Plant profile: how to care for…Monstera Deliciosa
Monstera Deliciosa are very much having a moment, and it’s easy to see why.
They’re large, striking and not particularly inclined to drop down dead because you moved it a quarter of an inch to the left (*gives side-eye to the fiddle-leaf fig*).
Large Monstera can be expensive, so it might be worth putting a few plants in one big pot to get a fuller-looking plant more quickly.
Monstera Deliciosa is indigenous to Central America, from Mexico to Panama. However, they’ve been introduced to islands like Hawaii and the Seychelles, where, predictably, they’re mildly invasive.
We can’t just leave stuff alone, can we?
Monstera means monster, and deliciosa means delicious, which is quite pleasing. A delicious monster. Lovely.
Monstera Deliciosa is an epiphyte, meaning they attach their roots to tree trunks and grow up them towards the light. They get hecking HUGE in the wild.
I mean, they get big enough indoors.
I encourage you to watch Amanda from Planterina’s YouTube video that shows her Monstera’s aerial roots trailing along the floor. It’s epic.
I think I’ve linked the right one.
All her videos are amazing anyway.
If you want epic growth, place your Monstera near a bright-ish window, but not in direct sun (although an hour or so is probably fine – it certainly is in the UK).
Make sure you give it ample room to grow. Watch for aerial roots attaching themselves to walls and floors. Let it climb up a moss pole to reduce the chance of it sticking to the ceiling, but you’ll still need to keep an eye in it.
As I said, it wants to attach itself to a tree trunk and climb towards the forest canopy, and it doesn’t know your front room isn’t a rainforest.
If you want your plant to grow quickly, then a lot of bright, indirect sunlight is best.
If you put your monstera in a south or west-facing window it might be an idea to put up a sheer curtain to block out a few of the rays – to try and mimic the dappled light it’d receive in the rainforest.
A monstera will survive in medium light but won’t put out much new growth. You may also notice small leaves and thin and scraggly-looking roots.
In my experience, they’re pretty tolerant of crappy lighting.
In a warm, brightly-lit corner, your monstera will thrive. However, I’ve had mine for a few years now and it’s pulled through the UK winter like a trooper.
Having said that, don’t put monstera in draughts. They won’t like that, for there are no draughts in the rainforest.
They stop putting out new growth around late September but remain perky enough.
I imagine a lot of commercially grown Monstera Deliciosa are bred to be a bit hardier than their wild counterparts.
Again, will take whatever conditions you throw at it, but higher humidity will result in a faster growth rate. Mist it, if you like. It’ll cetainly help keep it clean.
Like many aroids, they like a good thorough soaking and then to be left to dry out. I water mine when the moisture probe hits 2-3.
In my experience, Monstera aren’t averse to tap water, but if you have rainwater, then give them that. Room temperature please – we don’t want to shock the roots.
I’ve never had an issue with crispy or browning leaves, and mine has had some serious neglect.
I fertilise monstera on a monthly-ish basis with a seaweed fertiliser. A lot of people recommend a 20-20-20 fertiliser, but I’m sticking with seaweed.
Only fertilise Monstera when they’re growing – usually between late April and early October.
Despite quite a lot of neglect, I’ve never had pests on my Monstera. Apart from fungus gnats, but they don’t count – they’re on everything.
A quick look at Google and we have reports of mealybugs and spider mites as being common threats to monstera. Standard.
If you get into the habit of regularly cleaning the leaves of your plant with neem oil, you’ll be less likely to attract the attention of any unwanted critters.
You can use house plant potting mix – I have before and my monstera didn’t die. If you want your monstera to thrive though, I’d recommend adding orchid bark and perlite to potting mix to make it a bit chunkier and aid in draining. Equal parts perlite, potting mix and orchid bark is good.
Mine’s in terracotta and it seems happy enough.
I don’t think they’re fussy about the material they’re potted in, but make sure you get a pot large enough that you can fit a moss pole or trellis into it.
Giving your monstera something to climb up will encourage it to produce bigger leaves with more fenestrations and holes.
The easiest way to propagate Monstera Deliciosa is to take cuttings. Simply chop off a portion of your plant below a leaf node (the lumps on the stem that produce leaves and roots) and put it in water.
If you include an aerial root in your cutting, that’s even better.
Before putting the cutting in water, let the end callous over for an hour or so by leaving it exposed to the air. You can also seal the end with wax (dip it in a melted tealight). This reduces the chance of the cutting rotting in the water.
I use rainwater for propagating since cuttings can be delicate, and we want to be nice to them and make them grow. Make sure it’s at room temperature too. We don’t want to go scaring the cutting.
- Variegated versions of Monstera are fairly common but in high demand so considerably more expensive than their green counterparts.
- If you do get a variegated monstera that’s likely to revert (like the Albo/Alba Borsigiana), cut the green leaves back to encourage variegation.
- Monstera can bloom and produce (delicious) fruit but are unlikely to do so indoors
- Also called the Swiss Cheese plant and (incorrectly) the split-leaf philodendron. That’s an entirely different plant.
- You can pick up baby monstera for about £8 in shops BUT it’s worth checking out Facebook marketplace, Gumtree, Craigslist etc. for people getting rid of their too-big Monstera.
- The jury’s out on whether care can affect the number of fenestrations on the leaf. Some people say it’s to do with age, some to do with light, and others say it’s chance. Similarly, we can’t agree on whether giving a variegated Monstera more light affects the amount of white in the leaves.
A lot of people are shying away from the humble Monstera Deliciosa because it’s too common and overplayed, but I think it’s so popular for a reason.
Whilst it can be a bit of a chore providing conditions conducive to quick growth, it’s nigh-on impossible to kill the things.
I mean, we’ve had ours for years and neglected it…badly. It wasn’t fertilised for years, shoved in a dark corner and was variously under and over watered.
It’s rallied though and did very well last summer.
Not really one I’d recommend giving someone as gift though, because…she big. Although the baby ones are cute, and by the time it’s taken over the recipient’s house they’ll have forgotten who gave it to them.
If you have any questions then pop them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.