The Swiss cheese plant gets its name from its large, heart-shaped leaves which, develop holes as the plant ages (called "fenestration"), making its leaves resemble Swiss cheese. Native to Central and South America, the Swiss cheese plant is a tropical perennial typically grown as a houseplant. It's notoriously easy to care for and loves to climb—providing it with a stake, moss stick, or trellis that it can cling to can lead to some beautiful displays (plus, it will produce larger leaves).
The Swiss cheese plant, along with its cousin the Monstera deliciosa (sometimes also referred to as a Swiss cheese plant), grows quickly and can reach expansive heights in under six months' time. If cultivated and cared for as an indoor houseplant, you can plant your Swiss cheese plant any time, though they're typically bought as immature babies from nurseries and other plant suppliers.
|Botanical Name||Monstera adansonii|
|Common Name||Swiss cheese plant, Adanson's monstera, Swiss cheese vine, five holes plant|
|Mature Size||6–8 ft. tall (indoors), 1–3 ft. wide (indoors)|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun, partial shade|
|Soil pH||Neutral to acidic|
|Bloom Time||Spring (do not bloom indoors)|
|Hardiness Zones||10–12 (USDA) when outdoors|
|Native Area||Central America, South America|
|Toxicity||Toxic to dogs and cats|
Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for a Swiss Cheese Plant
Swiss Cheese Plant Care
The Swiss cheese plant is a tropical ornamental that has aerial roots growing downwards from the stem. The roots brace against the ground or against any available support, giving the Swiss cheese plant a vine-like tendency to climb if they have the proper support. In the wild, it will use its air roots to push itself upward onto an adjoining tree or woody vine; when growing it as a houseplant, you can simulate this by inserting a stick in the center of its pot.
If the proper (and simple) conditions are maintained, the Swiss cheese plant is a very easy varietal to care for, offering up eye-catching beauty and interest for not a lot of effort.
Because of the Swiss cheese plant's tropical origins, they grow best in bright, indirect light, or partial shade. They're used to thriving under the cover of large trees in the jungle, and can easily burn if exposed to too many direct sun rays. If direct sunlight is unavoidable, limit their exposure to just two or three hours of sun in the mornings.
Swiss cheese plants grow best in peat-based potting soil, which will help trap moisture in the soil without allowing it to become waterlogged. For strong growth, aim for a soil pH level between 5.5 and 7.0, and choose a pot with large drainage holes at its base.
Swiss cheese plants like to be consistently moist, but not soaked. While it may seem complicated to strike that balance, you can easily test if your plant is in need of water using an easy trick. Before watering your Swiss cheese plant, stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep—if the soil feels nearly dry-to-the-touch, it's time to water the plant.
Temperature and Humidity
These deep-jungle plants thrive on very high humidity, lots of moisture, and high temperatures, so it makes sense that the most successful Swiss cheese plants are often grown in a conservatory or greenhouse environment. The closer you can mimic the plant's natural conditions, the better. Choose a spot in a well-lit, warm, and humid bathroom or kitchen, and mist the plant frequently. Additionally, you can also place a humidifier nearby to keep the air moist. Swiss cheese plants should be kept above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, if possible, but can survive brief cold spells with some die-back.
Once you've potted or repotted the plant, wait at least four to six months to fertilize it, as general potting soil typically already has slow-release fertilizer mixed in. After that, fertilize your Swiss cheese plant monthly, using an all-purpose liquid fertilizer that has been diluted by half.
Is Swiss Cheese Plant Toxic?
Unfortunately, the Swiss cheese plant can be toxic to small animals, including dogs and cats. The issue is due to the insoluble calcium oxalate crystals found in all parts of the plant, including its leaves, stems, and roots. Though rarely fatal, it's still important to contact a vet or other emergency services if your pet experiences any of the symptoms below following consumption of the Swiss cheese plant.
Symptoms of Poisoning
- Oral irritation
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pawing at mouth
Pruning Swiss Cheese Plant
The Swiss cheese plant is a climber, so it might need to be pruned if it gets out of control or begins to outgrow your space. Should you need to prune your plant, do so in the spring or autumn by removing the top growth as well as any dead or damaged leaves. Cut close to the main stem to avoid creating stubs.
Propagating Swiss Cheese Plant
Propagation is best by using stem cuttings with a rooting hormone. Plant the cuttings in growing medium and keep them warm and protected until new growth emerges. Remember, it can take a while for new cuttings to root, so be patient and keep them in a moist, warm area. Many gardeners place a plastic bag over their cuttings to seal in moisture and improve the chances of survival.
Cuttings can also be rooted simply by inserting the cut stems in water for a few weeks. Once a network of roots appears, plant the cuttings in potting soil.
Potting and Repotting Swiss Cheese Plant
Repot your Swiss cheese plant as needed (typically every other year), and refresh the potting soil annually. Failure to keep them in a nutritious soil mixture can hurt their overall growth in the long term.
Common Pests and Diseases
Like many houseplants, the Swiss cheese plant may have to contend with a variety of common pests, such as mealybugs, spider mites, scale, and whitefly. Luckily, these pests are rarely fatal and can be treated with a non-toxic insecticide or neem oil. Additionally, you should keep an eye out for signs of common diseases on your plant, such as root rot, rust, powdery mildew, and blight.