WHEN YOU HEAR THE NAME “MONSTERA”, YOU KNOW IT’S GOING TO BE BIG
The Monstera deliciosa or Split Leaf Philodendron has been a favorite house plant for years – and with good reason. It’s wonderfully easy going, and freshens up any indoor corner. But, think ahead. The Monstera deliciosa needs space – indoors or out, and it loves to climb.
Many refer to the Monstera plant as the “Swiss Cheese” plant, due to its leaves’ large cut ribbons or holes. Native to tropical climates, it’s believed that it’s large leaves with holes provides more resistance to downpours or extreme weather, like hurricanes. In addition, light levels that reach down onto the floor of a tropical rainforest (its native habitat) are quite low. Leaves with ribbons have a larger surface area to better capture what little light filters down.
You usually won’t see any flowers when you keep it indoors, but if taken outdoors, it produces a beautiful flower that actually turns into a fruit. The fruits are edible and reminiscent in taste to pineapple-banana. The leaves of the plant, however, are toxic, if ingested.
Native to the rainforest of Central America, the Monstera deliciosa has become a sensation for its unique holes in its leaves. Due to the distinctive leaves, many people have craved having this beautiful and easy houseplant to complete their home decor. As a result, the distinctive leaves have caused this plant to earn the nickname “Swiss Cheese Plant.”
As the plant can naturally be found from southern Mexico to Panama, the name deliciosa, meaning “delicious,” comes from the edible fruit from the plant. Unfortunately, though, growing indoors doesn’t bode well for the fruit to grow. When the plant does produce fruit, the flavor is a mix between a banana and a pineapple. Unfortunately, the rest of the plant is toxic and can be harmful to pets.
Caring for your Monstera
Ideal for warmer and stable temperatures, it does not require a lot of water and prefers indirect light. Too much sun can scorch the plant, and cause lack of perforations in the leaves. Well-draining soil is important, too. Indoors, a damp cloth or even a little dish soap and water can be used to keep the Monstera leaves clean.
Since the Monstera deliciosa is native to Central America, it loves bright to medium indirect light. Therefore, it does best when placed in a room facing a window with plenty of natural sunlight throughout the day. Avoid placement right in front of the window as direct and intense sunlight is not the best for it, although it is known to withstand it.
The best temperature suited for this plant is between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 30 degrees Celsius). Avoid having the plant be in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).
Use a potting mix that is suited to drain well. Mixing in perlite or lava rocks in the soil is another option to help the soil aerate. Another way to assist the soil in drying between waterings is to use a porous pot, such as terra-cotta, to evaporate any excess moisture.
You should water the plant about every one to two weeks. The soil should have the chance to dry out between each watering. Add more water when exposed to brighter light. The plant does prefer a humid environment, if possible.
If it is in a fairly dry room, you can either get the plant its own humidifier or mist it a few times a week. Plan on changing your watering schedule during the year. Give more water during the summer months than you do during the winter months. You can avoid root rot by letting the soil dry in between waterings.
Fertilizer / Plant Food
Depending on your growth interests, you can give fertilizer three or four times a year. If you find that you need more fertilizer during the growing season, use a diluted fertilizer instead of regular water. The plant will absorb what it needs and drain the rest.
This plant is relatively easy to grow and maintain, which makes it an excellent house plant. To prevent common pests and keep the plant clean, wipe the leaves down with a paper towel or damp sponge. More often than not, there shouldn’t be any problems with pests. However, if you encounter pests, use a natural pesticide or wipe the leaves down once a week.
One common problem is the Monstera deliciosa leaf turning brown at the edges. The cause of the issue is either the plant is getting over or underwatered. First, check the soil to see if it is still moist between waterings or if it is completely dry. Then, adjust the watering schedule accordingly.
If it seems to be wilting or the potting mix is dry, increase the water given to it. On the other hand, if the leaves are yellow or it has black stems, the plant is getting too much water. As the houseplant grows, the plant can get heavy, causing the stems to break. If this is happening, give it some solid support to help prevent any more breakage.
You should plan on the plant growing about one to two feet every year when grown indoors. In comparison to other houseplants, the roots of Monstera deliciosa do not damage surfaces. If the roots begin to stick out, feel free to trim. However, a better option is to tuck the roots back into the pot if possible. The plant does well to being cut, which can easily be used for propagation.
To propagate, you can cut off a leaf and stem. Then, include a node in the cut portion. The node is a slight bump where the roots will expand from. Place it in a glass container with water, which you should change every three to five days.
After a few weeks, if the propagation was successful, there should be roots sprouting. In a couple of months, the roots will start to look thick and healthy. At that point, you can transfer it to the soil. Keep the soil reasonably moist as the plant adapts to the ground and starts to grow.
Plan on repotting the plant every couple of years. When you repot, make the new pot a little bit wider and deeper to adapt to the new growth. When you transition to a new pot, fill about a third with fresh potting soil, then add a stake or a moss pole for the stem to be supported by. Set the roots into the pot and fill it with soil. Attach the stem to the stake to ensure there is support.
* Please note that the leaf on our younger medium Monsteras may be completely solid and have no slits or holes. As your Monstera plant baby grows the older and newer leaves will start to split and display fenestrations (holes) on the leaves. Large and Extra Large plants will display splitting in leaves.
If you are looking for another Split Leaf Philodendron that is a great for your home, take a look at the Monstera Adansonii. The Monstera Adansonii plant has smaller heart shaped leaves and grows more like a vine but also has the iconic fenestrations.
Although many households which include pets have Monsteras, the leaves of the plant are toxic if ingested. Whether or not you should have one in your household depends on your pets and if they tend to eat your plants. If they do, they may see the following symptoms: Oral pain, irritation, and swelling, excessive salivating, abdominal pain, and vomiting.