You may think of Monstera deliciosa as a cool, trendy houseplant with enormous leaves that has taken America by storm. But in its native home, the hot, tropical rainforests of Latin America, it is an epiphyte vine that can grow to 70 feet or longer. You don't need to worry about that kind of growth for your personal monstera, but understanding how to prune it is still a good idea.
Meet the Monstera
Is there another houseplant with the kind of "OMG!" power a monstera brings to a living room? These large-leaved, tropical plants make an undeniable statement with their glossy leaves as big as dinner plates that are distinctively cut and perforated. It's also thanks to their gigantic leaves that the plants were given the nicknames "split-leaf philodendron" and "swiss cheese plant." Ever wonder about the "deliciosa" part? In the jungles, the plants bear delicious fruit.
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Indoors, monstera grows a bit taller than the average gardener, in the 6- to 8-foot range. The taller it gets, the more support this vine requires. Absent support, the stems will break. Although the plant flowers in the wild and produces fruits that taste like a mix of strawberry and banana, neither flowering nor fruiting is typical indoors.
Care for the Monstera
When you provide cultural care for the monstera, keep its origins in mind as understory rainforest plants. Of course, the monstera will prefer warm temperatures of 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and plenty of humidity. While these plants need light to produce energy, direct sun will crisp those attractive leaves, so limit them to grow lights or an indirect sun location.
The soil in the container must be well-drained to prevent root rot. Water the monstera thoroughly but allow a good quarter of the soil to dry out before watering again. Use tricks like misting the leaves and saucers with water and pebbles to help increase the humidity in dry interior settings. If money is no object, get your monstera its own small humidifier. If it grows too big, prune it back to size.
Prune Your Monstera
There are several good reasons to prune a monstera, but before you jump in with sharp pruners, be sure to figure out exactly why you want to trim the plant — since that determines how much to prune and where. You can prune a monstera if it is getting too large for its space, to encourage new growth, to propagate the plant from cuttings, or to shape the plant.
It's usually best to prune a monstera during its dormant period unless you are just taking a cutting or two. Use a clean, sharp pruner to avoid damaging the plant. Prune out any dead leaves, foliage with brown or black areas, and areas that are soft and rotting. You can remove whole leaves or partial leaves if you think it looks better.
Then move to the pruning to shape and size the plant. The amount and location of the cuts depend on the look you want to achieve. It's fine to cut back aerial roots if they are out of control. When you are pruning to shape a plant or removing dying leaves, make the cuts above a leaf node. If you want to propagate the plant from cuttings, you'll need to cut below the node to ensure the cutting has a bud to sprout from.