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Monstera aren’t naturally bushy plants – they’re vines that grow on one stem. But you can encourage bushier growth by pruning regularly and making sure your Monster has the perfect environment.
Potting multiple cuttings in one pot is an option, but it’s not always a great idea (more on that later).
So, how do you make a Monstera bushier?
By reducing internodal spacing.
How to make Monstera bushier
The internodal spacing is the, er, space between nodes. The leaves of your Monstera will grow closer together and the plant will look a lot bushier.
There are several things you can do. Ideally, you’d do all of them, but I’ll list in the order that I think will make the most difference:
1 – Increase the light
It’s kind of a myth that Monstera only like bright/indirect light. They like bright, bright light – they just don’t like to get super hot and burn. If it’s extremely hot and dry then they’ll need to be kept out of the sun, but remember that they grow outside in fairly exposed places, so they’ll be fine.
Grow light are a great option.
Having an abundance of light will mean that the plant doesn’t have to grow excessively long stems to be able to grow properly. Legginess happens when the plant isn’t getting sufficient light, so it grows a long stem (and therefore large internodal spaces) to try to grow its next leaf closer to the light.
That is a terrible sentence grammatically but I don’t know how else to put it other than ‘increasing the light reduces internodal spacing and makes the plant bushier because I said so’.
2 – Increase the humidity
I don’t think increasing the humidity decreases the internodal spacing but it does make the leaves grow bigger and look healthier.
Misting does NOT cut it here, and neither do pebble trays. You’ll either need a humidifier or a massive terrarium or similar. If you have a well-lit and warm bathroom that MAY cut it, but bathrooms tend to be cold and dark.
Humidity of around 80% is perfect for your plant BUT that’s not going to be great for your home unless it’s very warm and you’re not going to get mould. I’d go for 60/65% inside.
3 – Grow your Monstera up
It doesn’t matter how you do this. You could go the moss pole route, allow it to attach itself to your walls and/or furniture (your high humidity will help this process), or stick it to the walls yourself with sellotape.
Plants grow bigger leaves if they’re growing upwards. We don’t really know why – we know that they grow bigger in more light, so we can only assume that the plant thinks that there will be more light above it. It obviously doesn’t understand the concept of ceilings, because there are no houses in the rainforest.
4 – …take good care of it
Water it well – by which I mean not too much and not too little. If you’ve got bright light, good airflow and high humidity, and the plant is growing well, try to not let it dry out too much. I wouldn’t let it get below a three on the moisture metre.
Keep it well fed – if I was trying to strategically grow a plant really bushy and full, I’d do a mix of natural and chemical fertiliser. I’d add fresh worm castings every three months and water in a chemical fertiliser every month. Monstera aren’t particularly fussy about fertilisers.
Cut it back
I’ve written a whole article about pruning Monstera here, but in short, if you cut back Monstera, you can encourage multiple growth points IF (and it’s a big if) you’re providing it with an abundance of resources. A lot of light, high humidity, warmth, and plenty of water and nutrition.
Extremely high humidity can activate axillary buds but it’s not something Monstera do a lot.
I go back and forth about how much of a difference rotating Monstera makes. It depends a lot on the plant. If it has one strong stem and is growing up, then rotating it won’t do much – you’ll need to chop and prop.
However, if your Monstera is a mess of leggy stems and petioles, rotating it can help it look a bit neater.
How NOT to make a Monstera bushier
This isn’t an ‘if you do this your Monstera will die’ type situation. It’s more of an ‘if you do this you may end up regretting it.
Don’t plant multiple plants in one pot. I don’t care how small they are. You will end up repotting it every couple of months until you need a pot bigger than your house, and the plant won’t even be that bushy.
A lot of people think that a Monstera with only one stem has something wrong with it, but that’s how they grow. Wild Monstera are solitary creatures!
I was given this advice by a source I’ve since forgotten YONKS ago. And then I had three juvenile Monstera and I thought ‘what’s the harm? I can always separate them later.’
Well, they seemed to impede one another’s growth (I think they get in the way of each other’s light), and whilst each one grew, they seemed to take it in turns to throw out a leaf – it was like I was getting the exact same rate of growth as if I just had the one plant in there.
I decided to separate them only to find that they had basically fused together at the roots, and I’d have to do significant damage to the root system to separate them. They remain together to this day.
Whilst it’s not gonna kill your Monstera, potting up multiple cuttings won’t necessarily make it bushier. This is a good technique on smaller vining plants though.
The problem with making Monstera bushy
If all of this seems like it’s a lot of work, it’s because it is – you’re trying to go against nature.
Your Monstera has no interest in looking lush and full – it just wants to climb up towards the sun, flower, and fruit.
Having multiple growth points and more leaves than it needs are wasteful, so you won’t get them unless you provide it with more than it needs.
This is why people try to make full plants by planting multiple cuttings together, but the competitive nature of Monstera means this doesn’t work either.
I hope this was helpful. I know it’s annoying that Monstera have no interest in growing in a way that we find aesthetically pleasing. If you want a lush and bushy plant, perhaps something like a peace lily or a Pilea peperomioides would be a better option?
Before you go, you might find these articles useful:
- How to care for Monstera deliciosa
- The ultimate guide to Monstera deliciosa
- How to propagate Monstera deliciosa