How to Prune Monstera Plants in 6 Simple Steps

Does your monstera plant need to be pruned? Pruning your monstera might seem a little daunting, especially if the leaves are fully grown. In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton teaches you how to prune monsteras by following some very simple steps.

Gardener Pruning Monstera Plant With Garden Shears

Contents

Although Monsteras don’t require much attention, there are some care tasks you shouldn’t skip if you want to keep them healthy year-round. Watering and fertilizing are the obvious ones, but there are also a few annual tasks to consider every spring. One of those is pruning.

Pruning is not essential for every Monstera under every circumstance. But it can be a useful tool in improving growth, depending on the condition of your plant.

This guide gives you the specifics of when and how to prune Monstera plants so you know when you should do it, as well as the proper steps to follow.

About Monsteras

Large green plant, with giant leaves  indoors. Behind the plant is a wall with wooden panels.
These popular houseplants are great for beginners.

Indoor plant collections are incomplete without at least one type of Monstera around. An impressive genus of leafy plants, Monsteras have become favorite houseplants thanks to their massive foliage and tropical look.

The holes in the leaves, known as fenestration, also make them quite unique and sought after. Thanks to these holes, they are also commonly called Swiss cheese plants – a common name shared with a few other species.

Monsteras are native to Central and South America. In these native habitats, they use their aerial roots to grow up trees or spread along the ground. This makes Monsteras hemi-epiphytic with soil roots to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil and aerial roots to climb and absorb moisture from the air.

As long as conditions are kept as close to their native habitat as possible, Monsteras are not difficult to care for. The most popular species, Monstera deliciousa, is a great plant for beginners or long-time houseplant lovers.

Do Monsteras Need To Be Pruned?

Large potted plant with long stems that have giant, heart shaped leaves that have natural holes in them.
Pruning your Monstera will help keep it looking full, vibrant and healthy.

As Monsteras grow quickly in the right conditions and can become unruly as new leaves unfurl, pruning is often used as a tool to control growth. Trimming back the roots and older leaves keeps the plant tidy and improves airflow, stopping the plant from growing too rapidly and overtaking your home.

The opposite is also true. If your Monstera has become stretched and looks sparse and unhealthy, pruning in the right places can help improve growth.

When trimmed back, the plant is encouraged to produce new leaves at the site of the cut, creating more stems and more leaves.

Most importantly, pruning can help prevent disease and pest problems. Once pests and diseases make their way to your Monstera, it’s vital to take quick action to stop the problem from spreading throughout the plant and to the other houseplants in your home. Pruning is the first step to resolving the issue and helping your plant recover.

When To Prune

Wood table with potted plants sitting on it. Main plant has long, overgrown stems with leaves weighing down the main stem.
The best time to prune your Monstera is early spring when it’s actively growing.

While pruning is beneficial for growth, it can also be quite traumatic for plants. They need time to heal, recover and get back to putting out new growth. This is especially important if you’re pruning because your Monstera is damaged, as it will take slightly longer for it to return to normal.

For this reason, it’s best to prune as or just before the plant is actively growing in early spring. Growth spurs when temperatures increase so wait until that time before you trim your plant annually.

If there are pest and disease problems, it’s better to prune quickly to stop the spread no matter the season. However, if you’re pruning for any other reason, aim for early spring.

What You’ll Need

Pair of gardening shears cutting a thick, green stem.
Make sure to use a pair of sharp, clean pruning shears.

Before you get started, you’ll need to grab a couple of tools. The most important, of course, is a pair of pruning shears. Make sure they are sharpened to make a clean cut and promote quick healing. If you’ve recently used them, you should also clean them before use to prevent the potential spread of disease.

If you plan to use your cuttings to propagate, you may also want to grab a vase filled with water for rooting.

How to Prune With Video Walkthrough

If you prefer a video walkthrough on each step, check out the video above. Otherwise, once you’re prepared with all your tools sharpened, it’s time to get cutting.

How you prune your Monstera will depend on how your plant is growing and what you aim to get out of the process. Not all of these steps will apply to every plant – identify which will work for you and leave the ones that don’t.

Step 1: Remove Damaged or Old Leaves

Large green plant with giant leaves and one yellow, dying leaf in the center.
Damaged leaves can draw energy away from new growth.

Take a look at your Monstera and identify any areas with irreparable damage. This can be caused by a number of factors, from direct sun exposure to yellowing from overwatering. Damaged leaves and stems draw energy away from the plant in an attempt to heal, taking away from potential new leaves and new root growth.

Remove the damaged leaves as close to the stem as possible without damaging the node. Don’t cut any leaves off halfway as the rest of the stem will not grow back without a node point. It will only seal and potentially rot off, making your Monstera more vulnerable to pest and disease problems.

The same applies to older and yellowing leaves. If left alone, these leaves will die off naturally, eventually falling off the plant. But by trimming them sooner, you can keep your plant as healthy as possible and remove any places where pests may settle in and spread.

Step 2: Remove Any Leaves With Pests or Diseases

Close up of a giant, green leaf with tiny black and white spots on it.
A thorough inspection of your plant is a crucial step to pruning.

Damaged leaves are not the only concern. You also need to inspect your plant thoroughly for signs of pests and diseases. These issues can spread rapidly throughout your indoor plant collection and pruning is your first line of defense.

For small issues, prune any leaves that display pest and disease problems or severe pest damage. If the problem covers more than one-third of the plant, it’s better to treat rather than prune as removing large parts of the plant (especially when under stress) can lead to shock that may permanently stunt growth.

Once you’re finished pruning, clean your shears with soap and water immediately. This will stop the same problem from spreading to other plants you use your shears on. You can also disinfect with a 5% bleach solution to get rid of any harmful bacteria.

Step 3: Trim Back Overcrowded Areas

Hand with a pair of orange gardening shears, cutting a stem off of a potted plant.
Pruning your monstera will help prevent fungal or pest problems from spreading.

When given the right care and conditions, Monsteras grow rapidly, constantly putting out new leaves and expanding upward and outward. This growth can often get out of control, taking over containers and causing growth to become top-heavy.

You can repot in these cases, but if you want to keep your Monstera small, prune a couple of leaves instead.

Choose older leaves on the lower half of the plant. This also improves airflow close to the soil line, preventing any fungal problems or pests from spreading up the plant.

If the plant’s growth is lopsided from unequal sunlight exposure, you can also trim a few leaves back to make your Monstera appear more balanced.

Step 4: Prune Stretched Leaves

Hand with a pair of orange gardening shears, cutting a stem off of a potted plant.
Removing stretched leaves in stages will protect your plant from shock.

Monsteras left in low sunlight conditions will often stretch towards the nearest light source to improve their conditions.

This stretching can lead to thin stems and smaller leaves that ruin the overall look of the plant. By trimming these back and moving your Monstera to a sunnier spot, you can encourage new and healthy leaf growth.

When making a cut, trim affected stems just above a node, leaving the node on the plant. This creates the space for new leaves to grow from that point.

As with any trimming, don’t remove too much of the plant at once. If the whole plant is stretched, remove the worst affected stems and leave some on the plant to continue growth.

Step 5: Remove Long Aerial Roots

Hand with a pair of orange gardening shears, cutting a long aerial root off of the stem, from a potted plant.
Aerial roots help with movement and growth, but excess roots can be cut away from the plant.

Aerial roots on Monsteras are a sign of healthy growth. If you’re training your plant up a trellis or moss pole, they are also useful for movement and new growth. But for aerial roots that aren’t serving a purpose, they can look untidy.

To improve the overall look of your Monstera, trim excessively long aerial roots that hang over the side of the pot. Remove them close to the stem but not so close that it damages the main plant.

Alternatively, trim off the entire stem with the node to propagate. Stems with aerial roots have a much higher success rate in propagation and root quickly in water with no hassle.

Step 6: Trim The Roots

Person hold a plant root ball, and trimming the roots with a pair of orange shears.
Trimming the roots back can slow growth down making your plant more manageable.

Finally, the most drastic trim occurs if you want to seriously control the size of your Monstera. Rather than cutting stems above the soil line, it involves trimming the roots below. Cutting the roots back is the best way to slow the growth of the plant and keep the root ball a manageable size for the container it’s in.

Remove the plant from its pot and pull away some of the old soil to get a closer look at the roots. Trim them back by about one-third and replant into a light houseplant potting mix in the same container. The plant may experience some shock but with the right care, it should recover quickly to get back to growing as normal.

Final Thoughts

Although pruning is not a top task on everyone’s minds, it can contribute to a healthy plant when done correctly. Any stems left over can be used to propagate more Monsteras to fill your home with foliage. As long as you follow the basic instructions that have been outlined here, your plant should be healthier and look better almost immediately.

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Monstera Plant with Dry Brown Leaves is in a blue ceramic pot. It sits on a table outside.

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