What to Do With Monstera Runners?

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Monstera deliciosas don’t have runners the same way Hoyas have them. However, other Monstera do produce them, so it’s useful to know what they mean, and what to with them when they turn up.

Do Monstera have runners?

Monstera deliciosa don’t produce actual runners (beginner’s guide to Monstera deliciosa here).

They do, however, produce long, leggy stems and petioles when they’re trying to reach and get more light.

If your Monstera is producing leafless stems, then it needs more light.

Monstera can get droopy and sad (and even snap) if they get too leggy, because the weight of the leaves on their petioles drags them down.

HOWEVER some Monstera do produce runners.

Monstera adansonii do sometimes, especially when they’re small, and Monstera obliquas are well known for doing it.

I don’t usually talk about Obliqua because they’re exorbitantly priced, but I saw one in my garden centre last week for £80. Wild.

monstera obliqua

The house plant market is rollercoaster.

Monstera peru also put out runners. I’m going to include it because it *might* be a Monstera, but the general consensus is that it’s an Epipremnum.

There are several growth points on this plant, and it gets a tonne of light, so I think the other vines are leaf vines, and this is an exploring vine. Perhaps it’s looking for something to climb, more like a Hoya runner?

What are Monstera runners?

Monstera runners are leafless stems that are designed to grow along the grow and search for a tree to climb up. Small Monstera are very helpless and vulnerable to being trodden on by unsuspecting animals, so they need to get up a tree fast.

They begin their lives with a stolon, which is a modified stem that allows them to move along the ground and establish a good root system.

Once the seedling has reached a tree and can start to climb up, they stop sending out runners. Their stolon becomes a regular stem.

Some Monstera send out runners (such as Adansonii and Obliqua) but Monstera deliciosa don't - if there's not enough light, they just grow leggy, i.e. the internodal spacing (the distance between nodes) increases. 

Most, if not all, Monstera seedlings exhibit something called negative phototropism.

Most seedlings are phototrophic, so they grow towards the light, however, Monstera grow away from the light because if they grow towards the shade, they’re more likely to come across a tree they can climb.

Runners plus phototropism maximises the chance of the Monstera finding something to climb as soon as possible. Climbing not only allows them more light exposure but also protection from the elements and predators.

Can you cut off Monstera runners?

Yes, and it’s unlikely to hurt the plant.

However, make sure that the runner isn’t trying to tell you that it isn’t getting enough light.

If growth is slow and the leaves are small and sad, then try moving it to a brighter spot or giving it a grow light.

You can also assume that it’s looking doe something to climb. Unlike Monstera deliciosa, smaller Monsteras like adansonii don’t *tend* to produce super long aerial roots that you can plant in the sil as supports. It can happen if you have SUPER high humidity, but it’s unlikely.

Monstera like to grow up, because it’s hardwired into their DNA. Growing them up something also makes them grow larger leaves (even if the light hasn’t improved) because they think they’ve hit a tree.

Are Monstera aerial roots the same as runners?

No. Monstera aerial roots are just adventitious roots (i.e. a root that’s growing from somewhere that isn’t the base of the plant), and won’t produce leaves. Aerial roots absorb water and nutrients but their primary function is to attach to the trunks of trees and allow Monstera to climb.

Runners are basically stems with nodes but no leaves. So if someone gave you a bit of runner you could root it and grow a new plant. If someone gave you a bit of aerial root it won’t do anything (until it shrivels up and dies).

Can you propagate Monstera runners?

Yes. You can treat them like wet sticks and propagate them that way – so if a friend has a Monstera with a runner and you’d like a cutting, ask for a bit of runner.

However, if you have a plant with a runner that you’d like to propagate, you’re better off layering it.

Layering is like chop and prop, except that it’s prop and chop.

Lay a node of the runner in soil (or dip it in a jar of water) and wait for it to produce roots.

This shouldn't take as long as rooting a cutting because the node is getting, er, power from the roots of the main plant.

Once the cutting has roots, you can cut it from the mother plant. If it’s in soil and you can’t see if it’s rooted, then either wait for new growth (which is a good idea to do anyway) or give it a *gentle* tug. If it resists your tug, it has decent roots. If it pops right out, rebury it and leave it a bit longer.

It usually takes a couple of weeks – perhaps a bit less if there are aerial roots on the node.

Final thoughts

Monstera deliciosa don’t typically vine, so if yours is producing vines with no leaves, then there’s an issue.

Nine times out of ten it’s an issue with a lack of light, so move it somewhere brighter and normal service should resume.

With Hoya, the plants produce vines with nodes, and the leaves grow in later (usually once it’s found support).

This doesn’t happen with Monstera.

Once the vine grows, leaves will only grow on the end. The only way you can get leaves all along the vine is to treat it like a stolon, and lay it on soil so the nodes root and create new growth points.

Caroline Cocker

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

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