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Monstera have a reputation for being incredibly chill. And they ARE chill. But that doesn’t mean that if you put it in a dark corner it’ll thrive. It might grow, but not particularly quickly, and the leaves won’t be as big and fenestrated as they would be in brighter light.
The conditions we’ll go through in this article aren’t the only conditions that Monstera will grow in.
As we’ve already established, Monstera grow in a variety of conditions, AND there’s always that exception to the rule. Every now and then someone will crop up on social media claiming that their Monstera grows big and bushy in the cupboard under the stairs.
I largely ignore these posts. Whilst I don’t by any means think that the poster is lying, I just don’t find it very useful. Who cares if some plants grow in the dark? Mine doesn’t. Most of them don’t.
So this is what we’re going to strive for. Obviously, we can’t meet these requirements all the time – or indeed at all during winter – but at least we know what to aim at.
If you’re in UK, I’d go for as much light as possible.
You will need to acclimate your plant if it’s been in the dark for a while – just gradually move it towards its destination over the course of a few weeks, and then keep an eye out for any burning once it’s in place.
My Monstera is in a south-facing window (patio doors actually, so BIG) and it hasn’t burned. It’s variegated too, so it’s actually pretty impressive.
The rule of thumb I go for is that if it’s too hot for me, it’s too hot for my Monstera. In the height of summer we close the blinds so it doesn’t get burned. Same goes if you live somewhere with a hotter climate than the UK. Remember that Monstera grow in the wild in some pretty exposed spots, so even if does get burned, just cut off the burned growth and it should regrow pretty quickly.
The more light you have, the faster your plant will grow. You may also find that the leaves grow larger and more fenestrated.
Don’t be alarmed if the lower leaves start to die off – Monstera tend to shed old leaves that it doesn’t think will get enough light to photosynthesise effectively, so ditches them in order to grow bigger new ones. Bit rude, tbh.
Again, more is better.
That is, from the plant’s perspective.
When I’m rich, I’m gonna build myself a MASSIVE terrarium (more like a glasshouse, I suppose) and grow all my plants in there. The humidity will be, like 80%, BUT I’ll make sure the temperature and airflow are spot on so I don’t have to worry about mould.
Currently, we do have to worry about mould, so I don’t use a humidifier. Our house is around 60% humidity-ish which is FINE, but check out this article about how much of a difference having incredibly high humidity makes.
Monstera grow absolutely FINE with lower humidity. If your ambient humidity is around 40%, then you’ll be totally fine to grow a Monstera. However, doubling that humidity will have a dramatic impact on how fast and large the plant grows.
High humidity also encourages aerial roots to grow longer and fluffier, and thus more able to grab onto nearby furniture and climb. NB Monstera aerial roots have no idea what is/isn’t a suitable surface for them to attach to, so keep an eye on them. They have no respect for antique furniture, paint, or wallpaper, and can damage them.
Temperature is the key factor we need to keep balanced so that the Monstera can grow as well as possible. High humidity or light when it’s cold will either not have any impact on Monstera growth at all, OR they could cause rot and bleaching.
We don’t have to keep things ridiculously warm. 25oC (77oF) is great, but tbh my living room stays at 21-ish and my plants are growing fine.
Monstera don’t die in cooler temperatures (though frost will kill them), but they do experience situational dormancy – basically, if it gets too cold, they don’t grow.
This is an area that’s a little less clear and a bit more, er, dependent on YOU.
In an ideal world, it’d be growing in the ground, preferably in a rainforest. We can’t really do ideal in a house.
In my experience, Monstera aren’t too fussed about what they’re planted in, as long as you don’t over or under-water them.
I have two Monstera in a medium-chunky potting mix so they’re really well draining. It’s not as dense as store-bought soil, but it’s not so chunky that if I forget to water them for *ahem* a month, they’re largely fine.
My Thai Constellation will NOT die on my watch, so she’s growing in water, with some java moss in there so I don’t need to keep changing the water.
It’s a great hack for those of us that are likely to accidentally neglect our plants from time to time.
In an ideal world, Monstera would prefer rainwater. Failing that, filtered water. But this is for an ideal situation. My Monstera usually get either aquarium or tap water and they’re growing really well.
I really wouldn’t recommend using distilled water. Other types of water contain minerals that are beneficial to their growth, whereas distilled water is pure H20. It’ll mean you’ll need to pay more attention to the fertiliser that you use to ensure that you don’t accidentally give your plant copper or iron deficiency.
As for frequency, that depends on the type of soil you have…as well as a dozen other factors. If you have your humidity, light, etc all on point, then your Monstera could be growing really quickly, and therefore be using a tonne of water. You might need to water it multiple times a week in the height of summer.
You can let your Monstera’s soil dry out completely before watering it again, but be sure to thoroughly wet the soil – I’m assuming that you have drainage holes here – and be sure to bottom water every once in a while to stop the soil from becoming hydrophobic.
If you feel like the soil is drying out quickly, but your plant isn’t growing, read this article on why this might be happening.
What your plant would REALLY like is compost or manure, but that’ll both make your house stink AND flies will be driving you mad within minutes. When it comes to shop-bought fertilizers, Monstera aren’t fussy. Half the recommended dosage every mony/6 weeks is plenty.
I have had success with worm castings, so if you’re a bit worried about root burn or overfertilizing, then you might be better off just adding a couple of handfuls of worm castings into the soil every four months.
You can fertilize in winter IF your Monstera is still growing. Indoor plants may not even realize that it’s winter if they get enough light, humidity, and warmth, and there’s no reason to tell them.
How to stake your Monstera is largely about what you prefer aesthetically and what you’re prepared to add to your workload. I have an article on the various options here.
However, we’re about the ideal thing here. I shan’t suggest that you grow a big tree in your living room, because then you also have a tree to tend to (aside from the fact a tree would take up a lot of room).
The next best thing is a wall or large piece of wood that it can attach to. Moss poles are clearly more convenient, which is why that’s what we tend to use, but a wall or plank of wood will allow it to grip a lot more easily. Of course, if you have super high humidity, it’ll cling to anything. The begonia in our terrarium tries to attach to the glass, bless her.
I’m not expecting you to implement all of these things, but I think that it’s useful to at least be aware of them so if you’re having issues, then you can identify a possible culprit quickly.
Bright light, high humidity, and a nice warm room will have the most impact on how well your Monstera grows. And, tbh, most tropical house plants.
If your Monstera ISN’T growing, I have a troubleshooting article here.