Do you have a few plant parts that were shed from your Monstera deliciosa recently? Don’t throw them out! Those stems could become new Monstera plants through propagation. In this guide, I’ll tell you exactly how.
Here’s how to propagate Monstera:
- Look for stem cuttings with nodes
- Remove leaves from the stems
- Wash the cuttings
- Heal the cuttings
- Grow in soil or water
- Provide light
- Maintain soil moisture
- Wait at least three weeks
- Transfer to a pot
In this full guide to Monstera propagation, I’ll talk about why it’s worth propagating these plants and then elaborate further on how it’s done. Your home or office will soon be full of Monstera!
Why Propagate Monstera?
Houseplants are amazing things. By removing old parts of the plant that it no longer needs, if those parts are healthy enough, they can eventually become new plants. This is the basis of propagation.
So why take the time to propagate Monstera? Let me count the ways.
Monstera is easy to propagate, which will give you the confidence to grow other houseplants from stems.
Another great reason to propagate Monstera is to save money. Although I’m sure you didn’t spend $5,000 on your Monstera (at least, I hope not!), sometimes that’s what this plant sells for. More than likely, you paid anywhere from $5 to $50.
Propagating requires an investment of time but not money. Instead of shelling out $5 or $50 for each new Monstera you want, you just need its cuttings to propagate and grow theoretically as many Monstera plants as you’d like.
How to Propagate Monstera
This will be your first time propagating any houseplant, so I’m going to discuss all the steps in as much detail as I can. This will ensure your Monstera propagates successfully.
Look for Stem Cuttings with Nodes
The first step is among the most important, so you want to get it right. You have to choose only certain plant parts for propagation, or you won’t get any new Monsteras, just wasted time and effort.
You should only remove the stems of the Swiss cheese plant that have nodes.
What is a node?
A node is a part of a plant stem where growth occurs. Buds will sprout here, then perhaps leaves or even flowers depending on the plant species. (No, Monstera is not known to flower indoors, although it might happen on very rare occasions.)
You can identify the nodes on a Monstera stem by looking for the round rings. They’re usually brown.
For each nodal area, several roots can develop as well as a single leaf. In some instances, you’ll see a leaf growing from the stem and the leaf itself is the node. This isn’t common, but this stem and leaf are still usable for propagation.
How long of a stem do you need? It should be around seven or eight inches and contain up to three nodes.
I’ve heard of some indoor gardeners propagating the Swiss cheese plant with a two-inch cutting and a single node, but that’s a challenging proposition. Don’t make things harder for yourself! Stick to a larger stem with more nodes.
The stems of the Monstera can be thick, so I recommend pruning shears for cutting stems from your plant. Make a single snip at a 45-degree angle. The stem will have a larger surface area so it can drink water readily.
When you’re done cutting, disinfect your pruning shears in 70-percent isopropyl alcohol or a bleach bath.
I also have to talk about aerial roots. As that name suggests, these are roots that grow above the ground.
Some indoor gardeners are adamant that your Monstera cutting must have aerial roots to propagate.
The roots alone are not enough to grow a new Monstera. The stem is key.
You’ve found the perfect Monstera stem for propagation, which is exciting. It’s okay if the stem has a couple of leaves on it, but those can’t stay.
As plants grow, they redirect their energies in different ways. A stem that already has leaves will have to put a lot of its growing energy towards supporting those leaves. This can cause the plant’s growth to slow.
Use your disinfected pruning shears to cut the leaves off. You can throw the leaves away, as they’re not good for much else related to propagation. As always, disinfect your pruning shears when you’re done.
Wash the Cuttings
Using filtered water, give the cuttings a rinse. This will remove any dirt and other residues that could be lingering on the stems, such as old fertilizer.
Heal the Cuttings
Next, transfer the cuttings to your kitchen or another room of the house with a flat surface. Lay the stems on a paper towel if they’re still a little damp, placing them on their side or–more ideally–upright.
Let the Monstera cuttings “heal”. What does that mean? Healing is when you allow your plant cuttings to sit long enough for the ends of the cutting to develop a hardened callus.
Some cuttings can take a day to heal while others may take up to a week. Regardless, allowing your cuttings to heal before moving on to the next step of propagation is often a great way to increase your odds of successful propagation.
Allowing your cuttings to heal can make it easier for roots to grow.
I’ve seen some indoor gardeners skip the healing when propagating Monstera. You can do that too if you want, but I say it doesn’t hurt to give the cuttings at least a few hours to harden up. You can even let them sit overnight if you want.
Thicker Monstera cuttings might require a day or two of hardening due to their size, but they should be good to go after that!
Grow in Soil or Water
Next, it’s decision-making time. Will you grow your Monstera cutting in water or in soil?
Although mature Swiss cheese plants do not grow in water, for the first few weeks of their lives, you can put the cuttings in a cup and the roots will take hold.
One of the advantages of growing your cuttings in water is that you don’t have to worry about sticking to a watering schedule. However, you will have to dump the water at least weekly, sometimes more frequently.
Another perk of growing your Swiss cheese plant cutting in water is that you can see into the cup and monitor the plant’s progress. Once those initial roots develop and latch onto the container or jar, you’ll be overjoyed!
Growing your Monstera cuttings in soil will prepare you for what life with this plant will be like after successful propagation. You’ll learn how much moisture the plant needs and cultivate good care habits for the life of the Monstera.
One of the disadvantages of choosing soil as the growth medium is that your Monstera cutting’s progress will be a mystery to you. You’ll have to assume that under the soil, roots are taking hold, because you certainly can’t see it happen.
No matter the growth medium you select, you should position the Swiss cheese plant correctly, keeping it upright. If your cutting wants to slip downward, such as when in a jar of water, you can secure the cutting with twist ties.
Any healthy, developing plant needs light, and that goes for your Monstera cuttings as well. A full-grown Swiss cheese plant usually requires bright, indirect light, but even that can be too harsh for your young cutting.
I’d suggest a bright, warm environment to keep the cutting for a while. Maybe that’s your living room or your corner office. Choose wisely, as this is where the Monstera cutting will spend its time for a while.
Maintain Soil Moisture
Your Monstera cutting is all set up, so now it’s more about maintenance. As a reminder, at least weekly, you should replace the water you’re growing your Swiss cheese plant in.
For the soil-grown Monstera cuttings, check the soil moisture every few days with the fingertip test. If the soil feels dry, then moisten it with water. You don’t want soaking soil, as the oversaturation can weaken and even destroy the fragile roots before they can grow much.
Wait at Least Three Weeks
Within three to five weeks from when you planted your Monstera cuttings, you should see some growth. For the cuttings grown in a glass, a web of roots should have sprouted. Perhaps it’s even a new leaf growing over the surface of the soil.
This is all very exciting stuff, and you should be proud of yourself for propagating a Monstera!
Transfer to a Pot
Now that your Monstera cutting is becoming a full-fledged plant, it’s time for it to move to a more permanent home: its first pot.
You want a pot that’s about on par with the size of your plant. If the pot is too large, the soil takes longer to dry, which increases the risk of root rot.
Since Swiss cheese plants can die due to lack of drainage, its pot mustn’t be too large.
In a year or two, you can revisit the Swiss cheese plant and choose a larger pot that’s more commensurate to its size.
Here’s more information about “How Often to Repot your Plants“.
What Is Air Layering? Can You Grow a Monstera That Way?
Once you successfully propagate a Swiss cheese plant or two, you might want to move on to more advanced concepts such as air layering.
Air layering is when you enwrap the plant cutting in peat moss and use that as a growth medium instead of water. It’s an interesting method to try for sure, and it can work provided you follow these steps.
Cut the Monstera Stem
Just as you do when propagating a houseplant any other way, you want a long, healthy stem with at least one node for propagation. You can leave any aerial roots attached to the plant if you want.
Cover in Peat Moss
Take the stem and the roots and pack the peat moss tightly around them. Also known as sphagnum moss, peat moss is a great way to help retain nutrients and moisture.
To keep the peat moss attached to the cuttings, you can use a twist tie and a bit of plastic wrap.
Wet the Peat Moss
With a spray bottle, mist the peat moss so it stays consistently moist. You’ll probably have to do this about every other day, perhaps every couple of days.
Wait It Out
Air layering takes longer than propagating Monstera in water or soil. It can be months before the roots of the Swiss cheese plant will develop. Once that happens, you can put your plant in its own pot.
My Monstera Didn’t Grow – Why Not?
Perhaps propagating your Monstera didn’t go as swimmingly as you expected. You gave the cuttings months to grow, but nothing happened. Why is that?
Let’s explore a few reasons for unsuccessful propagation now.
Slow Growing Season
The time of year you attempt to propagate a houseplant is important. Like many other plant species, the Monstera is dormant in the winter. The growth of the cuttings might be slow going until the warmer weather arrives.
Propagation with the Wrong Plant Parts
The second reason your Monstera propagation was unsuccessful is that you might have selected the wrong plant parts for the job.
To reiterate what I talked about earlier, if the Monstera cutting contains only aerial roots, these alone cannot grow you a new plant.
Stems that have no leaves and especially no nodes will not propagate. That’s true too of leaves without a stem.
It’s okay if you selected the wrong part of the Monstera for propagation. It happens to the best of us. Cut a seven-inch stem with a few nodes and try again. I bet this time it will go much better!
Didn’t Provide Correct Care
The issue also could have been that you made a careless mistake or two. Perhaps you forgot to change out the water for the cutting for at least three weeks or the room the cuttings were in was too dark.
You still have your original Monstera, so it’s no harm, no foul. Start scoping out a healthy new stem and give it another go. This time, read the information in this article so you care for your cuttings the right way.