Two weeks ago I asked on my instagram if you had any monstera repotting questions… + you certainly did! I planned on combining a few questions with my repotting post but there ended up being quite a few things you wanted to know! I’ll answer those queries here + show you my repotting process in another blogpost.
It’s been a tricky few weeks here at HPH — I’ve been without internet for around a month by this point which has made regular posting on here + on my instagram difficult! I’ve tried my best to keep up with messages but sorry if I take a little longer than normal to respond.
How to re-pot + train around a moss pole?
An easy (+ good!) question to start things off because I’ve got a blogpost about this very task… here is the link to it: ‘How to train your monstera around a support’.
How fast do they grow? How often should they be repotted?
This is very dependent on your environment which will obviously have the biggest impact on the growth of any of your houseplants. Light, temperature, humidity + watering habits will contribute to the speed at which your plant grows. Generally speaking though, in my experience, growth is moderate during Spring + Summer but slows over the cooler months + will stop altogether if temperatures are low enough. I have had my plant around four years + growth has been steady from a small-ish plant into how it looks today… Mine have got to the stage where they need repotting annually, but I wait until the roots are circling around the bottom of the plant pot. Look out for your plant needing more frequent watering, drooping, or browning on the leaf tips. I only generally go up one pot size at a time because I prefer to keep the plant more snug in the pot as I can manage it better in my space in this way.
For monsteras in general, do you only keep one plant per pot? Do multiple plants need to be separated?
If you have a monstera that has got too big for its pot, as you begin the process of repotting, you might well find multiple plants per pot. Lots of plants such as pothos are often made up from cuttings so if you grow these you will be used to seeing how this looks within one pot. If you aren’t used to this however, it can be quite a shock to discover that your plant is actually made up of multiple, smaller plants! Choosing whether to separate these plants is personal preference + it will not affect the plant adversely if you decide to keep it this way — provided there is enough room for all parts to grow healthily. Over time you might decide to separate them. I generally keep 1-3 plants per pot but there are often smaller growths popping up at the base + I have removed a few of these + grown them on. Here’s a photo of one of them today…which started off as a tiny two-leaf plant at the base of my big monstera:
My monstera roots are growing out of the bottom of the pot even though I only repotted it a few months ago?!
I have just coincidentally discovered this has also just happened to me as I was checking over my plants to write this post! Monstera plants do get growing well during Spring + Summer + your plant might be so happy with a new (slightly larger) pot, it’ll soon outgrow its space once more! As I’ve only repotted it a few months ago + can just start to notice the roots peeping out of the drainage holes of the planter, I will generally leave it for a while. A few weeks later when the roots are actually growing right out of the holes, I’ll loosen the pot before picking up the plant at the base, lifting it out (can be hard when the plant is big though!) adding an inch or so of potting mix, then place back into the pot. This will just give it a little more room for a while longer without having to do a big re-pot again. Monsteras tend to grow best when slightly rootbound so don’t re-pot too often! You can also carry out some root pruning but more on that later…
How do you encourage holes in the leaves? Mine are mostly beautiful heart shapes but without holes…
This is a really common question + it might surprise you to know that there are many different types of monsteras in cultivation! Quite a lot of plants on the market today have been developed to suit our homes + one of the most common cultivars is the Monstera deliciosa ‘borsigiana’. This type of monstera is quite probably what you will buy in your average nursery or plant shop, particularly here in the UK. With smaller leaves + a more compact growth habit, these plants can grow into large specimens but the leaves don’t reach the scale or have the beautiful, plentiful fenestrations of a ‘true’ mature monstera.
In general, younger plants have no splits until they reach around 2-3 years old (see my baby plant above) + as the plant matures, some people like to cut off these ‘non-holey‘ leaves to direct the energy of the plant into making more mature leaves (often with slits/ holes!)
The other option to be aware of is plants grown from cuttings — a cutting taken from a mature plant can also produce larger, more mature leaves + skip that young-leaf, no-hole issue.
How to re-pot a big monstera when there’s a moss pole all wrapped up in the roots?
Where possible, I like to leave the pole that supports my main plant intact, so if you can make a new moss pole that connects to the old one that would be ideal. The second time I repotted my two monsteras, I did remove the poles + have a detailed blogpost about that HERE!
When I repotted my plants again this Spring, I found that even when loosening the roots, the pole stayed in place to some extent. I just needed to adjust some of the stems and ties.
What do you do with the aerial roots? Can you cut them at all? I’ve wrapped them around the plastic pot my monstera is planted in and tucked them into the basket that it sits in but I’m worried this damages them!
I know some people do cut the aerial roots, or tie them together at the back of their plant to keep them neat like a ponytail! Personally, I don’t cut them because my plant is more mature + I see the positive effects of feeding them back into the soil in the pot. If they aren’t long enough, you can train them around the support pole to grip on. If you have a moss pole, the aerial roots can get moisture from the support if you moisten it when watering.
Here’s an excerpt from my Monstera Madness Repotting Guide about this:
“…as visually weird as they might be, aerial roots on more mature monsteras should really be put to use and either fed back into the soil, into a moss pole, or in a vessel containing water. This helps nutrients and moisture reach the top of the plant, which will result in larger leaves with more holes (providing the other conditions such as light are adequate). I experimented with this and I can say it does make a difference.”
Best brand for organic worm castings?
A scoop of worm castings (also called vermicompost) mixed in with your compost can be a great way to keep your potting mix healthy + are great as a natural fertiliser — here’s a link to some for you to see more. It’s a good idea to keep a look out at local farm stores/markets for these!
If rootbound, how do I loosen the roots without damaging them?
This part of the process can seem daunting if you are new to plants + find the whole repotting process rather stressful. The best way I find to loosen the roots is with my hands, or a chopstick if things are very compacted. Start by squeezing the sides of the pot before taking the plant at the base + wiggling it out. If your plant is root-bound, the roots will have taken on the shape of the pot + can sit on a surface without collapsing. I have a tray I like to do this on, or in a bag in the bath works too! Yes, it can be a little messy + I’d advise wearing gardening gloves too. If you have a helper at this point, a second pair of hands can come in useful to hold the plant up as you work your way around the bottom of the root ball, lightly loosening the roots. You can trim off any dried up, dead roots + just check for rot while you are at it. It’s ok to give your plant a little shake to remove any old potting mix around those roots to make the process easier.
Do you re-pot with roots untouched or do you open them up?
I like to open my roots up, very gently as I find they acclimatise into their new pot well this way but again, it’s personal preference so do what works for you.
How do you get the leaves to face the same way?
This is another commonly asked question + it all comes down to light. Over the last few years my plant has grown pretty much against a wall in my west-facing apartment living room, facing a window. The plant has always been in the same position so it’s actually just shaped itself slowly over this time! I have the support pole towards the back of a pot like a ‘spine’ as opposed to in the middle which also helps. I will admit that since moving, it is taking some time to adjust, so I’d recommend not moving it around too often if you can help it! Your plant will naturally move its leaves to face the light, especially if the window is opposite the plant. If you notice your monstera stretching its growth it means it might not be getting enough light.
When is the best time to repot one? Do they mind being root bound until next Spring?
Repotting during the growing season is advisable — I knew my plants needed a re-pot around December but waited until Spring to do it. I also wouldn’t recommend repotting right before moving house or immediately after moving (which is why I waited a little longer than I normally would). I’ve got a mini series about moving with houseplants here on my blog because I moved earlier this year, here’s a link to the post-move plant care where I talk about repotting some more.
Monsteras don’t mind being root-bound + mine have grown happily with roots growing out of the drainage holes for longer than I care to admit 🙂 You could remove the top layer of compost + top dress the pot with a fresh layer of potting mix to keep things going a bit, but watch out for any signs your plant is not coping with being pot-bound any more. Be aware of browning leaf tips + also remember that the fuller the pot is with roots, the more regularly the plant will need watering! I was watering my big plant every 4-5 days before it needed repotting as it was drying out so quickly, whereas normally I water around once every 7-10 days.
Do I have to take care not to plant it too deep into the pot? I have heard trying to keep part of the main stem slightly above the soil, possibly to mimic it in its natural habitat where the roots are not buried deep into the soil.
That’s an interesting question! I do think it’s a good idea to not plant too deep in the pot because if the base of the stem is too deep in potting mix, there can be potential rot-issues if the plant is overwatered. As a general guide for placement, I like the base of my plant to be a few inches lower than the top of the pot so that there is plenty of room to top-dress before a re-pot if needed.
What happens if you don’t repot? will it just stay the same size (great for small apartments) or will it get unhealthy?
Over a long time, the health of your monstera will decline if the plant is not given another pot, but this can take a few years to get to this point! I re-pot my plants every 12-18 months because I’m actively choosing to pot them on, but if you don’t have the room or want to keep your plant in the same pot there are a few options which will also help keep your monstera happy + not suffering. Here’s a note from my previous monstera repotting post:
POTTING ON vs ROOT PRUNING vs TOP DRESSING a question that arises when potting on more mature plants such as monsteras is ‘do I want it to grow bigger?’ I often get customers telling me about their family plants that have been banished to a hallway or similar because ‘they got too big!’. If you want to restrict the growth of your plant, you can root prune or top dress instead of going up in pot sizes. Root pruning involves keeping the plant in its current pot, but trimming the roots and replanting. Top dressing means removing the top inch or so and adding a fresh layer of soil to the top of your pot.
You can also keep the top of your plant more manageable in size by taking cuttings to propagate — enabling your plant to stay the right size for you. If your space is really limited though, consider whether a monstera is the right choice for your space. There are other types of monstera such as the monstera adansonii which are better suited to a small space.
What potting mix do you use + what do you feed your monstera?
In terms of my potting mix, I like to use peat-free houseplant compost/ with some chunky coco coir if I have some, pumice or perlite/ a little horticultural grit + orchid bark. I don’t measure my mixes because I do it by eye, but approximately I use half compost/coco, quarter pumice/perlite/ grit + quarter bark. You can also add in activated charcoal which helps to remove soil impurities + is a good insect deterrent.
I feed my monstera twice a month during the growing season using a balanced houseplant feed at half the recommended dilution rate. Worm castings are also a good source of nutrition which can be added into your potting mix if you want to experiment with those. If you have recently repotted your plant, it’s best to wait a few weeks to feed with liquid fertiliser again to allow the plant to adjust into its new home. Be sure to check if any part of your potting mix contains slow-release fertiliser as you might be inadvertently double feeding which can cause your plant some harm.
I need to re-pot my plant but I’m scared I’m going to upset her!
First of all, try not to panic + don’t rush at it. Get organised for a repotting session + check before you start if you have everything you need — compost, soil amendments like pumice + bark, plant ties, a suitable plant support oh + the right sized pot (go up one or two pot sizes at a time — no big jumps). Lay everything out so that it is all to hand. Then, as a final prep, have a look over my Monstera repotting guide to familiarise yourself with the process 🙂 Make a coffee/drink, get into the zone + slowly begin. I really don’t like to take on repotting when I’m in a bad mood or stressed! The answer is continued with the next question below too…
Got any post-potting care tips?
If you are gentle, the repotting process won’t cause major upset to your plant + once it’s in its new pot, give it a good shower to clean any dirt off the leaves + water well to settle the plant in. As your plant adjusts to its new, bigger pot, you might notice one or two of the oldest leaves at the base of the plant yellowing + will dry + drop. I like to wait until the leaf naturally dries before cutting it off as it will actually be giving some nutrients back to the main plant — how kind! As I said above, I don’t feed for 4-6 weeks after repotting my plants to let them adjust. Keep an eye on your watering — in a bigger pot, you might find your plant takes longer to dry out so check the moisture levels before watering as you did pre-potting! I stick my finger into the potting mix + wait until the top 1-2 inches has dried out before watering again, If I want to get deeper into the soil to see how things are lower down, I’ll use a hygrometer. Don’t be too alarmed if there aren’t any new leaves for a while either; this can also happen after a re-pot.
I set up a tripod + took lots of photos of the process so will share more of the process in another post. A bit of a longer post today but I hope this was helpful + thanks so much for your questions.