually become regular roots?

While aerial roots serve important functions, they are not the same as underground roots.

Aerial roots can potentially develop into regular roots if they make contact with soil, but they primarily function to provide support and absorb moisture and nutrients from the air.

Can I propagate Monstera from its aerial roots?

Yes, Monstera can be propagated from aerial roots. Locate a node with an aerial root, carefully cut below the node, and plant it in a well-draining potting mix.

Ensure the aerial root remains intact during the process for successful propagation.

My Monstera has stopped producing new aerial roots. Is this normal?

It’s not uncommon for Monstera to temporarily pause aerial root production, especially during periods of slower growth. Ensure your plant is receiving adequate light, humidity, and care, and be patient.

Aerial root growth should resume when conditions are favorable.


Monstera aerial roots are not only a fascinating feature of this beloved plant but also a crucial element for its overall well-being.

Understanding their purpose and providing appropriate care will result in a thriving, aesthetically pleasing Monstera in your indoor garden.

By emulating their natural habitat, you can create an environment that encourages robust aerial root growth and allows your Monstera to flourish in all its tropical splendor. Happy gardening!

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