Ask a Question forum: Monstera Deliciosa - (faux split leaf philodendron) pruning question

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Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
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Zuni
Jan 25, 2018 12:34 AM CST
I happened to be walking my dog and saw a big sign for free stuff where someone was moving. The short version is, I now have a ton of plants I hadn't anticipated having LOL.

They all look very neglected, and I tossed a bunch of them just to keep the pots. But, one of the plants that looks salvageable is a monstera deliciosa.

I've never had one before. It's definitely alive, but most leaves are pretty yellow, although a few have a decent color to them. The plant is in a large pot with a wooden stake, and is about 4 feet tall including the pot.

The pot doesn't have a drain hole, which is an easy fix for me. I have a drill.

The soil looks good.

Don't see any bugs.

This plant has lots and lots of really long air roots - like 4 - 5 feet long! Never seen the like. My guess is it was it's attempt to get what it needed in a too-wet pot.

It was also kept outside and it's been too cold. Not quite freezing, but in the 30's. I currently have it inside and plan to keep it inside.

So, my main question is - how severe can I be with pruning this bad boy? And can I cut the air roots way back? Can I wack off the top and will it bush up?

I can't stand leggy-looking plants. If a photo would be helpful, I can take one and upload it. But, basically, my question is about pruning. Can I severely prune it, will it bush up if I do so, and can I wack off these air roots without killing it?

Thanks!
[Last edited by Zuni - Jan 25, 2018 12:37 AM (+)]
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 25, 2018 11:59 AM CST
Better/best send a picture.
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 25, 2018 2:53 PM CST
Yes, let's have a photo. My advice in the interim would be to keep it in a sunny, warm location and water only when the top quarter of the soil is dry. Watch for healthy new growth to know you are on the right track before attempting to prune it back.

As long as the roots are healthy, you should be able to cut it back pretty far and then you will get a new shoot just below the pruning cut, However, it will probably be just a single shoot and not several stems or branches.

The air roots serve no purpose once the Monstera is potted. You can leave them as is or prune them off, as you choose.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
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Zuni
Jan 25, 2018 4:18 PM CST
@PhilipWonel thanks for being willing to check out the plant for me.

@WillC thank you for your advice. I took a few photos. The plant actually looks more yellow than in the photo. The photo makes it look better than it actually is lol.

I'm glad I can go ahead and trim back the air roots. It's sitting on my work bench right now in my hobby room. It has wonderful light - southern facing large window. It's not in direct light now but is getting lots of bright indirect light from the window.

Okay, so here's my plan:

Trim off the dead leaves
Cut back the air roots
Drill some holes in the bottom of the pot
Wait for it to start showing new life before doing any other major pruning.

I can put it into another corner in that room where it will get the same great indirect light, but no direct sunlight.

I am also thinking to remove the other plants that were put into the pot with it. They look like some kind of lily.

Sound good? Thanks for your advice. Smiling


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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 25, 2018 4:25 PM CST
I like your plan, Sue. Your Monstera is in better shape than I thought it would be.

You might consider repositioning the stake so that it is more upright. You can do that any time.

That looks like the type of pot that does have drain holes inside the attached saucer. If so, drilling may not be necessary. On the other hand, it may be the holes are clogged with roots.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
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Zuni
Jan 25, 2018 4:52 PM CST
@WillC - you're brilliant! Thanks. I think you're right. I think it's one of those "self-watering" types. I'll see if I can just get the bottom off.

It's actually perked up just since I brought it in a couple days ago. The photo does make it look greener than it really is, but it is looking much better this afternoon.

Also, I actually broke the stake when I was moving it around LOL. It's broken, so will have to be shoved farther down or maybe I'll just get a new stake for it.

What's funny is that I have been organizing that room to turn it into my hobby/garden room and finally setting up my workbench again (my converted old dresser) and unpacking boxes, put down a nice area rug that won't show all of my messy hobbies, slowly selling stuff on Craigslist that won't work in this apartment - basically, the idea being to not put a bunch more junk in there, but to get rid of junk and find places to put everything away, etc. And now, it's got a ton of plants all over the place that need to be taken care of, and are in the way of what I'm trying to accomplish LOL.

But, that's what happens when free stuff falls in your lap. You don't usually get free stuff on your schedule.

I like my instant jungle, overall, though. And I love that it was free! But, now I need to keep moving the plants around while I'm trying to organize...

A good problem Smiling
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 25, 2018 6:32 PM CST
Sue - It's not really a self-watering pot, although they may describe it that way. Marketing! Just pry off the saucer and don't worry if it breaks. You can always get another saucer to put under it. Be sure to inspect the drain holes to make sure they are not clogged.

When I moved a number of years ago to a smaller space, I had to get rid of a lot of stuff. I knew I had to be ruthless. So glad I was and I am happy to have a little more living space. Plants are a problem because they grow larger and they so easily lend themselves to propagation and more plants. My solution is to keep plants pruned once they have reached an attractive size and I never repot them. Any plants that I propagate have to be given away once they are well-established.

Good luck with your Monstera and your organizing. My understanding is that housing costs are actually worse in SF than in NYC. Good luck with that!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
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Zuni
Jan 26, 2018 12:08 AM CST
WillC said:Sue - It's not really a self-watering pot, although they may describe it that way. Marketing! Just pry off the saucer and don't worry if it breaks. You can always get another saucer to put under it. Be sure to inspect the drain holes to make sure they are not clogged.

When I moved a number of years ago to a smaller space, I had to get rid of a lot of stuff. I knew I had to be ruthless. So glad I was and I am happy to have a little more living space. Plants are a problem because they grow larger and they so easily lend themselves to propagation and more plants. My solution is to keep plants pruned once they have reached an attractive size and I never repot them. Any plants that I propagate have to be given away once they are well-established.

Good luck with your Monstera and your organizing. My understanding is that housing costs are actually worse in SF than in NYC. Good luck with that!


@WillC I am blessed to have affordable senior housing in San Jose now. It took a long time and that's a long story, involving me having to move away for several years to get it, but my housing is affordable now and I'm back where I want to be. Hurray!

I love your rule - give away all cuttings! LOL. Perfect. And now I'm understanding why you advocate not repotting, too.

So....the saga continues....

I put the "monster" into the bathtub to deal with it. the bottom did come off of the pot, but the holes in the pot were used as the way to attach the bottom saucer to it, with bumps on the saucer that fit into the holes - so, it couldn't drain. Incredibly dumb design. But, now that the holes are unplugged, it does drain - yay!

There were some bugs, but not too bad. Hopefully, they won't multiply like mad in the apartment. I'll deal with them if/when I have to. But, I didn't see any damage to the plant. They were just hitchhikers from the plant being outside, mainly, it looks like. A couple spiders, a couple sow bugs, saw a few tiny mites. Time will tell if they end up being bad guys.

Anyway, I wrestled with this beast in my bathtub and cut off all of the air roots so I could see what I had to work with, cut off dead stuff, practically filled my kitchen garbage can up with debris. Then, I unwrapped the vines that were curling around on itself, pulled out the stakes (there were two in there) - and what was left was a really sorry long vine, mostly. It had areas that were really thin and wimpy, and then there'd be life with green leaves, then wimpy thin areas and more green areas with leaves.

And some of the air roots had actually rooted and created new plants in the pot.

So, I ended up just going ahead and cutting out the separate areas that had leaves. It was like it had created it's own cuttings/plants that just happened to be still attached to the vine. And the main original vine that had been hanging over the side of the pot, I just put that bent "elbow" into the soil and put the other cuttings into the soil, too. It seems to just create roots all over the place from the nodes, so I'm assuming it will just root. I had some fresh soil to top it up with and help bury the "cuttings."

I pulled out the other plants that were in there, too, and I'm glad I did, as they were really taking up a lot of root space, with these long bulbish tuber thingies (technical term LOL), and really tenacious roots. They had clusters of finger-sized tuber things. Just really crazy. No idea what they were. Should have taken a photo just to learn what they were, but oh well...

So....turned out I did end up doing a massive job on this poor beast afterall. Didn't intend to, but once it was all unraveled, it just didn't make sense to just wrap it all back around the stakes.

So, it should end up a nice bushy plant, if I didn't completely freak it out LOL. Time will tell.

And you're right about thinking about how big this sucker could get. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep it a manageable size. Worst case scenario, if I get it nice and green and healthy and it gets too big - I'll sell it or give it away on Craigslist LOL. Or, actually, I could probably just put it in our apartment indoor hallway right outside my apartment door. There are a few plants out there that residents take care of, under a nice skylight.

I am guessing that these plants, in the wild, are like kudzu in the south, where they just take over, climbing up everything and rooting everywhere they go. I could see them creating really impenetrable barriers. Monster is a good name for them. Delicious Monster. Funny, yet appropriate name.

Thanks for your help and advice, and if it keels, it will be because I didn't take it lol. Even though I meant to. Smiling Crossing fingers it makes it anyway. Crossing Fingers!

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Name: Frenchy
Falls Church, VA (Zone 7b)
Container Gardener Dog Lover Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Tomato Heads Hostas
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Frenchy21
Jan 26, 2018 12:39 AM CST
@Zuni Sue - great job! I tip my hat to you. That looks like a totally different and 'new' plant. After all that work are you going to name it? Hilarious! Smiling
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
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Zuni
Jan 26, 2018 12:48 AM CST
Frenchy21 said:@Zuni Sue - great job! I tip my hat to you. That looks like a totally different and 'new' plant. After all that work are you going to name it? Hilarious! Smiling


LOL! Something to do with Beast..... Maybe Brutus? Arnold? ha ha. "I'll be back...bwhahahaaa"

Good thing I took a shower before I started wrestling the beast. I'm too tired to even wipe off the pot, let alone clean the tub.

Hope he makes it.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 26, 2018 9:02 AM CST
Gosh Sue, you tamed Audrey 2 !!!
( Little Shopp Of Horror's ) Rolling on the floor laughing
Good Job 👍 Hurray!
Now, if you didn't get much roots, don't freek if she loses several of her leaves, because roots can't support them all. She'll be making new leaves soon. 👍
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Jan 26, 2018 10:57 AM CST
Terrific! I love that you were willing to remove the stake. Personally, I hate stakes and other artificial crutches. What you did is a clear example of what judicious pruning can do for an overgrown plant. Much better alternative than ever-taller stakes!

Glad your housing situation is settled!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
Image
Zuni
Jan 26, 2018 9:08 PM CST
Philipwonel said:Gosh Sue, you tamed Audrey 2 !!!
( Little Shopp Of Horror's ) Rolling on the floor laughing
Good Job 👍 Hurray!
Now, if you didn't get much roots, don't freek if she loses several of her leaves, because roots can't support them all. She'll be making new leaves soon. 👍
😎😎😎


Oh my gosh! In my younger days, I was actually in community theater and was in that show. What fun! I knew exactly what you meant when you said Audrey lol.
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
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Zuni
Jan 26, 2018 9:09 PM CST
WillC said:Terrific! I love that you were willing to remove the stake. Personally, I hate stakes and other artificial crutches. What you did is a clear example of what judicious pruning can do for an overgrown plant. Much better alternative than ever-taller stakes!

Glad your housing situation is settled!


Thanks! And for the acorn, too. Really nice of you. Thank You!
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
Plant Database Moderator Region: California Cottage Gardener Roses Irises Clematis
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Calif_Sue
Jan 26, 2018 11:59 PM CST

Moderator

Great job! I hope to have a good sized Monstera one of these days. From one Sue to another, also a former San Jose resident! (1964-2011)
My gardening Blog!
Hand sewn wares and vintage finds in my Etsy store. Summer Song Cottage

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