How To Prune Monstera: Leaf Trimming & Where To Cut


Monstera Deliciosa, also famously known as the Swiss Cheese plant, is a beautiful climber endemic to Central and South American rainforests. Trim Monstera Deliciosa regularly to promote new growth. Pruning is an effective way of protecting a dying Monstera. It also helps Monstera to branch more while keeping its size and shape in control.

Pruning Monstera regularly encourages new growth and results in a bushier plant. Early spring is the ideal time to prune and repot Monstera. Cut the dead or unsightly leaves at the stem. Cut the stems below the node and use the Monstera cuttings for propagation.   

Before You Start Pruning Monstera

Many people face the dilemma of whether or not to prune their plants. The short answer to this question is – Yes! All plants benefit from pruning as it helps in maintaining their growth and overall health. Monsteras are fast-growing plants that make pruning all the more important to keep them small and attractive. 

Before you start pruning your Swiss Cheese plant, decide what your goal is. If you want to keep it from outgrowing the pot, trim the roots. If you want to remove the dead and unsightly foliage, cut the leaves at the stem. Pruning helps in getting rid of dead parts of Monstera plant that no longer support the plant’s growth. It also helps encourage new growth in the plant. 

When To Cut Dying Leaves

Cutting Monstera leaves helps in getting rid of the dying leaves. A major sign of dying leaves is curling and wilting. The leaves turn yellow and brown in stress and start showing stunted growth.

If you are pruning the Monstera to shape it or to remove its dying leaves, make a clean cut above the node. Cutting above the node ensures the new growth in the same direction.  

When To Cut Roots

If you have an old Monstera that has outgrown the existing pot, you should trim the roots. To keep Monstera small, trimming the roots helps to avoid frequent repotting. Do not hesitate from cutting the roots if needed. Monsteras are resilient plants and trimming the roots would not hurt the plant if done correctly.

Monstera also grows aerial roots that grow above the ground. Aerial roots help the plant to climb up. These roots can become very long over time and do not look aesthetic. You can trim the aerial roots if they are getting out of control. Make sure to cut as close to the node as possible without cutting the node. Do not harm the node as it affects the plant’s growth negatively.

When To Cut Beneath a Node

A node is a point on the plant’s stem from where new growth emerges. If you are pruning the plant for propagation, make sure to cut the stem beneath the node. It is important to identify the nodes before pruning. Look for the spots that are slightly raised and light green. Cutting beneath the node area is a foolproof way of propagating Monstera.

If you cannot spot the node, choose a leaf and go all the way down to the spot where it meets the main stem. You will find a node on the main stem. Do not worry about locating nodes if you only want to remove the dead leaves.

How To Prune A Monstera Deliciosa

Monstera is a hardy plant and pruning it is quite easy. We will discuss all the steps you need to follow to prune your plant. Trimming and pruning help in maintaining the size of the plant. We have explained in six easy steps the process of pruning a Monstera. 

Step 1: Decide When to Prune

Pruning at the right time can affect the health of your plant positively. Spring is the best time to trim Monstera Deliciosa as it helps to maintain the shape and control the size of the plant. The temperatures in spring are optimal for the plant to recover fast. 

Avoid pruning the plant in the winter months. Monstera is a tropical plant that needs warm temperatures and high humidity to thrive. It becomes dormant in the winters. It takes longer for the plant to recover from shock in winters. Lack of sunlight in winters prevents the plant from producing glucose required for growth. Resume the regular trimming and pruning from early spring. 

Step 2: Clean the Equipment

Before you prune the plant, it is essential to keep all the equipment sanitized. Sterilize the scissors and shears using alcohol. Cleaning the equipment prevents harmful infections and bacterial diseases. Bacterial infections are hard to treat and spread easily to other houseplants. Prevent such problems by keeping the tools clean and sanitized. 

Step 3: Wear Gloves

Monstera Deliciosa is a toxic plant that contains calcium oxalates. Exposure to calcium oxalates can cause rashes and skin allergies. If you have sensitive skin, we would recommend you wear protective gloves before trimming the plant. 

If the plant sap comes in contact with your skin, immediately rinse it with soap water. Avoid touching the eyes with your hands. Try to keep the plant away from the reach of pets and children. 

Step 4: Where to Cut?

Before trimming your Monstera, plan and decide the cuts that you will be making. If you are planning to propagate the cuttings, cut at the internode. But if you are planning to trim the plant to maintain its shape, cut dead leaves, roots, and stems. Cut off dead Monstera leaves that have turned yellow or brown and wilted. 

Where To Cut the Roots?

If you have an overgrown Monstera Deliciosa that has its roots coming out of the drainage holes, trim its roots. Gently, pull the plant out of the container and detangle the roots using your fingers. Using a sanitized pair of sharp scissors, cut off one-fourth of the longer roots. Pruning the underground roots helps is a great method of slowing down the plant’s growth.

Root-bound Monstera causes stunted growth and can be harmful in the long run. The plant does not have enough soil to absorb any nutrients and water. If the plant is left root-bound for too long, it may even die. 

Prepare a fresh soil mix that is well-ventilated and has ample organic matter. Trimming the roots allows the plant to be healthy and strong. Make sure to remove all the dead and unhealthy roots before repotting the plant in a fresh soil mix.

Monsteras also grow aerial roots that can grow extremely long over time. It is absolutely fine to cut these off as these are used for climbing up other trees. Trim them nearest to the node or stem. Cutting off underground and aerial roots are helpful ways to shape Monstera

Where to Cut the Nodes?

If you wish to trim the plant to maintain its shape and size, cut above the node. New stems will grow in the same direction. Look for spots on the stems that are slightly higher than the rest of the stems and have leaves, stems, and aerial roots growing from them. 

If you are planning to use the cuttings to propagate Monstera, cut the stem at least two inches below a node. The cutting must have one to two nodes for proper growth. 

Pruning Large Monsteras

If your Monstera has grown enormously and has taken over a lot of space, pruning it can be slightly difficult. If you make numerous cuts at different places, the plant might be in danger of bacterial infections and other diseases. It can cause stunted growth. 

Instead of making many cuts, make one or two cuts. It will be less likely to be infected. If your Monstera is not too large, make a few cuts as close as possible to the main stem. This will keep the plant from getting wild.

Step 5: Prune the Stems

Check Monstera branches for any unruly stems with very few or no leaves. Cut the branches at the base of the main stem. This will help the plant to focus its energy on other parts of the plant. Cut below the node if you do not want to get rid of the entire branch. 

Step 6: Prune the Roots

Trimming the roots is optional as it is not required every year. If you notice the roots outgrowing the container and roots coming out of the drainage holes, trim them. To trim the roots, take the entire plant out of the pot by gently removing the soil and detangling the roots. 

Cut off one-fourth of the length of the roots. Do not trim the entire length as the plant might go into root shock. To avoid root shock, do not overwater the newly trimmed roots. Soggy soil conditions can cause root rot.

Your Options After The Trim 

Once you have trimmed the dying leaves, stems, and roots, you can either propagate the stem cuttings or add compost to the newly pruned plant.

Propagation

Propagating the Swiss Cheese plant is pretty simple. You must have a cutting with one to two nodes to successfully propagate the plant. You can either stick the cuttings directly in an airy soil mix or put them in water. The cuttings root within two to three weeks. 

If you are propagating the cuttings in soil, prepare a well-draining soil mix. Keep it rich by adding perlite for drainage and coco coir for retaining moisture. Place the cuttings in the soil and firmly cover the soil around the nodes. Water it thoroughly and keep the soil moist until roots develop. 

Propagation in water is simple too. Place the cuttings in a glass jar. Fill it with water and place the jar in a spot that receives bright, indirect light. The roots will develop in two to three weeks. 

Compost

Once you have all the dead leaves pruned, use them to make compost. To compost the dead leaves, collect the leaves in a bag. Mix the leaves with some grass cuttings and add natural fertilizer to speed up the composting process. Keep this mixture moist and airy and you will have the compost ready in a month.

5 Benefits Of Pruning Monstera

Pruning has immense benefits for almost all plants. It has long-term benefits in making the plant healthy and strong. Let us have a look at some benefits of pruning and trimming. 

More Energy Freed Up For New Growth

Pruning at the right time helps in freeing up energy to support the healthy leaves. Yellow and brown leaves do not turn back green. So it is better to prune them and free up the plant’s energy for other parts. The unwanted leaves do not benefit the plant but only take up the plant’s resources. Trimming and pruning enable new growth in the form of bigger and healthier leaves. 

A More Polished Look To the Plant

Monsteras can become huge with time and if you run short on space, it makes sense to prune the plant regularly. Pruning and trimming the plant helps maintain its size and control the shape. You can maintain its size in a pot or container for many years if you prune its roots, stems, and leaves on a timely basis. 

Beneficial for Smaller Spaces

Monstera becomes large and unruly if not pruned. If you are concerned about it outgrowing your living space, then prune it two to three times a year. Regular pruning helps to keep the plant small and manageable. 

Training the Plant To Grow On Your Terms

If you do not want the branches of Monstera to hang over the roof and take up the entire space in your living area, prune it regularly. Pruning helps to keep it from growing wild. It helps you control where the new leaves will sprout. 

Beneficial for the Overall Health of the Plant

Pruning is vital for the overall health and growth of the plant. The older foliage gets yellow and dies over time. Lack of pruning can make these dying leaves a breeding ground for harmful insects and pests. Keep the plant safe from such pests and insects by pruning and trimming the unwanted leaves and stems. 

FAQs

Let us take a look at some commonly asked questions about Monstera’s growth and its pruning. 

How long does Monstera leaf take to mature?

Like most tropical plants, Monstera Deliciosa needs lots of indirect light, moisture, and humidity to grow healthy leaves. Typically, a Monstera leaf takes four to six weeks to unfurl. With proper care, the new leaves may also unfurl within a week or two. 

An adult Monstera develops the first fenestrations when it is one to three years old. The plants reach a height of about three feet when the fenestrations start to appear. A baby Monstera has heart-shaped leaves with no splits or fenestrations. It takes more than three years for the plant to grow enormous leaves.

Can you tell how old a Monstera is?

Distinguish between a baby and adult Monstera by looking at their leaves. A young Monstera has heart-shaped leaves with no holes and splits. It can take one to three years for it to develop fenestrations. In bright light conditions, the plant grows first leaves with splits after five to seven smaller leaves form. 

A fully-grown Monstera has large leaves with fenestrations and splits. A three to four-year-old full-grown adult Monstera will have large foliage with splits and fenestrations. 

Do Monstera leaves grow back after cutting?

As Monstera gets larger, it drops the lower leaves and grows new leaves on the top. This is a normal process in these plants and is not a cause of concern. However, there is no guarantee that Monstera new leaves will regrow in the same position from where the older leaves were lost.

Monsteras drop their leaves because of aging. Dropping the older leaves helps the plant to redirect its energy to the newer leaf growth. If you notice the newer leaves falling off, then there could be something wrong. So watch out for both the younger and older leaf growth.

Next Steps

Pruning is as vital to Monstera’s health and growth as any other factor. When done with proper care at the right time, pruning encourages new growth in the plant. Pruning in winter may not kill the plant but it can suppress the chances of successfully propagating the cuttings.

Observe your plant and keep an eye out for any pests, infections, and diseases. Monstera is a tough plant but it can face certain problems if ignored for long periods of time. Drooping, wilting, and yellowing of leaves are signals that indicate that there is something wrong with the plant. Treat the problems immediately and provide the plant with all its basic growth requirements.

Make sure that your Monstera does not go into shock or be exposed to harmful pests after pruning. If you are repotting and transplanting it to a different pot, be extra careful to avoid transplant shock. One way to avoid this issue is by not changing the plant’s location.  

Now that you know all about Monstera pruning and trimming, go ahead and prune your plant. Keep it in good shape to promote the growth of healthy-looking leaves with fenestrations.

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