When left to their own devices, vining houseplants, like Monstera, can grow to impressive lengths. However, they generally don’t branch.
So, how can you get the Swiss cheese plants to grow bigger?
The short answer is that you notch them. Stick around to learn about notching Monstera plants and two mistakes to avoid to ensure the notching process is successful!
Yes, you can notch Monstera plants to create new branches.
For those who don’t know, notching is a method that stimulates plants to grow new branches. You simply make a small cut in the Monstera’s stem, creating a stressful situation for the plant.
While that sounds painful, notching is still beneficial. You see, unlike humans, plants can’t use the cell migration process to heal wounds because they don’t have blood.
As a result, they rely on other mechanisms to heal any cuts since wounds make them vulnerable to pathogen attacks. One of the methods plants use to overcome that stress is increased auxin production.
Auxin is a plant growth hormone found in both shoots and roots. It’s responsible for cell division, elongation, and plant growth, among other functions.
When plants have a wound, the surrounding cells increase auxin production to stretch and fill the cut. Consequently, new branches grow in the stressed area.
So, notching encourages the outward growth of plants while they’re still increasing in height.
Notching Monstera plants is pretty straightforward. All you need is a healthy, growing plant, a clean, sharp knife, a rooting hormone (optional), and proper growing conditions.
Let’s dig deeper into how to notch those plants!
Identifying the appropriate notching spot is crucial for the success of the branching process.
So, where should you notch the Monstera plants?
Generally, you should pick healthy-growing plants that aren’t too young so that they survive the stress. You also need to find a node directly below the area where you want the new growth.
In case you’re wondering, nodes are the points where leaves meet the stem. To find nodes, simply look for the place where leaves grow.
Keep in mind that nodes are on the main stem, not the branches. If you have a difficult time identifying the former structure, look for any area that’s raised, contains a leaf sheath, or has traces of a fallen leaf.
Additionally, try to notch branches in the upper third of your plant. Don’t forget to mark branching spots at an equal distance from each other.
The former two tips help your Monstera achieve a beautiful tree-like shape with the new branches.
Still, any healthy stem would do as long as the cut is above a node. Why? Well, that’s because the new branch doesn’t grow from the notch itself—remember?
The growth emerges from the surrounding cells, which are the nodes right below the cut. There, you can find dormant leaf buds waiting to sprout, so once you cut the stem, the buds start growing.
Before making any cuts, make sure to use a sharp knife or pruning shears for a clean cut. Of course, the equipment should be sterile to prevent pathogens from entering the plant through the wound.
Once you have the knife in hand, simply make a 45-degree angle cut around a quarter of an inch above the node.
Additionally, try to punch in around a quarter of the way through the stem. However, the cut’s depth varies depending on the stem’s thickness.
Repeat the above process twice: once with the shears facing upward and once with the shears facing downward to remove a triangular piece from the stem.
If you made a successful cut, you should see sap, the white liquid, oozing out of the wound. If you don’t see the white liquid, cut deeper into the stem.
It’s worth mentioning that not all notches lead to new growth. To increase the chances of success, make multiple wounds—around six cuts at a time.
Don’t go overboard with the cutting, though. That can damage your Monsteras, so use your better judgment.
Once you make the cuts, you can dab on the rooting hormone using a clean cotton ball. While the former step is optional, it might increase the chance of Monstera branching.
Additionally, you can mark the wounds with a ribbon to make it easier to keep track of the growth.
After you’re done with the notching process, you just have to wait and look out for new growth. It can take a month or so to see new branches emerge.
Meanwhile, make sure to keep your Monstera plants under suitable growth conditions. That includes maintaining regular watering and misting the leaves occasionally to create humidity.
Don’t forget to place the evergreen plant near bright, indirect light and fertilize every few weeks to ensure your plants thrive.
If all goes well, you’ll notice a tiny bump followed by the growth of a new leaf shoot. Then, you’ll see multiple leaves and a branch growing out of the node.
Here are two mistakes to avoid when notching Monstera plants:
As mentioned earlier, notching requires the plant to be healthy. If your Monstera is leggy, has rot, and isn’t growing, chances are notching won’t work.
Additionally, steer clear of dead branches. Yes, the plant might grow fine but still contain dead branches.
To differentiate between nonliving and living branches, make a deep cut. If you don’t find sap coming out of the wound, that’s a sign the branch is woody all the way through.
So, you’ll have to cut lower until you see the white sap.
Additionally, remember to notch during the growing seasons, which run from spring to fall. Avoid branching Monstera plants in winter. That’s because the plants are dormant during the cold, so they won’t give good results.
Notching young Monstera plants is another mistake that reduces their chances of success.
Generally, notching works best for plants that are in the adolescent stage and not too young. In the case of the evergreen plant, the juvenile phase generally begins three months after germination.
So you want to notch the plants once they have a wooden stem, not a green, pliable stem. You can try pruning or pinching instead of notching to get the young Monstera plants to branch.
As you can see, notching Monstera plants is quite simple. Simply use a sterile knife to make a triangular cut above the nodes in the main stem.
Once you cut the Monstera, dab the plants with rooting hormone and keep them under appropriate conditions.
However, only notch adult, healthy Monstera plants. That way, you can ensure your precious houseplants branch out and grow in size!
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.