If you're a fan of big, beautiful tropical houseplants, Monstera deliciosa is sure to capture your plant-loving heart. Monstera has distinctive leaves, which are large, perforated, heart-shaped, and split into lobes. Thanks to its holey leaves, this plant is sometimes called the Swiss cheese plant. Intrigued? This care guide will tell you everything you need to know to successfully care for a monstera plant of your very own - and even propagate more.
Guide to Growing Monstera Deliciosa as a Houseplant
Monstera deliciosa has a reputation for being somewhat challenging to grow, but that's not necessarily the case. It's not the lowest maintenance houseplant, but it's also not difficult to grow. As long as you provide monstera plants with the right growing conditions and care, they can grow and thrive without a lot of special attention.
Before you decide to grow a Monstera deliciosa, you should be aware that they grow to be enormous plants. Fully mature monsteras in large enough containers often grow to reach eight feet tall with an equivalent spread. They can actually grow even larger - up to 15 feet. Even their leaves are huge. Individual leaves commonly grow to 18 inches wide, or even larger. Solid green monsteras, which are the most common, typically grow larger than their less common variegated counterparts.
Light and Temperature Requirements
Light and temperature are both important for monsteras. They need a lot of light, but they don't do well in extreme heat or cold.
- Monsteras require bright, indirect sunlight for at least six to eight hours per day.
- You can use fluorescent grow lights to supplement natural indirect sunlight if needed.
- They need to be in an environment that stays between 65 and 75°F.
- Monsteras prefer medium to high humidity levels, ranging from 60% to 80% humidity.
- Monsteras cannot handle freezing temperatures. They will not survive even a light frost.
Some monstera owners put their plants outdoors a bit during the summer to let them get some sunlight that isn't filtered. If you do this, be sure to gradually introduce them to unfiltered sunlight. Keep them out of direct sun and high heat, as such conditions can damage these plants.
Monsteras grow best in a rich potting mix that drains well but also holds moisture without becoming soggy. You can purchase monstera specific potting mix or make your own. To make your own, combine:
- 1 part of store-bought potting soil, worm castings, or compost
- 1 part of perlite, vermiculite, or coco coir
- 1 part of coarse organic matter, such as shredded bark, peat moss, or orchid bark
Simply put the materials of your choice into the garden container you will be using and mix the different components together. It will immediately be ready for you to use for planting your monstera.
Choose a container for your monstera based on the size of your plant's roots rather than the size of its leaves. If there is too much room in the pot, your plant's roots will rot. Almost all of the space in the container should be filled up with the plant's roots. Choose a pot size that leaves around an inch (no more than that) of space all the way around (width and depth) that isn't filled up by the roots.
- Monsteras grow quickly, so you'll need to move them up to a container that's two inches larger than their current pot every two to three years.
- Monstera stems and leaves grow very large and can become unwieldy. You will probably need to stake them to keep them under control.
- These plants also develop aerial roots (brown protuberances that extend from the stems). You can leave them as-is, stick them in the soil, or provide stakes for them to wrap around.
To help your monstera get the humidity that it needs, place the container it's planted in on a plant saucer that is filled with pebbles. As the water that seeps through the soil into the pebbles begins to evaporate, this will boost humidity right around the plant.
Monstera Water Requirements
When monstera plants are under a year old, they need to be kept moist. When they are older than this, they should be allowed to dry out in between waterings. If you have a mature monstera, be sure to water it thoroughly when it's time to add water, but don't add water too often. Instead, leave it alone until the top inch or two of the soil dries out. (This is the same watering technique used with aloe vera plants.) You'll need to water less often during winter than the rest of the year.
Misting Monstera Leaves
It's also important to mist the leaves of your monstera with water periodically. This does not add water to the soil, but rather helps to make sure that there is enough humidity for the plant to thrive. It's ideal to use a spray bottle to lightly mist the leaves of your plant once a week or so. If you notice the plant starting to lose leaves or its leaves start to turn brown or yellow, that's likely a sign that it needs more humidity. If that happens, just mist it a bit more frequently for a little while.
Monstera plants require regular fertilizer in order to thrive. You should feed them with a balanced NPK fertilizer designed for houseplants at least once per month. A 20-20-20 water-soluble plant food is ideal. During spring and summer, monsteras benefit from more frequent fertilization; every two weeks is ideal during that time of year.
Monstera Pests and Diseases
Cleaning Monstera Leaves
Monsteras have large leaves that need to be cleaned regularly. This simply involves wiping the leaves with a damp cloth every week or so. This is important for a few key reasons.
- Dust build-up on the leaves can keep the plant from being able to photosynthesize properly.
- Without sufficient access to take up sunlight via its leaves, the plant will not grow or thrive.
- If any pests accumulate on your monstera, wiping down the leaves will help get rid of them.
If you notice a good bit of dust on your monstera's leaves during your weekly cleanings, that's a sign that your plant may need to be wiped down more frequently.
Monstera plants can benefit from regular pruning. It's best to prune these plants in late winter or very early in spring, which is when they are just getting ready to transition from dormancy to their growing season.
- Prune the roots - If your plant is root bound and you don't want to move it to a larger container, you'll need to prune away some of the roots. Trim any damaged spots first, then snip away other root matter to get the root to the correct size for the container. There should be around an inch of growing room in the pot when you replant it. Avoid cutting the thickest piece of root, as this is the plant's main root stem.
- Prune away old leaves - Pruning leaves is the most common way of cutting back a monstera. This is very easy to do. Just use clean plant shears to snip off any unwanted leaves at the stem. Start by trimming away any dead, discolored, or damaged leaves. From there, remove any leaves that are unwieldy or otherwise negatively impacting the shape or size of the plant.
Tip: When you prune your monstera, if any stems you cut away have nodes, you can use them to propagate a new plant!
How to Propagate Monstera
Want even more monstera plants, without spending any money? You're in luck! Once you have a monstera, you can keep propagating until you--and your friends and family--have all the plants you want. You can propagate monstera plants in soil or water. Both methods require a cutting that includes a node, which is a part of the plant's stem from which new growth (such as a leaf, stem, or aerial root) can emerge.
Take a Monstera Cutting
It's best to take a cutting that includes at least one or two leaves and a node. Monstera plants have a lot of nodes - anywhere you see a leaf, stem, or aerial root growing from a plant, there is a node (growth point) nearby. Nodes are usually a bit thicker than the other part of the stem and may be marked by a dry, brownish ring. Once you find a node on a stem that you'd like to propagate, use clean plant snippers or a razor to cut through the stem. Make your cut about an inch below the node.
Propagate a Monstera in Soil
To propagate monstera in soil, simply fill an 8" nursery container with well-draining potting soil. You may want to mix some perlite into the potting soil to improve drainage. You can put rooting hormone on the bottom of the stem if you want to speed up the process, but it's not necessary. Plant the cutting so that at least one node is under the soil. If your plant has aerial roots on it, tuck them into the soil. Keep the soil moist. When new leaves start to form, that means your cutting has grown roots.
Propagate a Monstera in Water
If you're going to propagate monstera in water, snip away any aerial roots on the cutting. Fill a jar or vase with water, dip the bottom of the cutting in rooting hormone, and put it in the container. Roots will begin to emerge within two or three weeks. Once the roots are a few inches long, you'll need to transplant your new plant into a pot. Select a container that's large enough to support the current size of the roots, regardless of leaf size. If any of the leaves are large and floppy, stake them.
Caring for Your Newly Propagated Monstera
Once you have a rooted monstera cutting, you'll want to make sure it gets plenty of sun and water. New plants need more water than mature plants. Don't keep them soggy, but also don't let them dry out completely in between waterings. Instead, keep them uniformly moist. New cuttings need plenty of bright, indirect light. It's best to propagate monstera during spring or summer to maximize sun exposure via one of the sunniest windows in your home.
Making the Most of Your Monstera
Following the tips above will help you keep your monstera healthy and beautiful, and also empower you to continue propagating more and more monstera plants. Not only will you be able to fill your house with as many thriving, healthy monsteras as you want, but you'll also be able to gift your friends and family with rooted cuttings of their own. Soon, they'll be just as in love with houseplants as you are!