House Plants/Monstera Pruning
I hope you can assist. I have this Monstera (named Arthur) for more than 40 years. Arthur is now pot bound in the largest pot I can buy and keep indoors. (3ft dia.) Also, Arthur has a center stem that is roughly 4 feet tall where long stemed leaves have been sprouting all these years. Now the leaves sprouting from the top of the stem do not seem to grow to maturity (too far to pump water and nutrients?).
Can I cut the Stem? If so how much, to the soil or less?
Can I trim the roots and repot in the same pot?
Arthur has lives all over the US and is a member of the family, as are three of his offspring. Please see if you can help as he is getting a bit leggy.
Monstera deliciosa and Philodendron selloum are often confused because they both have similar leaves. Monsteras have long, vining stems with leaves all along the stems. Selloums have single very thick, upright stems with foliage growing from the top. From your description, I suspect yours is a Selloum and I will answer your question accordingly. I do encourage you to search for photos of both these plants so you can be sure I have identified it correctly. If I have not, then please post a photo of yours here or email it to my address posted below.
If new leaves of a Selloum are coming in small, that is because it is not getting as much light as it once did when it was grown in a greenhouse. This does not mean the plant is unhealthy or deprived of water or nutrients. It simply means the plant is adapting to the reduced light by producing smaller leaves. It often takes several years for all of the original leaves to be replaced with smaller leaves.
If the new leaves are distorted and dying before they mature, then there is a root and watering problem - usually not allowing the soil to dry properly between waterings. I don't know how tightly potted your plant is so it is hard for me to give precise watering instructions. However, if it properly potted, then you should water only when the top quarter of the soil dries out.
Selloums can be pruned back to any height but at least 8 inches above the soil. However, that will not solve the problems of inadequate light or improper watering. Pruning back the stem will shorten the stem, but will not improve the size or condition of new leaf growth. Until you have identified the cause of the problem, root pruning would not be appropriate.
I have written articles on pruning, repotting and on Philodendron care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com. I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.
Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.
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Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC
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