Ultimate Guide to Growing and Caring for Monstera (Swiss cheese plant) Indoors

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Monsteras are undeniably one of the most popular types of plants at the moment, and there is no shortage of reasons for it. Not only are they easy to care for, but they are also prized for their striking aesthetic appeal, air-purifying qualities, and versatility in growth habits.

For these reasons, they have become a trendy and stylish addition to modern homes, frequently featured in social media, magazines, and design blogs, further boosting their popularity.

Monstera is a genus of tropical plants native to the rainforests of Central and South America. These plants are well-known for their striking, large leaves, often adorned with unique natural holes or splits, a feature referred to as fenestration. This characteristic not only adds to their aesthetic appeal but also allows light to filter through to the lower leaves in dense forest environments.

Monstera species, such as Monstera deliciosa (commonly known as the Swiss Cheese Plant), can grow quite large, making them a popular choice for indoor and outdoor cultivation. In addition to their decorative use, some cultures use parts of the plant in traditional medicine, and the fruit of Monstera deliciosa is edible and considered a delicacy in some regions.

In addition to being an evergreen perennial, Monstera plants are also climbers, meaning they grow and search for support, and once they find one, they begin to climb using the aerial roots that develop from the nodes on the stems. Small leaves emerge and slowly climb up, carrying the plant upwards. In nature, this often happens between two trees, with the small Monstera climbing until it reaches an optimal height where it can receive a good level of light and develop fully.

For this reason, they can benefit from a support pole, especially when grown indoors. The pole provides stability for the plant, especially as it grows larger and heavier. It also supports the plant’s natural climbing habit, allowing it to grow vertically and preventing the stems from sprawling or becoming unruly. The larger the houseplant gets, the more likely it is to use a climbing pole.

Monstera varieties

The Monstera family encompasses over 50 different varieties, each offering unique characteristics and appeal to plant enthusiasts. Among the most popular is the Monstera Deliciosa, also known as the Swiss cheese plant or window leaf, celebrated for its large, fenestrated leaves.

However, several other Monstera varieties are gaining popularity, including Monstera Adansonii (Monkey mask), known for its smaller, heart-shaped leaves with holes, Monstera Obliqua (Unicorn Plant), prized for its highly fenestrated foliage, and Monstera Standleyana, recognized for its elegant, variegated leaves.

Moreover, there are captivating varieties with colorful leaves, such as Monstera Deliciosa Variegata and Monstera Thai Constellation, which add a striking visual element to any indoor space. Despite their varied appearances and growth habits, most Monstera varieties share the iconic Monstera leaf shape that distinguishes them as members of this beloved plant family.

For more detailed insights into Monstera varieties and their unique traits, explore our comprehensive guide on Monstera varieties.

[Learn more: Monstera Varieties]

How do you care for a Monstera?

The Monstera is generally very easy to care for and needs minimal care. However, this does not mean that you should completely ignore this plant. Here are some key care tips:

Light

Remember, Monstera plants grow best in bright, indirect light. They shouldn’t however, be exposed to direct sunlight, as it can damage the leaves. If you’re placing the plant near a south or west-facing window, make sure to use a curtain to filter the light.

If there’s not enough light, your plant might struggle to grow, and you might notice limpness or smaller leaves; in fact, they will lose their jaggedness and become smaller. Yellow leaves could also mean that the plant needs more light. To provide enough light for your Monstera deliciosa, position it near a window with plenty of indirect sunlight, or consider using a grow light.

Watering

Monstera plants prefer to be kept evenly moist but not overly saturated. It’s important to allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings, as overwatering can lead to root rot and underwatering can cause the leaves to wilt.

As a general rule of thumb, you should water your plant when the top 1-2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch. You can check the moisture level by sticking your finger into the soil.

When watering your Monstera, make sure to water at the base of the plant and saturate the soil thoroughly until the water drains out of the bottom of the pot. Be careful not to wet the leaves to avoid leaf spots, and discard any excess water that collects in the saucer.

It’s best to use lukewarm or room-temperature water. Try to avoid using cold or chlorinated water, as this can shock the plant and cause damage to the leaves. If you have to use tap water, let it sit out for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate.

Substrate

The Monstera Plant thrives best in nutrient-rich soil that is kept evenly moist. With regular waterlogging, dark edges quickly form on the leaves. Since the plant can grow very quickly, it is advisable to regularly transplant it into a larger pot so that the roots have enough space to spread. Particular attention should be paid to the aerial roots, as these can easily break.

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Temperature

The ideal temperature range for Monstera plants is between 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C), making them ideal for keeping indoors for most households. Although they can tolerate temperature fluctuations quite well, extreme changes can cause stress to the plant and lead to issues like wilting or yellowing leaves.

The minimum temperature at which a Monstera will grow healthily is around 60°F (16°C). However, at this temperature, its growth slows down and it becomes less active. If the temperature drops too much, below 50°F (10°C), the plant can be damaged.

Humidity

Maintaining proper humidity levels contributes to the well-being of Monstera plants. They prefer average household humidity levels but can benefit from increased humidity.

If the humidity is too low, the plant can experience some negative effects. The leaves can become dry, yellow, or brown, and the plant becomes less resistant to pests and diseases. In extreme cases, the plant can wilt if the humidity is consistently too low for a long period.

For some people, it may be challenging to achieve the high humidity levels required by Monstera plants indoors, especially in drier climates or during winter when heating systems can dry out the air. If that’s the case, here are some tips to increase humidity for your Monstera:

  • Use a Humidifier: A humidifier is an effective way to increase humidity in a room. It can help maintain the desired humidity level for your Monstera plant.
  • Misting: Misting the leaves of your Monstera plant with water can temporarily increase humidity around the plant. However, misting alone may not be sufficient to maintain the required humidity levels, especially in low-moisture areas.
  • Grouping Plants: Placing your Monstera plant near other plants or grouping them together can create a microclimate with slightly higher humidity levels. The plants release moisture through transpiration, increasing the overall humidity in the area.
  • Using a Tray of Water: Placing a tray filled with water and pebbles near your Monstera plant can help increase humidity through evaporation. As the water evaporates, it adds moisture to the surrounding air.

Remember to monitor the humidity levels using a hygrometer to ensure they stay within the optimal range for your Monstera plant.

Fertilization

Fertilization should be done annually in summer when the Monstera encounters the growth of new leaves due to the stronger incidence of light. The fertilizer should therefore be given to the plant every two weeks according to the instructions of the respective manufacturer.

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Repotting

Monsteras are fast-growing plants and will likely need to be repotted frequently, usually every 1-3 years, depending on their growth rate. When repotting, first remove the plant from its current pot and gently clean the roots. Then, remove the old soil, add a new substrate, and place the plant in a new pot. Finally, water the plant and enjoy your Monstera.

How do you propagate a Monstera plant?

Propagating a Monstera plant can be an enjoyable and rewarding process, ideal for expanding your indoor jungle or sharing plants with friends.

Start by selecting a healthy, mature Monstera with strong stems and lush foliage. Identify nodes along the stem where aerial roots are present; these nodes are essential for rooting. Using clean, sharp scissors or a knife, cut a section of the stem just below a node, ensuring the cutting is a few inches long to promote successful root development.

You can choose to propagate in water by placing the cutting in a jar with the node and aerial roots submerged, or plant directly into moist, well-draining soil. Keep the soil consistently moist and provide indirect light to encourage root growth and healthy new foliage.

Monitor the cutting regularly for signs of root development and adjust care as needed to support its growth. For more detailed instructions and tips on propagating Monstera plants, visit our comprehensive guide on how to propagate Monstera.

[Learn more: How to Propagate Monstera]

Monstera common pests and plant diseases

While Monstera plants are generally hardy, they can still fall victim to common pests and diseases. Some of the most frequent pests include

  • Spider mites, which create fine webs and cause yellowing leaves and stippling
  • Mealybugs, which appear as small, white, cotton-like insects and leave a sticky residue while distorting growth
  • Scale insects, which show up as small brown or black bumps on stems and leaves, leading to yellowing and sooty mold
  • And aphids, which can cause leaf curling and stunt growth.

Common diseases include root rot, often caused by overwatering and poor drainage, leading to wilting and yellowing leaves; leaf spot, characterized by dark, water-soaked lesions on the leaves; and powdery mildew, which presents as a white, powdery substance on the leaves.

Care tips for Monstera plants

  • If your Monstera becomes too large, it can be pruned back with a sharp, clean knife. The cut stems can be propagated by placing them in water or directly into soil.
  • As the plant grows, it may need support from a moss pole or trellis to help it climb and develop its characteristic fenestrated leaves.
  • Lastly, the leaves should be cleaned regularly with a sponge. Depending on its size, the plant can also be placed in the shower to be sprayed directly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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