Monstera Deliciosa, also known as the Swiss Cheese Plant, Hurricane Plant, or just Monstera Plant, is a tropical species of flowering plants in the family Araceae. If you wandered down to the forests of southern Mexico and lower South American regions, you’d easily find it there. These plants are usually grown indoors when they’re kept in the southern regions, and people often plant them near a tree to give them the chance to show off their climbing skills.
However, with time, they’ve become very popular indoor plants, as it’s not difficult to care for them – even if the temperatures on the outside don’t allow for it. Its name derives from the fruit it sometimes produced (hence the Deliciosa) and the monstrous levels it can reach in size – hence the Monstera.
However, if you want your plant to be successful and healthy, you’re going to have to take proper care for it and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to do that instinctively. So, we suggest that you follow a few tips and tricks we’re about to show you to truly grow your Monstera to monstrous proportions.
Let’s get started!
Some General Facts About Monstera Deliciosa
These plants are actually quite big in business if you can grow a massive one and a beautiful one. Last year, a plant was sold for a record $5000 just because it had beautiful foliage.
This beautiful plant can thrive in both direct and indirect sunlight, and it’s ideal for them to grow in a place that provides them with partial, even full shade. They’re actually sensitive to direct sunlight, and their leaves can develop sunburns very quickly.
They’re absolutely massive, so they need a lot of space in order to grow. It’s best to place your Monstera in a large and open room, as it will feel cramped when placed in a tight corner or on a sill.
The environment they crave is rather humid, and they need moderate watering. It’s recommended that you only water your Monstera once a week, but you should check the soil before you do to avoid any rotting.
Well-draining soil is what these plants prefer, but they won’t cause you any trouble if you keep them in slightly sandy soil. When you’re choosing your potting mix, choose one that’s going to hold moisture and is rich in nutrients.
When feeding it, it’s best to feed your Monstera with liquid or slow-release granular fertilizers. If it’s sandy soil you’re using with your Monstera, you need to use soil drencher at least once a year.
These plants also need to have their leaves cleaned. It’s best to do this with a simple combination of water and dish soap to reduce the dust and keep pests at a distance.
These plants also contain calcium oxalates that can affect the health of pets and humans, so it’s better to keep them out of reach for kids and for pets, just to ensure that there’s not any trouble.
People often mistake these plants for Philodendron Bipinnatifidum, as their foliage and growing habits are fairly similar. But this plant is an epiphyte with aerial roots that climb onto tree barks. Even though its roots are in the soil, they can also be seen along the stem.
Even though their natural habitat is in the rainforest – they can reach incredible heights even when they’re kept in captivity (for lack of a better word). They can reach up to 20 meters in height, which is absolutely incredible! However, when they’re kept inside, they usually won’t reach more than 3 meters in height.
The reason they’re also called the Swiss Cheese plant is because of their leaves – they’re large and filled with many naturally formed holes. These leaves can grow from 25 to 90 centimeters in length, and 25 to 75 centimeters in width. They also produce cream-white flowers 3 years after being planted, but this is only if ideal outdoor conditions are met.
They sometimes even produce fruit, and that fruit is considered a delicacy. However, that’s rare – and it’s worth noting that the fruit can only be eaten when it’s ripe, otherwise it’s very toxic for humans and you could easily poison yourself.
How to Grow a Monstera Deliciosa
These plants are very used to their tropical habitat, and if you want to grow this plant successfully, you’re going to need to simulate those environmental conditions – this means that the first thing you’re going to have to choose is the right place for this plant in your home.
Lighting is the most important factor when discussing this. We’ve already established that these plants don’t enjoy direct and intense sunlight, and they’re going to be much happier if you let them enjoy indirect sunlight and shade. These plants naturally grow in the partial shade of other trees, this means that ambient lighting is best.
Warm temperatures are what you’re aiming for with these plants – 20 to 30 degrees Celsius is ideal, and you have to make sure that they’re well protected from cold weather. They’ll usually stop growing when temperatures reach 10 degrees Celsius. If the temperatures become too low, the plant will die.
It’s best to set them in a large container filled with well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients – this will allow them to absorb everything they need and this really is ensuring that the plant thrives. A standard potting mix with perlite in it to improve the drainage would really be the best option, and if you want to repot your plant, all you need is a pot that’s 5 centimeters wider than the current one and keep on taking care of it as usual.
Something you must also keep in mind is the fact that this plant is aerial, but that shouldn’t be a problem since it can’t really do any damage by climbing the walls of your house. If you decide to grow it indoors, it’d be best if you provided it with support made from wood or other natural materials – this will allow your Monstera to climb freely, just the way it would in the wild.
This plant is often considered to be the perfect choice for gardeners who want to fill their home with tropical plants that look fresh, and pruning these plants is essentially unnecessary, as it’s only a cosmetic task. If the leaves get yellow, all you need to do is cut them off 0.6 centimeters above the stem joint.
Watering Your Monstera Deliciosa
Since these plants are susceptible to root rot, overwatering them is definitely an important worry that you need to keep in mind. However, since they’re used to such humid environments, they might wither if there’s not enough humidity – finding the balance between these two places is key.
You should water them only once a week, but the lighting it’s under and the temperature conditions of the room you’re keeping it in are going to have a lot of effect on that, so you should keep that in mind. If it’s hotter and drier, your plant is going to need more water, and it will also require more water if it’s coming in too much contact with direct sunlight.
Experts suggest that you use the ‘soak and dry’ technique. This means that you’ll check the level of dryness of the soil before you water the plant. You should water a Monstera Deliciosa plant when the soil is dry at about 2 inches of depth. It’s best to fill the pot 2 or 3 times to give your plant plenty of water at the base. Excess water will drain out, and that’s when you should empty the plant’s tray of any liquid that remains.
When it starts to get colder, your Monstera will ask for less water. Then, you should wait for the soil to dry out at 3-4 inches of depth before you water it. Since they like humidity but don’t tolerate drought, they also like the occasional misting, once or twice a week.
Propagating a Monstera Deliciosa
It’s definitely not difficult to propagate this plant, as they can be propagated through any technique from seed and cuttings to air layering and division.
The seed technique is the least popular one because the seeds of a Monstera are quite difficult to find. If you’re so lucky that you manage to put your hands on some, plant them as soon as possible, and make sure to use a fresh soil mix. This technique of propagation will take longer than it would with other methods, and the seeds will germinate in a few weeks – it’s just important to keep the soil damp enough.
If you want to propagate your plant by cutting it, pruning shears are what you’re going to need. The cutting should have aerial roots attached and healthy leaves. You should cut your plant just under a leaf node and place it into a glass of water – or into a potting mix.
Propagation through air layering is basically wrapping some damp sphagnum moss around the joint where the aerial root and the leaf axil are placed. It’s best to secure the moss and make some holes in the plastic bag that you’ll cover it with. New roots will start to form after a few months.
However, if your plant has already matured, it’s best to propagate it by division. Divide the suckers into 12-inch-long segments and press them into the soil. That’s all.
Maintaining Your Monstera Deliciosa
Here are a few tips we have for you when it comes to maintaining your plant.
When you receive your plant, make sure to check its watering needs, and always make sure to check your plant’s moisture level before you water it. You should definitely aerate the soil of your plant before the initial watering. Since soil is compacted during transit to avoid any shifting, aerating can help the soil breathe and allow moisture to be released.
Monsteras prefer soil that is slightly moist and they also like to dry out a little bit between watering, so you shouldn’t worry about your Monstera being too dry. You should never let them sit in soggy soil because they’re epiphytes with aerial roots – and that makes them very vulnerable to overwatering.
A great thing you should do is rotate your plant periodically just to ensure that all sides of it get enough sunlight – or, the other side of the coin, that all sides of the plant get enough time away from the sunlight and enjoy the shade. This will ensure even growth on all sides and dust the leaves often so the plant can photosynthesize efficiently.
When you’re dusting the leaves of your plant, make sure to check for pests under the leaves. These plants can grow to amazing sizes, so it’s easy to overlook something and not notice that your plant needs help. They are more resistant to pests than most tropical plants, but they’re still prone to thrips and mealybug.
Lastly, these plants are considered to be slow in growth, but you can use organic fertilizer on your Monstera once a month, during the months of spring and summer, to encourage growth and make it faster.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Tell if Your Monstera is Overwatered or Underwatered?
If you notice the leaves gaining a shade of yellow, that’s a most definite sign that you’re either overwatering or underwatering your plant. If it’s a combination of yellow and brown on the same leaf – that’s overwatering. If the leaves are fully yellow with some brown crispy spots on additional leaves, then it’s most likely underwatering. However, checking the soil is the most effective way to determine what’s going on.
Is It Normal to Have Leafless Brown Growths Coming Off Your Monstera?
We’ve already explained that Monstera is an aerial plant and the leafless brown growths are actually aerial roots. In nature, these roots would offer support to the plant and allow it to climb and reach more light. You don’t have to worry about these roots damaging your walls or any other surfaces, and if you don’t want them in your home – feel free to cut them off!
Monstera Isn’t Developing Holes and Splits in the Leaves. What’s Going On?
This is usually a clear sign of the plant not settling in with the environment, and it’s usually telling you that the environment isn’t ideal. These splits and holes are called fenestrations, and the lack of fenestrations isn’t dangerous for the plant, but it certainly takes away from its beauty.
Adjust the amount of light and water, and you can also try taking your plant’s aerial roots and pushing them down into the soil – this will allow the plant to absorb more nutrients. It’s also common for the plant to develop fenestrations on its more mature leaves, so it might be a game of patience – rather than something being wrong.
What Do I Do if My Monstera’s Gotten Too Big?
It’s best to prune back your plant if it’s gotten to this stage, these plants are tough and they can definitely handle trimming. Feel free to use stakes and ties to direct your Monstera in the way you want it to grow.
How Often Should I Fertilize My Monstera?
As we’ve already said – from spring until fall. You should fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, and make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging for the administration of the fertilizer.
How Often Should I Repot My Plant?
Larger plants should be repotted once every two years, on a 24-month interval. You should use a pot that’s 2 to 4 inches wider than what’s needed, this will allow your plant to grow. However, you don’t want to choose a pot that’s too large, as that could cause the drowning of plant roots. If you’re satisfied with the size of your plant, then feel free to use the same pot, just provide new soil and trim some roots and foliage. It’s best to report during summer or spring, that’s when the plant is at its strongest.
You can choose planters with or without watering holes, with the presence of drainage holes and the size of the planted vessel both playing a large role in how much water your plant will need and how often it’ll need to be watered.
You can easily find plants purchased in pots without a drainage hole, and these plants are set up with a built-in drainage system. They’re usually fitted with a layer of Aeration Stones that are placed beneath the soil to act as a reservoir for any excess water that flows through the soil. These stones are basically just recycled clay that’s porous and absorbent.
Since there’s no way for the excess water to escape, you’ll need to be more careful when watering your plant if you’re using this system. It’s best to pour small amounts of water, bit by bit until you’ve reached the desired level of moisture in the soil.
If you have a pot with drainage, though, then water until you see the excess water coming out of the bottom of the pot.
Self Watering Container
There are also self-watering containers. They require a deep and thorough watering of the topsoil after they are first placed. This is crucial, and it’s a step you shouldn’t forget, because the roots of the plants first need to grow into the reservoir, and only then can they drink water from it. You should follow the standard planter instructions for at least four weeks, and only then test the reservoir.
When dormant seasons hit, or if your plant is particularly slow in growth, you should consider top watering for up to ten weeks.
The test is easy to pull off: after the initial topwater period has passed, fill the water reservoir until the red indicator reaches halfway between the MAX and MIN lines. Track the indicator, and if it goes down over the first few days, it means the plant is ready for regular reservoir servicing. If it doesn’t, though, then continue with the top watering method for a few weeks, and the red indicator will go down eventually. This is a sign that the plant has started to drink from the reservoir.
When the indicator goes down, don’t refill the water reservoir straight away. Instead, refill it until the indicator reaches the MAX line only after a drying period of a few days. Plants function similarly to humans in this regard – they need to ‘take a breath’ in between gulps of water. This taking of breath is actually called a drying out period.
Once your plant starts drinking water on its own from the reservoir, you should never topwater it again (as long as you’re using this system). This could potentially drown the plant, so it’s best to avoid it. When you’re using this system, you’ll notice that the top layer of soil will soon enough become extremely dry and extremely hard, and it’s not uncommon to notice that it’s pulling away from the edges of the pot. This is okay, and the reason for this is that the plant is drinking with its roots, which are being hydrated directly.
Keep in mind that the soil and the plant are not one and the same, and the fact that topsoil is dry doesn’t affect the hydration of your plant in any way. The plant is still drinking water from its reservoir the way it should, and that’s the way it ideally works. We tend to think that a plant is dry because the soil (or at the least the top part of it) is dry, but if you could see the soil below, you’d quickly change your mind as you’d see that the plant is drinking from the reservoir.
Feel free to add fresh soil to fill those gaps between the soil and the pot, and this will also give your plant a nutrient boost. You could just topwater the plant once a year – just to flush the foot system, but nothing more than that. And only do that when the reservoir is empty and your plant needs water.
We’d recommend that you use aeration stones regardless of the plant you have in your home. They’ll promote healthy root growth by creating air pockets in the soil and absorbing excess water in the basin of your planter. As we’ve already explained, these stones are actually made from clay, and they’re a very natural, efficient, and cheap way of setting your plant up for success. Make sure to buy them if you’re using a planter without drainage holes.
Try to find an all-purpose pesticide, that’s an insecticide, miticide, and fungicide used for organic gardening. When you’re buying a pesticide, make sure it’s systemic. A systemic pesticide is the one your plant will absorb in its system, and it will go into its circulatory system and poison the pest from within. However, make sure that you don’t overuse it, as you don’t want to cause discoloration and weaken your plant. Always follow the instructions on the packaging!
You need to get air to those roots, as plants don’t do very well without it. That’s why we recommend that you get yourself a soil probe. Since overwatering will cause the air to be pushed out of the soil, the soil will compact around the waterlogged roots of the plant. A soil probe is a simple, yet effective stick that aerates the soil as it checks for moisture.
You always have to use fertilizer if you want your plant to grow pretty foliage. It’s best to mix this into your watering can, and make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging. However, we must note that it’s absolutely crucial for your plant to have enough light, otherwise it won’t have the energy needed to process the nutrients it will gain from the fertilizer.
Other Equipment You Will Need
Soil – when you’re purchasing soil, there are a few things you need to keep an eye out. Ideal soil will be breathable, it has good water retention, its texture is fine and it’s made from organic materials.
Watering can – it’s obvious that you’ll need a watering can. There are cans out there with specific sizes for specific plants, so make sure to check whether you can buy a can for a Monstera.