Monstera Plant Care
Time Required: Under 2 hours
Although they’re also known as Swiss cheese plants and split-leaf philodendrons, Monstera plants (Monstera deliciosa) aren't really philodendrons. These trendy beauties are in the arum plant family, and they're hardy in USDA Zones 10 and 11. Outdoors, their leaves can reach up to two feet across. Indoors, they grow quickly into handsome, dramatic-looking houseplants.
Swiss cheese plant care is easy. Use this guide to learn about monstera plant care, plants that are native to Central American jungles.
Plant your Monstera in a container with drainage holes and use a good quality potting soil with peat moss that drains easily. The plants thrive in dense, nutrient-rich soil, but don't do well in potting soils with bark or compost. If your container doesn’t have drainage holes, make a few in the bottom. Roots that stand in water can rot.
How much light does a Monstera plant need? Give your Monstera indirect, filtered light and avoid harsh sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. If the leaves become yellow, it’s usually a sign that the plant is getting too much sun.
If you keep your plant near a southern or western exposure, use a sheer curtain to help filter the light and keep it out of the direct, hot sun. Monsteras can adapt to low light conditions, although they won’t develop as many attractive leaf perforations as usual, and they may stretch toward the light source.
For best results, rotate the plant weekly so it grows evenly. Otherwise, it may become top heavy and lean toward the light.
When grown indoors, Monstera plants like temperatures from 60 to 75 degrees. Humidity levels from 50 to 75 percent are ideal for most indoor plants, and Monsteras like their humidity on the high side. If the air inside your home is too dry for them, they’ll develop brown spots on the tips or sides of their leaves. To raise the humidity, lightly mist the plants several times a week with a spray bottle filled with water.
Keep Monsteras away from heating and air conditioning vents. Keep them out of drafts, too, which may be too cool for the plants to tolerate.
These tropical plants have aerial roots, and in nature, they hold onto other plants and grow upwards. Most houseplant Monsteras come with moss-covered stakes in their pots. Their thick-stemmed vines cling to the mossy stake to grow upright.
Replant your Monstera annually to replenish its nutrients and give its roots more room to grow. The best time to repot is in the spring, before new leaves emerge. Use a pot that is two inches bigger than the current one each time you replant. When the Monstera becomes as big as you want, stop repotting.
Remove the plant from its old pot by holding the base and wiggling it slightly to free the roots. If your plant has large leaves, loosely wrap a soft towel around them to prevent damage while you’re handling it. If your pot is small, hold the base of the plant so it won't fall out, turn the pot upside down and tap the bottom to loosen the roots.
When the plant is out, gently shake the roots to remove any old potting soil clinging to them. Cut off any dead or unhealthy plant parts. Then put the plant in the new, bigger pot. Be sure the pot is deep enough to hold the stake and plant without tipping over. If needed, add a new stake that’s taller than the plant and use plant ties to hold the stems to the stake. Fill the pot with fresh potting soil, covering the base roots and any aerial roots that go into the soil.
After potting or repotting, water your plant thoroughly and let it drain. If excess water collects in a tray or saucer underneath your plant, dump it out.
When the Monstera is as big as you want, simply refresh the top couple of inches in the pot with new potting mix. You may have to remove some of the old mix first, to make room for the new, but be careful not to damage any roots when you do so. Then prune the Monstera as needed to control its size.
Use a soil moisture meter to know when it’s time to water or simply put your pinkie finger an inch or two deep into the soil of your plant. If the soil feels dry, water throughly, letting the water drain out and dumping any excess. If the soil feels wet, be sure the plant isn’t sitting in water and check it again in a day or two.
Wipe the Monstera’s leaves occasionally with a soft, damp cloth. This helps remove dust and dirt, so the leaves stay glossy-looking and get sufficient light. To give your leaves extra luster, apply a leaf shine product.
While cleaning the leaves or simply watering your plant, it's a good idea to look for spider mites, scale, mealy bugs or other plant pests. If they show up, treat them as soon as possible with a pest control product and follow the instructions on the label.
Many plants and plant parts can be toxic or cause allergic reactions. Be safe and avoid Monstera plant toxicity by keeping these showy plants away from pets and children. Wear gardening gloves when repotting or otherwise handling them.
Houseplant fertilizers come in several forms, including spikes to insert into the soil, slow-release pellets that are added to the soil and ready-to-use pump formulations that are sprayed on. Follow the directions for how much to apply and how often as shown on the product’s label.
Water soluble fertilizers are also available and should be applied at half-strength to every other watering.
Stop feeding your Swiss cheese plant in the winter, since it won’t grow as much while the temperatures are cool. Water it a week or more before resuming monthly feedings in the spring.
- Monsteras bloom in the wild, but probably won’t produce flowers in your home.
- If you cut a leaf by accident or on purpose, try a designer’s trick and display it in a vase of water.
- Monsteras are big plants, so consider making yours a focal point in a room or use it to fill an empty corner or other large space. Monsteras are especially attractive in stylish modern planters.