Table of Contents
Background for Beginners
Monstera plants have taken the world by storm with their stunning, large leaves and easy-care requirements. The monstera, or Monstera deliciosa, belongs to the Araceae family and is native to the tropical regions of America. These plants may also be referred to as the Swiss cheese plant, a name derived from the Monstera’s most coveted feature, large green leaves with fenestrations, or holes. It is generally believed the functional purpose of these holes is to allow light to pass through to the plant’s lower leaves, or to other plants in the jungle! Another theory is that with holes in their leaves, they can resist strong winds and not be blown over. Hopefully, wind will not be a factor in your house. However, having leaves which allow light to pass through to lower leaves will allow you more freedom in where you place it.
Caring for a Monstera is shockingly quite simple, which is a large reason why plant parents all over the world rave about this type of plant. Though Monstera deliciosa is one of the most popular species, there are many other intriguing members of the Monstera family that also make for fantastic indoor plants. Let’s dive into the diverse world of Monstera species and uncover essential Monstera care tips to help these magnificent plants flourish in your space.
How to Pick Your Monstera Plant
Monstera plants display a fascinating range of appearances and growth habits, allowing you to create a diverse and visually captivating indoor garden. Whether you're a seasoned Monstera collector or just beginning your journey with these vibey plants, there's a species that's perfect for your space and aesthetic preferences.
What are the Light Requirements of Monstera?
Generally speaking, Monstera plants thrive in bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves. If you keep your plant near a southern or western exposed window, we suggest using sheer (or any other translucent material) window curtains to keep your Monstera out of direct sunlight. As a plant found on the floor of tropical forests, they can also tolerate low light, but note this will slow the growing process.
As is the case with most plants, Monsteras try to face the sunlight. If you notice your Monstera is leaning to a side or a specific direction, it is recommended that you rotate or move the plant closer to that light source. This leaning can be thought of as a cry for help to be moved closer to the light.
For homes with limited natural light or dark corners, consider using LED grow-lights to supplement your Monstera's light needs. For example, the LED grow bulb can be attached to any lamp, while the sleek Aspect pendant grow light hangs beautifully above your plant. The Highland track light system is perfect for providing light to larger areas, ensuring your Monstera receives ample light for optimal growth.
Monstera Watering and Humidity Needs
Monstera plants prefer consistently moist potting soil but should never be left sitting in water. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering thoroughly. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while under watering may cause yellowing and wilting. A great way to test moisture levels is to submerge your pinky 1-2 inches deep in the soil. If you feel zero to little moisture, it is time to water your plant. Water until liquid begins flowing through the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. It’s very important to discard all accumulated water in the saucer, as this can also cause root rot.
In the winter months, dry air from heaters can cause Monstera leaves to dry out. Maintaining a humidity level of 60-80% is ideal for these tropical plants. You can boost humidity by using a humidifier, misting the leaves, or placing a tray of water near the plant. Here’s a list of some pretty great humidifiers to keep around your houseplants. In addition to humidity and plentiful indirect sunlight, Monsteras also love warmer temperatures. A normal indoor temperature of 60-80° F (15-27° C) is perfect for your Monstera houseplant. Avoid any cold drafts or direct airflow from heaters during the winter months.
Monstera Soil and Nutrient Needs
A well-draining, nutrient-rich potting mix is essential for Monstera plants. A mix of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite can provide the ideal balance of drainage and moisture retention.
Feed your Monstera with a balanced liquid fertilizer every four to six weeks during the growing season. Here’s the trusty Monstera potting mix we use for our Monstera plants!
How To Prune and Train Monsteras
Pruning your Monstera is key for maintaining its shape and size. Trim away any dead or yellowing leaves and stems using clean, sharp scissors. To encourage bushier growth, pinch back the growing tips of the stems. Nearly all Monsteras are natural climbers and may require support, such as a moss pole or trellis. Gently tie the stems to the support, taking care not to damage the delicate aerial roots.
Common Pests and Diseases In Monsteras
Monstera plants can be susceptible to common plant pests such as spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. Inspect your plant regularly for signs of infestation and treat any issues promptly using insecticidal soap or neem oil. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so always ensure proper drainage and avoid allowing your Monstera to sit in water.
For more information on dealing with common houseplant pests, check out our blog post “Common Indoor Plant Pests and How to Get Rid of Them”!
Monstera Propagation How-To
Monstera plants are relatively easy to propagate.
Step 1: Monstera Cuttings
Simply take a stem cutting from under the node, with at least one leaf and a healthy aerial root. Be sure to use sharp and clean trimmers.
A Monstera cut beneath an ariel root
Step 2: Rooting Monsteras
Place the cutting in a container filled with water, ensuring the node is submerged. Ensure it remains standing properly, and change the water every 3-5 days.
The cut leaf in a jar
You can also opt to propagate directly in the soil by planting the cutting in a well-draining mix. Make sure to keep the soil consistently moist until the cutting establishes itself. After a few weeks, you should see new root growth, and your cutting will be well on its way to becoming a thriving new Monstera plant.
Step 3: Sprouting Monstera Cutting
Let the cutting soak for a month or two in a sunny spot or under a grow light until roots begin to sprout. Be careful to limit sun exposure, however, as this may damage the leaves.
Roots appear after soaking
Step 4: Planting Monstera
Once rooted, remove Monstera from water and plant in soil. Water thoroughly, and proceed with care as you have for the mother plant.
The propagation in new soil and pot
Repotting Your Monstera
When repotting is necessary, it is suggested to use a pot/planter that is no more than 2” larger than the previous one. Repotting is typically a stressful stage for a plant, so minimizing the size increase can make adjusting a lot easier for your Monstera. Repotting is necessary when your plant's roots begin to poke out of the drainage holes, or if you notice a stoppage of new growth.
TIP: Repotting should only occur about every two years!
Best Materials To Repot Monstera In
A very durable option that absorbs excess moisture from soil, which is ideal for plants with low moisture preference, like the Monstera.
Glazed Ceramic Pots
Another durable option, protect plants from sudden temperature changes and are often a very fashionable appearance. However, they often offer insufficient drainage, and repotting is challenging. As well, they are made of porous material, which traps moisture.
Often the cheapest and easiest option, coming in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Opt for recycled material or planters made from polypropylene to avoid any negative health implications of poorer quality plastics.
What are Different Types of Monstera?
Monstera is a diverse genus of tropical plants, boasting more than 50 species. While Monstera deliciosa is perhaps the most well-known and widely cultivated variety, there are several other intriguing types of Monstera that you can incorporate into your indoor garden. Here are some of the most popular and unique Monstera species, each offering its distinct appearance and charm:
1. Monstera deliciosa
As mentioned earlier, Monstera deliciosa is the most popular and iconic species in the genus. Known for its large, deeply cut leaves with numerous holes, this plant is often called the Swiss cheese plant. It is native to the rainforests of Central and South America and can grow up to 10 feet tall indoors with proper care.
2. Monstera adansonii
Monstera adansonii is also known as the “Swiss cheese vine” or “five holes plant”. This Monstera is a vining species with smaller, more delicate leaves than M. deliciosa. This plant's leaves feature oval-shaped holes, giving it a unique, lacy appearance. Due to its vining nature, M. adansonii is well-suited for hanging baskets or growing on a trellis or moss pole.
3. Monstera borsigiana
Monstera borsigiana is a close relative of M. deliciosa, and the two plants are often mistaken for each other. The main difference is that M. borsigiana has smaller leaves and a faster growth rate. While it is a separate species, it is sometimes referred to as Monstera deliciosa 'Borsigiana.'
4. Monstera obliqua
One of the rarest and most sought-after Monstera species, Monstera obliqua, is characterized by its paper-thin leaves with large, irregular holes. Monstera adansonii and Monstera obliqua are often confused due to their similar appearance, as both species feature fenestrated, or hole-filled, leaves and a trailing growth habit. However, upon closer inspection, there are subtle differences that distinguish the two: M. adansonii typically has larger, more elongated leaves with pronounced and irregularly shaped fenestrations, while M. obliqua has smaller, more rounded leaves with delicate, evenly spaced fenestrations. Additionally, M. obliqua is rarer and more sensitive to environmental changes, making it more challenging to cultivate compared to the more adaptable and faster-growing M. adansonii.
5. Monstera siltepecana
Monstera siltepecana, sometimes called the silver Monstera, is a trailing species with elongated, heart-shaped leaves. The leaves are adorned with a beautiful silver sheen, and the plant is known for its ability to climb or trail, making it a versatile choice for various indoor settings.
6. Monstera dubia
This unique and rare species, Monstera dubia, has a distinct growth habit known as shingling. Young plants have small, heart-shaped leaves that lie flat against a surface, such as a tree trunk or moss pole. As the plant matures, the leaves become larger, and the characteristic holes develop.
7. Monstera pinnatipartita
Monstera pinnatipartita is another fascinating species featuring deeply divided leaves with a feathery appearance. As the plant matures, the leaves develop holes and become more deeply lobed. This species is less common than M. deliciosa and M. adansonii but makes a stunning addition to any Monstera collection.
8. Monstera standleyanaMonstera standleyana, also known as the cobra plant, is a climbing species with elongated, lance-shaped leaves featuring attractive variegation. The leaves are typically dark green with white or cream-colored stripes, making this species an eye-catching addition to any indoor garden.
9. Monstera lechleriana
Monstera lechleriana is a lesser-known species with elongated, heart-shaped leaves and an attractive vining growth habit. The leaves feature irregular, oval-shaped holes and prominent veins, giving the plant a striking appearance. This species is ideal for hanging baskets or growing on a moss pole or trellis.
10. Monstera subpinnata
Monstera subpinnata is a rare and unusual species with deeply lobed, pinnate leaves. The leaves have a feathery, almost fern-like appearance, making this plant stand out among other Monsteras. It is a climbing species and can be grown on a support structure for optimal growth.
11. Monstera friedrichsthalii
Also known as Monstera karstenianum, this species is characterized by its small, heart-shaped leaves with prominent veins and perforations. Monstera friedrichsthalii is a vining species, making it well-suited for hanging baskets or a support structure like a moss pole.
12. Monstera peru
Monstera peru, sometimes referred to as Monstera karstenianum 'Peru,' is a unique species with heavily textured, dark green leaves. The leaves are thick and glossy, featuring a quilted or puckered appearance. This climbing species is a beautiful addition to any Monstera collection and can be grown on a support structure or allowed to trail.
13. Monstera esqueleto
Monstera esqueleto, also known as Monstera epipremnoides, is a rare and stunning species native to Central and South America. This plant features large, elongated leaves with deep lobes and pronounced fenestrations. As it matures, its leaves become more deeply cut, creating a dramatic and eye-catching display.
Decorating with Monstera
The striking, large leaves and unique growth habits of Monstera plants make them an ideal focal point for any indoor garden. Consider placing it on a plant stand or shelf to show off its captivating foliage. You can also create an indoor jungle by pairing your Monstera with other tropical plants, such as pothos, philodendrons, and ferns. For ideas on rooting, propagating, and decorating with Monstera leaves, you can find a helpful guide in this blog post by The Healthy Houseplant.
Monstera Plants - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are Monstera deliciosa plants toxic to pets?
A: Yes, Monstera deliciosa contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and swelling if ingested by pets. Keep your Monstera out of reach of curious pets, or consider choosing pet-friendly plants from our list of 10 Pet Friendly Plants.
Q: Why are the leaves on my Monstera not splitting?
A: Insufficient light, inadequate humidity, or lack of nutrients can inhibit the formation of fenestrations in Monstera leaves. Ensure your plant is receiving bright, indirect light, proper watering, and regular feedings to encourage leaf splitting.
Q: Can Monstera deliciosa grow outdoors?
A: Monstera deliciosa can be grown outdoors in regions with a warm, humid climate (USDA zones 10-11). However, it will need protection from direct sunlight and cold temperatures.
Should You Introduce Monsteras Into Your Life?
Monstera plants are a truly captivating kind of plant that can bring a touch of tropical elegance to any indoor space. With proper care and attention, this magnificent plant will reward you with lush growth and stunning fenestrated leaves!