The Swiss cheese plant, Monstera adansonii, gets its name from its large, heart-shaped leaves, which as it ages, become covered with holes that resemble Swiss cheese. The houseplant, which is part of the Araceae family that's native to South and Central America, is easy to grow and loves to climb. If you give it a stake or trellis to grow upward, you'll enjoy larger leaves with those unique holes.
This "Swiss cheese plant" is an excellent example of why using common names with plants can be confusing. Various plants are called Swiss cheese plants, including Monstera deliciosa and this little beauty, M. adansonii.
- Botanical Name: Monstera adansonii
- Common Name: Adanson's monstera, Swiss cheese vine, five holes plant
- Plant Type: Flowering plant
- Mature Size: Can reach up to 10 to 20 meters with adequate support
- Sun Exposure: Indirect sun
- Soil Type: Peat-based potting soil
- Soil pH: 5.5 to 7.5
- Bloom Time: Spring, but usually only in the wild
- Flower Color: Purple, cream
- Hardiness Zones: 10-11
- Native Area: Central and South America
How to Grow Monstera Adansonii
The Swiss cheese vine is a tropical ornamental that has aerial roots growing downwards from the stem. These roots easily reach the ground, giving this plant a vine-like tendency. These climbers have striking, perforated deeply green leaves that will make you the envy of any plant collector worth their sphagnum peat.
Monster adansonii are native to the jungles of Central and South America, so they grow in the wild under the coverage of trees. Therefore, the plants grow best in indirect sunlight. If it's in a spot with direct light, limit it to just 2 to 3 hours of morning sun.
This plant grows best in peat-based potting soil that has a large drainage hole. The peat helps to trap moisture in the soil without allowing it to become waterlogged. For strong growth, aim for a soil pH of 5.5 to 7.0.
Before you water a Swiss cheese vine, do the knuckle test—stick your finger up to the knuckle into the soil to see how wet or dry the soil is. If the soil is nearly dry, water it. Don't let the soil dry out entirely.
Temperature and Humidity
M. adansonii is best grown in a conservatory or greenhouse where humidity, temperature, and light are all maximized. These are deep-jungle plants that thrive on very high humidity, lots of moisture during the rainy season, and high temps. Adult plants are also climbers, so they can be aggressive if grown correctly. The closer you can mimic the plant's natural conditions the better—choose well-lit, warm and humid bathrooms or kitchens or mist plants frequently. You could also place a humidifier near the plant to keep the air moist. Keep above 60 degrees Fahrenheit if possible, but it can survive brief cold spells with some die-back. Move the plants outside in the summer.
Once you've potted or repotted the plant, don't fertilize within four to six months if you're using a general houseplant potting soil. These soils have slow-release fertilizer already mixed in. From there, fertilize when you water during the summer and spring months, then refrain from feeding during the fall and winter months.
Potting and Repotting
In nature, M. adansonii are climbers, scooting up rainforest trees into the canopy and enlarging as they grow. Most growers, however, use them as trailers or hanging plants, which necessitates less frequent repotting. Repot every other year as needed, and refresh potting soil annually. Failure to keep them in nutritious soil will hurt these plants.
Propagating Monstera Adansonii
Propagation is best by using stem cuttings with a rooting hormone. Keep cuttings warm and protected until new growth emerges. Remember, it can take a little while for new cuttings to root, so be patient and keep them in a moist, warm area. Many gardeners choose to bag their cuttings to seal in moisture and improve the chances of survival.
Varieties of Monstera Adansonii
There are actually 41 species of Monstera, including the M. adansonii. All of them are native to Mexico, Central, and South America, although some of the species are likely extinct in their native habitat. Like many aroids, M. adansonii has two leaf forms—juvenile and adult. Most plants in garden centers will feature juvenile leaf forms, with the characteristic holes in the leaf. Much of the confusion surrounding this species is because the plant changes form several times as it ages and no two plants look the same.
Although other Monstera plants look similar to the adansonii, such as the M. obliqua, the latter is actually much rarer than the Swiss cheese vine. It also has thinner leaves and bigger holes in those leaves than M. adansonii.
Pruning Monstera Adansonii
The Swiss cheese vine is a climber, so it might need to be pruned if it gets out of control. Prune in the spring to autumn by removing top growth, as well as any dead or damaged leaves. Cut close to the main stem to avoid stubs.
Toxicity of Monstera Adansonii
M. Adansonii is moderately toxic to cats and dogs because of its insoluble calcium oxalates. It can cause swelling, vomiting, or burning in pets.