Monstera

OFFICIAL NAME

Monstera deliciosa

ALSO KNOWN AS

Swiss Cheese Plant, Fruit Salad Plant, Split-leaf Philodendron

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

Central America | Tropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

Likely the most recognizable houseplant—Monstera are widely admired for their glossy green split leaves with fenestrations (holes), but equally appreciated for their easy going ways. Monstera are happiest (and grow bigger leaves) when given the opportunity to climb.

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

easy going, bright indirect, goldilocks, low light tolerant, wide load, great lengths, clusters, bushy or dense, climbing, floor, tabletop, aroid, tropical, XL leaves, splits or holes, heart-shape

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Monstera

The basics

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Be particularly vigilant in winter to avoid overwatering.

Water

Preferred Light

Bright, indirect light is ideal for this jungle dweller. Susceptible to leaf burn in long stretches of direct light. Can tolerate lower light conditions, but be sure to adjust watering and don't expect much growth

Light

Humidity Needs

This tropical epiphyte (plants that grow in the mossy nooks of trees) will certainly appreciate a boost in humidity.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but may complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

Monstera leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting. Some people experience skin irritation when handling.

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to around 6-9 ft tall with a 3 ft spread (when mature and with enough light)! May need to be supported with a moss or coir pole (the aerial roots can latch on for support and to take up any excess moisture).

Size

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation with clusters of long stems topped with large perky leaves that like to reach for the sun. Will quickly begin to go wide by vining and trailing over the edge of the planter. Will also grab on to a moss pole to climb if you give them the chance. Works best on a tabletop for smaller specimens and on the floor or a plant stand for a larger one.

Format

Leaf Look

Dramatic perforated (fenestrated) shape and waxy bright green leaves. Young plants have shiny smooth heart-shaped leaves. As the plant matures, the leaves will take on their classic look with splits and holes.

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

The gorgeous XL large leaves on this plant can quickly accumulate dust. Dust blocks the plant from absorbing light—so be sure to keep their leaves clean and dust-free. You can do this by misting and wiping each leaf or a routine hose-down/shower.

Pro Tip

Did You Know?

In their natural jungle habitat, Monstera can grow to over 65 feet tall! They are one of the many houseplants that are epiphytes—meaning, in the wild, they like to climb, settling into the mossy nooks of trees in the rainforest, taking in plenty of moisture through their aerial roots. They also produce an edible fruit that some say tastes "delicious", hence the name!

Fun Fact

Water

|

Allow top inches of soil to dry between waterings.

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Be particularly vigilant in winter to avoid overwatering.

Light

|

Low light tolerant. Bright, indirect light preferred.

Preferred Light

Bright, indirect light is ideal for this jungle dweller. Susceptible to leaf burn in long stretches of direct light. Can tolerate lower light conditions, but be sure to adjust watering and don't expect much growth

Humidity

|

Extra humidity appreciated in drier spaces.

Humidity Needs

This tropical epiphyte (plants that grow in the mossy nooks of trees) will certainly appreciate a boost in humidity.

Temperature

|

Can adapt, but doesn't like sudden change.

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but may complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents.

Toxicity

|

Mildly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

Monstera leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting. Some people experience skin irritation when handling.

Size

|

A popular plant for those seeking a larger specimen.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to around 6-9 ft tall with a 3 ft spread (when mature and with enough light)! May need to be supported with a moss or coir pole (the aerial roots can latch on for support and to take up any excess moisture).

Format

|

Densely packed upright stems.

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation with clusters of long stems topped with large perky leaves that like to reach for the sun. Will quickly begin to go wide by vining and trailing over the edge of the planter. Will also grab on to a moss pole to climb if you give them the chance. Works best on a tabletop for smaller specimens and on the floor or a plant stand for a larger one.

Leaf Shape

|

Bright green and heart-shaped with splits and perforations.

Leaf Look

Dramatic perforated (fenestrated) shape and waxy bright green leaves. Young plants have shiny smooth heart-shaped leaves. As the plant matures, the leaves will take on their classic look with splits and holes.

Pro Tip

|

A good wipe down, please!

Pro Tip

The gorgeous XL large leaves on this plant can quickly accumulate dust. Dust blocks the plant from absorbing light—so be sure to keep their leaves clean and dust-free. You can do this by misting and wiping each leaf or a routine hose-down/shower.

Fun Fact

|

A natural born climber, this plant grows on trees.

Did You Know?

In their natural jungle habitat, Monstera can grow to over 65 feet tall! They are one of the many houseplants that are epiphytes—meaning, in the wild, they like to climb, settling into the mossy nooks of trees in the rainforest, taking in plenty of moisture through their aerial roots. They also produce an edible fruit that some say tastes "delicious", hence the name!

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

These ambitious growers are fairly quick to fill out their pot and become rootbound. Try to repot every 1-2 years in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time. Once mature and becoming unwieldily to maneuver—you can reduce your repotting frequency and switch to a routine of refreshing just the top few inches of soil. More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

While no specific pruning is required for this plant, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests. Try not to prune off too many aerial roots—it's best to leave them be, tuck them back into the planter, or train you plant to attach and grow up a moss or coir pole.

Propagation

All you need to propagate a Monstera is a piece of stem with a node or aerial root. This is particularly easy to spot since it's a brown knob or full on wiggly root sticking out along the green stem.  Try to cut just below this node and remove the lower leaves to ensure a clear stem before rooting. This cutting will grow roots directly in water and in just a few weeks! Once the roots are a couple inches long, you can pot up as you would with any plant. Something to note, if you use a cutting with a leaf that’s already split or fenestrated, you’ll be more likely to create another plant with hole-y leaves. More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

Almost as well known as the classic, Monstera adansonii is the petite and "holier" cousin. A plant commonly called "Monstera Minima" is not actually a Monstera at all and is instead classified as Rhaphidophora tetrasperma.

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why doesn't my Monstera have splits or holes in the leaves?

Symptom

Leaves are solid instead of having splits or holes.

Cause

This can mean you simply have a young specimen on your hands that has not matured enough yet. However, this can also be a sign that your plant isn't getting enough light. While Monstera can tolerate lower light conditions, they may begin to loose their holes to compensate. More green surface area means more efficient photosynthesis.

Solution

You might just need to wait for your plant to mature—the splits and holes should come with age. But if you suspect low lighting is the culprit, you should try to improve the lighting conditions for your Monstera to thrive. These plants prefer plenty of bright, indirect light. Just make sure to adjust your watering to accommodate the increased light.

Since Monstera are naturally inclined to climb, a moss or coir pole is also a great option since it allows more opportunities for root attachment which makes for a stronger plant with bigger and "holier" leaves!

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Why are the leaf tips on my Monstera browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

Once you've addressed the problem: If the brown tips bother you, you can trim them back. Do your best to follow the shape of the leaf to help them look natural. Also, try to cut just short of the discolored edge so it doesn’t expand.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why does my Monstera have pale, patchy spots?

Symptom

Larger grey or pale patches on a few leaves. The spot may look dried out and somewhat bleached.

Cause

When your plant is exposed to the hot sun, it begins to evaporate more moisture from the leaf surface than the plant can replace. Leading to bleached areas or large grey patches on leaves.

Solution

You may be pushing the limits on how much direct sun your plant can handle. Try moving it out of reach of those direct rays of sun or moving to a spot that receives only minimal direct sun in the mornings or evenings. While this should prevent further burning, the spots will not "heal", so it's up to you if you'd like to prune off the affected leaves.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaves on my Monstera wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why does my Monstera have mold on the surface of the soil?

Symptom

A white mold covering the surface of the soil or full-on mushrooms sprouting in the soil or even popping out through drainage holes.

Cause

It can be frightening to notice mold or mushrooms growing on the soil. However, these fungii are usually benign and won't harm your plant directly. The real danger is that you're creating an environment that promotes fungal growth and is quite likely overly wet. Ultimately, these could be warning signs that you are overwatering.

Solution

If you want to eliminate the mold and mushrooms, you can simply remove and replace the top inch or so of soil. You can also try a soil soak of neem oil, which acts as a fungicide. But try not to overdo it, since you're delivering neem oil in a water-based solution, too much will do more harm than good. The most important factor will be to evaluate your watering frequency and ensure you aren't overwatering. While the visible fungii aren't problematic for your plant, sustained overwatering will eventually lead to a fungal infection at the roots, the cause of dreaded root rot.

More on watering here.
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