Monstera: What to Do with Aerial Roots – A Quick Guide

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Monstera plants, known for their stunning leaves and unique appearance, often develop aerial roots. These intriguing structures can be a source of confusion for indoor gardeners, leaving them wondering what to do with them. In this article, readers will gain valuable insights and practical guidelines on handling aerial roots and optimizing the health and growth of their beloved Monstera plants.

With a comprehensive understanding of aerial roots and their significance, Monstera owners can ensure their plants flourish in their indoor environments. Continue reading to gain a solid grasp of these fascinating plant features and put the knowledge into action for thriving, beautiful Monstera plants.

What Are Aerial Roots?

Aerial roots are unique features of some plants, including the Monstera deliciosa. These roots grow above the ground and serve multiple functions, such as providing support and obtaining essential nutrients and water for the plant. Unlike the underground roots of most plants, aerial roots are prominently visible on the plant’s exterior.

Monstera’s aerial roots primarily serve to anchor the plant to a support structure, like a tree or a moss pole. In the wild, these roots help the plant climb and grow against other trees or structures, allowing it to reach sunlight and grow healthily. Besides providing support, aerial roots also absorb moisture from the air, which increases the plant’s access to water.

These roots are known to grow from the plant’s nodes and have a natural climbing tendency. They can be trained to climb walls, shelves, or other types of trellises. However, it is essential to note that woodier, mature roots might need extra attention and care when directing their growth, as they can become less pliable.

Some aerial roots can transform into aerial-subterranean roots when they reach the ground, converting to more regular underground roots, supplying nutrients and water to the plant. This further emphasizes the adaptability of this type of plant and the importance of these versatile roots in meeting the plant’s needs.

Why Monstera Plants Develop Aerial Roots

Monstera plants, known for their distinctive foliage and climbing habit, develop aerial roots as an adaptive feature. Aerial roots serve two primary functions for the plant: providing support and assisting in the absorption of nutrients and water. In their natural rainforest habitat, Monstera plants utilize these roots to anchor themselves to trees and climb towards sunlight. As they climb, the aerial roots grow out of the plant’s nodes and extend towards the forest floor or nearby surfaces.

While the main function of aerial roots is to provide physical support, they also play a role in nutrient and moisture absorption. Aerial roots can take up moisture from the air, increasing the plant’s access to water. Though not as effective as underground roots, these aerial roots can still absorb a limited amount of nutrients. This additional method of nutrient uptake allows Monstera plants to thrive in environments where soil nutrients might be scarce.

In a domestic setting, Monstera plants often climb moss poles, walls, or shelves. The aerial roots help anchor the plant to these surfaces, while also seeking out moisture and nutrients. It is important to balance a Monstera plant’s aerial root growth with the support and care it needs for optimal growth and health. Properly managing the plant’s aerial roots can greatly enhance its visual appeal and overall well-being.

Caring for Monstera Aerial Roots

Providing Support

Monstera aerial roots possess a natural climbing habit. It is essential to offer your plant with the proper support structure for these roots to grow. Train the roots to grow against walls, moss poles, shelves, and trellises to maintain a tidier look and give the plant extra much-needed support. While juvenile roots are quite pliable, more mature roots may require extra assistance to guide their growth.

Optimizing Humidity

Monstera plants thrive in higher humidity environments, and their aerial roots can absorb moisture from the air. To ensure your plant’s aerial roots remain healthy, consider misting or submerging them in water occasionally. This adds moisture to the roots without causing them to rot. Furthermore, maintaining adequate indoor humidity levels will greatly benefit the overall health and appearance of your Monstera.

  • Regularly spray the aerial roots with water
  • Opt for a humidifier if needed to maintain ideal humidity

Pruning Techniques

Trimming and training Monstera aerial roots can improve your plant’s appearance and health. To prune the roots, use a pair of sterilized and sharp scissors or pruners, making sure to cut a little bit away from the stem without directly nicking it. Additionally, you can also propagate new plants using the trimmed roots.

Remember to handle the roots gently and provide them with the necessary care after pruning to avoid damaging the plant’s health.

Common Issues and Solutions

Excessive Aerial Root Growth

One common issue with Monstera plants is excessive aerial root growth. To maintain aesthetics and manage growth, you have a few options:

  • Trim the aerial roots: Cutting them back with a clean, sharp blade will not hurt the main plant, as these roots serve primarily for climbing purposes.
  • Train the roots: Using moss poles, trellises, or other structures, encourage the roots to climb and keep the plant contained.
  • Get creative: Allow the roots to grow on shelves, walls, or other surfaces for a unique, decorative effect. Keep in mind that vigorous roots could potentially lift paint or damage surfaces.

Damaged Aerial Roots

Occasionally, aerial roots of Monstera plants may suffer damage. To help the plant recover, follow these steps:

  1. Assess the damage: Determine whether the affected root(s) can still function or if they should be cut.
  2. Trim if necessary: If a root is severely damaged or dead, carefully remove it with clean, sharp tools, taking care not to harm the plant’s stem.
  3. Provide support: Continue to train and support any remaining, healthy roots for optimal growth.

Loss of Turgidity

Monstera aerial roots may become less turgid or firm if not provided with proper care. To address this issue, consider the following solutions:

  • Examine watering habits: Inconsistent or improper watering can lead to loss of turgidity. Ensure that you maintain a regular watering schedule and never let the soil dry out completely.
  • Check for nutrient deficiencies: Aerial roots also play a role in nutrient absorption. If your Monstera’s roots are losing turgidity, consider supplementing the plant’s nutrients.
  • Monitor surroundings: Environmental factors, such as temperature fluctuations or inconsistent light, can impact aerial root health. Make sure your Monstera is placed in a stable environment for optimal growth.

Video On How To Deal With Aerial Roots


In conclusion, aerial roots play a vital role in the growth and development of Monstera plants. Although not as essential for indoor cultivation, these roots still contribute to the plant’s overall health and stability. One can choose to leave the aerial roots as they are, train them to climb supports, trim them, or cut them carefully, depending on personal preferences and the plant’s specific needs.

It is important to remember not to overwater aerial roots, as they can absorb moisture from the air and potentially rot when submerged. Misting may be an option for homes with particularly dry air. Monsteras benefit from added support such as moss poles, trellises, or attaching them to walls, as they exhibit a natural climbing habit.

Ultimately, the best approach to handling Monstera aerial roots depends on individual preferences, aesthetic considerations, and the plant’s environment. Taking the time to assess these factors and providing the appropriate care will result in a thriving and beautiful Monstera plant.