Swiss Cheese Plants - Monstera Deliciosa


Monstera deliciosa



Contents

  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Common Issues
  4. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity




Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Easy
  • Present a bright, indirect location in the spring and summer is best, increasing this to a few hours of morning sun for the rest of the year.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist, allowing the soil's top third to dry out in between waters. 
  • Reduce hydrations further during the colder months of the year to replicate their much-needed dormancy period.
  • Supplement fortnightly in the growing period and monthly during the autumn & winter, using a houseplant-labelled fertiliser.
  • Repot annually with a well-draining potting mix, for example 'houseplant' compost, in the next-sized pot. Scroll down to the 'Repotting' section to learn more about repotting a specimen that's attached to a moss pole.
  • Keep an eye out for Spider Mite & Mealybugs that'll inhabit the cubbyholes of the stem and leaves.




Location & Light - 🔸🔸

A whole range of indirect light levels can be tolerated; however, all-day exposure to the direct sun mustn't be permitted. A Monstera kept in a sun-filled position should be monitored regularly for drying soil and dehydration. In contrast, specimens placed in darker areas must be kept on the drier side to life, to prevent the risk of over-watering.

Three metres within a north, east or west-facing window is best, or in a semi-shaded conservatory is the ideal environment. If you're worried about its location being too dark, if a newspaper can be read while having your back towards the light source, you're good to go.


Water - 🔸🔸🔸

During the spring and summer, maintain good soil moisture by only allowing the top third to dry out. If you're wondering about when is the right time to water, feel the weight of the pot for confirmation of soil dryness. Reduce this further in the colder months of the year to replicate its dormancy period and to downplay the high risk of root rot during this time. One word to mention is that Monstera situated in darker locations must be watered far less than those located in brighter ones to off-set the chance of over-watering. Remember - the amount of light and current season of the year will directly govern the frequencies of waters per month. Over-watering symptoms include the yellowing of lower leaves, brown mushy patches developing in the stems, and mould forming on the soil. For more severe cases, remove the plant from the pot and inspect its roots. If root rot is present, be sure to click on this link for further advice on addressing this issue. Under-watering symptoms include stunted or no new growth, dry brown sections on the leaves and yellowing older leaves; these issues are commonly due to an over-crowded pot, too much light or forgetfulness.


Humidity - 🔸🔸🔸

Although average humidity will be tolerated, we'd recommend introducing a pebble tray to maintain a steady level of atmospheric moisture. Along with the prevention of browning leaf-tips, which are a common trait of dry air, your specimen's growth will be far quicker and more reliable. Hose the foliage once a month to hydrate its leaves and to wash off the thin layer of dust that'll inhibit its light-capturing efficiency.


Fertilisation - 🔸🔸

Supplement every two weeks in the growing months and monthly during autumn and winter, using a 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser. Nutrient deficiencies tend to be more prolific with Monstera than with other species, so regularly nourishing the soil is for more healthy growth. Click here to learn more about which fertilisers are best, along with the function of each nutrient.



Regularly dust and wash its leaves to improve the light-capturing efficiency. 



Common Issues with Monstera

An array of simultaneous cultivation issues will increase the chance of developing yellowed leaf-sections with browned halos - see image below for visual reference. Firstly, the location may be too dark, with its compost staying too saturated in-between waters; if mould is growing across the soil, this is usually a bad sign. Further, you're potentially using too cold water or tap water that hasn't been allowed to sit for 24hrs. This period of rest will not only bunk-up its temperature, but the harsh chemicals used to preserve water hygiene (fluoride & chloride) will begin to evaporate after a few hours. If possible, use fresh bottled water from a shop or supermarket to prevent further chemical burns. The final culprit might be lack of fertilisation, with regular feeds being paramount for long-lasting, healthy leaves. If the specimen hasn't been nourished in over two months, it'll begin to show signs of nutrient deficiencies seen in this article.
If this common problem has occurred with your specimen, remove the affected leaves (not areas) and improve the growing conditions considerably. Fertilise regularly with lukewarm water and be sure to allow the top third to dry out in between hydrations. Its new growth should be problem-free, but if you'd like to speak to ukhouseplants for more advice, don't be afraid to send us a message via this link.


Example 1

Example 2


Root rot is another 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 white 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.

The rapid yellowing of lower leaves is 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 here 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).

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.


Guttation


Guttation is a perfectly normal phenomenon, but it may signify slight over-watering or too dry air. Moisture is absorbed through the roots and will exit the plant via the stomata, called transpirational pull. In situations of coldness, dry air or at night, the stomata will shut, leading to an imbalance within the plant. As the pressure mounds with the roots continuing to draw in moisture, small droplets will appear around the edges of the leaves. Although in some cases, it could be the product of over-watering, nine times out of ten, it's harmless and requires no difference in care.

Pests could arise at any time, with infestations starting from the original nursery or via contamination in your home. Spider Mite and Mealybugs tend to be the usual inhabitants, with the first being minute and almost transparent, roaming the leaves in search of chlorophyll and a site to hide its eggs. The latter, however, will stand out much more, with white cottony webs developing across the foliage and stems. Thoroughly check the plant's cubbyholes before giving it the all-clear, or click on the appropriate links to learn more about eradicating these issues.

Too low humidity can cause browning tips with yellow halos on juvenile leaves. 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 while the heaters are active to create a stable environment. The browning of leaf-tips on older leaves is wholly natural and is the product of extensive photosynthesis during its life.

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.

Dust the leaves regularly. Although this isn't too much of an issue, a build-up of dust particles can clog up the plant's pores, causing lowered light capturing-efficiency. Wipe the topsides of the leaves down once a month to keep levels down and improve growing conditions.

Environmental Shock is a familiar occurrence with newly-located specimens, that usually results in stunted growth and lower leaf loss (rare). When a plant is relocated into a new, unfamiliar setting, the effects can be catastrophic. The humidity, temperature and light levels will all suddenly shift into different proportions, inflicting great stress the individual. There are two options of addressing this issue; either wait it out or relocate it into a more Monstera-friendly environment. As long as the specimen appears healthy with little change to its pre-existing leaves, new nodular growth should emerge in the following months.

Failed cuttings propagated via water - There are several reasons why the cuttings haven't rooted well, with the first being the time of year. Monstera are best propagated during the spring, with cuttings taken in the autumn or winter rooting 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 four weeks) 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. For more help with Monstera propagation, be sure to send us an email or via DM on Instagram.

If your specimen is located in a dark environment, use a chopstick to gently stab the soil in various areas. You should aim to enter the compost between the base of the plant and the pot's edge, as failure to do so may lead to damaging its lower portion. Leave the holes open for a few days before re-surfacing the soil to avoid it becoming overly dry. Not only will the gentle shift in the soil's structure mimic the work of small invertebrates in the wild (worms, etc.), but it'll also add oxygen back into the soil, thus reducing the risk of root rot. Repeat this monthly, or whenever you feel the potting-mix isn't drying out quickly enough.

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 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.




A medium-sized Monstera leaves that are approximately 70cm in diameter. Wild specimens can grow up to fifteen metres when climbing up a structure or tree, with metre-wide leaves sourcing the sun's nutrients.



Origins

Monstera deliciosa forms part of the Araceæ family that holds genera such as Spathiphyllum (Peace Lilies), Alocasia and Zamioculcas (ZZ plants) with natural distributions in central America. The name, monstera, derives from Latin word for 'monstrum', referring to the size some specimens can grow to (15m+) and deliciosa relating to the edible fruits that reportedly taste like fruit salad. Although the species, M. deliciosa, was first discovered in 1693, it was first formally described by Carl Linnaeus as the 'Dracontium pertusum' around fifty years later. Dracontium, is in fact, a wholly different genus and therefore was finally penned as Monstera pertusum during the 1860s by Danish botanist, Liebmann, with 'pertusum' translating to its holed-nature. Although many botanists argued over its similarities to Philodendrons, the species officially remains part of Monstera. The leaf structures are still bewildering botanists, with many leaning on the idea that the serrations and holes alleviate the effects of hurricanes or high winds. In our opinion, the functionality of the holes is simple; a smaller surface area of the leaf reduces the impact of the wind's air resistance, thus downplaying the risk of being blown away.



A Distribution Map of Monstera deliciosa.



Temperature

10° - 30°C   (50° - 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.


Spread

Up to 3m in height and 1m in width. The ultimate height will take between 8 - 10 years to achieve, with up to three new leaves per season. Monstera that naturally grow in the wild can reach heights of up to fifteen metres; however, with smaller root systems and less favourable growing conditions, they'll only grow to three metres, give or take.


Without support, Monstera will begin to grow horizontally along the floor's surface, sending out an array of aerial roots to search for something to climb up.


The same specimen's network of lateral stems and adventitious growth.


Pruning & Maintenance

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 its aerial roots aren't exactly appealing, never remove them as it can lead to stress, potentially weakening it over time.


Propagation

Via Seed, Stem Cuttings or Basal Offsets.


Stem Cuttings via Water - (Easy)

  1. Choose the healthiest, most established vines that are wooded, but still juvenile enough to slightly bend. This propagation method can be taken from spring to summer, using between three to six leaves, with the stem being at least 12cm in length with two nodes (one for foliar development and the other for root growth). Although more nodes are fine, be sure only to submerge the bottom ones to avoid inappropriate rooting elsewhere, which will be more difficult when it's time for soil placement.
  2. Cut directly below a node using a clean knife to reduce bacteria count. Remove the lower half of the leaves and place the vines into a container of lukewarm water. Be sure to submerge at least one node into the water, or else the root development will be hindered.
  3. The leaves must stay above the waterline, for the prevention of disease.
  4. Replace the water weekly, using tepid water to avert shocking the cutting with cold temperatures. 
  5. Once the roots surpass 10cm (4 inches) in length, it's time to pot the specimen.
  6. Choose a potting mix - as long as it has a well-draining nature, most soils are fine. Houseplant compost is best, but a multi-purpose compost with a splash of grit or perlite is also acceptable.
  7. Use a 7cm (3 inches) pot that has suitable drainage holes - plastic or terracotta are both acceptable in this instance. Try not to over-pot the cuttings; blackleg occurs when the bottom wound becomes infected, typically caused by water-logging or a too-damaged wound.
  8. Fill the bottom third with soil and sit the plant on top. Pour the rest of the compost around the roots until it fills the top three-quarters of the pot. Gently tap the sides to remove any air pockets and to even out the soil structure. Never compact the compost for stability as it'll cause root rot by forcing the oxygen to the surface when irrigated. If it needs to be supported, use a cane!
  9. Avoid direct sunlight and offer good humidity by introducing a pebble tray to avert dehydration. Keep the soil evenly moist, allowing only the top inch to dry out in between waters. After a month of solid foliar growth, treat like an established specimen by following the care tips above!



Aerial root buds should be a prominent feature on all potential stem cuttings as it'll significantly improve the yield's success & development speed.


Stem Cuttings via Soil - (Moderate)

  1. Choose the healthiest, most established vines that are wooded, but still juvenile enough to slightly bend. This propagation method can be taken all year round, using two nodes that already house aerial roots (image above). You should only have two nodes so that the lower one is for root development and the other for foliar growth. Remove the lower leaf so that each cutting only has one.
  2. Cut directly below a node using a clean knife to reduce bacteria count. Remove the lower leaf and place the vine into a moist, well-draining potting mix. Houseplant compost is best as it'll include perlite for better air circulation within the soil. 
  3. Use a 7cm (3 inch) pot that has suitable drainage holes - plastic or terracotta are both acceptable in this instance. Try not to over-pot the cuttings; blackleg occurs when the bottom wound becomes infected, typically caused by water-logging or a too-damaged wound. 
  4. Set the cutting into the compost, keeping the foliage above the soil line. Be sure to submerge the lower node into the soil wholly, or else root development will be hindered. Curl the leaf inwards, similarly to the one pictured below, and tie it loosely. As moisture is lost via transpiration in leaf's underside, this will provide higher humidity that will, in turn, reduce the risk of dehydration. Do not force the leaf past its bending capacity, and have a look at the image below for visuals.
  5. Provide a bright, indirect setting with adequate warmth and the avoidance of direct sunlight or operating radiators. Place the potted cutting and its pot into a transparent plastic bag (with small holes) for the first couple of weeks to lock in extra humidity. Maintain moist but not soggy compost throughout this process. 
  6. Open the bag every two days for half an hour for the prevention of disease. After a month of being placed in soil, remove the bag and follow the care tips provided above.



Curling the leaf when performing stem cuttings in the soil will significantly reduce the rate of transpiration, thus, downplaying the risk of dehydration. Plant: Fatsia japonica.  


Basal Offset Division (Easy) - Your plant will produce several basal offsets that can be separated once they have a sufficient root system, and surpass 10cm in stem (not petiole) length. If possible, water the soil 24hrs before the main event to reduce the risk of transplant shock, when its dry root systems are over-fingered. Take the plant out of its pot and place your fingers close to the nodal junction; soil may have to be removed for better access. Push the chosen offset downwards until you hear a snap. Separate the foliage and its root system away from the mother plant, mentally noting the high risk of damage. Transplant in the appropriate sized pot with a fresh batch of houseplant soil. Maintain evenly moist soil and situate it in a bright, indirect location away from any direct sunlight. After eight weeks, treat it like a normal specimen, following the care tips above!



A cucumber sized fruit that's edible once ripe. The taste has clear similarities to a fruit salad, hence the species' epithet, 'deliciosa'.



Flowers

As Monstera is part of the Araceæ family, they'll produce white flowers with a green bract that looks largely similar to those of a Peace Lily. Despite its readiness to flower in the wild, those grown domestically will rarely bloom due to the unflavoured growing conditions. The photo above shows the edible fruits that apparently taste like the combination of Pineapple and Banana...


Repotting

Monstera will develop large tuberous root systems that'll invade the pot within half a year. With this in mind, transplant annually using Houseplant Compost and a larger pot; this is an excellent time to check the roots' condition, as well as propagating stem cuttings or basal offsets. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

N. B. - If your specimen is producing an abnormal amount of aerial roots coupled with slowed growth, it could becoming pot-bound.


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.

Send us an email or direct message to get our expert advice on transplantation.


An example of perfectly healthy Monstera roots.


Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mite, scale, thrips, whitefly, vine weevils & root mealybugs that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves, with the exception of the latter two in soil. Common diseases associated with Monstera are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, rust, powdery mildew & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.


Toxicity

This plant is classified as poisonous. 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.


Retail Locations

Homebase,  British Garden Centres,  B&Q,  IKEA,  Dobbies,  Blue Diamond,  Online Stores.



If you need further advice with indoor gardening, never hesitate to send us a message or leave a comment in the section below. This could be about your own specific plant, transplantation into a bigger pot, pests or diseases, terrarium ideas, & more!



Comments
* The email will not be published on the website.