Whenever I post a photo of my big monstera on instagram, one of the most common questions I’m asked is ‘how do you get it to grow up like that?’ / ‘How do you stop it sprawling out?’ …you get the idea. So for today’s post I thought I would show you how I have trained my monstera around a support + offer some advice on how to go about it if you are thinking about doing this too.
If you have a garden or grow plants outdoors using supports is quite a regular task; whether it be installing a trellis or staking your runner beans! But if you have just started getting into houseplants + are not used to supporting your plants in this way, the options can be a little confusing. For starters, there are a few choices in terms of support:
- multiple bamboo canes
- ‘U’ shaped cane support
- homemade sphagnum moss pole
- coco coir pole (extendable)
Below are two U cane supports that can be crossed over to create an X ‘column’ shape (sort of like the positioning in the photo below) that works well for monstera deliciosa plants if you can’t get hold of an extendable coir pole setup . Otherwise, these supports can be used in pots individually if you have a plant that wants to ‘lean against’ something, or you can train a vining plant around them (more on this later in the post).
For U shaped supports, have a look here. Regular bamboo canes are great if you have a multi-stemmed plant — you can position them where the support is needed, much like you would with an outdoor plant….
Coco coir poles are thicker than bamboo + are made of the outer husk of coconuts. They are usually wrapped around a wooden support + when looking for these I’d recommend your local hardware store or garden nursery. More mature plants usually come with one of these already. My hardware store (I’m in the UK) has these in a range of sizes which interlock as the plant grows; ideal as you don’t need to keep changing the support.
If you love a bit of a project, the other option is to make a sphagnum moss pole. This is perhaps the most beneficial support because it provides good levels of moisture for any aerial roots that are likely to be growing from your monstera. You can regularly moisten the moss pole using a sprayer + you might even notice bigger leaf growth as a result. To make a pole you essentially get a layer of mesh big enough to wrap around a broom handle + cover it with a fine layer of sphag. You wrap this around the pole, securing it with ties to keep everything in place until you end up with something that resembles the coco coir pole, but made out of sphagnum moss!
The advantage of coco or sphag supports is that any aerial roots can latch on to this surface + provide some added stability. Bamboo canes are thinner so you’ll need to use more of them to get the same amount of support + the aerial roots are less likely to twine themselves around these.
If you are starting from scratch + your monstera has no support you will need:
- your support pole of choice
- a trowel
- gardening snips (or wire cutters for your ties — regular scissors will blunt quite easily if you try to cut wire with them)
- plant ties*
- wooden peg / chopstick (optional)
*In my plant care kit I have a few options here depending on the plant: soft ties are thicker with a wire core for flexibility, regular (thin) plant wire is always useful (especially for more delicate stems), I sometimes use these elasticated bands with ‘arrows’ on I got at a stationers + a velcro roll which is adjustable + can be cut to size is a great all rounder.
For my outdoor plants I will often use old tights (pantyhose) cut up into strips because it’s what my grandparents always used for their tomatoes + runner beans! I have vivid memories of cutting up my nan’s old ‘pop socks’ that had laddered or had been replaced + putting them in an old (empty) ice cream tub in the greenhouse. You can use these on your indoor plants too!
Bear in mind that each plant has its own ‘personality’ + growth habit so no two monsteras will look the same around a support. It’s just about working with each individual plant in providing good support for it to grow + thrive.
First of all you should identify if you monstera has room in its pot for a support to be added without repotting. If you aren’t going to re-pot, get a trowel + dig out a bit of a hole for the support to be placed into (if you are using a sphagnum or coir pole). If you are using the cane supports, these can be pushed into the potting mix with ease.
If you are repotting your plant, start by removing the potting mix around the roots, checking to see if any are dried/shrivelled + cut these off. Your monstera might actually be made up of a few smaller plants so if this is the case, separate + arrange around the coir pole in the pot. This will allow the plant to form a nice natural shape around the support.
The photos of my big monstera from the side show how the support sits just off centre of the middle of the planter + the plant ‘leans up’ against it. I trained my plant from quite a small specimen so it has really started to grow around the coir pole, which makes it less visible from the front. Bear in mind the shape of your monstera will affect how your plant looks if you introduce a support, but they do adjust. I have three monstera plants + I’d say this is the best looking in terms of the way the support is quite obscured by the leaves. This was intentional as my plant is against a wall + over the last few years, the leaves have all turned to face the window. If your plant is central in a room you’ll want to pick the type of support that suits your plant being visible from all sides. I’d suggest 2 U shaped canes crossed over like an X (each cane at 90 degrees to the other, crossing over at the centre of the bend) in this instance.
Here are some close ups of the positioning of the coir poles from when I repotted my monstera plants last summer + how you can use a dolly peg or a chopstick to wedge the pole in position so that it is stable. I’ve linked the blogpost here if you want to read more about the general repotting process.
*I’ve recently repotted all three of these beautiful plants so I’ll get a post together over the coming weeks showing how they are looking at the moment.
Make sure you put the support in deep enough! With my plants the size that they are, I position the coir pole right to the base of my pot, then add potting mix around it as I begin to re-pot. This will give maximum stability. If necessary, I remove some of the excess coir with a knife so that the wooden central pole is not as covered all the way down. As I am using this type of pole, I add the extendable parts to the top, meaning I won’t need to completely detach the stems from the coir for (hopefully) a long time!
When you water your plant, the support can move a bit so be aware of that before leaving your monstera unattended! Despite the pole being deep in the pot, as the soil naturally moves when the plant is watered, it’s inevitable that it can shift a bit too. Also, new leaves growing can sometimes pull on the coir a little, causing it to move. The pegs can really help to hold it more securely. My plant tends to lean a bit so I’ll just adjust it every so often.
As you can see from the photo below, not all plants sit happily around a support! This is my smallest monstera plant + it really hasn’t grown into itself yet. If you have a plant that sprawls out + just doesn’t look like it will take to a pole, I have a suggestion for what you could do… it’s what I plan to do with mine!
Obviously you can leave it to grow wild but if you want to give it some support in the long term you have the possibility of training all new stems (these are a lot more malleable) around the pole as they grow. This is a slower process but as the new growth forms around the support, some of the older stems that might be growing at a bizarre angle can be pruned in pairs of leaves+ propagated…
As you can see with my plant above, the stem to the bottom left of the frame is at such an angle it would break if I tried to move it. If you have a plant with growth like this, consider chopping these stems off in pairs (they tend to root easier this way – see photo below) + water propagate them (let the cutting grow roots in water). Then, you can re-plant this cutting around the stem of your monstera to make the plant fuller if you wish! Alternatively you could start to make a new plant out of this cutting + grow your monstera collection some more.
It’s not a monstera deliciosa, but I thought I would show you my vining monstera adansonii where I used the U support as you can see below — I untangled the stems + wound them around the cane without the need for any ties. I plan to train the central stems around the structure as they grow to create a full, column-shaped plant for my dressing table — I like the height it gives to this part of the room.
As much as I love my big monstera the size it is now, I found some older photos of my plant from 2—3 years ago to give you an idea how it grew during that time. You can also scroll back through my instagram feed to see it’s growth some more.
Here are two close ups of my big monstera today in its temporary home; you can see how the support is a big wonky + how I’ve used a mixture of ties to keep it in place. This pole has been in place for 2 years + I have no intention of moving it. I even have my grandpa’s old wooden ruler in it for added support! Even though it looks a bit chaotic from the back, the photo from the front shows that this is unseen for the most part.
Flashback to my old apartment with more accommodating ceilings…!
Aside from being a practice of patience, keeping plants for me is a continual process of discovery. Improvisation, trial + sometimes error are integral parts of learning about plant care! I know there are quite a few new houseplant lovers out there that are nervous to re-pot their plants, or to think about adding a support to their beloved monstera. I hope my blog is a space for you to gain a bit of confidence in your plant care + I’m so grateful for your ‘support‘ ...pun intended 🙂
Thanks to those that asked me to write this post, I hope you find it helpful!
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