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Monstera deliciosa grow well in variety of different soil mixes.
Monstera deliciosa soil must:
- Drain well, so water doesn’t collect in the pot without being able to get out
- Have air pockets, so oxygen can get to the roots
- Retain some water, so the roots don’t get dehydrated
It’s also beneficial for Monstera soil to provide nutrition to the plant, but it’s not necessary if you have a good feeding routine.
What is the ideal soil mix for Monstera?
Monstera deliciosa like very well-draining soil. In the wild, they’re semi-epiphytic and climb trees, attaching their aerial roots to the trees to grow towards the light. I have a complete guide to Monstera deliciosa here.
You can buy Monstera mixes, but it’s cheaper to make your own, especially if you have a few plants. I generally do a 3:3:3:1:1 mix of coir, orchid bark, perlite, charcoal, and worm castings.
The issue I have with this soil mix is that I find I have to bottom water to really thoroughly soak the substrate because only the coir and perlite absorb water.
If you quickly top water, the water just flows between the gaps and doesn’t have a chance to absorb.
The solution I found was to put my Monstera outside in summer, and hose it down when I was watering my veggie garden.
Another option is to water with a pressure sprayer. It takes a long longer but it’s way more fun.
Monstera deliciosa are NOT picky about soil. There are thousands of Monstera the world over that are growing extremely well in soil that someone dug out of their backyard. The trick to Monstera deliciosa care is giving it plenty of light and getting the watering right.
Once you’ve cracked those things, soil and even fertilising are less important.
Do Monstera like acidic soil?
Monstera prefer *slightly* acidic soil. We’re talking 5.5-7, which is the preference of most tropical houseplants.
Monstera deliciosa soil recipes
There are loads of different recipes for Monstera soil you can try, but these are my favourites:
Aroid mix is great for people who want to grow their Monstera huge and look after it ‘properly’.
If you underwater, it might not be a great option for you because coir can get hydrophobic and you’ll struggle rehydrate it without soaking it in a bucket of water.
I’ve linked to all the products on my resources page.
- 3 parts coco coir
- 3 parts orchid bark
- 3 parts perlite
- 1 part charcoal
- 1 part worm castings
James Wong’s Houseplant soil
This is awesome for people on a budget. Other than the leca, you may already have these things.
James Wong is a British botanist who has hundreds of houseplants of all shapes and sizes. He did an Instagram story that detailed the soil mix he uses for the vast majority of his plants and it really made me wonder whether the houseplant soil industry is a big con. Let me know what you think:
- 1 part topsoil
- 1 part compost
- 1 part LECA
I mean, it has structure, drainage, and nutrients. Seriously considering using this going forward.
Terrarium soil & LECA
This is my current go-to. I only discovered it because I had no money at the time and my boyfriend had a load of leftover leca and terrarium soil. I mixed them at a 1:1 ratio and my Monstera seem to love it.
I’m a bit of an underwaterer, and terrarium soil is very moisture-retaining, so my Monstera can go weeks between waterings if required.
LECA adds a lot of air pockets to the terrarium soil, so root rot isn’t going to be an issue, but it also absorbs water from the soil, helping keep the water in the soil evenly distributed.
Things to consider when choosing Monstera soil
The light your Monstera receives
If your Monstera gets a lot of light, then its soil will dry out quickly, for three reasons:
- Your Monstera will use more water to grow
- It’ll lose water through it’s stomata
- Water will evaporate from the soil
Using a super-well draining soil mix is great, but you don’t want to be watering every day. You can either use a denser mix – so add more coir – OR you can top dress the soil with a layer of sphagnum moss, that you keep well hydrated by misting the top.
The humidity levels in your home
If you have high humidity levels, then your soil will stay damp for longer. If your humidity levels are low, it’ll suck the moisture out of the soil
How hot it is
If you live somewhere that gets super hot in super and super cold in winter, you might want to change the soil accordingly. Use something that retains water in summer so you’re not having to constantly water it, and change to something more airy in winter so the soil dries out more quickly andyou reduce the chance of getting root rot.
How often you water
If you like to water often, use a soil mix that doesn’t retain very much water – you can add sand, or succulent mix to help it dry out faster.
If you tend to forget to water, or you travel a lot, use something that retains a lot of water – or top dress with moss.
The size/age of your Monstera
Younger Monstera in small pots will go through a lot of water, becausethey tend to grow faster, plus the les soil there is the less water it can hold.
Older Monstera tend to grow slower, and big pots can retain more water.
This varies a LOT depending on the indivual specimen, but I need to water my baby Monstera at least weekly, but my big one much less frequently. I might only water my big Monstera every couple of months in winter, but the baby one still dries out weekly.
There is absolutely no reason to drop money on fancy soil you can’t afford. Do the topsoil/compost/leca mix – it may be $30 initial outlay but you’ll get a lot of soil for that.
New Monstera deliciosa cultivars are popping up all the time, and they usually don’t require specific soil mixes. However, the Thai Constellation is famously prone to root rot (and I can attest to that fact, despite being a very cautious waterer) so consider keeping that one in a mix that doesn’t retain much water – the aroid mix detailed above will work well, with more bark/less coir if you tend to overwater.
Other options for Monstera soil
Miracle-gro (or similar store-bought houseplant soil)
This is a slightly controversial take, but I don’t think Monstera would struggle to grow in Miracle-gro. You would have to make sure the soil was completely dry before watering, but as long as you do that, you should be fine.
Monstera are incredibly adaptable. They’re an invasive species in…basically any country with the right climate, and a slightly-denser-than-ideal potting mix won’t deter them in the slightest. In fact, it can be helpful if you’re growing cuttings.
The benefit of using something dense like Miracle-gro is that it works well with moisture meters. if you’re new to Monstera deliciosa, using a moisture metre can really help you know when to water (I usually wait until it’s 2).
You can also use miracle gro (or any store-bought houseplant soil) as a base, and improve aeration with perlite and/or orchid bark.
Other popular store-bought Monstera potting mixes are:
- Fox farms – both the Happy Frog and Ocean Forest
- Westland Houseplant potting mix
Leca is often the preferred substrate for Monstera (or at least it seems that way from watching a lot of plant YouTubers. If you’re interested in how to get started with semi hydro I have a full guide here.
There is a bit of chatter about how leca prevents Monstera from growing really big leaves, but I’m personally not convinced that that’s true.
I don’t have any Monstera in leca, but I have plenty of other aroids (in various media) and I don’t think it really affects the size of the leaf. My Marble queen pothos is turning into a right monster.
Cactus soil is fine for Monstera. You may find you have to water more often because it doesn’t retain a lot of water, but your Monstera won’t mind that.
If you have some cactus soil, but you don’t want to water too often, you can add some coir to it to make it retain more water.
Monstera deliciosa grow really well in water. My Thai constellation lives in water permanently, because it’s the only way I can keep root rot at bay.
I find that Monstera grow equally well in water and soil, but they’re easier to support in soil. If any one knows how to add a pole to water I’m all ears.
Ok, that’s it for this article. Feel free to leave any questions in the comment box below.
Before you go, you might find these articles useful:
- How to repot Monstera deliciosa
- How to tell if your Monstera is rootbound
- Should I bottom water my Monstera?