If you have a beautiful, large Monstera growing, the long roots that this plant often puts out into the air might annoy you. They can look pretty unsightly and may ruin the overall aesthetic of this dramatic plant – so can you cut Monstera roots off?
You can cut off Monstera roots if you choose to; the plant will soon grow them back, and this does not inflict any significant damage on it. As long as you use sterile shears and make a clean cut through the root, you are unlikely to hurt it, although some people do prefer to leave the roots in place anyway.
What Are Aerial Roots For?
Your Monstera grows aerial roots for two main reasons: support and collecting nutrients and water. Let’s look at both of these in more detail.
You have probably noticed that your Monstera uses its aerial roots to attach to nearby surfaces and that these roots can form a strong grip when they come into contact with something.
That’s because one of their major purposes is to help the plant pull itself upward and to keep it stable in the canopies of the rainforest. Monsteras are climbing plants and they have evolved to constantly grow taller and taller, stretching up toward the sun.
The roots are a crucial part of their growth, therefore, and your Monstera will likely use its aerial roots to support itself and keep itself upright, especially once it has grown past a few feet in height.
You can remove aerial roots, but if your plant is using any for support, you will need to either replace the root with a tie to keep the Monstera upright or leave the root in place. If you take away anchoring roots, your plant is liable to keel over and may end up in a heap on the floor.
Nutrients And Water
Monsteras have also evolved to take in water and nutrients through their aerial roots, just as they do through subterranean roots. In the wild, a Monstera’s roots would often be latched onto the trunks of trees, and this would give them access to trace nutrients being washed down the trunk by rainwater.
The plant mostly depends upon its subterranean roots for water and nutrients, but getting additional food and water will certainly boost its growth, so it makes sense for it to use its anchoring roots for the same purpose as the subterranean roots.
Your Monstera may not be getting much in the way of nutrients from its aerial roots, but if you mist your plant or keep it in a humid environment, it is likely to absorb water through them. This will supplement the water it takes up from its container, and may help to make the plant healthier.
However, it doesn’t need these roots to access water, and it should survive without any issue if you cut the roots off.
Can I Cut Off Aerial Roots?
Yes, you can cut aerial roots off a Monstera plant. If you choose to do so, you should use the following method:
Step 1 – Sterilize some shears.
You can do this by boiling them or dipping them in strong alcohol. It’s important to do this so you don’t accidentally introduce any bacteria or diseases into your plant’s system when you cut it. You are making an open wound in your plant’s “skin” and this makes it more vulnerable to infections.
Step 2 – Identify the root that you wish to cut off.
Pinch it firmly between your finger and thumb, and place the shears at the base of the root, but above the growth node.
Step 3 – Make a clean, sharp cut across the root, removing all of it at once.
If it doesn’t cut through, make another cut using your shears. Don’t snap or tear the root; this will leave a ragged wound that will take longer to heal and increases the risk of an infection setting in.
Step 4 – Compost the root you have cut off and remove any other roots in the same way.
This is all you need to do, so it’s very simple to cut off aerial roots. However, you should make sure that you aren’t cutting through or damaging the growth node; this will harm the plant and prevent that part of it from producing more leaves or stems.
Will These Roots Grow Back?
If you cut off aerial roots, they probably won’t grow back in the same place, but your plant will quickly produce more of them. This is particularly true for big, mature Monsteras, which depend upon aerial roots for support and therefore produce them in large quantities.
Your plant can grow aerial roots from any growth node, and it will do so any time you remove them from somewhere else – there isn’t really any way to prevent this. For this reason, many plant owners don’t bother removing the aerial roots, because they know that the plant will simply grow more.
Can You Propagate Aerial Roots?
You cannot take an aerial root and produce a new plant from it, sadly. To propagate a Monstera, you must have at least one growth node – the swelling on the stem from which new growth develops. Only this contains the information to produce a new plant.
If you put an aerial root in water, it will not start to grow. It will eventually shrivel up and die because it cannot produce leaves and grow into a new plant. However, if you are taking a cutting with a node, it won’t hurt to have one that includes an aerial root too – it may even help the new plant develop.
Are There Any Disadvantages To Removing Aerial Roots?
On the whole, there are no notable disadvantages, although doing so does carry a small risk of introducing bacterial infections to your plant. It may also cause a small degree of stress because no plant likes to have its structures damaged.
Neither of these disadvantages is significant, so if the aerial roots bother you, it’s perfectly fine to remove them. However, if you don’t mind the roots, you might as well save yourself time and energy, and minimize the risks.
What Else Can I Do With Aerial Roots?
If you don’t want to remove the aerial roots but they keep getting in the way, consider training them onto a structure instead. For example, if you grow your Monstera up a moss pole, you can guide the roots to it and pin them into place using ties or strings.
They should then anchor themselves to the pole, and this will make the plant look tidier. It will soon produce more roots, but you can again train these onto the pole.
If you don’t have a pole, consider using a trellis or some other support to keep the roots out of the way.
If the aerial roots that your Monstera develops bother you, you can cut them off if you choose. Aerial roots are not crucial to the plant’s development, as long as it is supported by ties. However, if they don’t annoy you, there is no advantage to removing these roots, and leaving them intact may give your plant a little more access to water and support.