The Swiss cheese plant (Monstera adansonii) gets its common name from its large, heart-shaped leaves that develop holes as the plant ages (in a process called fenestration). This makes the leaves resemble Swiss cheese. Native to Central and South America, the Swiss cheese plant is a tropical perennial that's typically grown as a houseplant. Like its cousin Monstera deliciosa (also referred to as the Swiss cheese plant), Monstera adansonii has a fast growth rate and a vining habit. But it will remain at a manageable size when grown in a container indoors. When cultivated as a houseplant, Swiss cheese plants are typically grown from young nursery plants and can be potted at any time. It's important to note that all parts of Monstera plants are toxic to pets, so be careful when growing them indoors.
|Common Name||Swiss cheese plant, Swiss cheese vine, five holes plant|
|Botanical Name||Monstera adansonii|
|Mature Size||10–13 ft. tall (outdoors), 3–8 ft. tall (indoors), 1–3 ft. wide|
|Soil Type||Moist, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral|
|Bloom Time||Spring (does not bloom indoors)|
|Hardiness Zones||10–12, USA|
|Native Area||Central America, South America|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for a Swiss Cheese Plant
Swiss Cheese Plant Care
The Swiss cheese plant is notoriously easy to care for, and it loves to climb. The plant has aerial roots growing downward from the stem, which brace against the ground or any available support. In the wild, it will use these roots to push itself up onto an adjoining tree or woody vine. When growing it as a houseplant, you can simulate this by inserting a stake in the center of its pot.
Providing regular water and food will be your main care task with this plant. You also might need to do some maintenance pruning to keep the plant at your desired size.
Because of the Swiss cheese plant's tropical origin, it grows best in bright, indirect light. It's used to thriving under the cover of large trees in the jungle, and the foliage can easily burn if it's exposed to too much direct sun. If direct sunlight is unavoidable, limit exposure to just two or three hours of morning sun.
Swiss cheese plants grow best in peat-based potting mix, which will help to trap moisture in the soil without causing it to become waterlogged. For strong growth, aim for a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.
These plants like to be consistently moist but not soaked. 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. Irrigate until a little water runs out of the container's drainage holes.
Temperature and Humidity
These jungle plants thrive in very high humidity and warm temperatures. The closer you can mimic the plant's natural conditions, the better. Make sure your plant always remains in a spot that's above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and protect it from drafts. A humidity level above 50% is ideal. A warm, well-lit bathroom is a good spot for this plant. If you need to increase humidity, mist the plant or use a humidifier in its space.
After potting (or repotting) the plant, wait at least four to six months to fertilize it, as potting mix typically already has slow-release fertilizer in it. After that, fertilize your Swiss cheese plant monthly, using an all-purpose liquid fertilizer that has been diluted by half.
Types of Swiss Cheese Plant
There are several species that bear the name of Swiss cheese plant, including:
- Monstera deliciosa: This species features leaves that are larger than those of Monstera adansonii.
- Monstera borsigiana: This is a smaller and faster-growing form of Monstera deliciosa.
- Monstera obliqua: This is a rare species that looks similar to Monstera adansonii, but its leaves are thinner with more holes.
The Swiss cheese plant is a climber, so it might need to be pruned if it begins to outgrow your space. Should you need to prune your plant, aim to do so in the spring. Use sterile pruning shears to cut back stems by no more than 25 percent. Cut just before a leaf node. Also, remove any dead or damaged leaves as needed.
Propagating Swiss Cheese Plant
The easiest method to propagate a Swiss cheese plant is by using stem cuttings. Not only is this an inexpensive way to get new plants, but it allows you to put any stems you remove while pruning to good use. The best time to propagate is in the spring. Here's how:
- Trim off a 4- to 6-inch piece of stem, cutting just after a leaf node. Remove any leaves on the bottom third to half of the cutting.
- Apply a rooting hormone to the cut end.
- Plant the cutting in moistened soilless potting mix in a small container with drainage holes. Place it in a warm spot with bright, indirect light.
- Continue to keep the growing medium lightly moist. You should have well-formed roots in a few months, after which you can transfer the cutting to a larger pot.
How to Grow Swiss Cheese Plant From Seed
To grow a Swiss cheese plant from seeds, plant them in a shallow tray filled with a moistened seed-starting mix. Lightly cover the seeds with the growing medium. Put plastic wrap over the tray to trap in moisture, and place it in a warm spot with bright, indirect light. Mist the growing medium to keep it lightly moist. The seeds should germinate in a few weeks. After that, remove the plastic wrap but continue to keep the growing medium moist. The seedlings should be large enough for transplanting in a few months.
Potting and Repotting Swiss Cheese Plant
Any container with drainage holes will do for a Swiss cheese plant. These plants look especially nice in hanging baskets. When potting a nursery plant, select a container that's just slightly larger than the plant's root ball. Situate it at the same depth as it was in its nursery container, using a peat-based potting mix. Plan to repot every two years in a slightly larger container with fresh potting mix. The best time for potting and repotting is in the spring.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
The Swiss cheese plant might have to contend with a variety of common houseplant pests, including mealybugs, spider mites, scale, and whitefly. Luckily, these pests are rarely fatal and can be treated with a nontoxic insecticide or neem oil. Additionally, keep an eye out for common diseases, such as root rot, rust, powdery mildew, and blight.
Common Problems With Swiss Cheese Plant
When grown in the conditions it likes, the Swiss cheese plant typically doesn't have any serious problems. However, if you can't meet its environmental needs indoors, it is prone to some common issues.
Leaves Turning Yellow
Yellowing of the leaves is commonly the result of overwatering. Make sure your plant is never sitting in soggy soil, and allow it to slightly dry out between waterings.
Leaves Turning Black
Black marks on the leaves can be a sign of leaf burn from direct sunlight. Watch your plant throughout the day to make sure direct sun isn't hitting it for very long. Especially make sure to protect it from strong afternoon sun.
Is the Swiss cheese plant easy to care for?
As long as you can provide warm, humid conditions, Swiss cheese plants are relatively simple to maintain.
How fast does the Swiss cheese plant grow?
Swiss cheese plants have a fast growth rate but typically will not reach full size indoors.
How often should you water a Swiss cheese plant?
Water whenever the top inch of soil dries out, allowing a little water to run out of the bottom of the container.