Should You Really Put Monstera’s Aerial Roots In Water?

Are you a proud owner of a beautiful Monstera that has reached its peak years and started growing aerial roots?

If it’s your first time seeing aerial roots in your plant, you might find yourself puzzled by it.

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Aerial roots close up

Many Monstera owners wonder if they should immerse these curious appendages in water.

Let’s explore this question in depth and provide some practical tips for managing your Monstera’s aerial roots.

Understanding the Monstera and Its Aerial Roots

Originating from the dense jungles of Central and South America, the Monstera is naturally a climber.

These hearty plants attach their robust aerial roots to trees, creeping upwards toward the sunlight. That’s why in the wild, they are considered to be invasive.

Aerials roots on coco pole

The aerial roots serve three main functions: providing physical support, absorbing water and nutrients, and detecting humidity.

Support

In their native tropical jungle environment, Monstera plants are natural climbers.

They use their aerial roots to attach themselves to trees or other structures, providing stability as they grow upwards.

These roots can anchor the plant and allow it to reach towards the sunlight.

Nutrient and Water Absorption

Aerial roots can absorb moisture and nutrients directly from the air.

In the humid environment of a tropical jungle, this is an efficient way for the plant to supplement the nutrients it gets from the soil.

This is especially useful when the plant is growing high up on a tree, away from the nutrient-rich ground.

Humidity Detection

Aerial roots can also help the plant sense the surrounding humidity levels. If the air is too dry, the plant can respond by slowing its growth or adjusting its water usage.

Remember, while these roots have evolved to perform these functions in the wild, indoor conditions can be quite different.

To Water or Not To Water?

Should you submerge these aerial roots in water? Contrary to some beliefs, the answer is NO.

Monstera cuttings with fenestrations in a glass jar of water

These roots are adapted to absorb moisture from the air, not from standing water. Continual exposure to water can lead to root rot, a condition that can severely damage or even kill your plant.

Will Monstera Roots Rot in Water?

Yes, Monstera roots can rot if they are continuously exposed to water.

While Monstera plants require regular watering to keep the soil moist, their aerial roots are not designed to be submerged in water for extended periods.

When aerial roots are constantly wet, they become vulnerable to root rot.

Root rot occurs when the roots are deprived of oxygen due to excessive moisture, leading to the growth of harmful fungi and bacteria. The roots become mushy, discolored, and may emit a foul odor.

If left untreated, root rot can spread to the rest of the plant, causing significant damage and potentially killing the Monstera.

Learn more about root rot in Monsteras here: This Hidden Threat Can Ruin Your Monstera: Tackling Root Rot, Your Plant’s Worst Foe

Do Monstera Aerial Roots Need to Be in Soil?

Monstera aerial roots do not necessarily need to be in soil.

In their natural habitat, these roots serve multiple functions, including providing support, absorbing moisture and nutrients from the air, and anchoring the plant to trees or other structures.

However, in indoor settings, the use of soil for Monstera aerial roots is not always required.

Monstera aerial roots up close

If your Monstera’s aerial roots are not causing any issues or obstructions, you can allow them to grow freely. They can add an interesting aesthetic to the plant and may even contribute to its stability.

You can position the aerial roots within the potting soil, but it is not mandatory for their survival.

It’s important to note that the primary source of water and nutrients for the Monstera plant comes from its regular root system in the soil. The aerial roots primarily serve as supplemental support and absorptive structures.

As long as the regular roots are well-nourished and the plant is receiving proper care, the aerial roots can continue their natural growth without being directly inserted into soil.

If the aerial roots become overly long or intrusive, you can gently guide them back into the potting mix, allowing them to establish a connection with the soil and potentially absorb some additional nutrients.

However, this step is not essential for the overall health and well-being of your Monstera.

How to Care for Aerial Roots

So, if submerging them in water isn’t the answer, how should you care for your Monstera’s aerial roots? Here are some expert tips:

Humidity

Monsteras hail from tropical climates and thus, they thrive in humid conditions.

Humidifier for plants

If your home is relatively dry, consider misting your Monstera or placing a humidifier near it.

You can also place your Monstera in the bathroom where it can benefit from the steamy conditions.

Directing Roots

Aerial roots can grow quite long and may interfere with your space. If this happens, you can gently direct them back into the pot.

This will also enable the roots to contribute to the overall stability of the plant, and perhaps even aid in nutrient absorption.

Pruning

If the roots become too unwieldy, don’t be afraid to give them a trim. Pruning won’t harm your plant, as long as you use a sterile tool and don’t overdo it.

Hands holding a Monstera stalk and garden scissors

A rule of thumb is to never remove more than 20% of the root mass at a time.

Moss Poles

Since Monsteras are natural climbers, providing a moss pole or some other form of support can encourage the plant to grow upwards and make use of its aerial roots.

The roots can attach to the pole and absorb moisture from it, much like they would in their natural habitat.

See this moss pole on Amazon.

No Water Needed for Aerial Roots

While it might be tempting to submerge your Monstera’s aerial roots in water, it’s not the best care strategy.

Instead, focus on replicating the plant’s natural humid environment, managing the growth of the roots, and even providing opportunities for climbing.

Do you have overgrown aerial roots? Read here to learn proper trimming: Why You Should Trim The Aerial Roots Of Your Monstera: Tips For A Healthier, Happier Plant

Should You Really Put Monstera's Aerial Roots In Water