How To Prune Monstera

Monsteras are quick growers, and these beautiful plants, with their large, perforated, and glossy leaves, grow to impressive heights, making any space look lush and attractive.  But at some time, these plants will need a trim to keep them looking manicured and healthy.  But how do you prune a Monstera?

Monstera plants are pruned by cutting an inch above or below the node of the plant, depending on the reason for the prune. The plants underground and aerial roots are also trimmed during pruning.  Prune the Monstera in early spring before the growing season.

Monsteras, also known as the Swiss cheese plants, make ideal houseplants, and cutting back their leaves and roots will ensure the plants remain healthy.  Read on for an extensive guide on how to prune your Monstera!

Best Time And How Often To Prune Monstera

Before the growing season, the best time to prune your Monstera plant is in early spring. In the warmth of the sunny days, the plant will heal faster from the pruning session.  Do not prune in the fall and winter as the Monstera will enter into its dormancy period, and the plant will not synthesize and cannot repair the damage caused by pruning.

The plant’s age and size will depend on the frequency of pruning.  For a young Monstera, pruning once a year would be sufficient, but for an older and denser plant, trimming once a month could be required to maintain an even shape. 

Related: Monstera Albo Node

How To Identify The Nodes And Where To Cut

Nodes are the part of the Monstera plant from which new leaves, stems, and aerial roots will grow.  Look for spots on the stem that are lighter in color and raised higher than other stem parts.  There is usually only 1 leaf growing from a node, but large Monstera has several leaves growing from a single node.

Pruning should be done by cutting above the nodes. However, if you are pruning back a large Monstera that has overgrown and becomes too large for its space, then you should consider cutting beneath the node and removing a stem with multiple leaves.  If you are pruning for propagation, you would also cut beneath the node as this node is essential for growing roots on plant cuttings. 

The cut should be made clean through the stem at a 45° angle at least an inch above or below the node.

Caution When Pruning A Monstera And The Tools Required

How To Prune Monstera pruning shears tool

The sap of the Monstera produces calcium oxalates which can cause skin irritation.  If possible, try to avoid coming into contact with this sap, and it is highly recommended to wear gloves when pruning. Should you touch sap with your fingers or hand, wash with soap and warm water and avoid touching your face or eyes.

The tools required for pruning are a sharp garden knife or garden shears.  Pruning with blunt tools causes rough and improper cuts that rip the stems and cause unnecessary larger wounds, which will require a longer time to heal.  Sterilize the tool before cutting to avoid transferring any diseases to your plant.

Pruning Damaged Or Dead Leaves

The leaves of the Monstera plant can become damaged or die, and these should be removed during pruning.  Damaged leaves appear in forms such as:

  • Yellow leaves could be due to incorrect watering, lighting, sudden changes in humidity and temperature, soggy soil, and lack of nutrients.
  • Dark brown spots on the leaves are an indication that the plant is being overwatered.
  • Dark brown/Black spots could also signify that the plant has root rot, a fungal disease.
  • Pests cause damage to leaves. An indication of pests on the plant is leaves with white, brown, or yellow spots; a sticky residue; holes and webbing; and a white or black powdery substance. The plant could also be infected with the scale insect, which is easily transmitted to other plants in the home, so it is best to isolate the Monstera.

How To Prune The Damaged Leaves

Follow these tips below to prune damaged and diseased leaves:

  • You can cut off yellowing leaves with sharp pruning shears from the stem, and it is not necessary to prune the whole stem.
  • If the Monstera has several damaged leaves, do not cut them all off at once but rather remove the most damaged or dried and dying leaves.  Leave the leaves with healthy green portions to be trimmed later if they continue to decline.
  • Pruning a leaf with black spots is best to cut it off where it attaches to the main stem.  If the plant has root rot, discard the leaf and stem as it is a fungal disease.  Repot the plant and check the roots for signs of root rot.
  • Other leaves damaged by pests should be cut off and discarded and the plant treated with alcohol swabs and horticultural soaps.

You can use leftover damaged or dry and yellow leaves from pruning to make homemade compost.  The removed stems with nodes can be used as cuttings to propagate new growth.  Leaves that have a black spot or have been damaged by pests must be discarded to prevent spreading to other plants.

Pruning Monstera Roots

All Monstera plants will need repotting at some time, but if this has become a frequent exercise, it is time to prune the roots.  The underground, as well as aerial roots, can be cut back.

Pruning Monstera

How To Prune Underground Roots

These are the plant’s lateral sub-terranean roots that grow in the soil.  The roots absorb water and nutrients from the soil, vital for a healthy and growing plant, and they should have enough space in the pot to stretch and grow.

If the pot is too small, the Monstera plant becomes root-bound, taking up all the space, and there will not be enough soil to cover the roots.  Too little soil deprives the roots of water and nutrients, which slows down plant growth.  To prevent this from happening, prune these underground roots. 

Carefully remove the Monstera from its pot, flip the plant over, and closely examine the roots.  Gently break the root ball with your hands and brush away the soil.  If the roots have become tightly wound, make a few cuts to break up the ball.  Take a closer look for signs of root rot (black, brown, or gray, mushy roots) and cut these roots off.

Continue to trim small and large roots to about 1/3 of the root volume.  When the pruning is completed, repot the plant.

Related: Monstera Fertilizer: Best Options (Plus 6 Important Fertilizing Tips)

Pruning Aerial Roots

Aerial roots grow above the ground and allow the Monstera to grow up and around larger trees or onto moss poles in the case of potted plants.  These roots can become very overgrown, most usual in large Monstera plants.  They do not cause any structural damage but are less attractive, and trimming them would enhance the look of the plant.

Prune the roots with sharp shears and trim them as close to the stem or node as possible.  Aerial roots grow back with tenacity, so consistent pruning is recommended.

Trimming The Leggy Monstera

Monsteras become ‘leggy’ when the plant does not receive enough light.  The Monstera becomes elongated and stretched out with long stems and sparse foliage. 

When trimming a ‘leggy’ plant, identify any sparse and damaged growth to cut back.  Trace the stem back to the node or the main stem and cut the stem at a slight angle above the node.  Should you want to propagate the leaves, cut below the node required for root growth.

Pruning Large Monstera Plants

Large monstera

Many Monstera plants become so big that they outgrow the area where they are placed.  Trimming the plant will make it look leaner and more structured.

Pruning back a huge Monstera by just cutting off a few stems is sufficient as a too heavy cut will cause a shock to the plant resulting in stunted growth.  If the plant is unruly and requires a lot of pruning, then rather cut beneath the nodes where the stems have a good growth of multiple leaves.

Pruning the plant in this way will allow just a few cuts of these stems instead of several cuts where the stems only have one leaf.  The cuts caused by pruning can cause infection, so cutting less during pruning is best. 

Conclusion

Pruning your Monstera is easy once you have identified the stems and leaves that need to be trimmed.  The best time to prune Monstera plants is in spring, before the growing period, and the frequency depends on the size and age of the plant.  Making fewer cuts is beneficial to the plant as it will heal faster from the pruning exercise. 

Keeping to the rule of cutting 1 inch above or below the node is the correct way to prune this lovely plant. Trimming underground roots is recommended to keep roots happy to absorb water and nutrients to promote growth and keep the plant healthy.  

References

https://www.wikihow.com/Trim-a-Monstera-Deliciosa

https://www.gardenguides.com/79986-prune-monstera-deliciosa.html

https://www.wikihow.com/Prune-Roots

https://www.amazon.com/Sitajie-Professional-Gardening-Scissors-Clippers/dp/B08DRNPJ2J/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=garden%2Bshears

https://www.amazon.com/Natria-706230A-Insecticidal-Organic-Miticide/dp/B00364PEFS/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=horticultural+soap+for+plants&qid=1639244844&sr=8-3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO-GZOxEqiY&t=274s