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There are three main ways to propagate Monstera deliciosa:
- In soil
- In water
There’s also wet stick propagation, which I’ll go through at the end. Buying wet sticks from places like Etsy is extremely common, but it’s not always straightforward to get them to grow, so I have a few tips for doing so.
Learning how to propagate Monstera deliciosa is a great project, especially if you want to get to grips with propagating house plants in general.
Not only are they fairly easy to root BUT they make great gifts for pretty much anyone – awesome if you’re feeling a bit, er, skint. They’re also ALWAYS in demand, so you can sell them if you need a (little) bit of extra cash.
Propagating Monstera Deliciosa in soil
There aren’t many house plants I would recommend propagating in soil, not because it’s difficult, but because it’s easier to propagate in water.
Monstera, however, are the exception to this rule. They’re perfectly happy to root in soil without you needing to tend to them too much.
How to propagate Monstera deliciosa in soil
Firstly, we need a node. You can root a leaf with no node, but it’s a zombie leaf (more on that later).
This is a Monstera node:
The node looks like a horizontal line across the stem. Often there’s an aerial root sticking out of the node.
If you wanted to soil propagate all these nodes, you could cut them in the internodal space (the gap between the nodes) and pot up about five different Monstera. If you wanted a super full plant, you could leave the stem intact, chop off the top growth and lie the stem on top of the soil. Each node could activate, so you’d have multiple growth points.
There are pros and cons to each method. I prefer leaving it intact – there’s always the option to separate the nodes later.
If you find finding a node difficult, and have no idea what you're doing, take a cutting that has two or more leaves. That way you definitely have a node, even if you don't know where it is
Generally, when we’re new to propagating, we only take the top cutting. If we were propagating the Monstera in the picture above, we’d cut between the top arrow and the aerial root below.
This example would be super easy to propagate, because if you look to the left, you'll see that the aerial root has already rooted itself. So you could plant the the node and it would root, but the plant already has a root system coming off the aerial root - two root systems = a happy plant
The problem with soil propagation is that you need to remember to keep the soil around the node damp enough for it to produce roots but not so damp that it roots. In my experience, Monstera root quite easily in drier soils, so you don’t need to be fastidious about watering it.
I like to use unamended store-bought house plant potting mix to propagate in because it retains a good amount of moisture.
tl:dr – stick a node in soil and wait for it to root.
Pros – propagating Monstera in soil
- It’s easy and you don’t need to fuss over it
- You don’t need to worry about transferring mediums once it’s rooted
Cons – propagating Monstera in soil
- It takes longer than water propagating
- You can’t keep an eye on the roots
Propagating Monstera Deliciosa in water
Water propagation is definitely the go-to method when it comes to propagating house plants. I have a whole guide to it here.
It’s exactly the same process as propagating in soil, except you stick the cutting in water.
I find that, like propagating in soil, propagating Monstera deliciosa is a bit easier than, er, most other plants. You don’t need to be as fastidious about changing the water etc, and usually, you can get away with only refreshing the water every week or so.
Not changing the water at all will result in very slow root growth, but they will grow eventually – most other plants won’t root unless they have plenty of oxygen available.
I don't know why Monstera propagate so easily, but I can only think that it's because they've been in cultivation for so long. Basically, the ones that propgated quickly are the ones that were used as mother plants for greenhouses.
If you do want to speed up the rate at which your Monstera cutting roots, I have a whole article about how to make your cuttings root faster in water.
3 tips for getting your Monstera to root faster in water are:
- Oxygenate the water – change it more frequently, add an air pump or add oxygenating plants like java moss
- Increase the light by putting it under a grow light
- Increase the humidity using a humidifier or placing the cutting in a grow box or terrarium
Pros of propagating Monstera deliciosa in water
- It’s quick and easy to do
- You can see the roots and monitor their growth without disturbing the plant
Cons of propagating Monstera deliciosa in water
- There’s more upkeep, such as changing the water
- You’ll have to transfer the plant back to soil (unless you want to keep it in water forever)
How to transfer water propagated Monstera back to soil
- Wait until the plant has roots over an inch long. I like to wait until the initial roots have started to branch
- Plant the Monstera in soil in a pot that’s not much bigger than the root ball – use a denser mix, such as a store-bought house plant potting mix so that it retains water
- Make sure the soil stays fairly damp. You might prefer the spray the top every day and check if it needs watering properly weekly. I find that’s the best way to keep it evenly damp
- Leave the plant in this pot until it needs repotting – i.e. the roots are growing out of the bottom
- Repot the Monstera into a more appropriate potting mix
If your cuttings keep rotting I have an article here on how to reduce the chance of that happening.
How to air layer a Monstera deliciosa
If you’re the kind of person that loves to give a LOT of attention to your house plants, air layering is the propagation method for you!
It’s a great method to learn because it allows you to root a plant without chopping it. The chopping comes after the roots.
Air layering is one of those things that’s super easy in theory, but not so easy in practice BUT I do have a little hack for you that does that same thing but isn’t really air layering as such. Fun fact – there’s five types of layering, four in soil, one in air. Ok, not that fun.
How to air layer Monstera deliciosa
Step 1: identify an aerial root
Aerial roots are the roots that stick out of the stem. In the wild the plant will use them to anchor itself to a nearby tree so it can climb it and get more sunlight
Step 2: apply your substrate
You know how with regular propagation you stick the node in the substrate, whether it’s soil or water? With air layering, you apply the substrate to the node. If you don’t have an aerial root, you can cut a notch in the stem. If the aerial root is too long (i.e. longer than about an inch) chop it shorter.
Grab some dampened sphagnum moss and wrap it around the aerial root. I like to add quite a lot because it’s easier to wrap and stays damp longer.
Step 3 : wrap it all in plastic wrap
This is NOT as easy as it sounds. It will not look neat until you’ve practiced a few hundred times. The good news is that neatness doesn’t matter – as long as the sphagnum and moss are on the inside of the plastic wrap, it doesn’t matter.
Step 4: keep the sphagnum damp and wait
The damp sphagnum will encourage the aerial root to start growing roots. Once you have a load of root, cut off the cutting and plant the cutting. Sphagnum roots are soil roots (rather than water roots) but I’d still be careful to keep the soil damp for a few weeks after transferring, just in case
…and that’s airlayering
Air layering for cheaters
Remember when that girl went viral on Tik Tok for ticking her aerial roots (her Monstera’s, that is) in a glass of water and insisting it led to a growth spurt (again, her Monstera’s)?
Yeah, putting aerial roots in water won’t guarantee new growth, but it can be a great way to root a node without chopping it. It’s the same principle as air layering, but the node will grow water roots, so it’ll be a little bit more finicky to transfer to soil.
Remember that when you come to chop your airlayered props you'll need a node to get a plant. If you just chop of the aerial root they'll just wither away.
Pros of airlayering
- It’s inherently less risky because you don’t take the cutting until after it’s formed roots
- It’s just…cooler than regular propagating
Cons of airlayering
- You need moss, which you’re less likely to have laying around than soil or water
- It’s a bit finicky for beginners. You will end up cursing your plastic wrap. You can use a ziplock bag if you prefer.
How do I know if the node is spent?
Spent nodes are NOT worth worrying about. I have an article on them here.
My prop has no node but rooted. Yay!
I see this a LOT on house plant Facebook pages.
Monstera petioles (the bit that connects the leaf to the stem) CAN produce roots. They can stay alive for a good few weeks.
BUT IT WILL NOT GROW UNLESS THERE’S A NODE.
If it DOES grow more leaves, there was a node. Maybe just a bit of one or a tiny one, but there definitely was a bit of node.
A rooted leaf that won’t grow is called a zombie leaf. Hoya kerrii are the most common example of zombie leaves. They just look cute so people buy them.
If you buy a Hoya kerrii single leaf and it grows, it’s not a miracle. It just means there was a bit of node attached. Same with Monstera leaves. Sometimes you get lucky.
The good thing about zombie leaves is that they mean that if something happens to a leaf (e.g. your cat nibbles a leaf off) you can pop it in a vase and enjoy it for a few weeks. Nice.
How to propagate from a wet stick
I have an in-depth article on propagating wet sticks here.
Buying wet sticks is a common way to buy cheap plants. It’s great for both the buyer and the seller because no one has to pay for the time it takes for a plant to grow. The seller chops their plant into nodes and sells them either rooted or unrooted, but no leaves.
Wet sticks are also great because there's no risk of leaf damage in transit when there are no leaves to damage!
It’s a great way for newbies to either get fleeced or buy a wet stick that they can’t grow.
I find Monstera quite easy to grow from wet sticks, which is good news because they’re a common way to buy an affordable variegated Monstera*
*Don’t do this unless you know what you’re doing. A LOT of people end up with Marble Queen/Golden Pothos stems.
I (accidentally) did an experiment whereby I put a wet stick in a pot (with another Monstera) and promptly forgot about it. I watered the Monstera whenever required, but did nothing extra.
Here she is:
As you can see, we have roots to the left, and half-assed attempt at rooting from the aerial node in the middle.
Also, she’s pretty dried up. NEVER MIND.
I initially saw this when I went to take the photos of the nodes BUT LOOK:
She has a little growth point!
This wet stick was laid on the soil horizontally, because the more nodes touching the soil, the more growth points you could end up with. I also had one I planted ‘properly’ (make sure it’s the right way up if you do this – I don’t know how they know, but they do) and it has a leaf!
This is interesting because as you can see, it’s a juvenile leaf. If you look at the stick it came from (wedged between the petiole and the moss pole) it’s quite a mature wet stick.
In my experience, the type of leaf you get (with regard to fenestrations) is very much the luck of the draw.
Also in my experience, there’s no telling what the next leaf will look like, but I’ll keep you updated.
I highly recommend you try propagating Monstera if you’re looking to start propagating plants. They’re more forgiving of a bit neglect than a lot of other plants, and there are a few different methods to try. If anyone has any tips, please leave me a comment!