This Monstera Care Routine will Grow Swiss Cheese Plant to Perfection
Grow lush, tropical Monstera plants indoors with this guide that walks you through all you need to know.
An easy keeper, Monstera is a popular choice for houseplants because it requires minimal maintenance, resists diseases, and provides a splash of natural appeal. While there are 48 known species of Monstera, only a handful are grown as houseplants, and the most common of these is Monstera deliciosa. The plant is often called a split-leaf philodendron, and though the two plants resemble one another, they come from two entirely different plant families.
Successful Monstera plant care involves using a suitable grow mix and locating the plant where it gets just the right amount of light. Ahead, learn more about this prized indoor plant and find out all you need to know to grow a variety of Monstera species.
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Monstera Care At a Glance
Common Name: Split-leaf philodendron
Scientific Name: Monstera, most common species: Monstera deliciosa
Soil: Loamy, well-drained potting mix, pH: 5.5 to 7
Light: Medium to bright indirect sunlight
Water: Once every 1-2 weeks
Food: Balanced houseplant fertilizer
Temperature and Humidity: 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, 50 to 60 percent humidity
Safety: Mildly toxic to humans and pets
Popular varieties of Monstera feature either upright or vining growth habits. The vining varieties are “hemiepiphyte,” which means they will grow toward a means of support, such as a trellis or tree trunk, rather than growing toward the sun. Their leaves are typically thick and glossy and may feature inner holes or large, ornate splits.
Monsteras with upright growth habits range in height from less than 1 foot to more than 10 feet tall, and they also come in a variety of leaf patterns, both solid and split. Being tropical plants, all Monstera prefer growing conditions that mimic their natural habitat of a tropical jungle floor beneath a canopy of trees. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to reproduce suitable growing conditions in the home.
Types of Monstera
The following types of Monstera are the most popular, and buyers can usually find them at garden centers or order them online. The same Monstera care tips apply to all types.
- Monstera deliciosa: Just about everyone is familiar with this attractive houseplant. Deliciosa features broad leaves with attractive splits that extend from their edges to the center vein. Most deliciosa types grow to an average of 6 feet indoors but can grow up to 10 feet or taller if planted in a large pot. The best Monstera deliciosa care includes putting the plant where it will receive indirect light, using a loamy potting mix, and misting it weekly to add humidity.
- Monstera adansonii: This compact houseplant features elliptical leaves that boast oval-shaped holes in the center, giving it the nickname the “Swiss cheese plant.” It’s well suited for growing in hanging pots and planters, where its vining tendrils dip gracefully over the sides. Good Monstera adansonii care is similar to what’s required for growing all Monstera species. It typically grows up to only 3 feet high indoors.
- Mini monstera: Although this houseplant often goes by the name of Monstera minima and looks just like a small version of M. deliciosa, it’s not a Monstera at all—it’s a member of the Araceae plant family (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma). However, Monstera minima care practices resemble those of true Monstera plants.
- Monstera obliqua: A highly desirable houseplant, but challenging to find in garden centers, the large leaves of Monstera obliqua are showstoppers that feature a mix of both large and small holes. The visual effect is stunning, but this type of Monstera grows very slowly, so fewer plants are available for purchase.
Selecting Soil for Monstera Plants
Monstera varieties like soil that drains well but is loamy and slightly on the acidic-to-neutral side of the pH scale (5.5 to 7). They don’t grow as well in alkaline soil with pH levels higher than 7. The best soil is often a commercial potting mix that’s specifically designed for indoor plants. The mixture should contain sterile organic matter such as coconut coir or sphagnum peat moss. An example of a suitable blend is Miracle-Gro’s Indoor Potting Mix (available from Amazon).
Monstera plants can survive and thrive for 20 years or longer, but salt deposits from watering can collect in the soil after a few years. When this happens, Monstera’s leaves can wilt, and some might turn yellow and fall off. To remedy the problem, consider replacing the soil with fresh potting mix every two to four years.
The Right Light
The best light for growing Monstera is medium-to-bright indirect light. Placing the houseplant near a north-facing window is optimal. In a room with multiple windows, make sure the plant is not in the path of direct sun rays. In Monstera’s natural jungle habitat, the plant grows along the tropical jungle floor and is shaded by towering trees that block the sun’s direct rays.
If desired, an indoor Monstera houseplant can be taken outdoors during the summer months, as long as the temps are not expected to drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant can enjoy its time outside beneath a large tree for shade or on a covered porch or patio that offers protection from the sun. It should also be kept in a spot that offers shelter from strong winds. While Monstera loves light breezes, its large leaves tear easily in strong winds.
Like most tropical plant species, Monstera likes regular watering but does not tolerate its roots sitting in soggy, saturated soil. The best type of soil used for planting will allow excess water to drain away yet remain slightly damp around the roots.
To determine the best watering schedule for your Monstera plant, start by watering it thoroughly—allowing excess water to drain out of the holes at the bottom of the pot (watering in the sink or tub works well). Then, check the surface of the soil every day afterward. When the top inch of soil becomes dry to the touch, but the soil beneath is still slightly damp, it’s time to water again.
The size of the plant and the size of the pot will factor into how often a specific plant needs watering. The roots of a large plant will draw water more quickly than those of a small plant.
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To develop healthy, lush leaves, this houseplant has simple nutritional needs. It should be fertilized monthly during its fast-growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced houseplant fertilizer, such as one with an NPK ratio of 6-12-6 that will stimulate deep leaf color and robust growth.
For less frequent fertilizing, consider using a continuous feeding product, such as Miracle-Gro’s Indoor Plant Spikes, which will dissolve gradually over two months (available from Amazon). Follow the directions carefully when using any fertilizer because larger Monstera plants require more fertilizer than smaller ones.
Setting the Temperature and Humidity
Monstera plants prefer temperatures of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They like relatively humid conditions of around 50 to 60 percent humidity. A furnace can dry out the air in a room during the cold season, so consider misting Monstera with water every week or so. For more consistent humidity, run a humidifier in the room.
If you’re growing more than one Monstera, it might be a good idea to put them all in the same room, so you don’t need to run a humidifier in additional rooms during winter. Plant groupings also add some humidity to the area.
Propagating Monstera Plants
If you have a Monstera plant you like—or a friend has one—you can easily grow an identical plant from a stem cutting. Follow this quick how-to:
- Select a section of stem that is about 6 inches long and has at least two nodes.
- Cut the stem with sharp pruning shears at a 45-degree angle.
- Remove all but the uppermost one or two leaves from the tip of the cutting.
- Place the cutting in a glass of water and set it in bright but indirect light.
- Drain and replace the water with fresh water every three days or so.
Tiny roots should appear within two to three weeks, and when they are a few inches long, it’s time to transplant the new Monstera plant into its own pot. The exception to this general rule is with Monstera obliqua—the slow-growing variety. It might take longer to develop roots, and because of this, its cuttings are at increased risk of dying before roots can appear.
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The leaves of the Monstera plant are slightly toxic, and if a child or pet chews on one, it can cause burning and irritation of the mouth and tongue. The painful sensation is caused by calcium oxalate in the leaves. The substance causes instant pain and irritation, so it’s rare that an entire leaf will be chewed or swallowed.
If you think a pet has ingested Monstera, call your veterinarian right away. If you suspect a child has eaten the leaves, immediately call Poison Control (800-222-1222) for advice.
Keep Monstera plants out of the reach of small children and pets by placing them on high shelves, countertops, or tables when possible.
Potential Pests and Diseases
In general, Monstera resists most diseases, but it can develop root rot if it’s watered too often or if the soil doesn’t drain well. Once root rot starts, it can travel up the plant roots quickly and kill the entire plant. Proper Monstera plant care will prevent root rot.
If other indoor plants develop insect infestations, Monstera is likely to develop them as well, since the pests often travel from plant to plant. All affected houseplants will likely have to be treated to stop the infestation. Consider using a mild insecticidal soap to spray all the leaves and soil to eradicate the problem.
FAQs About Monstera Care
While some houseplants are finicky and require specialized care, Monstera thrives even with a tiny bit of neglect. As long as it’s kept out of bright sunlight and watered regularly, it’s an easy keeper. Still, newbie houseplant owners are likely to have some questions.
Q. How much light does a Monstera need?
Monstera houseplants like medium-to-bright indirect light, optimally near a north-facing window. While the plant will grow in dense shade, it won’t produce the same rich leaf color as when it’s grown in a brighter spot.
Q. Is Monstera a good indoor plant?
Monstera is among the most popular choices for houseplants because it’s so easy to care for, and it provides tropical appeal.
Q. How often should I water Monstera?
Usually, water about once per week, but test your plant by checking the top inch of soil. When the top soil is dry but the soil beneath is slightly damp, it’s time to rewater.
Q. How big can Monstera grow?
In their natural jungle habitat, some types of Monstera can grow upwards of 20 feet. As houseplants, they typically grow between 6 and 10 feet high.