Monstera adansonii (Monkey-Mask Plant)
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A brightly lit spot with little to no sunlight is best for quality growth, as excessive exposure can cause the plant to adopt a ‘washed-out’ look, accompanied by stunted growth. Darker locations that offer no sufficient light are also detrimental due to the increased chance of over-watering and possible death.
In terms of a location, anywhere that is at least four metres away from direct light, and an operating heat source (i.e. a radiator or fireplace) is acceptable. Although a bathroom would be the perfect fit for a Monstera, you can still situate it on a shelf that offers bright, indirect light to promote a 'trailing' appearance. It's recommended to place an M. obliqua in a humid location to avoid the browning of leaf-tips.
Persistent droughts should undoubtedly be off the cards as these species cannot tolerate dry conditions. During the spring and summer, allow around the soil's top third to become dry in between irrigations, reducing this further in the cooler months. Those grown in darker locations will require fewer waterings, compared to those that are situated in brighter light levels. Never pour cold water straight into the soil as this will shock the roots, potentially resulting in stunted growth. Under-watering symptoms include yellowed and browned foliage, crispy leaves and possible curling. These are usually a sign of apparent neglect or too much direct sunlight; however, transplant shock looks mostly similar to these symptoms, so be sure to repot with care. Over-watering symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and stem collapse. If the base of the stem is beginning to rot, take stem cuttings and propagate via water.
Normal room conditions are acceptable for M. adansonii, but introduce a pebble tray to maintain a constant level of humidity. For M. obliqua, however, atmospheric saturation is more of a necessity; either mist the foliage several times a week or introduce a humidity tray to create a stable environment.
Feed every four waters during the growing period and every six in the autumn and winter, using a 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser. Never apply a 'Ready to Use’ product into the soil without a pre-water first, as it may burn the roots and lead to yellowed leaves.
Root rot is a common issue with specimens sat in too moist or waterlogged soil for long periods. Symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth and a rotten brown base. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect health below the soil line. If the roots sport a yellow tinge, you're good to go, but if they're brown and mushy, action must be taken immediately. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.
Mould developing on the soil means two things - too little light and over-watering. Despite the harmlessness of the mould, it'll prove unsightly to most gardeners and is therefore removed once known. To remove, replace the top two inches of the soil for a fresh batch of 'Houseplant' labelled compost. Either increase the amount of light received (no direct sunlight for the first few weeks to prevent environmental shock) or decrease the frequency of waters slightly. If the mould is accompanied by yellowing lower leaves, you may also have a case of root rot.
Curled leaves and brown leaf-edges are the result of too little water and over-exposure to the sun. Monstera are best located in bright, indirect settings, and those that haven't acclimatised to the harsh rays will show signs of sun-scorch and environmental shock. A splash of winter sunlight is acceptable as long as the soil moisture is regularly observed, with complete avoidance once summer comes along.
Spider Mites are small, near-transparent critters, that'll slowly suck out the chlorophyll out of the leaves. Have a check under the leaves, most notably along the midrib, for small webs and gritty yellow bumps. Click here to read our article about the eradicating Spider Mites, along with some extra tips that you may not find elsewhere!
Too low humidity can cause browning leaf tips with yellow halos. Although this won't kill your specimen, you may want to increase the local moisture to prevent the new growth from adopting these symptoms. Mist or rinse the foliage from time to time and create a humidity tray whilst the heaters are active to create a stable environment for your specimen.
Yellowing lower leaves (closest to soil) are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light. Although they can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days. Click on this link to learn more about root rot and how to address it, and always feel the pot's weight for confirmation (heaviness = good soil moisture, & vice versa).
The browning of the cataphyll shouldn't of be a concern, as it's a wholly natural process which affects all specimens across the world. Remove the brown section once it becomes dry and crispy, using a clean pair of scissors or peeling it back by hand.
Failed cuttings propagated via water - There are several reasons why the cuttings haven't rooted well, with the first being the time of year. Although Monstera are best propagated during the spring, cuttings will still root in the autumn or winter months, just albeit much slower.
The second reason could be the cultivation environment - is there enough light to read a newspaper? If not, improve the growing conditions by increasing the amount of indirect light, avoiding the threat of excessive direct sunlight.
Moreover, the size of the cutting will play a big part in its success; smaller specimens (3cm in length or less) won't root appropriately due to the lower amounts of stored energy.
The water must also be replaced weekly to ensure nasty pathogens cannot breed and decay on the cuttings. If the bottom of the stem is brown and mushy, discard immediately as the rot will spread onto unaffected specimens.
Maintaining too dry soil or over-exposure to the sun will also prove unsuccessful for those that haven't acclimatised to the drier environment. Although water-logging must be avoided at all costs, be sure to maintain moist soil throughout the rooting development (the initial six weeks months) to quicken the process of establishment. To escape falling in the trap of dehydration, wrap the cutting and its pot in a transparent bag for the first couple of weeks. As there'll be a poor root system to soak-up vital water, its leaves will be able to absorb the excess moisture trapped within the bag for hydration.
Symptoms - This virus is most likely to attack Aroids like Monstera and Philodendrons, causing small, yellow lesions or patterns to on the leaves. At first, symptoms look similar to a nutrient deficiency or over-exposure to the sunlight, but as conditions worsen, you'll eventually find colonies of deeper affected areas.
Causes - The virus is usually pre-existent within the plant's cellular make-up, but some cases may arise from neighbouring plants. Other reasons include the multi-use of pruning scissors without being washed in between utilisation, re-using old potting mix, and pests that may spread from plant to plant, thus taking the virus with them.
Monstera form part of the Araceæ family that holds genera such as Spathiphyllum (Peace Lilies), Alocasia and Zamioculcas (ZZ plants) with natural distributions across tropical America. The name, Monstera, derives from Latin word for 'monstrum', referring to the size some specimens can grow to (20m). Monstera adansonii is named after French botanist, Michel Adanson, who conducted most of his work in the latter stages of the eighteenth-century. This species was first found in 1693 by a French botanist who took many drawings back of the unusual find. It was only in the 19th century that the species was correctly placed in the genus of Monstera, due to the similar characteristic between it and Philodendrons. Although the leaf structures aren't fully understood, many lean on the idea that the serrations and holes can alleviate the effects of hurricanes or high winds. The functionality of the holes is simple; the smaller surface area of the leaf, the reduced effects of air resistance created by the wind, thus resulting in less damage during windy spells.
12° - 30°C (54° - 86°F)
H1b (Hardiness Zone 12) - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃ (54℉), but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure any direct sunlight as it may result in sun-scorch and dehydration. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.
Up to 3m in height and 0.6m in width. The ultimate height will take between 5 - 10 years to achieve, with up to 40cm of growth put out each season. Monstera that naturally grow in the wild can reach heights of up to twenty metres; however, with smaller root systems and less favourable growing conditions, they'll only grow to five metres, give or take.
Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.
Although the aerial roots aren't exactly appealing, you mustn't remove them as this can stress the plant and potentially weaken it.
Via Seed or Stem Cuttings.
Stem Cuttings via Water - Easy
Stem Cuttings via Soil - Moderate
As Monstera are part of the Araceæ family, they'll produce toxic flowers that can be boiled and ate once ripe. Despite its readiness to flower in the wild, those grown domestically will rarely flower due to the unfavoured growing conditions. Its inflorescences bare large similarities to Peace Lilies, with a modified leaf (spathe) circulating around the site of pollination (spadix).
Repot every two years using a 'Houseplant' labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.
If you're thinking of repotting a specimen that's growing up a moss pole, never remove the attached aerial roots as the disturbance could put further stress on the plant. Extend by purchasing another same-sized pole and pushing directly into the hollow hole in the original's top - its moss-like material may have to be cut off from the top to access the hollow centre. Get a long, sturdy stick that has a similar length to the two poles combined and place in the two's centre to support the weight. Always perform the repot BEFORE adding another pole, as it'll prove more challenging due to the weight distribution and overall balance. NEVER remove soil from the roots, or over-touch the root system, as this will cause transplant shock and possible death.
If you're still unsure of what to do, don't hesitate to book a 1-to-1 call with Joe Bagley to get his expert advice on transplantation!
Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mites, scale, thrips & whitefly that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves. Common diseases associated with Monstera are root rot, red leaf-spot, botrytis & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.
This plant is classified as poisonous due to varying concentrations of calcium oxalate crystals found around the plant's body. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.
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