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Growing and Caring for a Monstera Deliciosa – An Essential Guide

a monstera deliciosa

The Monstera Deliciosa, also known as the Swiss cheese plant, is a very popular houseplant thanks to its large, glossy green leaves and naturally occurring holes. This stunning tropical plant is native to the rainforests of Central and South America and makes a beautiful addition to any home.

With the right care, your monstera can grow large leaves and climb up to 10 feet tall on its sturdy aerial roots. Here is your essential guide to growing, caring for, and maintaining a healthy monstera deliciosa plant.

An Introduction to the Monstera Deliciosa

Native to the tropical forests of Central America, the Monstera Deliciosa is a climbing plant that can grow quite large under the right conditions. The plant’s name, “Monstera,” hints at its potential size, while “Deliciosa” refers to the edible fruit it produces in its natural habitat, which tastes similar to pineapple.

The unique perforations in Monstera leaves are not just aesthetic; they allow light to pass through to lower leaves in dense tropical forests and help the plant withstand strong winds. In your home, these features provide a beautiful contrast to your home.

a monstera deliciosa with shiny leaves

Monstera Deliciosa Benefits

Like many houseplants, Monstera Deliciosa contributes to purifying the air. It can help remove pollutants such as formaldehyde, which are commonly found in homes, thereby improving indoor air quality.

With its large, glossy, and uniquely perforated leaves, the Monstera Deliciosa adds a vibrant, tropical touch to interior decor. Its striking presence can enhance any room, contributing to a more inviting and lively space.

Monstera Deliciosa can be easily propagated from stem cuttings, which means you can create new plants to expand your collection or share with friends and family. This can be a rewarding aspect of plant care and offers a sustainable way to enhance your indoor garden.

Choosing a Plant

Look for a plant with vibrant, green leaves. Yellow or brown leaves can indicate overwatering, under-watering, or a pest problem. Mature Monstera leaves should have the characteristic holes and splits. However, young plants may not have fully developed these features yet, which is normal.

Carefully inspect both the top and underside of the leaves, along with the stems, for signs of pests such as spider mites, mealybugs, or scale insects. Small webs, white fluffy spots, or tiny brown discs can indicate a pest infestation.

Finally, think about where you plan to place the Monstera in your home. Ensure you choose a size that fits well in the intended space, keeping in mind that Monsteras can grow quite large over time.

How to Grow a Monstera Deliciosa

a large monstera next to a window

Light Requirements

The monstera plant likes moderate indirect light, much like what you would experience under large trees in a tropical jungle. Ideal locations include a sunroom, approximately 10 feet back from a bright window, or near a window with sheer curtains that diffuses the light.

Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves. Avoid low light areas like dark corners, as insufficient light will lead to slow growth and small leaves with minimal fenestrations (holes). If you’re using artificial lighting, a grow light can provide the necessary spectrum without the risk of sunburn.

Watering and Soil Needs

You want your monstera soil to be able to drain well to avoid root rot. Use a potting mix made for tropical plants that includes peat moss and perlite. Perlite helps lighten heavy soils and aerate the medium while peat moss helps retain some moisture.

Test the soil before watering to avoid oversaturating the soil. The top inch or two should dry out slightly between waterings. Root rot is the easiest way to kill a monstera, so err on the side of under watering when in doubt.

Water less frequently in the winter when growth slows. Monsteras like relatively high humidity. Place the pot on a pebble tray with water or frequently mist the leaves to increase moisture around the plant.

Fertilizer

Feed your monstera monthly in the spring and summer with a weak concentration of a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer, diluted to half or a quarter of the recommended strength.

This provides nutrients during the period of active growth for large, healthy foliage. Discontinue fertilizing for 2-3 months in the fall and winter when growth slows. This allows the plant to harden off for dormancy.

Temperature Requirements

Monsteras thrive in average home temperatures between 65°F to 80°F, make sure you avoid cold drafts below 50°F. As tropical plants, they can endure overnight drops down to 45°F but extended exposure to such temperatures can damage the leaves.

They also need a 10 degree day/night fluctuation to promote healthy growth and good dormancy periods. Do not place near heat sources like fireplaces, heaters, or heating vents. High heat exposure can damage leaves and prevent flowering/fruiting.

Humidity Requirements

Monstera deliciosas prefer moderate to high humidity but can tolerate average indoor levels around 50%. Low humidity causes leaf tip browning and slow growth. Place on a humidity tray with pebbles and water, spray foliage frequently with a spray bottle, or use a humidifier to bump levels up closer to ideal around 60-70%.

The bathroom is often a good spot due to natural humidity from showering. Avoid excessively dry air from ACs, heaters, fireplaces, and drying radiators.

Caring for a Monstera Deliciosa

a large monstera deliciosa in the corner of a room

Pruning and Maintenance

Remove any yellowing, drying, or inferior leaves as needed through the growing season to keep your monstera healthy and attractive. To encourage your plant to grow full and bushy, pinch off stem tips after producing 4-6 leaves.

Use a clean, sharp pair of bypass pruners and cut just above another leaf node on the vine. Dust leaves occasionally with a soft cloth to keep them free of debris and allow proper air circulation.

Monsteras naturally want to climb upwards, so provide a moss pole, trellis, or trailing vines once larger as support.

Potting and Repotting Monstera Deliciosa

Young monsteras start out in a 6 inch nursery pot and then should get repotted into successively larger containers as they grow. When there are more roots than soil in the current planter, its time to size up, usually every couple years.

You’ll know it’s time to repot when you see roots growing out of the drainage holes or when the plant’s growth seems to have slowed significantly. Spring is the best time to repot, giving your Monstera space to grow and refresh its soil.

Monsteras like somewhat snug quarters and being slightly root bound, so only go up 1-2 inches in diameter per move. Use containers with ample drainage holes and use fresh potting mix each time rather than simply supplementing existing soil to refresh the nutrients.

Monstera Deliciosa Propagation

a monstera on a table in the corner of a living room

To propagate a monstera deliciosa and make new potted plants, use a clean, sharp gardening tool to remove a stem cutting with 1-2 leaf nodes (the small bump where leaves and roots grow) during spring and summer.

Cut just below a node, and place the cutting in water or directly into soil until robust aerial roots form from a node (roughly 2 weeks). Then plant in soil with the rooted node just below the surface.

If using water, change it every few days to keep it clean. Roots should begin to form within a few weeks, after which the cutting can be planted in soil. Keep evenly moist and within a couple months you will have an exact clone baby monstera plant.

Monsteras also can be propagated by air layering or planting a pruning.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • Overwatering: This can lead to root rot, which is the main killer of monstera houseplants. Ensure soil drains well yet retains some moisture by incorporating peat moss and perlite. Let the top inch of soil become slightly dry between waterings and reduce watering in winter.
  • Yellow leaves: Indicate overwatering.
  • Brown leaf tips: This generally means low humidity. If many lower leaves turn yellow then fade, excessively cold temperatures may be the culprit.
  • Leaf spot fungus: This can occur on wet foliage if water sits on leaves. Simply remove affected foliage or spray with neem oil.
  • Pests: Monsteras can be susceptible to common houseplant pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and scale. Regular inspections can help catch infestations early. Treat pests with insecticidal soap or neem oil, following the product instructions carefully.

Monstera Deliciosa Fruit

monstera deliciosa fruit

The fruit of the Monstera Deliciosa is an elongated, green, corn-like structure that can be up to 25 cm (about 10 inches) long and 3-4 cm (about 1.5 inches) in diameter. It is covered in hexagonal plates or scales and develops from the plant’s inflorescence after pollination.

The fruit is often referred to as the “Mexican breadfruit” due to its appearance and origin. It takes quite a long time to mature, typically around a year from the initial flowering to full ripeness.

The ripe fruit of the Monstera Deliciosa is edible and is said to taste like a combination of banana, pineapple, and mango, with a slightly tangy flavor reminiscent of tropical fruits. The texture is soft and creamy, similar to that of a ripe banana.

It’s relatively rare for Monstera Deliciosa plants grown indoors to produce fruit, as the conditions are seldom ideal for flowering and pollination. Fruiting is more common in outdoor plants or in greenhouse conditions where the plant can reach its full size and has access to more natural light and pollinators.

However, it’s crucial to wait until the fruit is fully ripe before consuming it. Unripe Monstera fruit contains oxalic acid, which can cause irritation and a burning sensation in the mouth, throat, and skin.

a monstera in a wicker basket

Whether you’re a seasoned plant parent or new to the world of indoor gardening, the Monstera Deliciosa, or Swiss Cheese Plant, is a fantastic choice. Its ease of care, coupled with its dramatic foliage, makes it a popular plant for both beginners and enthusiasts alike.

By following this essential guide, you’ll be well on your way to growing a healthy, stunning Monstera that will be the envy of your friends and family. Happy planting!

Why are the leaves on my Monstera not developing holes or splits?

The development of holes and splits, known as fenestrations, is typical as Monstera Deliciosa matures. Young plants or new leaves often start solid and develop these characteristics over time.

Adequate light is crucial; insufficient light can hinder the development of fenestrations. Ensure your Monstera is receiving bright, indirect sunlight and be patient as the plant matures.

How do I encourage my Monstera to grow larger leaves?

To encourage larger leaf growth, provide optimal care conditions: bright, indirect light, consistent watering (allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings), regular feeding during the growing season, and sufficient humidity.

Also, ensuring the plant has enough space to grow by repotting when necessary can help encourage larger leaves.

Is Monstera Deliciosa toxic to pets?

Yes, Monstera Deliciosa contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can be toxic to pets if ingested. The plant can cause oral irritation, pain, and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing in pets. It’s best to keep the plant out of reach of curious pets.

What should you not do with a Monstera?

Here are some key things you should not do with a Monstera Deliciosa to ensure its health and vitality:

  • Do not overwater
  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • Do not neglect dusting
  • Avoid using cold water for watering
  • Do not keep in low humidity if possible
  • Do not ignore pest infestations
  • Do not report too frequently
  • Do not leave in cold drafts
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