Monstera, native to tropical jungles, naturally grows around trees using its aerial roots. It’s quite possible that your Monstera might exceed its tidy appearance, becoming leggy, and its stems might not be as thick as you’d like. In this situation, you need to step in and help the plant maintain its shape and encourage the stem to thicken, so it doesn’t appear too tall or lanky.
I’m excited to introduce you to my majestic Monstera, the crown jewel of my indoor jungle. However, this beauty has become rather leggy over the past three and a half years.
The pot is now struggling to support the weight of my overgrown Monstera. Some of the trailing vines have withered and dried up over time, and some of the lower leaves are turning yellow and falling off.
So, I’m going to share how I’ve managed to restore my leggy Monstera to its true beauty and discuss the causes and prevention of leggy growth.
- Why Monsteras Become Leggy
- How To Fix Leggy Monstera
- Pruning a Leggy Monstera: Progress Observation
Why Monsteras Become Leggy
Several factors can cause a Monstera to become leggy, but one of the most common is insufficient light. When Monsteras don’t receive enough light, they tend to grow towards the light source, stretching their stems and internodes more than normal. Over time, this growth makes the plant look too tall or leggy.
Another cause is neglecting to prune the plant regularly. As Monstera grows, it likes to climb like a vine. If you don’t encourage a thick stem and a bushy plant shape, it can become overgrown and ultimately leggy.
How To Fix Leggy Monstera
My Monstera was beginning to feel like Jack’s magical beanstalk! It had grown so large that it was on the brink of toppling over its pot, and finding a suitable place to house it had turned into quite a challenge. But, fear not! I managed to tackle the problem head-on, and I’m here to guide you through the process.
To begin, I removed the plant supports (or stakes) and cut away any dry parts and wilting or yellow leaves. This not only helped me see the plant’s overall shape, but it also made it much easier to decide the next steps. Having a clear view of the plant really helps when deciding which parts to prune first.
One issue I noticed was monstera stems growing outward detracting from the overall appeal of the Monstera. For a lush, attractive plant like this, a sprawling stem simply won’t do, so I made the tough decision to cut it back.
Next, I gently removed the plant from its pot to inspect the root system. The Monstera had been in the same pot for quite a long time, and it seemed to have outgrown its home. My suspicion was confirmed – the roots were root-bound, a state that’s not at all beneficial for the plant’s growth and overall health.
In the midst of this gardening adventure, I realized I had forgotten to wear gloves. Just a friendly tip – it’s always recommended to wear gloves when pruning or transplanting, as the sap from the Monstera can irritate your skin.
Not to mention, gloves can protect your manicure! Personally, though, I often forget to wear them – there’s something soothing about the feel of soil and plant roots against my skin.
After a good look at the Monstera’s roots, it was clear they were extensively intertwined, a condition also known as being root-bound. My solution? Trim them back.
Since I was already planning to prune the plant to keep it in shape, it made sense to also reduce the excessive root system. With the roots pruned and the yellowing and dying leaves removed from the lower part of the plant, my Monstera was much lighter and easier to manage.
1- The Ideal Time is During the Growing Season, from April to September
The best time for this kind of intervention? The growing season, which typically runs from April to September. Tackling an overgrown Monstera requires some bravery, as you’ll need to cut away parts of the plant that are taking over.
However, it’s not a task you should undertake at any time of the year. The optimal time is during the Monstera’s active growing period, mainly in the summer and warmer months. Pruning in winter, when the plant is dormant, might not allow it to recover as expected.
On the other hand, pruning during the growing season minimizes the plant’s “wounds” and speeds up recovery. Plus, it paves the way for new leaves to emerge.
2- What to Do with Aerial Roots of a Leggy Monstera
A common concern among plant owners revolves around the aerial roots of the Monstera plant. What should you do with them? Should they be snipped off, or left alone?
This can be perplexing as many people often misunderstand their importance and hastily dispose of them. Yet, I strongly believe that this might not be the best approach.
Aerial roots in a Monstera plant have crucial roles; they act as a ‘deck’ to pull in and absorb moisture from the surrounding environment. These functions significantly contribute to the growth and overall health of your Monstera.
In addition to this, these roots provide the support your plant needs to stand upright or climb, just like they would against a large tree in the wild.
Here’s an interesting point to keep in mind: if the aerial roots of your Monstera reach the soil and penetrate it, they will start to develop into roots akin to those of the main plant.
You might think that these aerial roots aren’t essential for survival, but a Monstera without them might experience slower growth. Over time, a weaker plant could become more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Personally, I prefer to keep the aerial roots on my Monstera. However, I do trim off any excess to maintain the overall shape and aesthetics of the plant. Remember, these roots aren’t just functionally important – they’re a part of the plant’s unique appeal too.
3- Cut The Overgrown Stems
Now, we reach the most crucial step of transforming your overgrown monstera into a more manageable plant. First, you need to arm yourself with a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears.
This will help you efficiently trim down the excessively long stems of your monstera. Aim to cut each stem close to the plant’s base, but make sure you leave a few leaves for aesthetic balance.
Just a word of caution: monstera stems can be surprisingly tough, so be careful not to injure yourself during the process. Also, don’t discard the cut segments just yet! There’s no need to waste them – these parts can be used for propagation. That’s right, those discarded pieces can give life to new, baby plants.
In this way, you can get double the benefit: firstly, you’re sculpting your unruly monstera into a gorgeous, well-shaped plant, and secondly, you’re creating new plants from the cuttings.
4- Place Your Monstera in a Well-Ventilated Area and Water It Sparingly
Having undergone a heavy pruning, your Monstera has lost a considerable number of its leaves along with a significant portion of its stem. As a result, its watering needs have lessened compared to before.
Overwatering could lead to problems, as the plant’s damaged root system might struggle to absorb the water fully. Moreover, with fewer leaves and stems, the plant can’t use excess water effectively.
Perhaps you’re used to watering your plant on a strict schedule, guided by a routine rather than the plant’s needs. Here’s a helpful tip: Check the topsoil by touching it.
If there’s still moisture within 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of the soil, hold off on watering for another day or two. On the other hand, if the soil feels dry, that’s your signal to water your Monstera.
Under normal circumstances, watering your plant until the water seeps through the drainage holes is the standard practice. However, in the aftermath of pruning, try to water your Monstera a bit less and see how it responds.
During this period, be particularly cautious about watering, as an overly wet or waterlogged soil can increase the risk of root rot if the soil remains damp for more than a week.
In the next few weeks, you’ll need to pay close attention until new shoots start to appear and the plant begins to settle. Once it shows signs of stability, you can gradually return to your regular care and management practices.
Pruning a Leggy Monstera: Progress Observation
Finally, let me share with you the post-pruning progress of the Monstera I’ve been cultivating.
Trimming the Leggy Monstera: May 2023
This time, I decided to give my Monstera a much-needed trim to achieve a shape that’s more pleasing to the eye. It’s the right growing season for the Monstera, and I didn’t want to miss the perfect opportunity, so I chose to prune it now.
I left about three to four leaves intact and trimmed the parts that were overly grown. Be cautious not to touch the plant sap, as it can cause skin irritation. For such pruning activities, it’s always best to wear gloves. The stems of the Monstera are quite robust and firm. I suggest using a pair of sharp pruning shears for this task!
All done! For a while, I’ll keep the plant in a well-ventilated area and make sure not to overwater it. If everything goes as planned, it should start producing new leaves within about a month.
New Buds Emerge from the Cut Parts: June 2023
New buds have started sprouting around the area where I made the cut. I’ll keep monitoring the plant’s progress while ensuring it’s not exposed to direct sunlight, instead maintaining it in a partially shaded spot. Once the soil dried out, I watered the plant sparingly and have been regularly misting the leaves.
New Leaves Keep Unfolding: July 18, 2023
After pruning, the first leaf that appeared didn’t have any splits, which is a characteristic feature of the Monstera, but it was large enough to be attractive. Now, more and more new leaves are emerging, and they have the desired splits, which makes me really happy. The plant is growing healthily and smoothly.
By pruning your leggy Monstera at the right time, following the correct process, and providing the plant’s needs post-pruning, you can minimize damage and easily reshape your overgrown Monstera. Thank you so much for joining me on this journey of reshaping my Monstera!