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Every time I’ve tried to start writing this article I keep thinking about the poor woman that cut splits in her Monstera leaves (like, with scissors) and was GENUINELY asking how people got their Monstera holes to look so good (hers kept going brown round the edge!)
This has nothing to do with the rest of this article other than to reiterate that everyone has gaps in their knowledge and has made incorrect assumptions, and also to reinforce that Monstera make their own leaf shapes. Want more holes? Give it more light.
Should I cut the leaves off Monstera?
You 100% do not need to cut the leaves off your Monstera, however damaged they are.
There’s a photo somewhere (that I can’t find, irritatingly enough) or a Monstera growing in Florida and about 75% of the leaves are burned to a crisp, but the top 25% is lush and beautiful.
It’s growing very big and looks perfectly healthy at the top, so the crispy leaves at the botto, clearly aren’t bothering it at all.
So from a purely botanical perspective, the dead leaves aren’t harming the plant at all.
Buuut we’re not in the wild here, and there are a couple of reasons that you may want to remove damaged leaves.
The first reason is aesthetics. We bring plants into our homes to look good, and if they’re a brown, crispy mess, that’s ruining the look we’re going for.
The second reason is bugs. Bugs LOVE a dead leaf. I have no idea why. They love new growth and dead growth and ignore the bit between those stages. The most compelling reason to get rid of dead leaves is that they attract and harbour pests.
I remove ALL dead leaves. And by that mean I remove all of the dead leaves on a plant but also leaves that are 100% dead. I leave the ones with a bit of crispiness (depending on the plant) because the part of the leaf that isn’t dead can still go on photosynthesising.
This Monstera Thai Constellation tip has a bit of damage, but the rest of the leaf is fine. If it starts to spread I’ll consider chopping off the leaf, but for now it’s fine.
Many people would cut off the brown part, but I don’t think there’s much point. I’m not skilled enough to cut the leaf so that it still looks the right shape, and the edges will brown off anyway. For me, it’s either the whole leaf or none – I don’t think cutting leaves helps at all.
BTW, if you’re wondering what caused this, I’m pretty sure it’s damage from guttation when the leaf was still rolled up. The white parts of variegated Monstera are particularly prone to brown leaves, and the positioning of this mark strongly suggests water damage.
Can I cut the leave off Monstera?
One of the main issues people have with Monstera is that they grow too big (this is from research I conducted myself – I’m basically a scientist at this point). One way people try to combat a Monstera growing too big is to cut off some leaves.
If you have a leaf that grows in the wrong place (for example, if you want it to grow close to a wall and there’s a leaf in the way), you can absolutely cut it off.
A lot of people are scandalised by this, but a healthy Monstera will not care.
Please remember that a leaf cutting without a node will not grow into a plant, though it may produce roots
When you’re cutting, any part of the petiole will brown off and die, so try to cut as close to the stem as possible
Do Monstera leaves grow back after cutting?
No. Monstera usually only have one active growth point, and that will continue growing out of the newest leaf. Monstera’s aim is to grow up. Once a leaf is unfurled, it’s on its own – the plant has moved on to the next one. If that leaf gets damaged, another won’t grow in it’s place – it would be a waste of the plant’s resources.
We like lush, bushy Monstera, but that’s not how they’re designed to grow. They look like that in the rainforest because they have all the warmth and humidity to allow them to do that.
It is possible to activate multiple growth points on Monstera by increasing the amount of light, humidity, and warmth it gets (basically, give itan abundance of the resources it needs to grow), but it’s not a guarantee.
You may have more success by increasing these factors AND chopping the Monstera back in the hope that it stimulates growth, but again, no guarantees.
Where do I cut damaged Monstera leaves?
Wherever you cut, you will get some browning off around the cut mark, because the plant callouses itself off to stop infection from entering the wound. If you only want to chop off the brown parts and you don’t mind the brown edging, then by all means just chop around the brown material.
I prefer to cut as close to the stem as I can so you can barely tell that there is a leaf missing.
The exception here is if you have a mark on the newest leaf and you want to chop it off. Monstera leaves grow out of the petiole of the previous one, so you can damage the next leaf.
If you do cut the petiole of the newest leaf and damage the next one, that doesn't mean the plant will stop growing - it just means that you'll have to wait longer and the new leaf might start growing from another node.
Here’s the next leaf forming in the petiole of my Monstera Thai Constellation:
If for some reason I wanted to chop off that leaf, I’d cut it above where the next leaf is forming.
What if you accidentally rip a Monstera leaf?
This seems to happen a lot, but rather than it being ‘accidentally ripped’ the most common culprit is kids snipping them and cats eating them.
You can’t fix the leaf. From the plant’s perspective, it can still function (by which I mean photosynthesise) perfectly well.
There’s absolutely no point in wasting energy fixing a leaf that isn’t actually causing a problem because, as I’ve said before, plants don’t care what they look like.
If you don’t like it, chop it off. The plant would probably prefer to keep it, but also, it most likely won’t cause it any harm. Many of us have plants to serve as home decor, and if you don’t like the way it looks, it’s not serving its purpose.
What if you break a Monstera stem?
Again, you can’t fix it. What’s done is done.
Just make the best of it, and propagate the bit that’s snapped off. New growth will come in on the original stem soon enough. You could plant the snapped-off bit in with the original plant, but Monstera roots are massive so prepare to buy a massive pot in the near future.
I would be more worried about how the stem snapped off. Monstera stems are pretty tough, and whilst they can snap if they’re dropped or purposefully damaged, it can take quite a lot to break them on a healthy plant.
If your Monstera has a large internodal space (if the space between nodes is wider than, say, and inch) then your Monstera may not be getting enough light. Nodes create a bit of girth (literally don’t think I’ve ever said that before) and strength as well as propagation opportunities, so you may want to think about moving your Monstera to a brighter spot.
If, for whatever reason, you want to cut off your Monstera’s leaves, don’t overthink it (and I say that as someone that overthinks everything).
Even if you do it ‘wrong’ there’s only so much damage it can cause.
If you’re worried about cutting back to the stem, then cut where you feel comfortable, wai until the rest of the petiole browns, and then you can usually pick it off with your fingers.
You could literally cut the ENTIRE plant right back to the soil and have the thing regrow in a few months. Monstera want to grow, and they want to grow BIG. If yours isn’t then that’s a sign that you need to improve its environment.