The Ultimate Guide to Repotting Monstera

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Repotting Monstera isn’t a difficult process, and they’re one of the more forgiving plants, but there can be a lot to think about.

It’s important that Monstera are one of the hardier house plants, so don’t overthink any of this. I promise, as long as you don’t wash your Monstera in boiling water, snap off all the roots, or pot it in concrete, you’ll be fine*.

*And some specimens would still probably survive.

By the way, my Monstera potting mix is full of worms. They’re not doing any harm so I leave them be.

If you’re new to Monstera, and would like to read everything I know about Monstera in a single article, I have a complete guide here.

When to repot Monstera

If you’re just wanting to switch pots because you have a pot you want it to go in, then IF POSSIBLE keep it in its nursery pot and put the whole thing inside – especially if the new pot is a bit bigger.

Repotting is stressful for plants, so only do it if it’s necessary.

There are four main reasons to repot Monstera:

  1. Your Monstera has outgrown its pot
  2. Your Monstera has root rot and needs repotting
  3. Your Monstera hasn’t been repotted in a couple of years and needs fresh soil
  4. The soil is infested and needs changing

How to know if a Monstera needs a bigger pot

The only time you should put your plant in a bigger pot is if the root ball is the same size as the pot. My rule of thumb is that if you take the plant out of the pot and there’s more root than pot, it’s time to up-pot.

The classic sign we look for is if roots are coming out of the bottom of the pot.

Except this is not always reliable.

To be perfectly honest, I– you know what, I’ll just show you:

monstera roots coming out of the bottom of the pot

This is what my Monstera looks like.

And you might think that I’m not taking care of it, but if you look, the roots are SUPER healthy.

I bottom water this plant. It’s in a cachepot that I fill with water (well, about an inch in the bottom) and then just leave. Over time, the roots have grown towards the water source. The plant might not need repotting – it just needs its roots rearranging.

And if we (gently) ease the roots off…

This is not rootbound. I can see a TONNE of soil.

All I did was loosen the roots a bit where they’ve circled at the bottom and put in back in the pot.

If I’d taken off the pot and it was more root than soil, I’d have gone for a bigger pot.

To be perfectly honest, I could have just left it as it was – the only reason I don’t advise this is over time it gets more and more of a challenge to remove the pot.

Yes, root rot's a risk if you leave your plant sat in stagnant water, but as long as you make sure to check the pot is empty a couple of days after watering, it's all good.

Repotting a plant after root rot

Go for the same size pot, or smaller if you’ve lost a significant volume of roots. We don’t want to risk root rot again. I have a specific post about helping Monstera recover from root rot here.

Repotting a plant because it needs fresh soil/has infested soil

There’s no reason why you can’t keep Monstera in the same pot and just add fresh soil.

Let’s go ahead and wash the pot. It’s not necessary if you just want to change the soil, but it’s probably a good idea.

Boiling water is fine, but a rinse with hydrogen peroxide is always good.

If you’re just switching soil, remove as much as the old soil as you can, and then repot in fresh.

You may find that the increase in nutrients in the soil may cause a growth spurt, and you find yourself having to up-pot in a few months. 

This totally normal, and I've found is more likely to happen if you keep the pot the same size. So don't be tempted to go up a pot size just for fun.

If you’re recovering from a pest infestation, you’re going to want to clean the roots.

You don't need to be as thorough as when you're removing soil to transfer to leca, so just rinse under the tap and get off what you can. 

Once the roots are clean-ish, rinse them in diluted hydrogen peroxide – one tablespoon per 250ml of water. Spray the leaves down with it too, just in case any pests are remaining.

Then just put it in a pot with fresh soil.

How much bigger to repot your Monstera

Putting house plants in too big of a pot is one the leading causes of root rot.

Basically, the water stays wet for too long because the soil can hold more water than the plant can absorb. By the time the soil has dried out, the roots have rotted.

Monstera have quite sturdy roots, so this is less of an issue as long as you’re letting the soil dry out between waterings.

If you want to put your Monstera in a big pot, go for it, but don’t overwater it, and make sure your soil mix is chunky af.

Be warned though. Monstera like to be snug in their pots, and if they're not, they'll change that. SO if you put your Monstera in a big pot, it will flat out REFUSE to grow new leaves until it's filled it's pot with roots.

You have been warned.

When it comes to deciding how much bigger to pot your plant, just go for the next size up, which is usually an inch bigger in diameter.

Which pot to move your Monstera into

Monstera aren’t that picky about pot type, but I usually recommend you stick to a pot that you can deal with.

What material should the pot be made out of?

I have the most luck with Monstera in plastic pots.

However, Monstera IDEALLY would like a very chunky potting mix for max airflow – they’re hemiepiphytes so can live without subterranean roots.

Therefore it makes sense that they would like a pot that allows for a lot of circulation, like terracotta.

I no longer use terracotta pots, because they dry out too quickly. I’m lazy an underwaterer by nature and whilst my Monstera survived in terracotta (and looked fine) I wasn’t getting much new growth.

In short, pick a pot that works for you – plastic if you’re an underwaterer or terracotta if you’re a bit overzealous with the watering.

If you have your life together and water perfectly according to the plant’s needs, then just a pot you like.

Should Monstera have a deep or shallow pot?

I would definitely recommend giving Monstera a deep pot. Their roots are very strong and inflexible and tend to grow straight down.

The reason for this is that their subterranean roots, whilst primarily used to absorb water and nutrients, are also the main anchor when the Monstera is young and not attached to anything yet.

Monsteras like to grow vertically, so if they don’t have a strong foundation, they run the risk of being blown over in the wind.

If you plan on developing your Monstera’s aerial roots and growing it up something sturdy, then the plant will divide its energy between aerial and subterranean roots, because the aerial roots will keep the plant in place.

In this case, the roots might not be as, er, unyielding, but in general, you’ll find that Monstera in shallow pots will end up needing repotting annoyingly often.

Do Monstera pots need drainage holes and saucers?

YES.

In fact, I wrote a whole article on everything you could ever wish to know about Monsteras and drainage

There are plenty of people that grow Monstera in pots without drainage holes, but it is quite difficult to strike the correct balance between giving the plant enough water to grow and not giving it so much that mud forms in the bottom of the pot and causes root rot.

It can be done - just only give small amounts of water at once - but your Monstera will be far less likely to grow big, fenestrated leaves because it will perceive small amounts of water being given as drought. 

I have a whole article on why drainage holes are DEFINITELY necessary. It’s worth it for the awesome diagram I drew.

What’s the best soil for Monstera?

I have a separate article that goes into a lot of detail about Monstera soil here.

I like to use a terrarium mix similar to this one. Honestly, I only used it because we had a load leftover, but my Monstera seems pretty happy in it.

Can I use regular soil for Monstera?

I get it, house plant potting mix can be expensive. Especially when you’ve got a bag of regular already.

Technically you can use regular soil for potting Monstera, but there are caveats.

Don’t come for me, plant people. You totally can.

I was once repotting a ZZ plant and ran out of soil, so I went and grabbed some from my outdoor raised bed. The only issue I have is that nasturtium seedlings keep popping up).

Regular soil is pretty dense because it’s designed to be used outside. Wind speed and a lot of light make soil dry out quickly, so it needs to be able to retain a tone of water.

If you make sure the root ball of your Monstera fits in your pot snugly (so you’re using a minimal amount of soil) and you only water when the soil is dry, it should be fine.

Oh, and make sure your Monstera has plenty of light.

One of the other issues with using regular soil is that it can become hydrophobic when it dries out too much, and you'll struggle to rehydrate it. 

What I recommend is bottom watering when the plant is dry, and spraying the top of the soil with a mister if it's dried out but the rest of the pot is still moist.

Can you grow Monstera in LECA?

Yes, absolutely. Monstera grow well in Leca, and their roots clean off pretty easily.

The usual issues with keeping plants in LECA, such as root rot aren’t that big of a deal with Monstera, so I do recommend rooting in water first if you’re worried.

The main issue that crops up is keeping them upright.

I definitely recommend keeping them in a plastic pot that fits VERY snugly in a heavy ceramic pot.

Also add the moss pole before the leca – don’t try to stick the moss pole in the leca after.

I have a full guide to getting started with leca here.

Should you put Monstera in water?

Again, Monstera do super well in water. I have a dedicated article to keeping Monstera in water here.

I keep my Monstera Thai Constellation in water because it’s the easiest way to stave off root rot.

monstera thai constellation in water
I use java moss in it, that’s not *all* algae

Do Monstera do well in Pon?

Some people love to keep Monstera in Pon, but I find that it’s too difficult to keep them upright – more so than with leca.

Also Monstera have big root balls and need a lot of substrate, and Pon is expensive.

How to repot Monstera

I have a little trick I like to use, which I got from Monty Don.

1 – take the plant out of the pot and put it down somewhere out of the way

2 – Hold your original pot in the new plant pot, in roughly the position you want the plant to be in:

2 – Hold the pot in place like that, and then add your (moistened) substrate between the two pots, making sure there are no big air pockets

3 – When you’ve finished, the pot should be sat in place in the new, bigger pot, with soil holding it up.

4 – Get the plant in one hand, and remove the old pot, replacing it with your plant. The hole should fit your plant perfectly

Should you break up Monstera roots when repotting?

It’s entirely up to you.

You absolutely don’t have to.

When you plant your Monstera, if you moisten the new substrate you’re adding then roots will naturally branch out into the new soil.

I do tend to break up the roots a bit when they’ve started to circle around the bottom of the pot, just to encourage them to grow into the new substrate, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Should Monstera roots be above the soil?

Aerial roots should be above the soil.

If they’re below the soil, they will root and turn into subterranean roots, that can provide an anchor to the plant and absorb water and nutrients.

The reason aerial roots can do this is they have more raphide crystals in them (presumably to stop animals eating them, as this is where the oxalic acid lives), which can help them turn into soil roots.

As far as I'm aware, we don't know why raphide crystals help this transition, we just know that aerial roots can turn into soil roots, and the only difference in their structure is the presence of raphide crystal.

Presumably, once the aerial root grows into the soil, the plant no longer grows raphide crystals in them (because they're not necessary) so the root knows it'ss underground.*

*I am NOT a botanist

However, you can’t plant the stem too low below the soil, because you’ll risk it rotting. A little bit is fine, but try to see if you can see where the soil line was before, and don’t plant it any lower than that.

If you’re not sure where the stem starts, planting the Monstera a bit too high is preferable to planting it too low.

As long as the soil roots are mostly covered, the plant will be ok.

Soil roots should be below the soil

Apparently, plants can’t produce raphide crystals in soil roots, so leaving soil roots above the soil won’t turn them into aerial roots. Sometimes they dry out and die, sometimes they harden on the outside but still function.

Either way, as long as the vast majority of the soil roots are in the soil it’ll be fine.

The little root in the picture above won’t go back into the soil (he just pops back out) and I don’t want to snap it, so I’m leaving it.

It’ll either dry out (no matter, there are plenty of others) or will grow back towards the soil of his own accord.

If you have a lot like this, misting the top of the soil to keep it moist can tempt them to grow back towards the soil (and keep them alive in the meantime).

How to add a stake/moss pole when repotting Monstera

I have a whole post of moss poles here.

The most important thing when it comes to getting Monstera on moss poles are:

1 – Plant the moss pole when you plant the Monstera.

Treat it like a separate plant – not only is it a pain trying to jam them into the soil once the plant is planted, but having a bit of sphagnum below the soil will help keep the thing moist.

2 – Coir poles do not stay damp

Accept this and move on.

The only way you can get them to adhere to coir poles is if you have super high humidity.

There’s no shame in attaching a plant to a moss pole with ties/pins. Again, check out the post above for tips.

3 – it takes a while for them to look good

Putting a Monstera on a pole doe not immediately make it look better. To make a Monstera look it’s best, read this article.

Do you need to pre-soak moss poles?

It depends on the pole.

As I said, the coir ones don’t stay damp anyway. It’s a fool’s errand trying to do unless you have a lot of spare time to spray it down or have a super humid house.

If you’re using this type of pole, then definitely pre-soak the sphagnum.*

*And prepare to never, ever let it dry out too much, because sphagnum becomes hydrophobic and is a PITA to rehydrate.

How to attach the Monstera to the moss pole

  • You can either use greening pins or garden ties.
  • Don’t use string because it can cut through the stem.
  • If you can get the humidity up (70%+) then the aerial roots should just attach themselves
  • Only tie the stems, not the petioles, to the pole:
stem vs petioles
this is a Florida green, not a Monstera, but my Monstera stems are like 4 inches long, compared to 12 inches of petiole

How to keep the moss pole moist

1 – You can drill a couple of holes in a plastic bottle cap, fill the bottle with water, screw the cap on, and invert it over the moss pole.

This works well, but it’s a ballache holding the bottle

2 – the same thing, but with a plastic cup. Cups are lighter so you can balance them on the top of the pole BUT it only really works on homemade poles that have a bigger circumference.

The issue with both these hacks is that if the moss dries out too much, it becomes hydrophobic and the water just runs down the pole into the soil

3 – Mist the pole every day

Obvs I don’t do it every day, but I AIM to do it everyday. That’s the key. If I aimed to do it three times a week, I’d only do it once a week, so trying to mist it every day works for me.

Why is my Monstera drooping after being repotted?

Monstera can go into shock after they’ve been repotted, because they’ve been through something that really shouldn’t happen to them (they don’t get repotted in the wild).

It should recover in a couple of weeks. Only take action if it’s going downhill – if it’s staying droopy but not deteriorating, give it more time.

Sometimes roots get damaged, or are freaking out because there’s more room in the pot or whatever.

This is why I don't recommend repotting just because, for example, you've just bought it and want to change it's soil. 

Unless it's suffering, leave it be.

It’s unlikely that you’ve done something wrong in the repotting process, unless you’ve gone wildly off-piste with my instructions, or ignored some obvious root rot.

Try not to disturb the roots anymore, and concentrate on making your Monster happy by maximising these three things:

  • Light
  • Warmth
  • Humidity

By maximise, I don’t mean throw it into the sun, I mean more like…perfect them. Move your Monstera to a sunny window, or put it under a grow light* next to humidifier.

These are the three factors that will help your plant recover. Don’t water if the substrate is moist, don’t be tempted to move it back to where it was unless you’ve gone from a one-inch pot into a garden trough.

*The leaf may burn, but better lose a couple of leaves than the whole plant.

Final thoughts

I’m just going to reiterate the most important points:

  • Don’t repot your Monstera unless it’s necessary. It being new does NOT count as necessary
  • Don’t put it in too big of a pot
  • Don’t plant it too low in the pot
  • Leave it alone after you’ve repotted it, and maximise warmth, light, and humidity

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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