Quick plant care: Monstera

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Monstera plants are available in a number of different varieties but most people are most familiar with Monstera Deliciosa or the Swiss Cheese Plant.

What is it? 

The Monstera Deliciosa is a tropical plant which is part of the Araceae family and is the most well-known variety in the Monstera family. You may be familiar with Monstera Deliciosa’s common name, the Swiss Cheese Plant. 

While it can thrive outdoors in frost-free regions, it has been a popular houseplant since the 18th Century when it was introduced to the UK. 

The Swiss Cheese plant was well-known as a trendy house plant in the 80s but it’s now experiencing a huge revival in popularity. Monstera Deliciosa is actually extremely hardy and easy to care for so it’s no wonder it’s been so popular with plant lovers throughout history. If you’re a houseplant novice or you want an easy to care for plant that will add trendy greenery to your home, this is the choice for you! 

Where is it from? 

The plant is native to rainforest regions from southern Mexico to Panama in Central America. 

Light conditions and location 

Monstera Deliciosa prefers a combination of bright, indirect light and shade. 

In the rainforest, this plant spends most of its time sheltered by the trees’ canopies so it’s sheltered from direct sunlight. However, it is occasionally exposed to bright, indirect sunlight which filters through the leaves so recreating this environment as closely as you can will give your plant the best chance of thriving. 

Make sure your plant is in a position where it will get good amounts of both filtered light and shade. They will thrive in a room that gets a good amount of bright natural light at some point during the day but it doesn’t have to be all day. 

It might be tempting to put your Monstera Deliciosa on the windowsill or in the window but it will need some protection from direct sunlight if you do this. 

It’s quite an easy going plant so it can grow in either full shade or artificial light but you’ll find that it’s growth is much slower!

Water

Your Swiss Cheese plant will enjoy being watered modestly around once a week. Once you’ve watered your plant, you should wait until the soil is relatively dry before you water it again. 

If you dip your finger into the top of the soil and feel moisture within the top couple of inches, it’s not time to water it again. The plant will let you know when it needs watering again so only water when the soil is dry to keep your plant as happy as possible. 

We recommend watering your plant until the water starts to run out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot and then let the water drain out. 

The key with Monstera Deliciosa is that they prefer a lack of watering to overwatering so if you forget to water it for a week or so, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Overwatering can cause root rot and it will be extremely difficult for your plant to recover from it. 

Temperature 

Monstera Deliciosa will survive and thrive in most household temperatures between 18-29℃. Whilst they can survive in temperatures as low as 10℃, the cold temperatures will prevent your plant from growing. 

As a rule of thumb, if you’re comfortable with the temperature in your home, your plant will be too. Just make sure you don’t put your plant in any areas that might experience a cold draught such as an entryway or back door and keep it in part of the house you use regularly. Bear in mind that heating systems and air conditioning units can also be detrimental to the health of your plant so position it away from these too.

Humidity 

As it’s from a tropical climate originally, Monstera prefer mid to high humidity levels to thrive. If your home is not humid enough, there are a few things you can do to help. 

Wet pebble tray 

Create a pebble bath for your plant by placing it on a tray filled with pebbles and water. Humidity around your plant will be increased as the water evaporates from the tray, humidity levels around your Monstera will be increased. 

If you want a low maintenance option, this is the best method as all you will need to do is top up the water level in the tray every now and again. Make sure you keep the water level in the tray lower than the pebbles otherwise the water may end up being absorbed by the soil and plant in the pot on top. 

Misting spray 

Another great way to create humidity is with a misting spray. It sounds simple but all you need to do is spray the plant’s leaves with a misting spray bottle filled with water. It only takes a few seconds and is a great way to provide a bit of extra humidity if you can remember to do it regularly.

This method will also give your plant’s leaves a quick clean which will help to prevent dust from building up on the leaves. 

Soil 

Monstera Deliciosa likes rich soil mixtures that drain well. When planting your monstera, make sure you avoid heavy mixes that retain water otherwise you might find that your plant suffers from root rot which is hard for it to recover from. 

If you want to double check how well your potting mix drains, just water it and, if the water stays on top of the soil, the soil is too heavy and would benefit from being lightened up with peat, perlite, bark or something similar.

Size 

Before they mature, Monstera Deliciosa are perfect for smaller locations but they grow rapidly and can grow to a considerable size so make sure you have enough room for it to expand and spread out as much as possible! 

It’s not unusual for a Swiss Cheese plant to grow up to eight feet tall if it’s provided with a moss pole so it’s sure to provide a great feature in your home. 

There are two varieties of Monstera Deliciosa:

Small form - this form has much smaller leaves and is sometimes referred to a Monstera Borsigiana as they have a vining habit and feature long parts of stem (nodes)between each leaf. 

Large form - the large form of Monstera has much larger leaves which can span up to one metre and has a compact habit with much smaller spaces between its leaves (nodes). 

 Good to know

  • Key characteristics - Monstera Deliciosa is commonly known as the Swiss Cheese plant due to the holes (known as fenestrations) in its foliage which resemble the holes in Swiss Cheese. As they mature, Monstera Deliciosa’s leaves develop horizontal splits and holes but these don’t appear until the plant is a little older. So, if you have a younger plant that only displays heart shaped leaves, don’t worry, the slits will start to appear as you plant matures.

  • Pruning - In the right environment, the Swiss Cheese plant can grow rapidly and might start to become unruly if you don’t keep it in check. We recommend that once your plant is a few years old, you should start to prune it to keep it under control. You can prune your plant at any time of the year. The best thing about pruning your Monstera is that you don’t have to bin the pruned stems, you can actually propagate them and grow new plants if you want to! If you want stems that are viable for propagation, cut the stems off just after the leaf nodes.As your plant grows, it will start to sprout aerial roots which will look for somewhere to grow. If you don’t like the look of them and would prefer a neater plant, you can trim them off without harming the plant. 

  • Fertiliser & feeding - Monstera Deliciosa appreciate being fertilised during the growing season so you can either provide them with compost in the spring or add liquid fertiliser throughout the spring and summer. This will provide nutrients to the plant’s roots when it’s actively growing. House plants can suffer from fertiliser burn so be careful when providing fertiliser and make sure you add too little fertiliser than too much. A plant that is not provided with any fertiliser at all will be much healthier than a plant that has been overfertilised. We recommend using Liquid Gold Leaf fertilizer for your Monstera Deliciosa which provides every nutrient your plant needs. 

  • Repotting - Depending on the rate of growth, Monstera will need repotting every couple of years. If you want to repot your plant, lift it gently out of its current pot and put it into a new pot one size bigger than its existing pot with fresh soil in the bottom of the pot. If you gently work the old soil out of the roots, it will help them to spread out in the new pot and establish itself well. Once you have placed the plant in its new pot, fill around the root ball with fresh soil but make sure the top of the root ball reaches the same height within the new pot as it did within the old pot. Once your Monstera Deliciosa has been repotted, water it well to help it establish itself in its new pot. Repotting is important because it gives the plant’s roots enough space to grow to provide the plant with the nutrients it needs. As your plant gets bigger, repotting into the right sized pot is even more important otherwise it can topple over. Full grown Monstera Deliciosa can be extremely top heavy so the pot will need to support the weight of the plant. 

  • Support - When they’re mature, Swiss Cheese plants can grow up to eight feet tall so, as they mature, you will need to supply support for them to stay upright and continue growing properly. In their natural habitat, they grow up the side of trees and use their aerial roots to support themselves. You can imitate this support for your plant at home by adding a moss pole to the pot. You can either create your own moss pole or buy one from most garden centres. If your plant is not given the right support, it can start to struggle under the weight of the large and heavy leaves which can eventually snap the stems and cause damage to your plant. To start with, you will have to train your plant to grow up the moss pole. You’ll have to strap some of the stems to the moss pole to encourage it to continue growing upwards. We also recommend that you regularly mist the moss pole to keep the moss pole moist and encourage the plant’s aerial roots to take hold. As soon as your plant is a few feet tall, you’ll probably need to start offering it some support.

  • Propagation - If your plant is getting a little bit too big or unruly, you can cut stems off to propagate them into new plants. This process is fairly simple but we have provided a full guide here.

  • Toxicity - All parts of a Monstera Deliciosa are poisonous to humans and pets. However, it’s completely safe to have in your home as long as you or your pets do not ingest any part of the plant and you take extra care when handling it. 

  • Simple regular maintenance - To help your plant grow as well as it can, we recommend rotating your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides and dust the leaves to make sure your plant can photosynthesise effectively. When you’re dusting the leaves, inspect the undersides to make sure pests haven’t invaded your plants. 

Common problems to look out for 

  • Pests: Not many pests are interested in Monstera Deliciosa but there are two main types to look out for. 

  • Spider Mites: A common sign that your plant has spider mites is small yellow specks or patches developing on your plant’s leaves. Spider mites suck the moisture out of the leaves. 

  • Scale insects/mealybugs: These bugs attach themselves to the leaves and stems of your plant and will suck the vigour out of it over time. We recommend using a spray such as Canna Cure which provides a natural way to get rid of pests on your plants without toxins.  

  • Leaves turning yellow - this is usually a sign that they’re getting too much direct sunlight so you might want to move them into more indirect light to prevent the leaves from getting sunburnt. If your plant doesn’t get enough light, you might find that the holes and splits do not develop in the leaves so you might want to move it.  

  • Brown leaf edges - this can be a sign of a lack of moisture or humidity in the air so you might want to mist the leaves more often if you see this happening. 

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