Native to the rainforests of Central America, the Monstera deliciosa plant is also known as the "tropical split-leaf philodendron." This climbing evergreen is a popular easy-to-grow houseplant and a favorite of many interior designers for both residential and commercial spaces. Indoors, the plant grows about two feet high, its leathery, glossy, characteristic split and heart-shaped leaves coming from intricate aerial roots, which can be used for ropes and basket making. It is also called Swiss cheese plant due to the perforated leaves, which can grow up to three feet long and are significantly larger than the related petite variety M. adansonii. Hardy in USDA Zones 10 through 12, Monstera deliciosa thrives in high humidity, produces tan-cream flowers pollinated by bees and bears edible juicy fruit with the combined flavor of pineapple and banana. Fruiting is not common in houseplants.
|Botanical Name||Monstera Deliciosa|
|Common Names||Split-leaf philodendron, Swiss cheese plant, Windowleaf, Ceriman|
|Plant Type||Climbing evergreen|
|Mature Size||Three feet tall/long, spaced two to three feet wide|
|Sun Exposure||Bright indirect sunlight, partially shaded|
|Soil Type||Peat-based potting soil, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acid or neutral|
|Hardiness Zones||10, 11, 12|
|Native Area||Central America|
How to Grow Monstera Deliciosa in Containers
If intended as a houseplant, choose a deep pot with many drainage holes. Fill the bottom third with peaty potting soil and establish a stake gently for the stem to climb on. Set the roots into the container. Fill with soil around the roots. Firmly surround the stake with soil and use plant ties to attach the stem to the stake. Every two years or so, the Monstera deliciosa will likely outgrow its pot. Transplant into a pot a few inches wider and deeper.
This evergreen prefers bright, indirect sunlight in temperatures that remain consistently between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Too much direct light in warmer months may burn the foliage. Still, set indoor plants outside at least once a year in direct sunlight to encourage lush growth.
Outdoors, the Monstera deliciosa can grow in the full shade of deep woodlands and semi-shade of light woodlands.
When established in a container, it requires peat-based potting media. Outdoors, it is suitable for light sandy, medium loamy, and heavy clay soils with acid or neutral pH. Even so, it thrives most in well-drained, moderately moist soil.
Give the plant regular waterings during the growing season. The soil will need to dry out slightly in between. Water only occasionally in fall and winter. To increase humidity indoors, mist the foliage using a spray bottle of demineralized water or rainwater.
If needed or desired, use a balanced liquid fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season for indoor plants.
Wiping dust or debris with a damp sponge or paper towel will keep the plant clean and avoidant of pests. Common pests include mealybugs, aphids, thrips, scale and spider mites. If any are found on the foliage, spray the plant with a direct water stream. Leaves can also be washed with insecticidal soap.
Trim aerial roots if they get too unruly for the space, though tucking them back into the pot is preferred. Unlike some other houseplants, their roots do not damage surfaces.
Stems and leaves respond well to trimming. Cuttings can be used to start new plants. However the most popular method of propagating M. deliciosa is air-layering, for which you'll need sharp and clean pruning shears, floral or sphagnum moss, a plastic bag, and twist ties.
First, find a leaf that is growing out of a stem and has a short aerial root below it. Cut a small notch about one third of the stem's width, just below that root. Wrap where the leaf joins the stem in a one-inch layer of sphagnum moss. Spray the moss with water to increase moisture and wrap it in plastic. Use twist ties to secure it. Ensure the moss remains moist until roots develop. Finally, cut the stem and establish the young plant in soil.
Additional Outdoor Care Tips
As the Monstera Deliciosa is hardy in USDA zones 10 through 12, it will thrive year-round in warm, humid weather. When planting outdoors, establish in part-shade in well-draining soil. If the soil is naturally salty in your region, move it to the patio or indoors. Apply a balanced fertilizer three or four times a year and the plant may grow 10 feet tall or more.
Ripe fruits are edible but according to the North Caroline State University Extension Services, fruits may cause some people allergies. Consuming the leaves and other parts of the plant may cause severe mouth burning, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Minor skin irritation from just handling the plant, is possible, though quite rare, making the Monstera deliciosa a beloved, versatile houseplant in many parts of the world.
The ASPCA cautions that this plant is toxic to cats and dogs. If these furry friends live in your home, consider an animal-friendly houseplant instead.