Aerial roots on my monstera that I've guided into the potting soil to increase the stability of the plant

Monstera Aerial Roots: Your Options

As your Monstera matures, the plant develops aerial roots from the stems. If you’re curious what you should do with these aerial roots–if anything–I’ll tell you in today’s article. 

What are your options if your Monstera has aerial roots? When your Monstera is young, leave the aerial roots be, as they provide support. As the aerial roots continue growing, you can take the non-support roots and train them to grow in the soil. You can also remove them.

This guide will answer your most burning questions about Monstera aerial roots. Even if you’ve never handled an indoor plant that grows aerial roots before, by the time you’re done reading, you’ll feel well prepared to!

What Do You Do with Aerial Roots on Monstera?

Unless your Monstera is very young, then it will someday grow aerial roots that rise above the soil. Per the intro, here is what you can do with these unique roots.  

Is It Okay to Just Leave Monstera Aerial Roots Alone?

You’re fascinated by your Monstera’s aerial roots, but you aren’t quite sure what to do with them – if anything.

If your Monstera is old enough to have started growing aerial roots but it’s not quite old enough that it’s reached maturity, it’s perfectly okay to do nothing with the aerial roots and just leave them alone.

As I talked about in the intro, a Monstera, also known as the “Swiss cheese plant” has aerial roots for a reason. Aerial roots commonly develop as the plant matures and requires additional support.

By removing the roots now, you’re cutting off the Monstera’s support system. Your plant might not grow to its full potential if that happens.

Even once your Monstera reaches maturity (and then some), you don’t necessarily have to remove the aerial roots. They’re not doing any harm by remaining attached to the plant.

Is It Okay to Cut Monstera Aerial Roots?

Many indoor gardeners just don’t like the way the aerial roots look and will simply cut all of the aerial roots off their Monstera plants. 

If your own monstera plant is mature, then cutting off the aerial roots is fine.

In some cases, pruning Monstera aerial roots makes sense. For instance, if the plant’s roots are browned or decaying, you shouldn’t keep them attached to the plant. The rot could spread.

Long, dangling aerial roots that have taken over your wall are okay to prune.

You need a sharp blade for sufficient cutting, so use shears or pruners. 

Choose the root you want to cut and trace it to the Monstera’s main stem. Then snip the root several inches from the main stem.

If you do it this way, you shouldn’t cause any harm to your Swiss cheese plant by pruning its aerial roots. 

Cutting too close to the stem could damage it, and then whatever’s attached to that stem could begin dying.

By the way, trimming aerial roots on a Monstera is not a one-and-done solution. Aerial roots that are cut will grow back with time, necessitating another pruning session. 

Is It Okay to Put Monstera Aerial Roots in the Soil?

monstera aerial roots growing into soil

Aerial roots, by their very nature, don’t grow in soil. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t grow if you guide them into soil.

While you can’t propagate a new Monstera from aerial roots (they don’t have leaf nodes), you can certainly take aerial roots growing from the stem the plant and direct them to grow into the soil.

Putting your monstera’s aerial roots in the soil is better than okay, it actually has the added benefit of increasing the rate of nutrients the monstera plant absorbs so it may grow even stronger and healthier.

Now, I wish it was as easy as inserting the aerial root into the soil, but it’s not.

Like you often have to train vining plants, you’ll have to train the aerial roots to grow in the soil. 

Trellises, chicken wire, and even some twist ties (that you wrap gently around the roots) can all help to this end.

In some instances, after the aerial roots grow in the soil for a while, you may notice that the roots are producing smaller roots from the aerial roots.

These smaller roots are known as feeder roots.

The presence of feeder roots is no more harmful to your Monstera than its aerial roots. If anything, feeder roots help make your monstera plant more stable.

Feeder roots are likeliest to appear in younger Swiss cheese plants that have not yet reached maturity.

Is It Okay to Put Monstera Aerial Roots in Water?

You’ve heard that you can propagate Monstera cuttings in water, so you figured the aerial roots can grow in water as well.

No, submerging the aerial roots in water is not good for the aerial roots or the monstera. Remember, you can’t propagate a new monstera plant using aerial roots since they lack a leaf node.

Aerial roots absorb moisture the same way that soil-bound roots do, and like soil-bound roots, they don’t like being submerged in water.

If you soak the Monstera’s aerial roots in water for too long, you could cause harm to your plant.

What I’ve done is use a spray bottle to mist the plant and the aerial roots from time to time. This is a great way to keep the humidity levels up and make use of the aerial roots since they are able to absorb small amounts of water.

Common Monstera Aerial Root Questions

Do you still have a few more questions about Monstera aerial roots that I didn’t touch on yet? This FAQs section should clear everything up so you can decide how to approach the Monstera or Swiss cheese plant’s aerial roots. 

Why Do My Monstera Aerial Roots Look Fuzzy?

Fuzzy-looking aerial roots can be one of two things, a perfectly natural occurrence or mold.

Let’s start with the better alternative first. Aerial and soil-bound roots can develop tiny hairs over the surface of the root that gives the roots a white hue and a fuzzy texture.

These hairs increase the amount of surface area on the root so the roots can more easily absorb nutrients and water.

It’s not a bad idea to take fuzzy roots and guide them towards the soil where they can improve the Monstera’s nutrient uptake. 

Okay, so now on to the not-so-good news. Fuzzy Monstera aerial roots can also be a sign of fungus such as mold. 

Mold often develops on or around plants in a slew of colors, from white to black and even rainbow hues like pink, purple, red, green, blue, yellow, and orange.

How do you know if the Monstera’s aerial roots are healthy or mold-ridden? 

Have you been overwatering the Swiss cheese plant lately? 

How is its soil? Is it loose and aerated or hard and compacted?

Depending on how you answer these questions, you can deduce what’s causing the aerial roots to have this strange texture. 

My Monstera Aerial Roots Are Drying Out – Why?

You’ve noticed that the aerial roots of your Monstera are brown and dry. This is due to insufficient moisture. 

You’re either not watering your Swiss cheese plant often enough or compacted soil has prevented the water from reaching the roots. 

To confirm your suspicions, I suggest checking the stems and foliage. These will often look dried out. 

The Monstera’s appealing leaves will become brown, especially around the tips. The dried portions of the leaves will feel very crispy as well. 

By the time the damage has progressed to the leaves of your Monstera, you’ll have to prune them away. Those browned bits are dead and thus won’t recover.

The solution for dried aerial roots is to begin watering your Monstera more often.

You should water this plant when about half its potting soil feels dry, which you can ascertain with the fingertip test. 

Do not insert aerial roots into water to help them remoisturize. As I mentioned before, this can cause more harm than good. 

Why Are My Monstera Aerial Roots Dying?

Root rot, infections, damage to the roots themselves and even too high humidity are the most common causes your monstera plants aerial roots have died.

The easiest way to tell if your aerial roots are dying is if they’ve stopped growing, they’ve taken on a mushy texture, they’re brown or black, and they’re giving off an unpleasant odor.

These symptoms match the fungal disease root rot.

Root rot occurs when a root system is inundated with water but lacks oxygen. Without enough air, the roots die.

You can cut the decayed roots (please sterilize your cutting tools when you’re done) and reduce watering. This may save your Monstera.

If not root rot, then the following causes may also lead to dying aerial roots.

  • Infection: The reason I always remind you to disinfect cutting tools is that diseases can easily spread from infected shears. The illness can affect the Monstera’s aerial roots, leading to the above symptoms.
  • Root damage: You must carefully handle indoor plants with aerial roots. If your plant gets bumped into by rambunctious kids or takes a tumble onto the floor, its roots could be damaged. The Monstera is much more susceptible to disease in a weakened state.
  • High humidity: The higher the humidity in an environment, the greater the moisture. You already know that Monstera doesn’t like excess moisture. To help your Swiss cheese plant, take it out of its current environment and move it somewhere drier for several days. Provide adequate sunlight and wait to water until the soil feels dry. 

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