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I’m SO SURE I’ve already written this article. I was all like ‘I’m gonna make sure all my drafts are published’ whilst secretly KNOWING my drafts folder was empty. Alas not. The nap i was about to take will have to be postponed.
Making a Monstera bushier isn’t difficult, but it’s also not something you can hack.
One thing I suggest but I know will be ignored (because I would ignore it)* is to buy a bushy Monstera to begin with. There are genetic differences between plants of the same species, so some plants have more of a bushy growth pattern than others.
I do think that any Monstera has the potential to grow very bushy, but if you start with a bushy one, you’re setting yourself up for success.
*My Monstera was about £5 on sale and completely ravaged by thrips and the cold. I cannot resist a bargain, and once you accept that your Monstera WILL get thrips, you’ll be a lot happier.
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.
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.
So, how do you make a Monstera bushier?
By reducing internodal spacing.
How to reduce internodal spacing on Monstera (and make them 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.
You could use grow lights, but Monstera are a bit on the large size to be able to get grow lights to have a meaningful impact. you’d have to have a few different ones pointed at it, and those gooseneck ones aren’t that effective.
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 long stems (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 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.
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.