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I get a LOT of questions from people wanting to have a vertical Monstera. I can help, but it’s also…not as easy as it should be.
Monstera should WANT to grow straight but they absolutely do NOT.
And I'm not even talking about sad ones growing towards the light. You can have the healthiest Monstera in the world, but ask it to grow up a moss pole and it's like 'NO, what's in the KITCHEN?? I'm gonna grow THIS WAY so I can SEE'.
Buuut whilst I can’t tell you how to be a Monstera whisperer in such a way that it just…grows straight by itself, I can give you a few things to try that should help keep it growing up.
If you grow a Monstera in low light, it’s ALWAYS going to lean. I mean, there’s probably an exception to that rule somewhere, but in general, light-starved Monsteras lean.
Here are a few things you can try to get your Monstera to grow straight:
Give it plenty of light
This is the first one because it will not only help your Monstera to grow straight, it’ll help it in almost every other aspect of its existence.
Big leaves, fast growth, and general healthiness all stem from great light.
Monstera will lean toward light, so the brighter the light you put in it, the more likely it is to grow straight up.
In my experience, a south-facing window is ideal because the sun is at its highest, so the light is practically right above the plant BUT a west-facing window is good too (though they can be super hot, so you need to take care that it doesn't dry out too much.
Monstera can still lean, even in good light, so rotating it is a good way to keep it growing upright. It’s even more important if your Monstera is indirect light because the plant is more likely to lean.
I have a whole article on rotating Monstera here, but the basic principle is that if your plant is leaning, turning it 180˚ will make it lean the other way, and it’ll eventually right itself.
A lot of people like to rotate their plants 90˚ every week to keep on top of things and make sure the plant doesn’t even lean too much one way. I, like many other lazy people the world over, wait until it’s leaning and then rotate it. The plant still grows up, but the stem can look a little, er, wavy.
Grow it up a moss pole (or two)
It doesn’t even need to be a moss pole – just some sort of stake. It can be anything you can tie the stem to.
The trick here is to make sure that the stake is well-anchored enough that the Monstera doesn’t pull it over.
The benefit of having a moss pole that your Monstera can grow into is that over time, the plant and the stake hold each other upright, but in the beginning, there can be a lot of leaning that can end up sticking if you don’t keep righting it.
To stop the moss pole from leaning, you can simply bury it deep in the pot, which means repotting your plant rather than just sticking the moss pole in and hoping for the best. Some people glue or silicon the pole to the bottom of the pot which works well.
Grow it up a wall
Monstera are perfectly happy to adhere to a wall (they can’t grip onto glass, but that’s about it when it comes to surfaces in the home) and if the aerial roots get attached, the plant will generally climb up.
A lot of epiphytic aroids instinctively grow vertically because that’s where the sun is (they aren’t aware of ceilings).
Monstera aerial roots can cause cosmetic damage to paintwork, but they won’t get into the wall and cause structural damage (as far as I’m aware, anyway!).
The only issue here is if you need to move the plant, even if it's just to repot it, the roots will detach. You can remove the roots with a sharp knife between the wall and the root, and they'll reattach over time (you can tape them in place in the meantime) but it's a big hassle.
Prop it up with aerial roots
This is my preferred way and it does work, but you have kind of plan to do this when the plant is small. As the plant grows, direct the aerial roots back into the soil. They’ll develop their own root systems that will develop over time and be strong enough to support the plant.
Some Monstera are more inclined to produce aerial roots than others, but if yours just shrivelled there are things you can do to encourage them to grow, such as layering.
If you’re looking for a neat, vertical Monstera, I wouldn’t recommend putting the aerial roots in water. It won’t really help with support, and you’ll forever have to change cups of water.
Increase the pot size to encourage more roots
Increasing the pot size isn’t ideal for beginners, because it can cause root rot if you don’t know what your doing, or you’re using too dense of a soil.
However, if you’re pretty au fait with good watering practice, there are a few reasons it can help your plant grow straight:
- The pot is heavier
A pot that’s too light, or overbalances easily can cause Monstera to grow a bit more spread out.
Like other climbing plants, they’re looking for stability, and if they feel unstable, they’ll grow out rather than up.
A heavy pot with more soil will help keep the roots secure and the Monstera will be more inclined to grow up ESPECIALLY when given something to climb.
- More roots = more security
The bigger the pot, the bigger the root system. Monstera are notorious for refusing to produce new growth until the pot is full of roots. Once that’s done, the Monstera will have a very secure base that will make it more inclined to grow up.
Bonus points if some of the roots come from submerged aerial roots.
It goes without saying that you need to be taking good care of your plant too. If it’s not getting enough water and nutrients, it’s more likely to grow leggy and weird, and you DON’T want a leggy plant if you want it to grow straight.
Monstera that are leggy end up with a longer, thinner stem with big internodal spacing.
This legginess makes the plant less able to support its own weight and more like to fall over and potentially snap.
You also end up with super long petioles that can’t support the weight of the plant so even if you’ve staked the stem up so the stem is straight, the overall effect is…droopy.