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Fertilising Monstera deliciosa is not something that should be stressing you out.
It should be the last thing you crack the code for – make sure you have lighting and watering sorted first.
If you have that sorted and you just want to know when to fertilise Monstera, and what to use, here you go:
- You can fertilise Monstera every time you water OR as infrequently as every six weeks
- Any houseplant fertiliser is fine, but Dynagrow is the most popular chemical option, and worm castings are the best of the natural fertiliser options
- Don’t try to DIY fertiliser. You’ll end up with gnats.
If you’re new to Monstera, and you’d like a complete overview of their care – including problems and weird growth habits, I have a Monstera deliciosa guide.
The importance of fertilising Monstera
It’s actually not that important to fertilise Monstera.
A controversial statement I know.
Fertilising your Monstera should be a regular part of your plant care routine BUT there are other things you need to sort out first.
Fertilising your Monstera isn’t going to make your Monstera grow quickly. It isn’t going to ensure you get big, fenestrated leaves. It will help those things, but you need to sort out your light and moisture levels first.
Fertiliser is the plant equivalent of taking a multivitamin. You don’t need to fertilise if the soil is nutrient-rich, but unless you’re repotting regularly (which is not recommended) the nutrient levels in potted Monstera deplete over time, so we need to top them up.
What happens if you don’t fertilise your Monstera?
Most of the time, nothing. Monstera deliciosa can live long and happy lives without ever being fertilised, as long as they’re cared for well and repotted in nutrient-rich soil when required.
Nutrient deficiencies don’t usually show up on the leaves of otherwise healthy Monstera – that’s probably one of the many reasons they’ve done so well as houseplants for the past 300 years.
Fertilising Monstera gives the plant a boost, but not fertilising rarely hinders it dramatically.
What does fertilising Monstera actually do?
…We don’t know. There isn’t enough research. Plus there are people out there growing HUGE Monstera in just water, no nutrients, and they’re doing fine.
Whilst we know that fertilising Monstera can increase growth rate and leaf size, results vary a LOT because we’re not sure exactly what nutrients they require and in what amounts.
Most of the research that’s done into fertilising plants is done on crops. I’m talking large scale research conducted in labs. That’s why there are specific fertilisers to boost the yield of specific crops.
There are people researching the best fertiliser formulas to get African violets and orchids to grow, but very little research done on aroids. The people researching are hobbyists and enthusiasts, NOT massive corporations with deep pockets.
Monstera deliciosa in particular seem to thrive with no fertiliser, lots of fertiliser, and they don’t seem to care about the specifics of the ingredients. The fact they’re extremely good at adapting to different environments suggests that there is no ‘right’ fertiliser regime or product for them.
I watched a lot of interviews with professional aroid growers when researching this article and they all use either Dynagrow or… whatever they have lying around.
What does fertilising Monstera NOT do?
Save it from bad conditions/care.
Whilst I do think that there are benefits to feeding Monstera, don’t worry about it until you have things like light, watering, and soil figured out. I have articles to help here:
- Light requirements for Monstera deliciosa
- How to water Monstera deliciosa
- The best soil for Monstera deliciosa
Fertilising Monstera isn’t a miracle cure for anything – it’s just a few supplemental nutrients. If you rarely fertilise and your Monstera is growing really well, just keep doing what you’re doing.
How do you know when to fertilise Monstera deliciosa?
Stop looking to your plants to tell you when they need something – you’ll end up waiting too long PLUS plants only have a few symptoms that can indicate dozens of problems.
If you fertilise your Monstera because it looks hungry, but it actually needs more light, you can end up doing more harm than good.
Decide how often you’re going to fertilise, and stick to it.
It doesn’t really matter. I’ve watched dozens of videos with aroids experts (the Legends of Monstera channel is an awesome channel for this) and they all have slightly different fertilising regimes and massive Monstera.
How often should I fertilise my Monstera?
It doesn’t really matter, but if you’re after a concrete answer, fertilise your Monstera every other time you water it.
I trialled a lot of different feeding intervals and found that every other time was not only great for all my plants (except my Pothos N-joy, but there’s always one) BUT was also pretty easy for me to remember.
I recommend you fertilise at least every six weeks, though there are people who never fertilise their extremely large and healthy Monstera.
I’m terrible at sticking to fertiliser regimes, so I aim to fertilise my houseplants every other time I water. It actually ends up being more like every third time, but it ensures I don’t accidentally leave months between feedings.
What fertiliser is best for Monsteras?
Monstera aren’t really picky about what type of fertiliser you use. You can go for an all-natural seaweed or fish emulsion if you like, or you can go to your local garden centre and get some standard house plant fertiliser – Miracle-gro or whatever else they have.
Monstera have been grown as houseplants for centuries. One of the reasons they’re so popular is that they’re happy to adapt and not particularly picky. They’re an invasive species in many countries.
If you’re overwhelmed by the choice of fertilisers, then go for something balanced – the bigger the numbers, the more concentrated the NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) levels are. A gentle balanced fertiliser would be something like 5-5-5, or you could go for something stronger like 20-20-20.
Small to medium-sized plants only need the 5-5-5, but if you have a larger specimen, you may want to whip out the big guns.
If you’re after specific recommendations, Facebook groups are a great place to find them. I checked out a couple of recent threads to see what people are using and here are the results:
|No. of people that recommended it
|Arber plant food
|Alaskan fish fertiliser
|The Grow Co Monstera plant food
|Le chuza Perfect Leaf
|General Hydroponic Flora Series
|Liquid Gold Leaf
A note on Superthrive – Superthrive have bought Dynagrow, so some people refer to Dynagrow as Superthrive.
If you buy plain Superthrive, that’s NOT a fertiliser, it’s more to help root development.
What’s the best way to fertilise Monstera deliciosa?
Using liquid fertiliser
I fill a 5 litre bottle with tap water, then add in my fertiliser. I use the General Hydroponics Flora series (it’s linked on my resources page) – 5ml from each bottle into the water. Then I just water my plants with it as normal.
It’s best practice to only fertilise damp soil, because if you add chemicals to super dry soil, the thirsty roots will absorb too much and you’ll get fertiliser burn.
As someone who doesn’t have time to pre-dampen the soil of hundreds of houseplants, I tried aggressively fertilising dry soil and saw no repercussions. Whilst it’s not great to let Monstera soil to get incredibly dry between waterings and then fertilised it, I’ve done it a LOT and saw no ill effects.
If you’re not as laissez-faire as me, and want to really do things properly (or want an excuse to spend hours with your plants) what you can do is fill a pressure sprayer with water, and go around and water all your plants. Then refill the sprayer with fertiliser solution and go around again.
It takes so much longer because each plants takes longer to moisten, but it’s more fun.
I think it’s a form of gamifying plant care, and I love it.
Using fertiliser granules
Fertiliser granules vary in dosage from brand to brand, so make sure you read the instructions.
They work for about a year, so you can just add them when you repot. Mix them well in to the soil. They have a tendency to rise to the op, so I don’t recommend using slow release fertiliser pellets if you have pets or kids that could eat them.
If you’re a busy person that travels a lot they’re a great option. Much better than fertiliser sticks which concentrate the nutrients in one place.
Using worm castings
Worm castings are an awesome fertiliser. They’re great because:
- You can use them on all your plants
- They’re nutrient-rich but won’t damage the roots
- They last about six months in the soil
I add worms castings to my soil mix when I repot, but you can also just spread them on the top of the soil of plants rather than having t repot entirely. Over time the nutrients will leach into the soil.
Worm castings can be quite expensive, but if you have a lot of outside space, then a wormery can be really easy to maintain and be a goldmine of plant food – they actually call it black gold.
DIY Monstera deliciosa fertilisers
Fertilising Monstera with aquarium water
I keep my Thai Constellation in water, and I refresh it using water from the aquarium. I don’t add any more fertiliser on a regular basis. I change out the water maybe every 6 months, add Flora Grow and top up with aquarium water.
Whilst aquarium water does have nutrients it *shouldn’t* have a lot because most of the waste is filtered out. Fish can’t swim around in a box of their own poop. If you do want to fertilise using only aquarium water, make sure you include gunk from the filter when it’s time to clean it out.
Fertilising Monstera with pasta/rice water
(Obvs wait until it’s cool).
No. No. No.
Not because it’s bad for your plants, but because if you’re using pasta water on your plants, you can’t add salt, because salt can kill plants. Unsalted pasta water? No.
Does pasta water help plants? Perhaps, it has some starches. Will it attract gnats? Probably. You’re better off using a fertiliser.
If you hate pouring your pasta water down the drain, then use it on outside plants.
Rice water is the same. It might have some benefits, but you’ll regret using it when you’re fighting off gnats.
Fertilising Monstera with coffee grounds
Is coffee good for Monstera deliciosa?
Nor is it bad for your Monstera.
Coffee grounds have a pretty neutral pH, so adding them to your Monstera will have very little noticeable effect.
Coffee grounds do, however, add a bit of drainage medium to your soil, so if you’re a bit of an overwaterer, it may help.
What coffee grounds DO do is go mouldy. Gross. And they can attract fungus gnats. Neither of these are likely to cause any significant harm to your plant, but both are a bit unsightly and fungus gnats are extremely irritating.
There is some anecdotal evidence that adding diluted coffee (the liquid that you drink, not the grounds) causes your house plants to thrive, but what I suspect is going on here is correlational NOT causation.
It’s more than likely the same phenomenon as talking to your plants. It’s not the talking, and it’s not the coffee – it’s the attention.
I’m not accusing plants of being attention seekers, BUT if you take the time to talk to/pour coffee on your plants, you’re probably also taking the time to care for them in other small ways – dust the leaves, notice spider mites, rotate them.
If you take the time to regularly, e.g. pour coffee on your plant, you’ll notice subtle changes that you otherwise might not.
Are eggshells good for Monstera?
Eggshells, when broken down in the soil, can provide a plethora of nutrients that will give Monstera a nice boost.
But DON’T put eggshells in with your Monstera.
You’ll attract pests. Fungus gnats, of course, will rock up to any party that provides food. They are NOT picky, and will love an eggshell – heck, they’ll probably bring family, in the form of fruit flies.
You may also get regular flies – regular sized AND giant bluebottles – Yay!
Oh, and mice. Or rats. There’s a reason that you shouldn’t put eggshells in your compost UNLESS you’re sure it’s mouse-proof.
There is nothing eggshells can provide that you can’t get in a standard house plant fertiliser. They may seem free, but they come with their own issues. Don’t do it, guys.
Can you over-fertilise Monstera?
You can overfertilise Monstera, but I don’t think it’s something you have to worry about.
As long as your Monstera is healthy and growing, you’d have to actively try to overfertilise it.
I went through a stage of fertilising my houseplants every time I watered them, and though some plants complained, my Monstera didn’t seem to care at all.
Make sure you use the appropriate dose of fertiliser – it should be written on the bottle. Don’t be tempted to add more than it says. Don’t fertilise when your Monstera is looking a bit sad – it won’t help and it could make things worse.
Ok, that’s everything I know about fertilising Monstera deliciosa
Before you go, you mind find these articles interesting:
- How to Care For Monstera Deliciosa
- Using Grow Lights For Monstera Deliciosa
- How to Grow Monstera Deliciosa Faster