Botanical Name — Monstera deliciosa
Common Name — Swiss Cheese Plant, Mexican Breadfruit, Split-leaf philodendron
Plant Family — Araceae
Monstera deliciosa is an understory tropical plant native to rainforests of Central America in the Araceae family. This plant has currently become a very popular houseplant. Known for its distinctive glossy, heart shaped or rounded leathery leaves. When the Monstera grows older, the leaves will develop deep clefts and oblong perforations (called fenestrations). These holes characterize its leaves which is why it is nicknamed the “Swiss Cheese Plant”. While it's not known exactly why the leaves develop their holes (called fenestrations), the leading theory is that by producing splits, the leaves have greater surface area and thus capture more light as they climb up trees. The Monstera can grow into a tree like shrub. Younger plants will grow upright but will tend to lie horizontally as the plant gets older. These plants will eventually spread twice as wide as they are tall so you will need a lot of room. Wooden or moss covered stakes can be used to help train the plant to grow upright and provide support.
- Monsteras prefer 3 to 4 hours of bright indirect light. They can adjust to medium light as well. Avoid the leaves from receiving too much direct light since that can burn the leaves. They can be placed on a East facing window sill. If you have South or West facing windows, place a couple of feet away from the window and or provide shade with a sheer curtain.
- Avoid placing Monsteras in low light. The leaves and stems are prone to rot in these conditions, and symptoms of over watering can become prevalent.
- Monsteras like room temperatures around 65 to 80 F. Night time temperatures can go down to 60 F. They like to be warm and are not cold tolerant.
- Though Monsteras like high humidity, they can tolerate and thrive where there is low humidity. If your home is dry, especially during the winter months, your plant can benefit from misting with tepid water or a humidifier.
- Allow the soil to completely dry to 2 inches down between waterings. Water thoroughly when dry and let the excess drain out the bottom of the planter. Water more frequency during the spring and summer months. Reduce watering as often in the fall and winter months.
- Use a well aerated, quick draining potting mix with peat moss.
- Mature plants occasionally produce green color spathes with white spadix. The flowers on this plant can appear at any time of the year but mainly in summer but it is common for houseplants not to flower.
- The flower spike becomes an edible fruit but can be edible only when ripe. When it’s unripe, it can cause irritation of the mouth and throat.
- In Spring and summer, fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer.
- Monsteras are easily propagated by stem cuttings. Cut a stem a couple of inches below an aerial root on the stem. Place the stem in a glass of water making sure no leaves are in the water. Plant in a small pot when the roots are at least two inches long. Regularly water and drain for a couple of weeks until your cutting feels firmly rooted in the soil. The soil should be just barely moist to the touch at all times.
- The most common insect pests for the swiss cheese plant in homes are scale and mealybugs. Spider mites can occasionally be a problem as well.
- Overwatering can cause root rot.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- With clean snips, prune any dry or dead leaves.
- Repot your monstera every two to three years to refresh the soil. These are slow growers and if the plant's roots start to climb out of the pot, you can repot in a planter that is two sizes larger than your current planter. Make sure to add fresh soil when repotting.
- Wooden or moss covered stakes can be used to help train the plant to grow upright and provide support.
- Dust or wash leaves frequently to prevent dust from clogging the plant’s pores.
- Monstera leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.