Climbing Monstera

You might have seen spectacular specimens of monstera in pictures on the internet where the plants reach spectacular heights. You may also have seen monstera, in real life or in pictures, that simply spread horizontally across their occupied space with wild abandon, sometimes filling up entire corners of rooms. These are the same type of plant; they’ve simply been treated differently.

Monstera Deliciosa are climbers by nature, using epiphytic growth through their aerial roots to climb up the trunks and branches of the trees in their natural habitat. While this is not possible to replicate entirely in a home setting, it is possible to mimic to a certain degree.

Allowing your monstera to climb using the correct supports will ensure a plant that thrives and grows the way nature intended. This will ultimately ensure a healthier plant that can grow taller while boasting larger leaves and significantly more fenestrations across the leaves.

Why Monstera Climb

Monstera Plant

In their natural habitat, monstera grow larger and taller through the growth of their main stem. As this stem grows longer and thicker, it develops aerial roots that begin reaching out to the nearest tree to attach themselves for support.

Once attached to the tree via its aerial roots, the monstera is sufficiently supported to start climbing higher up the tree as time passes. The moist surface of the tree provides the optimal surface for the roots to absorb moisture, while the aerial roots simultaneously gain much of their moisture from the surrounding air.

Because there is not an overabundance of bright light on the forest floor, and the monstera naturally needs light to photosynthesize, the plant has adapted its epiphytic growth method to allow it to climb higher to reach the light and moisture higher up in the forest.

The slits and holes in the leaves (referred to as fenestrations) allow for light to filter down to the lower leaves of the plant, allowing all the leaves of the plant to be granted an equal opportunity for photosynthesis.

In the home environment, especially indoors, there is unlikely to be a tree to which your monstera can attach itself. Therefore, without adequate support, the plant will simply grow horizontally.

While there is no major issue with this (provided you have the space), it can potentially cause damage to the plant while simultaneously creating a rather wild, unkempt aesthetic. If the plant is not sufficiently supported as it would be in the wild, the stems will start to bend and trail towards the floor, potentially damaging the stems due to their inability to support their own substantial weight.

This is where staking – or supporting – your monstera comes in to ensure a healthy, happy, and beautiful plant. It goes without saying that the optimal environment for any plant is one that mimics the environment in which they are naturally found.

Related: Growing Monstera In Water

Reasons For Staking Your Monstera

First and foremost, staking your monstera will assist in creating a growing environment as close to the real thing as possible. By mimicking the plant’s natural habitat, you will ensure that it is able to grow to its full potential.

Because the plant is used to having the support of the nearest tree in nature, it needs something to help support it while it grows upwards, attaching its aerial roots for extra support as it does so. Without vertical support, the plant will undoubtedly suffer, damaging the stems and potentially the leaves in the process.

By properly supporting your monstera for vertical growth, you will ensure that it is able to become the healthiest plant it can possibly be, with big, beautiful leaves and numerous fenestrations.

Another good reason for allowing your monstera to follow its vertical epiphytic growth trajectory is to reduce the wild, messy aesthetic typical of a horizontally growing monstera. Without being attached to a vertical support, the plant can start to look somewhat untidy, with overlapping leaves and aerial roots all over the place with nowhere to go.

By attaching the plant to a vertical support and attaching the aerial roots to the support, your monstera will start to look a lot neater and, resultantly, a lot more beautiful.

How Do You Know When Your Monstera Needs Vertical Support?

Monstera with vertical support

One of the first signs that your monstera is in need of vertical support is the growth of aerial roots. These are not present in younger plants, and as the plant matures and the stems grow thicker, aerial roots will start to develop. This means that the plant is literally starting to look for something to attach to in order to start growing vertically.

Another sign to look out for is if the stems start to bend and arch. This is a sign that the plant is becoming heavy and can no longer support its own weight. It’s best to begin supporting the plant vertically as soon as possible in these instances, because the bent or arched stems can be difficult to reshape later on.

Significant horizontal growth of your monstera is another telltale sign that it is desperately in need of vertical support. The plant’s horizontal advancement is only because it is unable to grow upwards due to a lack of vertical support.

Irrespective of whether the plant exhibits any of the above signs or not, whenever you decide to repot your monstera is a good time to consider implementing vertical support of whatever type you choose. It will be far easier to insert vertical support while repotting than it will be at a later stage in the plant’s growth.

Users Also Read: How Often To Water Monstera?

Climbing Monstera Support Options

There are several support options available, ranging from nifty extendable store-bought options to simple yet effective supports made at home.

Moss poles are a great option in that the moisture in the moss will successfully mimic the moist surface of a tree trunk, creating the ideal surface to which the aerial roots can attach themselves. The natural texture of the moss pole will create an easy surface for the aerial roots to attach to.

The same applies to a coco coir pole, which is made using the outer husk of coconuts. The coco coir is wrapped around a timber support, and this type of store-bought support pole is available in a range of sizes that can attach to one another. This allows you to extend the length of the pole as the plant grows taller, with the benefit that you do not need to remove and change the support.

Bamboo canes, found at any hardware store, work relatively well as a support for a monstera, especially if these are formed into a “tepee” type structure above the plant for optimal support. These canes are relatively flimsy, however, and so may not be able to support a particularly heavy plant.

There are also U-shaped bamboo cane supports available that can be crossed over one another to create a type of column shape. An alternative option – requiring a little bit of manual labor – would be to make your own sphagnum moss pole.

This requires a layer of mesh that is sufficiently large to wrap around a pole (such as an old broom handle). Cover the mesh with a layer of sphagnum moss, and wrap this around the pole, ensuring that you secure it properly into place.  Your support pole is now complete!

Coco coir and sphagnum moss poles allow for aerial roots to attach themselves to the surface, creating a stable hold for the plant. Bamboo canes, on the other hand, are much narrower in diameter, and so the aerial roots will have trouble attaching themselves to these.

Monstera Plant

Conclusion

While you may not have known it before, you will certainly know now that the Monstera deliciosa is a climbing plant by nature, exhibiting epiphytic growth, and this should be mimicked as far as possible in the home environment to ensure a healthy, happy plant that will produce big, beautiful leaves full of those desirable fenestrations.

By allowing your monstera to climb, you are not only ensuring that it is able to grow as nature intended, but you will create a far neater plant that will take up less space in your home.

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