Taking cuttings from monstera deliciosa (other wise known as Swiss Cheese plants) is a cost effective way of getting plants for free. The best monstera have huge notched leaves and these only come with age. If you’ve got access to a large leaved plant of a friend or relative, and they’re willing to give you a cutting, this will be the best way of getting a big leaved plant without having to break the bank. Any plant can be used as source material for cuttings though and even a relatively cheap shop-bought small plant can give you the opportunity to create some new plants for free.
Monstera deliciosa as houseplants
Monstera hail from the tropics of South America and are extremely popular houseplants. Coping well with the dry environment of centrally heated homes, and putting up with a bit of neglect and irregular watering, it is little surprise they’re so popular.
Of course the glossy green leaves, heavily notched with holes and gashes only add to their appeal and there’s nothing more exciting than seeing a huge new leaf unfurl from the stem of a mature plant.
Monstera cuttings from a family heirloom
My large leaved monsteras are all babies taken from a 50 year old parent plant – a family heirloom. The plant grew in the corner of my parents’ dining room and my mother liked to tell the story of how she fed it excess blood taken from her as part of scientific research at Oxford University. Such feeding regimes would be impossible now but who knows – in the the 70s it may well have been a thing?!
Moving with the family from Oxford to Sheffield, and then with my brother to London when my mother died, the family monstera grew to monstrous proportions. When my brother sold his house in London he suggested that I come and get the monstera. By then it had been growing in the ground in the corner of a conservatory for 15 years and was too big to dig up and certainly too big for my car. I breathed in deeply, borrowed his secateurs and took some huge cuttings, unsure if they would root. They all did.
How to take cuttings
My foray into taking monstrously sized monstera cuttings shows just how easy it is. Not only do cuttings root easily in water but also directly into compost. The aerial roots which you see developing at the side of each leaf node are used to search out material to root into for support and sustenance in the forests, where monsteras are natural epiphytes – using larger trees as hosts. When an aerial root hits the ground it will also develop proper roots too. So strictly speaking the monstera is classified as a hemiepiphyte as it will root in the ground as well as in host trees.
Take a look at this YouTube clip, where I show an example of where an aerial root has grounded, where to make your cut and how to root in soil or water if you prefer. If you prefer you can also read below how to go about taking your cuttings. Each of the cuttings shown in the footage is now a healthy houseplant decorating my kitchen or sitting room.
Where to make your cut
The picture above shows a fairly large plant and where, if you chose to, you could take a cutting. Leaf nodes are swellings in the stem and tend also to have aerial roots forming at these points. These nodes are where there will be a concentration of the hormone called auxins which stimulate rooting.
The picture on the left shows a younger plant with numerous stems climbing up a string. The plant has many individual sections which could be used for cuttings if desired. This plant is the one featured in the YouTube video above and shows how a plant can bounce back from having cuttings taken from it. New stems develop from just below where the cutting was taken.
Rooting into water
This method is good for smaller cuttings and will suit the curious control freaks amongst us, as you can check regularly to spot root development. Cut a stem below a leaf node and put your cutting into a glass of clean water. Change the water regularly and watch and wait for the roots to form. It’s possible to take the cutting with some aerial root attached and also without. The two pictures below show the roots that have developed after 4-6 weeks in a glass of water, one from an aerial root, the other directly from a leaf node where in time an aerial root would have developed.
The method for creating your cutting is exactly the same as with water but instead you place the cutting directly into a pot of compost and keep it moist but not waterlogged. The roots will develop in the same way as in water but you are denied the opportunity to check on the development of the roots. You will know that it has worked as the plant will start to thrive, throw out new leaves and – the biggest test that a cutting as worked – the plant won’t wither and die!
Cuttings from large plants
I would argue against rooting into water for a very large cutting as you would need a large bucket or tub! Also, placing the cutting into soil will provide it some stablility as you wait for it to root.
Taking the cutting is identical to smaller plants, you need to identify a node and cut below this. Before making your cut, take a look at the parent plant and assess the impact on its appearance of removing your chosen material. Don’t worry too much though as the plant should recover and can regenerate from the point you take the cutting.
When I took my large plant cuttings, I chose nodes with aerial roots already emerging and when I potted up the cutting I placed it, aerial roots and all, into the pot. These will have sent out ground roots into the soil. I don’t know how long my large plant cuttings took to root but the first new leaf came on one a few months after potting up.
Good luck with your monstera cuttings – I hope you have the confidence to try!