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How to Grow Swiss Cheese Plant — Monstera

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Monstera–commonly called Swiss-cheese plant–is a large vining plant with notched and perforated leaves. Monstera commonly requires support and plenty of room to roam.

Monstera is a tropical plant. It is often grown as a houseplant in temperate regions. It will grow to about 6 feet tall indoors; in the tropics outdoors, it can grow to 30 feet tall or more.

Monstra has perforated leaves with elliptic or oblong holes; the perforations give the plant its common name, Swiss-cheese plant.

Monstera is a genus of 22 species of evergreen, often epiphytic root climbers found in rainforests in tropical Central and South America. Monstera deliciosa is the only species commonly grown as a houseplant.

Special note for pet owners: Monstera is toxic but usually not fatal to cats and dogs. Poisoning symptoms include vomiting, trouble swallowing, drooling, and mouth irritation.

Get to know Monstera

  • Plant type: Tropical evergreen vine
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 10-11
  • Hardiness: Tender; do not grow outdoors where temperature fall below 59°F (15°C)
  • Optimal growing temperature: 85°F (29°C) during the day, 65°-75°F (18°-21°C) at night; the plant will not grow if the temperature is too cool.
  • Height and width: 6 to 10 feet (1.8-3m) tall and wide indoors, to 30 feet (9m) tall outdoors; it grows as a floppy vine
  • Foliage: Lustrous, dark green leaves are large (to 3 feet across) and divided
  • Flowers: Arum-like spathes enclose tiny star-shaped petalless flowers
  • Uses: Houseplants need lots of space
  • Common name: Swiss Cheese Plant, hurricane plant
  • Botanical name: Monstera deliciosa
  • Family: Araceae
  • Origin: Tropical Central and South America

Monstera light needs

  • Light outdoors and indoors: Grow Monstera in the partial shade outdoors. Monstera needs 5 to 8 hours of indirect but bright light daily. Variegated varieties need 5 to 12 hours of light to develop the colors in the leaves.
  • Light indoors: Give Monstera bright filtered light; it is tolerant of low light.
  • Leaves will be small with no splits when the light is low.
  • Give Monstera bright light in summer and direct sun in winter, or grow under fluorescent light.

Monserta temperature needs

  • Monstera wants a temperature range of 65°F to 85°F. Monstera will suffer from cold shock if the temperature dips below 60°F.
  • Typical home humidity should be sufficient for Monstera, but if the room is on the dry side use a humidifier and moist the plant once a week.

Monstera soil needs

  • Soil outdoors: Grow Monstera in humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil.
  • Soil indoors: Plant Monstera in an all-purpose mix; provide a wood or moss slab for support.
Swiss cheese plant, Monstera deliciosa
Swiss cheese plant, Monstera deliciosa

Monstera water needs

  • Water thoroughly and allow the soil to dry before watering again.
  • Allow the soil to dry between waterings during active growth.
  • Watering Monstera every 1 to 2 weeks will likely be sufficient. Fully saturate the soil when watering; make sure the pot drains well. Empty excess water from the tray to avoid root rot.
  • Plant Monstera in a well-draining soil mix.

Monstera fertilizer needs

  • Maintain a warm room temperature and medium to high humidity.
  • Fertilize Monstera twice a year in early spring and mid-summer. Use a balanced all-purpose 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer.
  • Fertilize Monstera regularly from spring to fall.

Monstera pruning and care

  • Pinch back Monstera regularly to encourage side branching. Monstera can grow as much as 1 to 2 feet each year. Prune the plant as necessary for the space it will grow in. Remove yellowing leaves.
  • Direct aerial roots into the potting soil or onto a moss pole to give them vertical support.
  • Sponge leaves often to keep them clean.
  • It is natural for the bottom leaves to drop off as the plant ages.

How to pepot Monstera

  • Repot Monstera every 2 to 3 years to support growth.
  • Repot when roots come out of the draining holes or when the soil dries out quickly.
  • Repot if leaves yellow, drop, or die regularly.
  • Repot into a pot the next size up in diameter and depth.
  • Repot into an unglazed clay or terracottoa pot; this ensure the soil does not stay too wet.
  • If the plant to be repotted is attached to a support, get help in repotting; support the plant during repotting.

Monstera pests and diseases

  • Monstera is prone to attack by scale insects, spider mites, bacterial soft rot, and leaf spots.
  • Treat pest problems by washing pests away under a slow stream of water or spray leaves with insecticidal soap.
  • Yellowing and curling leaves may be the result of poor watering.
  • Splitting leaves is commonly a sign of a maturing plant; Monstera leaves tend to split when the plant is 2 to 3 years old.

Monstera propagation

  • Take Monstera leaf bud cuttings by slicing the stem into sections, each with one leaf, and placing the stem pieces into the soil, or air layer stems.
  • Choose stem cutting from a healthy stem with a few leaves; snip below a leaf node to make a cutting.
  • Place the cutting in a glass of water and wait for roots to grow in about 2 to 3 weeks; change the water every 3 to 5 days.
  • Transfer rooted cuttings to an indoor potting mix after about 3 weeks.
  • Monstera can also be propagated by division; slip the plant from its pots and divide the root system.
  • Monstera can be propagated by air layering. Place damp sphagnum moss around a stem and leaf node and wrap the moss in a square of plastic wrap. Roots will form in the sphagnum moss; cut the stem below the roots and repot.

Monstera varieties to grow

  • Monstera deliciosa, Swiss cheese plant. Strong-growing climber with thick sparingly branched stems; broad ovate to heart-shaped leaves on long stalks, glossy mid-to deep green; each leaf is perforated with elliptic to oblong holes; grows 30 to 70 feet tall in the tropics; grows to 6 feet tall as a houseplant.
  • Variegated Monstera deliciosa: the leaves of this plant have a white coloring with light green splotches.
  • Monstera obliqua: this variety has holes in the foliage.

Monstera frequently asked questions

Q: What causes Monstera leaves to weep at the edges?

A: The soil mix is probably too wet. Allow the potting mix to dry out and increase the time between waterings.

Q: What causes Monstera stems to rot?

A: Stem rot disease is usually a winter fungus problem. Too much moisture and too little heat can cause stems to rot. Repot the plant and keep the potting mix dry and warm.

Q: What causes Monstera leaves to yellow?

A: Overwatering is the most likely cause if many leaves are affected. If lower leaves yellow, look for brown spots which is a sign of underwatering. Pale leaves with patches of yellow indicates too much sunlight

Q: What cause Monstera to become leggy?

A: Too little light is usually the reason plants become leggy. Monstera will not thrive in deep shade.

Q: What cause Monstera to have leaves with brown, papery tips and edges?

A: Dry air is the most likely cause. Mist the leaves or place damp most around the base of the plant. Brown tips are a symptom of overwatering.

Q: Why are the leaves not split? thought Monstera had split leaves.

A: It is normal for the leaves of young plants to be uncut and not perforated. If the plant is more than 3 years old and the leaves are not cut or split, the likely cause is lack of light, cold, air, too little water, and overfeeding.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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