THE LEAFLET

Plant Care  |  October 07, 2018

Monstera Deliciosa Care

Placement

PRO TIP: Monsteras are climbing plants and love to ascend vertical surfaces. If you want to grow your Monstera tall instead of wide, use stakes or moss sticks to guide its growth upward.

A species of flowering plant native to southern Mexico and Panama, Monstera deliciosa is a hardy and easy to care for plant known by many names, but most commonly the “Swiss cheese plant” due the unique development of ridges and holes on its more mature leaves, known as fenestrations. The “deliciosa” part of the plant’s name comes from the pineapple-like fruit it bears in its natural habitat!

Monsteras appreciate a warm, humid environment, a good amount of water and gentle sunlight. Place your Monstera where it can receive medium to bright indirect light. While it is tolerant of lower light conditions, you may notice leggy growth as a result, so a spot where it will receive bright indirect light a few feet removed from a southern, western, or eastern facing window is ideal.

If you are unsure of the lighting conditions in your home of office, we have a guide for how to measure light in your space.

Monstera Deliciosa Leaf

The Monstera's iconic splits typically only occur in the plant's more mature leaves, and only if the plant is placed in ideal conditions. If yours has plenty of light but no splits, just be patient!

Routine Maintenance

PRO TIP: Although typically slow growing, during the spring and summer months you can use an organic fertilizer on your Monstera once a month to encourage new growth.

Always be sure to assess your plant’s watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface. Also, consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering. We compact the soil to avoid shifting during transit, so aerating can help the soil breathe and allow moisture to be released.

Monsteras prefer soil that is lightly moist, and generally like to dry out a little bit between waterings. As epiphytes with aerial roots, they are sensitive to overwatering, so they don’t want to sit in soggy soil. Once the top 2 to 4 inches of the soil are dry, your plant might use a drink.

Rotate your Monstera periodically to ensure even growth on all sides and dust the leaves often so the plant can photosynthesize efficiently. When dusting the leaves, also take the opportunity to inspect the undersides and keep an eye out for pests. While Monsteras are more resistant to pests than many other low light tropicals, they are prone to both thrips and mealybug.

Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your Monstera and its watering needs and you will have a  long and happy relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Help! How can I tell if my Monstera is over or under watered?

  • Most often yellowing occurs due to over or underwatering. If you see a combination of yellow and brown on the same leaf, it is typically due to overwatering. If fully yellow leaves, along with some brown crispy spots on additional leaves occur then it could be underwatering. Check in with the soil to determine if it matches your diagnosis.

Drooping Bird of Paradise plant from overwatering.Bird of Paradise brown and yellow leaf margins overwatering.LEFT: An example of a Monsteras drooping foliage and pale leaf color due to lack of moisture in the soil.  RIGHT: Large dark brown spotting with yellow margins, and loss of leaf structure indicates this Monstera has been overwatered and is also not receiving enough light. 

 

There are leafless brown growths coming off of my Monstera. Is that normal?

  • Yes! These are aerial roots and they are totally normal. In nature, these are what helps give support to the plant and allow it to climb and reach more light. The roots will not damage walls or surfaces, and you can always prune them if they get unruly.
Monstera deliciosa aerial roots

My Monstera isn’t forming splits or holes on its leaves. What’s the deal?

  • Also known as "fenestrations," the lack of splits and holes in the leaf of a Monstera can be caused by many different factors, but generally it means the plant isn't settled in an ideal environment. Check in with the amount of light and water it is receiving, and adjust as needed. You can also take your plant's aerial roots and push them down into the soil so the plant can absorb more nutrients. Keep in mind, your plant will only develop holes on its more mature leaves, so sometimes you just have to exercise patience.

My Monstera has gotten way too big. What can I do?

  • Prune it back! Monsteras are very hardy and can handle a good trim. You can also train your Monstera to grow whichever way your heart desires by using stakes and ties.

How often should I fertilize my plant?

  • In general, house plants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration. Greenery Unlimited uses an organic potting mix with a slow release fertilizer in the soil, so your plant will not need fertilizer within the first 6 months of receiving it.

How often does my plant need to be repotted?

  • For larger floor plants, we suggest repotting every 18-24 months. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 2”- 4” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plants roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Spring or summer is the ideal time to repot as the plant is at its strongest.

ABOVE: The arial roots in the photo above are not necessarily and indication that this plant needs to be repotted. However the soil level has receded to a few inches below the lip, and a lot of the aeration components of the soil have surfaced. Both of these observations can be an indication that the plant is ready for new soil and a slightly larger pot.  

 

    Standard Planter Instructions

    There are two types of standard planters offered by Greenery Unlimited—those with drainage holes, and those without. Within these two categories are an array of sizes and styles to choose from. The presence of drainage holes and the size of the planted vessel both play a role in the quantity and frequency of water given to your plant.

    Plants purchased in pots without a drainage hole have been set up with a built-in drainage system. A layer of Aeration Stones (porous, absorbent material made of recycled clay) has been placed beneath the soil to act as a reservoir for any excess water that flows through the soil. You will need to be slightly more cautious not to pour too much water into these containers as there is no way for the excess water to escape. We suggest slowly pouring small amounts of water in bit by bit, until you have reached the desired moisture level in the soil.

    For plants potted with drainage, water until the excess begins to come out the bottom of the pot and into the catch tray.

    Self Watering Container Instructions

    The self-watering containers require a deep and thorough watering of the topsoil after they are first placed. This is important because the roots of the plants first need to grow into the reservoir in order to drink from it. Follow the standard planter instructions for at least four weeks, before testing the reservoir. During the dormant seasons, or for plants that have slower growing habits, consider top watering for up to ten weeks. 

    TEST: After the initial top water period, fill the water reservoir until the red indicator reaches half way between the MAX and MIN line. If the indicator goes down over the first few days, it means the plant is ready for regular reservoir servicing. If not, be sure to continue top watering for a few more weeks, until the red indicator goes down, meaning the plant has started drinking from the reservoir. 

    RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the indicator goes down, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, almost all plants require a drying out period. Always allow for the reservoir to empty all the way, and after a drying out period of a few days, be sure to refill it until the indicator reaches the MAX line.

    From here on out, you should NEVER topwater the plant while using the reservoir system. If you water from the top, it can drown the plant. In the Self Watering Container, the top layer of soil will eventually become extremely dry and hard, and may even pull away from the edges of the pot. This is not a cause for concern, but simply because the plant is drinking directly from its roots in the water reservoir. You may opt for adding fresh soil into the gaps between the soil and planter, so as to give the plant a nutrient boost. You may annually, or bi annually, top water the plant to flush the foot system. Only do so when the reservoir is empty and the plant is ready for more water. 

    Additional Care Guides