Monstera plants are immensely popular, but they can be expensive to buy. Fortunately, they are extremely easy to propagate, and many people successfully take and grow cuttings of their Monstera plants at home, with very little equipment.
You can propagate a Monstera in water by taking a cutting with a growth node and at least one healthy leaf and placing the stem in water. With warmth and sunlight, the cutting will soon start to root, and when the roots are strong enough, you can transfer the plant to soil. You will then have a brand new Monstera plant!
In this article we will cover all the 8 steps to propagate a Monstera in water and also answer the most common questions people ask.
It’s important to be aware that although Monsteras do root very easily, not every cutting will be successful. If you don’t succeed straight away, just take another cutting and try again!
Step One: Assemble The Equipment You’ll Need
Before you start trying to propagate your Monstera, it’s a good idea to gather up the supplies. You shouldn’t need much, fortunately – just a container and some sharp shears.
A container around the size of a drinking glass should work well, and using a transparent one is a good idea, because it will allow you to easily see when the roots are forming and how they are growing. If you can’t use a drinking glass, any similar container will do, but you won’t get such a good view of the root development.
It is helpful to use a container that has a wide opening at the top because this increases the airflow and therefore the cutting’s chances of survival. It also reduces the risk that you will damage the roots when you take the cutting out to plant it.
Sterilize this container before you use it because cuttings are vulnerable to diseases and infections, and any bacteria that are left in the container could cause problems.
Fill the container with water in advance so you can put the cutting straight in it. Some people prefer to leave this water to stand for 24 hours before they take the cutting, as this allows the chlorine to evaporate and may increase the cutting’s chances of survival.
You will also need some sharp scissors or shears, and you should sterilize these before you start. Since you will be damaging your plant, dirty shears could introduce bacteria or fungal infections to an open wound. This might be harmful to the main plant, the cutting, or both.
You can sterilize the shears with rubbing alcohol, or by immersing them in boiling water for a few minutes. When this has been done, you can sterilize the area that you will be working in, and then you should be ready to start.
Step Two: Identify A Suitable Stem
You will need to identify a suitable stem to take as a cutting; this is the basis of your new plant. It is a good idea to select a particularly healthy stem with lots of new growth, as this should have enough energy to survive being separated from the main plant.
Don’t take a sick-looking stem, because it will probably die. Ones with yellow leaves or little growth should be rejected.
Your chosen stem must have at least one growth node on it. This is the nub from which new leaves sprout, and the nodes are the part of the plant that has the capacity to make roots. If your cutting doesn’t have at least one of these, it will not be able to root, and it will eventually die.
A growth node will be thicker than the rest of the stem and may have leaves growing from it. Sometimes, an aerial root will also be protruding, and this appears as a little brown bump.
Try to choose a stem with one or two growth nodes, and at least two leaves. A single-leaf cutting may survive, but one with two leaves has a better chance because the leaves will be able to produce more energy to support the root growth.
Once you have identified your stem, gently tease it out from the other stalks, and cut it about half an inch below the node. Don’t cut it too close to the node, or you may damage it.
Step Three: Transfer The Stem To Water
Once you have your cutting, you need to remove any extra leaves – especially any that will be below the waterline once the cutting is in the new container. Cuttings do best with two or a maximum of three leaves.
The leaves are important for photosynthesis and supporting the root growth, but they do also take energy for the cutting. Before it has its roots, they will slowly deplete its energy stores, taking up water and nutrients even though they are outputting energy themselves. You must therefore get the balance right and avoid having too many leaves on the cutting.
Two is generally considered the optimum number, so remove and discard excess foliage. When this has been done, allow the cutting to rest on your sterile surface for around ten minutes. This helps the cut to seal over and prevents too much water from being soaked up immediately.
Next, you can put the cutting directly into the water. Make sure that the growth node is submerged, and gently prop the cutting up if necessary.
Step Four: Position The Cutting
You now need to put the Monstera in a warm, reasonably bright location, but away from direct sunlight. It will be sensitive for a while and direct sun will burn the leaves, which could shock and kill it.
On the other hand, the brighter the location is, the faster the new roots will develop, so it can be a tricky balance. You may need to set up a screen or shield so that you can place it on a windowsill without the leaves getting burned.
If you see any sign that the leaves are burning, move the plant further from the window before too much damage is done.
Step Five: Change The Water Regularly
Next, you will need to wait for the roots to start forming, and that often takes a couple of weeks. However, you shouldn’t be ignoring the Monstera during this time; the water must be changed frequently.
If you don’t change the water, algae will start to form in it, and this could be harmful to the cutting’s roots. Changing the water also helps to ensure that the oxygen levels are maintained, which is crucial. Try to do this about once a week, or a little more frequently if possible.
Tip the whole container of water away, rinse the Monstera cutting’s roots, and gently set it on the counter while you wash and refill the container. It is again best to allow tap water to stand for 24 hours before you do a water change if possible, or to use rainwater or softened water.
Tap water contains chemicals that may harm the plant, but if you don’t have any other option, your cutting will still probably root without an issue. Often, it will grow up to be as healthy as a cutting rooted in softened water, so you don’t need to be too concerned about this – but if you can use rainwater, do.
Once you have refilled the container, put the cutting back in it and return it to the former position. You can take this opportunity to inspect the root growth and foliage if you like, but you may not see anything for a few weeks. Don’t panic if not; it can take a long time for roots to form.
If your Monstera has drunk all the water in its container, make sure you top it up; you do not want the roots to dry out under any circumstances.
Step Six: Wait
Propagating a Monstera involves quite a lot of patience, and there is usually about a six week wait between taking a cutting and actually being able to plant it. You should see signs of roots around the two week mark (usually), but you need to wait until these roots have developed and strengthened, and this often takes more than a month.
Initially, the roots will just look like a fuzz of white around the end of the stem. Gradually, they will start to form more individually distinctive, hair-like roots.
These roots will snap and the cutting will die if you rush to put the plant in soil too quickly; they are very delicate to begin with. You may also ruin your chances with that cutting, because it may not have enough energy reserves to make new roots. Even if it does, you will essentially be starting again while you wait for those roots to develop.
Be patient, and wait at least six weeks before you try to transfer your rooted cutting into soil. Many people wait considerably longer than this to give the roots plenty of time to develop, and some even keep their cuttings in water for up to three months.
As long as you are changing the water regularly, the cutting should survive perfectly. However, if it starts to outgrow its container, you will need to move it to a bigger one. It’s fine for the roots to curl around the inside of the glass, but if they are filling it, the plant needs more space.
If the container has a narrow neck, move it before the root ball gets too big to easily remove.
If you notice any roots rotting during this period, make sure you take the Monstera out of its water and cut the unhealthy roots away using sterile scissors. Wash the other roots, sterilize the container, and put it back. You should keep a close eye on it and increase the frequency of the water changes to reduce the risk of this happening again.
Cuttings can afford to lose some roots as long as they still have healthy ones, but it’s best avoided as it will set back your plant’s growth.
Step Seven: Transfer It To Soil
Your eventual goal is to get the cutting into soil, and once it has a handful of roots that are a few inches long, it should be safe to do this. Check that the roots have thickened and become robust before you try moving the plant.
For this step, you will need a container with good drainage holes, some light compost, and some drainage material such as coconut coir, orchid bark chips, perlite, or even fine gravel. You may also want to mix in a few worm castings or another rich organic material to help your plant grow quickly.
Make sure that the container is a few inches wider than your new plant’s root ball.
When you are ready to pot up the Monstera, add a little gravel at the bottom of the pot for drainage, and then top this with a layer of fine compost.
Next, lift the Monstera cutting out of the water and allow some of the excess water to drip off. Place it in the pot and make sure it is upright. Take the time to spread its roots a bit if they have started to grow inward.
Mix your compost, drainage material, and organic matter, and then fill the rest of the container with this mix. Check that your Monstera is standing upright, and gently adjust it if not. Don’t compact the soil around its roots, as Monsteras prefer to be allowed to breathe. Lightly press it down, but leave it springy.
Give the plant some water to help settle the soil around the roots, and then place it back in the bright spot that it was in before. This should help to minimize the shock of suddenly being planted and having its roots handled.
Step Eight: Monitor The Plant
Although the cutting is now in soil, it may remain quite delicate for a while, and you should treat it carefully. Protect it from any sudden changes in conditions (such as temperature fluctuations) and make sure it is getting enough sunlight without its leaves burning.
Look out for new growth as a sign that it is happy in its container, and water it frequently. You don’t want to make it too wet (or its roots may rot), but keeping water available should help to reduce the shock of being transplanted.
You should lightly water the soil every few days, and then occasionally permit it to dry out a bit, followed by another small drink. You don’t want to drown the plant, but you do want to make sure it isn’t struggling to find water.
It’s quite likely that your Monstera will droop and look sad when it has been transplanted. You don’t need to worry about this; it should soon pick up. For the first week or two, limp leaves are very common, but after about fourteen days, it ought to begin looking happier and putting out new growth.
Continue to keep an eye on its conditions and make sure it is growing as you would expect.
What Are The Benefits Of Rooting A Monstera In Water?
Water propagation is one of the most popular methods for propagating this plant, and it’s ideal because it gives you a lot more information about what is going on.
When you propagate a Monstera cutting in soil, you simply have to put it in and hope for the best. You cannot watch how the cutting is growing, or see whether roots are forming. You will get a little information from whether the leaves are drooping or not, but short of pulling the cutting up – which is damaging – you have no idea whether it is rooting.
This can be frustrating, especially as it takes over a month for good roots to develop. You won’t know whether to throw the cutting out, or whether it is rooting but taking its time.
Water also allows you to detect problems such as root rot much sooner. Once again, being able to see the plant’s roots gives you an advantage, and you can use this to head off issues before they become major.
If you over-water your soil-based cutting, you won’t know that you have done so until the plant starts to droop. At this point, it may be too late to do anything.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Rooting A Monstera In Water?
The biggest drawback is that your cutting will develop “water roots” and you will need to transition it into soil at some point. Although Monsteras can survive for months or possibly even years in water, they won’t grow much, and they should not be kept there in the long term.
This means that you may lose your cutting even at a late stage if the transition doesn’t go well and the plant ends up dying of shock. You can wait until the roots are strong to give it the best chance of surviving, but the movement from water to soil does have the potential to kill the plant off – although it will rarely do so.
The roots that a Monstera develops while being kept in water are not the same as the roots it develops when it grows in the soil. They are often more fragile, which can make the transition harder, even if you allow them to thicken before you transfer them.
Swapping the plant over, no matter what you do, is therefore challenging and potentially dangerous. Cuttings grown in soil do not have to make this transition and by the time they are repotted (when the plant outgrows its original container), they will be accustomed to soil growth and strong enough to survive the swap.
Overall, however, most cuttings will survive the transition without a problem. It is possible for the shock to be too much, but as long as you wait for strong roots to develop and the cutting is reasonably healthy, it should be fine. Many people successfully propagate in water and don’t have issues with transferring their cuttings to soil later.
Q: Should I use rooting hormone for propagating a Monstera cutting in water?
A: No, rooting hormone is not helpful if you are propagating in water. It will simply get washed off the plant and could contaminate the water. Avoid dipping the stem in anything; you can just place it in the glass.
Q: Can I root a Monstera cutting in soil instead?
A: Yes, you can certainly root a Monstera cutting in soil, and this should work just as well on the whole. There is a lot of division between enthusiasts about which method is better, but many people agree that they are about equal.
Q: When should I propagate my Monstera?
A: It’s best to propagate a Monstera in spring. The plant will be just entering its growth season, and therefore will have plenty of energy in its leaves, which makes them perfect for turning into cuttings. The mother plant should recover more quickly from having cuttings taken at this time, too.
Q: Can I try rooting a Monstera leaf?
A: If a leaf has fallen off your plant and looks healthy, you might be tempted to stick it in some water to see if it will grow. You can do this, but there is no point. Without a growth node, the leaf cannot grow, because it does not have the capacity to make roots.
Q: Do cuttings like to be humid?
A: Yes, a Monstera cutting will enjoy a little humidity, just like the parent plant. You can occasionally lightly mist the cutting if you want to, but if it is being propagated in water, this will probably be unnecessary.
Propagating a Monstera in water is a relatively straightforward process, and means you can turn a healthy mother plant into dozens of babies over the years. These can be gifted, sold, or kept to enlarge your collection.