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Ok, not definitively no because I’m sure someone will be able to disprove me. They probably managed at Kew.
But you’re unlikely to be able to get your Monstera to fruit in the UK, for the similar reason that monstera needs tropical rainforesty-conditions to produce fruit, and the UK is very much in the temperate rainforest* zone
*Or it would be if we hadn’t insisted on swapping out trees for sheep.
Monsteras deliciosa* are extremely common, and the plants are very easy to grow, which begs the question ‘why aren’t we eating it all the time?’
In fact, I’ve never seen them for sale in the UK.
I’m desperate to try one (it tastes like a combo of pineapple, coconut, banana, and strawberry apparently) and if it’s that delicious (and an invasive species!), why aren’t there more fruits in cultivation?
Well, as it turns out, Monstera deliciosa are a bit dangerous…
Is Monstera fruit edible?
Yes! Not only is it edible, it’s delicious!
In their native Mexico and Central America they’re referred to as fruit salad plants, which is a great way to describe a fruit that tastes like a combo of various fruits. Oh, and breadfruit, which isn’t.
If it’s harvested too early, and not ripened properly, it contains high levels of oxalic acid, which can cause a stomach upset and skin irritation.
We’re pretty familiar with oxalic acid over here in the house plant community – it’s in the leaves of many plants, including Monstera, and makes them toxic to pets (and us).
However, it’s particularly concentrated in the unripe fruits of Monstera deliciosa, so really, don’t eat it.
And before you go thinking that your dog ate a leaf and was fine, so so will you, please consider that oxalic acid is the main ingredient in Barkeeper’s Friend, which is EXTREMELY popular in the r/cleaningtips subreddit die to its ability to clean pretty much everything, including rust off metal.
Again, don’t eat unripe Monstera deliciosa fruit
How do you know when Monstera fruit is ripe?
As Monstera fruit develop, they become covered in little hexagonal scales. When these scales either drop off or become really easy to knock off, then the fruit is ready to eat.
It can be harvested unripe and allowed to ripen off the vine. You can either put it in a glass and wrap it in brown paper, or stick it in water and put it somewhere dark.
It’s ready when the scales fall off and the flesh of the fruit is a similar colour to banana flesh – a creamy yellow.
By the way it can take between 12 and 16 months for Monstera fruit to fully develop. Now, I don’t know how long it takes fruit to develop, but that seems like AGES.
If you consider that a Monstera will only start to produce fruit around THREE YEARS after it was, er, born (?)
Monsteras also need to be around three years old before they start to produce fruit. If you’re after a money-making venture, Monstera deliciosa fruit producer may not be a quick option.
Will Monstera fruit in the UK?
Probably not, but it’s not impossible. They don’t have a grudge against fruiting here or anything, it’s just really NOT the central Americal rainforest.
It’s difficult enough to convince Monstera to flower in the UK, never mind fruit, but the good news is that Monstera can self-pollinate, so you shouldn’t need to be out there with a little brush facilitating fruiting (though knock yourself out, if that’s what you like).
If you were determined to get your Monstera to fruit, you would need:
Monstera like a lot of light. A lot!
You’ll need to have your Monstera outside whenever temperatures allow. Other alternatives are a heated glasshouse/conservatory or a good grow light/grow tent set up.
Monstera don’t need high humidity in order to grow and even thrive, but they do to thrive to the point that they’ll produce fruit
You want it so humid and so warm that it’s bearable for you to be in there, but you’ll be sweating a LOT and you won’t be able to stay in there for very long.
Good air flow
High humidity is all well and good, but it’s a breeding ground for all kind of funguses and bacteria. In order for your Monstera to thrive to the point that it fruits, you’ll need great airflow. An open window should suffice in summer (provided it doesn’t reduce your humidity), but you’ll need a fan in winter.
You need to keep your Monstera well fed BUT you’ll need to stop feeding it prior to it fruiting. I don’t know why, it’s apparently a thing though – like letting hoya dry out in early spring helps them create more blooms.
How do Monstera fruit?
For any of you that aren’t botanists and would like a visual of where the fruit comes from, you know the bit in the middle that looks like a knobbly stick? That’s the bit of a Monstera that will turn into fruit.
It’s called the spadix, for all you botanists out there (jokes, I appreciate that botanists are probably screaming into their pillows re. the whole using a peace lily flower to demonstrate where a Monstera fruit would be).
By the way, peace lilies DO fruit – they produce white berries (inedible though).
Monstera flowers* are fatter and more compact than peace lily ones, but they’re similar enough for my purposes.
*It’s an inflorescence not a flower if we’re being picky, since the flowers are teeny tiny and sort of, er, stuck on the inflorescence.
How can I collect Monstera seeds?
Okay, so the seeds live in the scales that surround the flesh of the fruit. Each of the little hexagons can be squeezed and may (or may not) contain a seed.
Are Monstera fruit rare?
Not all Monstera species produce edible fruits, so I suppose Monstera deliciosa is kind of a rarity.
Monstera deliciosa are very common BUT their popularity as a house plant has superseded their ability to produce delicious fruit.
Why invest the time and energy in growing, harvesting, ripening, and selling fruit trees when you could take a bunch of cuttings and be done?
For Monstera growers, there’s more money to be made from the foliage than the fruit. Farming is hard enough, why make it more difficult for yourself?
I don’t know, but I can also hazard a guess that Monstera fruit doesn’t last/travel well because there would definitely be a market for a delicious fruit if they could get them here (I’ve worked in hospitality, and there are LOADS of ingredients that restaurants use that don’t really sell outside of commercial suppliers – things like daikon and seabuckthorn, and salsify. But no Monstera. Cry cry cry.
It would be AWESOME to be able to grow Monstera fruit here in the UK, but it would be really difficult without some real thought (and cash) going into crafting the perfect setup for them.
If anyone knows of any UK botanical gardens that have fruiting Monstera, I’d love to hear! I love botanical gardens, road trips, and any excuse to traipse all over the country in the name of work.
*Yeah, I’m calling them ‘Monsteras deliciosa’ rather than Monstera deliciosas. Like ‘culs-de-sac’. If you watch New Girl you’ll get it. If you don’t, go and watch it, it’s amazing.