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Repotting needs of indoor plants like Monstera are informed by either visible root compaction, plant distress, or the need to introduce a vining stake.
Monsteras do well with some root compaction, but the plant’s ability to access water and nutrition diminishes as the roots fill the pot.
Repotting into a slightly larger pot is advised when roots start growing out of the pot’s drainage hole or when there’s evidence of plant distress.
10 Reasons to Repot Your Monstera
There are several signs gardeners can look out for that signal a plant needs a growing environment upgrade.
There are also some proactive reasons a gardener may want to repot their Monstera. Here’s a list of 10 common reasons:
- Yellowing Leaves
- Root Health Concerns
- Roots Growing Out of Drainage Holes
- Changes in Watering Needs
- Slowing Growth
- New Plants
- Need to Insert a Vining Stake
- Pot Changes
- Drainage Concerns
- Propagation by Root Division
If your Monstera has yellowing leaves, you can get quality guidance in my 9 Reasons Monstera Leaves Turn Yellow – Prevent And Fix article. As listed in that article, the most common reason is poor root health.
Grow Monsteras in rich soil mixed with lots of root space to encourage the development of larger leaves. They tend to grow quickly, so support is necessary to prevent the stems from breaking.
Soil can be classified as healthy if it provides an environment where plant roots can thrive. Access to moisture, air, nutrients, and symbiotic relationships with microorganisms contribute to a healthy growing environment.
Root Health Concerns
Irrespective of your soil’s ability to trap air even when flooded (saturation porosity), if the water addition and drainage cycles are out of sync, that porosity is lost.
Saturation porosity depends on thorough watering followed by total draining.
Following a watering and draining cycle, some water remains known as field capacity – the excess is drained.
Air also remains available to the plant roots, even at the saturation point – this is referred to as saturation porosity.
If water is continuously added without allowing a drying period between the saturation points, porosity becomes compromised, i.e., the air holding capacity of the soil is lost.
Symptoms of Overwatering
Yellowing leaves and rotting roots are signs of overwatering.
Overwatering is the main reason why potted plants die. When surrounded by water, roots cannot absorb oxygen – remember, they require moisture and oxygen like humans.
The general rule is to only water when necessary. To decide when to water, one may use any of the following techniques:
- Touch the soil: Feeling how dry the potting soil feels is the most reliable way to measure the soil’s moisture content. Water is required if the mixture feels dry at the tip after inserting your finger up to your second digit.
- Tap the pot: A pot’s potting mixture shrinks away from the sides as it dries out. Tapping the pot’s side with a stick or your knuckles indicates how full a pot is. Water is needed if the sound is hollow; if the sound is dull, the soil is moist.
- Estimate weight: It’s easy to see a weight reduction as potting mixtures dry up.
Water deeply when the soil is dry, filling the pot with water until the entire root system is drenched.
A thorough watering ensures that most of the roots in the bottom two-thirds of the pot receive enough water while removing accumulated salts.
Roots Growing Out Of Drainage Holes
Root compaction occurs when roots are so abundant that they are pressed together, reducing the space between them. Heavily compacted roots contain fewer gaps for water and nutrition.
A compacted root system has a reduced rate of water infiltration and drainage. It happens because large pores more effectively move water downward through the soil than smaller pores.
In addition, the exchange of gases slows down in compacted root systems, causing an increase in the likelihood of aeration-related problems.
Finally, a compacted root system also means roots must exert greater force to penetrate the compacted layers.
One of the most evident signs that your roots are compacted is their emergence from the pot’s drainage holes. By the time this happens, roots are generally severely crowded.
Changes in watering Needs
The most significant difficulty with noticing changes in watering needs is that the change over time is subtle.
Also, with changes in summer and winter watering routines, seeing that your plant cannot retain water might be hard to detect.
The best way is to observe the drainage after a good soaking. If the water you put in is similar to what drains, it means that there is little water holding capacity in the soil and that repotting is needed.
If your Monstera’s roots become compacted or your root health is compromised, the plant’s growth rate suffers. When Monsteras are healthy, they develop rapidly, and a slowing is generally related to root health.
Other reasons for slow growth that don’t entail repotting might be humidity levels, temperature changes, or light quality. Plants thrive only when they’re pleased.
If the plant’s environment hasn’t changed significantly and growth has slowed, check your plant’s roots, and while you’re at it, create a new domain for it, either in the same pot or a bigger pot, depending on root health and compaction.
Nurseries are economic enterprises driven by profitability. The pots and potting soils used, unless sold as a feature, are generally just enough to keep the plant alive up to the point of sale.
It is good practice to repot a newly acquired houseplant into soil that drains well and can manage humidity and aeration well.
It is also an excellent time to include a moss pole for your Monstera to grow up – improving its health and fenestration.
Need to Insert a Vining Stake
Check my article on How to Stake a Monstera for more details. While it’s possible to introduce a stake without repotting, the chances of damaging roots make repotting a better option.
Listen! Not everything needs to be a product of lateral thought processes. I’m berating myself here. Sometimes what we do can be random.
Sometimes repotting may be because we want a change, a different pot, a new look, or a different aesthetic feel.
Root compaction, as mentioned above, is indicated by most of the added water draining out, i.e., a low field capacity.
If very little of the water drains out, it may indicate that the pot’s drainage is blocked and that the roots are more than likely standing in water.
If you check your Monstera pot’s drainage, repotting can be done simultaneously, providing a fresh environment for your plant.
Propagation by Root Division
As I explain in my How to Propagate Monstera deliciosa, there are several ways of propagating a Monstera – root division being one of them.
This means you will remove the plant from the pot, providing an excellent opportunity to repot your Monstera.
Monstera Repotting Summary
As I have shown, you may need or want to repot your Monstera for several reasons. Before choosing plant relocation to solve challenges, you may have with your Monstera, check the root health first, as this is the most common cause of distress.
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