How to Grow and Care for Monstera Deliciosa

monstera deliciosa

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Native to the rainforests of Central America, the big, bold Monstera deliciosa plant is also known as the "split-leaf philodendron." This eye-catching 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 has a moderate growth rate and can grow in height about 1 to 2 feet a year. Its leathery, glossy, characteristic split, and heart-shaped leaves come from intricate aerial roots, which can be used for ropes and basket-making. It is also called the Swiss cheese plant because of its perforated leaves, which can grow to 3 feet long.

Plant outdoors in the right zone at any time during the year and it will also produce tannish-cream flowers pollinated by bees and edible juicy fruit with the combined flavor of pineapple and banana. However, fruiting is not common in houseplants. This beautiful plant can be toxic to pets.

Common Names Split-leaf philodendron, Swiss cheese plant, windowleaf, ceriman
Botanical Name Monstera deliciosa
Family Araceae
Plant Type Climbing evergreen
Mature Size 3 ft. tall, 2-3 ft. spread
Sun Exposure Bright indirect sunlight, partial shade
Soil Type Peat-based potting soil, well-drained
Soil pH Acid or neutral
Bloom Time Mid-summer
Flower Color Cream/tan
Hardiness Zones 10-12 (USDA)
Native Area Central America
Toxicity Toxic to cats and dogs
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Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for a Monstera Deliciosa

Monstera Deliciosa Care

Hardy in USDA Zones 10 through 12, Monstera deliciosa thrives year-round in warm, humid weather. When planting outdoors, establish it 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. If it's intended as a houseplant, choose a deep pot with many drainage holes.

monstera plant
The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
closeup of monstera roots
The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 
new monstera growth
The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
Monstera leaves
 pilialoha / Getty Images Plus

Light

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 Swiss cheese plant can grow in the full shade of deep woodlands and semi-shade of light woodlands.

Soil

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.

Water

Give the plant regular waterings during the growing season every one to two weeks. Water until excess drains through drainage holes. Do not put the excess water back into the plant's container because the plant has taken all the water it needs. The soil will need to dry out slightly in between waterings. Water only occasionally in fall and winter. To increase humidity indoors, mist the foliage using a spray bottle of demineralized water or rainwater.

Fertilizer

If needed or desired, use a balanced liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season for indoor plants. Dilute 1/2 teaspoon of the fertilizer in a gallon of water. Use the diluted fertilizer in place of a regular watering. Pour the mixture into the soil until it begins to flow out of the drainage holes. Throw out the excess diluted fertilizer because the plant has taken what it needs and cannot use the extra that it drains off.

Pruning

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, and they can be used for propagation.

Propagating Monstera Deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa can be easily propagated by stem cuttings from pruning. However, the most popular method of propagating Monstera deliciosa is air layering. Here are the steps for both methods:

To propagate with stem cuttings:

  1. Using a clean, sharp pruning shear, cut off a stem that includes a node (a little bump, which is where the roots will emerge), an aerial root, and at least two leaves.
  2. Put a dash of ground cinnamon (the usual spice you can get at the grocery store) on the mother plant where you made the cut. This will prevent any disease from entering the cut and will help the wound heal.
  3. Put the cutting in a glass of water. Change the water every three to five days, and if possible, use filtered water or rainwater over tap water.
  4. You will see a clump of roots growing in a couple of months. At that point, you can put your new plant in a pot with fresh soil and keep it moist as it establishes itself in its new home.

To propagate with air layering:

Air layering is a preferred low-risk method because you're not making a cut in the mother plant until the baby is ready to be put in a pot with its new roots. The mother plant may not look attractive for a while, but it's worth it to get a healthy new plant. For this method, you'll need floral or sphagnum moss, a plastic bag or plastic wrap, and twist ties.

  1. Find a stem with a couple of nodes (where the roots will grow). Or, find a leaf that is growing out of a stem and has a short aerial root below it.
  2. Cut a small notch about 1/3 of the stem's width, just below that root.
  3. Wrap a 1-inch layer of sphagnum moss around the point where the leaf joins the stem.
  4. Spray the moss with water to increase moisture and wrap it in plastic. Use twist ties to secure it (it may look a little messy, which is okay).
  5. Ensure the moss can remain moist until the roots develop.
  6. When roots develop in a few months, you can cut (with a clean, sharp tool) the stem below the roots and establish the young plant, with its roots, in a fresh pot of soil.
  7. Don't forget to pat ground cinnamon on the wound created on the mother plant. This will stop any disease from entering the cut and help the wound heal.

Potting and Repotting Monstera Deliciosa

Every two years or so, the Swiss cheese plant will likely outgrow its pot. Transplant into a pot a few inches wider and deeper to accommodate growth. This plant prefers well-draining porous pots, such as terracotta or clay, because they like airflow and drainage, however, any material pot with drainage holes will do. Pot the plant using these simple steps:

  1. Fill the bottom third of a pot with peaty potting soil.
  2. Establish a stake gently for the stem to climb on.
  3. Set the roots into the container. Fill with soil around the roots.
  4. Firmly surround the stake with soil and use plant ties to attach the stem to the stake.

Common Pests

Wiping dust or debris off leaves with a damp sponge or paper towel will keep the plant clean and avoidant of pests. However, common pests that can invade the plant 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.

Common Problems of Monstera Deliciosa

Though it's a somewhat easy-going houseplant, the Swiss cheese plant can cause a few headaches. But once you figure out the cause of why your plant looks a little sickly, it can recover well.

Browning Tips

If the tips of the leaves are turning brown, that usually means the soil could be dry or you need to consistently water the plant on a schedule to keep it moist. Remove the affected leaves.

If there's a yellow halo around the brown spots or tips, that means your plant has contracted a fungus. The fungus likely got there because of overwatering or keeping the plant in overly wet soil for too long. Remove the affected leaves and let the plant dry out a bit before watering.

Yellow Leaves

Yellowing leaves is an indication of dry soil. The oldest leaves on the plant will turn yellow first. Remove the affected leaves. Check the soil and if it's bone dry, give it a good watering.

Wilting Leaves

If you see wilting leaves, there's a watering issue, as well. The plant is either overwatered or underwatered. If it's overwatered, the plant could be suffering from root rot. Try taking the plant out of the pot to evaluate the roots. Clean the roots up, prune off mushy parts, and repot in new soil.

FAQ
  • Is Monstera deliciosa easy to care for?

    As a houseplant, this plant is easy to grow and maintain. Outdoors, however, you need to live in the right warm and humid environment for it to thrive.

  • Why do the leaves on some Monstera deliciosa plants split more than on others?

    Fenestrated leaves require a lot of energy to split. The more light the plant receives, the more it will split. Less light produces smaller, less showy leaves.

  • What is the difference between Monstera deliciosa and Monstera adansonii?

    Both monstera plants are known as Swiss cheese plants but what differs is the size of their leaves. Monstera deliciosa's leaves are significantly larger than the petite leaves of Monstera adansonii.

Article Sources
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  1. Swiss cheese plant. ASPCA.