If your Monstera plant has started developing aerial roots, you might be wondering “can I put Monstera aerial roots in water?” As they mature, most healthy Monsteras start to develop strong roots that sprout out from the stem and into the air – but how do you look after them?
You don’t need to put a Monstera’s aerial roots into water, and doing so has few disadvantages. For starters, it increases the risk of root rot, and it also makes your plant more dependent on the aerial roots for water, which isn’t a good thing. On the whole, it’s best not to put aerial roots in water.
Should I Put My Monstera’s Aerial Roots In Water?
It is quite tricky to put the aerial roots of most Monsteras in water even if you want to, as these roots generally sprout off from the plant’s main stem and grow in every direction. They do not tend to grow in a location that is convenient for adding water.
However, some people do manage to balance cups of water over these roots in certain situations, and you might be wondering if this is something you should attempt. On the whole, it isn’t.
Aerial roots on a plant have evolved to grow in the air, and that means that they are adapted to cope with having minimal water (although they do like some). They are not designed to be submerged in water, and this could be damaging to the plant.
Immersing the aerial roots in water has two problems: it can cause root rot, and it may encourage the plant to start depending on its aerial roots, rather than its subterranean roots. This means it may not put down such deep and strong subterranean roots, which compromises the overall health of the plant.
Let’s explore both of these issues.
One: Root Rot
One of the biggest risks of putting your Monstera’s aerial roots in water is that these roots may rot. If you forget to change the water or if the wrong bacteria gets into the water, the roots are likely to start decomposing, and this will harm the plant.
Submerging the roots in water also prevents them from getting oxygen, which they need to be healthy. If you change the water regularly, you will mitigate these issues, but it’s still better not to put the aerial roots in the water.
The aerial roots of the plant developed for two purposes: to anchor the Monstera and to take in small quantities of water and nutrients from the tree bark that they would cling to in the wild. If you put them in water, they cannot do either of these things effectively, although they will certainly soak up the water.
If one of your Monstera’s aerial roots does develop root rot, the best thing to do is to cut it off before it spreads the disease to the rest of the plant. If you are going to do this, you will need to start with a sterile environment to minimize the risk of spreading the root fungus to other parts of the plant.
Start by sterilizing some sharp shears using alcohol or boiling water. Use these to remove all the mushy growth until you get back to healthy, firm tissue, and discard the mushy root that you have cut away, without letting it touch the main plant.
Allow the surrounding area to dry out and avoid misting or watering it for a few days, and the signs of rot should vanish.
The other issue with putting the aerial roots in water is that your plant might start to depend on them instead of its true root network, which is buried beneath the soil. This may not sound like a bad thing, but it has a few drawbacks.
Firstly, it’s tricky to keep aerial roots reliably watered, and if you fail to do this, your plant may suffer from a lack of water.
Secondly, Monsteras usually take up nutrients from the soil at the same time as water. If your plant’s subterranean root network is badly established and not functioning to support the plant much, it will not be able to do this effectively.
The water you are giving the aerial roots may contain some nutrients, but these will not be sufficient to support good growth, and this means your Monstera will grow more slowly. You want it to get the majority of its water from the subterranean roots, and not supply an over-abundance of water around the aerial ones.
Should I Mist My Monstera’s Aerial Roots?
Many people mist their Monstera’s aerial roots instead, and this is a much better solution. A light misting a couple of times per week or slightly more often in dry weather will keep the roots from drying out, supplement the water the plant gets from its roots, and help it to absorb any nutrients that are available if the roots are in contact with a moss pole.
You can simply take a spray bottle and lightly spray the plant, focusing most of the jet on the aerial roots. They will soak up the moisture, rehydrating themselves and the rest of the plant. You will also boost the general humidity levels, which is great for a Monstera.
Note that the aerial roots don’t need regular watering as the subterranean ones do, but if the air around your Monstera gets very dry, they might start to shrivel and become brittle. It’s a good idea to keep them lightly misted if possible.
Do Aerial Roots Need Soil?
Some people attempt to train the aerial roots of their Monstera down into the soil, but this isn’t practical and often doesn’t benefit the plant. Aerial roots might grow anywhere on your Monstera’s stem, including near the top, which means it’s essentially impossible to train them into the soil.
You certainly can train the lower roots on the stems into the soil if you want to, and they will probably develop into subterranean roots if you do this. However, there is no particular need to; your plant can produce subterranean roots if it needs them, and doesn’t require its aerial roots to be buried.
For the upper roots, burying them in the soil is highly unlikely to be feasible, and it will not help the plant either. In short, aerial roots do not need soil or any other growing medium. However, you can train them into a moss pole, and they will grow against it happily.
How Do You Train Aerial Roots?
If you want to remove the roots that are growing in all directions, the best option is to train them to grow against a moss pole if possible. This is what a Monstera’s aerial roots would naturally do when growing in the wild; some might sprout into mid air, but most would find a tree or another vertical surface and use it to pull the plant upward.
You can encourage the aerial roots of your plant to do this by guiding them to the moss pole and pinning them there. Use string, an elastic band, or twist ties to hold them against the pole, and after a couple of weeks, they should develop tiny roots and cling to the surface.
This gets them out of the way and also makes it easy to mist them if you want to; you can simply spray the pole whenever you think it looks dry, and the roots will absorb the water as it runs down the moss.
You can train aerial roots onto any surface you like, so you don’t have to use a moss pole. Simply clip or tie them so that they are touching any vertical surface, and they should soon attach themselves. This can make the Monstera look tidier.
Should You Cut Off Aerial Roots?
Some people dislike the appearance of aerial roots and prefer to cut them off the plant, and you can do this if you choose. The Monstera does not desperately need these roots to survive; they are helpful to it in the wild but serve a minimal purpose in a home environment. Removing them will not be particularly detrimental to your plant.
However, you should make sure that you are using clean, sterile shears if you are going to cut the roots off, and be aware that the plant will soon grow new ones to replace them. They may grow in a different spot, but the plant will constantly output aerial roots and may do so more quickly if you take away the existing ones.
For this reason, training them to grow into a moss pole may be a more effective way of dealing with them. It has the additional advantage of being lower maintenance and it will not stress your plant, so it’s generally a better solution.
You can put your Monstera’s aerial roots in water if you choose to, but you may not enjoy any major advantages from doing so, and it can cause problems like root rot. It’s better to mist the roots occasionally and guide them to grow against a moss pole instead.