If we asked you to name the world’s most popular house plants, what would be on the list? The chances are Monstera Deliciosa, the classic Swiss cheese plant, is pretty close to the top.
But however much we love it, monstera is appropriately named. It grows fast, its vines can be inches thick, and its leaves can be so full of holes they begin to look monstrous too.
Whether you think of it as a plant that’s going to dominate your collection or more of a gentle giant, here’s everything you need to know about Monstera Deliciosa care.
|Scientific name||Monstera Deliciosa|
|AKA||Swiss cheese plant|
|Similar to||Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, monstera monkey mask (trailing)|
|Native to||South American rainforest|
|Maximum size||10’ tall, leaves up to 18’’ across|
|Watering requirements||Moderate (allow the top two inches of soil to dry first)|
|Light requirements||Low to moderate indirect light|
|Preferred temperature||60 – 75F (15.5 – 24C)|
|Soil||Well draining potting soil|
|Fertilizer||NPK balanced liquid feed for green leafy plants|
|Monstera propagation method||Stem and leaf cuttings, air layering|
|Toxicity||Toxic to humans and pets, sap is an irritant, fruit can be edible|
|Vulnerable to||Mealybugs and whitefly|
Watering Guide for Monstera’s to Grow
The good news is that the Swiss cheese plant is not as fussy as many of the other indoor plants on the market right now. Watering is particularly easy to manage. The plant likes to dry out between waterings and won’t even complain if you forget about it for a week or two.
It’s easier to upset it by watering too much than too little, so wait until the top 2 inches of soil are dry before you soak it. With a mature plant in a large pot, this may only happen every 10 – 14 days, even in high summer.
It’s always easier to take care of a plant if you understand its native habitat. Although most of us care for monstera as a house plant, it belongs in the South American jungle.
As a rainforest plant, it grows in dappled shade. In the wild, it grows away from the light to find tree trunks to climb. Indoors, this means it will do well even in a reasonably dark corner.
Your Swiss cheese plant will grow faster if it has more sunlight, but too much light will put brown spots on the leaves. Luckily, the plant is usually too big to place on a windowsill so, for most of us, strong light doesn’t become a problem.
As a jungle plant, the Swiss cheese plant likes it moist. The right temperature is easy to achieve at home because, as long as it doesn’t drop below 65 degrees (or about 18 Celsius) you’ll have a happy plant. On the other hand, it requires a level of humidity that most of us don’t have inside.
To keep your Swiss Cheese Plant thriving indoors, you have a few options. The most dramatic would be to invest in a humidifier, which would keep the air at a constant level of moisture and could also benefit your other plants. If a humidifier is too extreme, you can add misting to your Swiss cheese plant care routine instead.
You should mist this plant once a week, and the best time of day is first thing in the morning.
Plant food and soil
Unlike many of this year’s favorite plants, monstera isn’t fussy about its soil. It will thrive in a standard potting mix, as long as it’s nutrient-rich and well-draining. Some growers like to add some extra peat moss or a few handfuls of sand, but this isn’t necessary.
But this is a plant you should feed. When you see how fast it grows and how big the leaves are, it will come as no surprise that it needs all the energy it can get.
It’s best to feed the Swiss cheese plant monthly. Either sprinkle half an inch of compost on top of the soil before watering or use a liquid feed with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Additional Monstera Deliciosa
While Monstera Deliciosa is one of the most dramatic plants you can grow indoors, it’s also one of the easiest to care for. To keep it even happier, you can add a moss pole to its pot.
In nature, this is a climbing plant, and it will enjoy having something to grow against. Moss poles can also encourage new growth. As each new leaf grows, the vine sends out ‘air roots’ and, if these can anchor themselves, you might notice that the new leaves grow even faster.
The only other chore with a Swiss cheese plant is dusting. Like all waxy plants, it’s obvious when you need to clean the leaves. You should bath the plant with soapy water to make the leaves shine, remove pests, and maximize the plant’s ability to photosynthesize.
Monstera Deliciosa gets its name from its edible fruit, which is corncob-shaped and tropical tasting. They rarely fruit indoors but, if they do, you must wait until the fruit is completely ripe, with the green scales falling away before you have a taste. Otherwise, the fruit will be too acidic to swallow.
Although the rare fruits are edible, all other parts of the plant are toxic to pets and humans. Ingesting the leaves causes a burning mouth and vomiting. The sap of the plant can also irritate your skin, so it’s best to wear gloves if you ever have to prune it.
FAQ for Helping Monstera Deliciosa Grow
Why is my plant drooping?
Drooping leaves usually mean unhappy roots. Most likely, you’re either over or underwatering your plant. It should be easy to tell which problem you have by poking at the soil.
Caring for a Swiss cheese plant means protecting it from drafts and temperature fluctuations, which can also cause floppy leaves. If there’s no other explanation for your sad-looking plant, check that you haven’t placed it near an air vent or an external door. Moving it even a few feet to the side might be enough to perk it up again.
When do the leaves split?
Monstera leaves split when the plant gets big enough. As the plant climbs, each new leaf will have more and more splits. First, you’ll see a leaf with splits on one side, then on both sides and, finally, a split leaf with the classic Swiss cheese holes we all love.
In nature, the holes and splits have two jobs. They let light down to the lower leaves, and they help the mature leaves withstand wind and rain. If you’re impatient for more interesting leaves, try feeding your plant to encourage rapid growth and make sure that the air roots growing from the vine have something to anchor themselves to.
Can it grow indoors?
Yes. Monstera is a classic houseplant that has been popular for almost 50 years. You need to keep an eye on its humidity levels, but it’s easy to look after, gets big and dramatic in a short space of time, and is still able to cope by itself while you go on holiday.
If you live in a warm climate, your Swiss cheese plant can survive outdoors. Even in temperate areas, many people move their pots outside for the summer to give their patios a tropical feel. But even if your plant never gets to feel the wind in its leaves, it’ll be fine.
When should I repot my Swiss cheese plant?
As with all your plants, you should repot your Swiss cheese plant in the early spring before it starts to grow. A young plant will need an upgrade every year, but older plants can easily go 2 – 3 years in the same pot. This is good news, as it can be challenging to repot a 6-foot long vine.
When you have a mature plant that’s comfortable in its pot, it’s still worth dressing the top of the plant with new soil every year to help to replenish the plant’s nutrients.
Why is my monstera turning yellow?
Yellow leaves are usually a sign of overwatering. This problem is most likely to affect the lower leaves, and it indicates that the roots are beginning to rot. You’ll probably have to remove the yellow leaves from your plant, but it’s easy to stop more from developing by watering less frequently. Let your plant dry out before watering it again and make sure you never leave it standing in water.
Another tip is to make sure you adjust your watering routine with the seasons. In the winter, the plant is dormant, and won’t even need weekly watering.
Why does my plant have brown spots?
The waxy leaves of your Swiss cheese plant are tough, but brown spots can still appear. The usual causes are low humidity or too much sunlight. If brown spots appear, move your plant a little further from the window and mist it more regularly.
Pests can also cause brown spots on the leaves, so you should inspect your plant closely for signs of spider mites or whitefly. Once the pests start to suck the sap out of the leaves, brown spots are one of the first signs of damage.
You can control pests by washing the leaves regularly in soapy water, perhaps even with a little neem oil. Using these products will mean that you can eradicate pests without spraying chemical pesticides in your home.
Discussion about this post