How to Take Care of Monstera Deliciosa, the Swiss Cheese Plant

Characteristics of the plant, advice for care and cultivation

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By Alex

monstera deliciosa

Everything about Monstera Deliciosa, the houseplant with “monstrous” leaves that is one of our favorite indoor plants.

Monstera Deliciosa: an introduction

Monstera deliciosa, also known as the split-leaf philodendron or Swiss cheese plant, is a houseplant that is easy to care for. In fact, it can become huge and can even live for many years. It is characterized by very particular jagged leaves with holes and fissures. In nature, these elements have an important function, enabling the air circulate better, but, for the use we make of this plant, they have a purely aesthetic and decorative purpose. It is no coincidence that the Monstera deliciosa is used as a real furnishing object also because it adapts to many different interior styles. With its bearing, it is able to furnish homes but also offices, bars and restaurants.

Monstera Deliciosa: noteworthy characteristics

Belonging to the genus Monstera, of the Araceae family, the ‘delicious’ variety is native to Mexico and Guatemala. It is therefore a tropical plant which, in its countries of origin, can even reach 6 meters in height. Its leaves can reach 100 cm in length and 60 cm in width.

This plant has two very particular characteristics that make it unmistakable:

  • the leaves are huge, shiny and heart-shaped: they have holes and fissures that are used to let the air pass without bending the stems.
  • the aerial roots, which attach themselves to the support on which they grow.

How many types of Monstera are there?

In nature there are more than 50 species of Monstera. Among the best known, we remember the Monstera Deliciosa, which is the most widespread, the M. Deliciosa Borsigiana (smaller), the M. Deliciosa Variegata, which has variegated leaves and the Monstera Acuminata.

Where does the name Monstera Deliciosa come from?

The term was coined by a French botanist back in 1763. Monstera is probably rooted in the Latin word “monstrum,” signifying ‘monster,’ possibly alluding to the distinctive appearance of its “monstrous” leaves, although this etymology remains uncertain. The term “deliciosa“, on the other hand, translates to ‘delicious,’ referencing the delectable nature of its fruit.

How do you take care of Monstera deliciosa?

As we said, it is a very simple plant to care for. Given its origins, it loves high temperatures and it is important to never expose it to direct sun, and also to water it generously when you notice that the surface part of the soil is dry.

In its natural habitat, Monstera deliciosa is a climbing plant that uses its aerial roots to cling to large trees. Therefore, it is advisable to provide him with moss-lined support sticks or a trellis.

But let’s look in detail at the basic parameters you need to know to make the most of your life.

monstera deliciosa

  • Climate: the optimal temperature is between 15 and 25 °C. Precisely for this reason, he lives very well in an apartment. Considering its origins, it does not tolerate cold climates and temperatures. Resistant up to 13°/14°C.
  • Exposure: it requires a lot of light, but never direct because, otherwise, the leaves would suffer and present dark spots
  • Soil: Loves well-drained soils. To make them lighter, you can add clay or sand
  • Fertilization: once a month, from April to October, it is possible to stimulate the production of new leaves and correct growth by diluting a dose of liquid fertilizer for green plants in the irrigation water. However, you should not overdo it because an excess of fertilizer could cause very large leaves to develop, altering the balance of the plant itself. The ideal fertilizer is that for houseplants.

Where to place the Monstera?

It should be placed in a very bright place but protected from direct sunlight which would otherwise burn the leaves. The ideal position is behind a window sheltered by a curtain.

Monstera deliciosa loves indirect light. In fact, too strong sunlight can cause burns. However, if the light is not sufficient, the plant may not develop the characteristic perforations in the leaves that make it so particular and “monstrous”.

In an apartment, the ideal position is near a window with curtains; outdoors, a shady place is preferred.

How to water Monstera?

Watering must be periodic but without excesses. In spring and summer it can be watered every 5-10 days; in autumn and winter, however, you can limit yourself to every 15 days, and, in any case, always and only when the soil is dry. Always take care to avoid the formation of water stagnation, the main cause of root rot.

In summer when it is very hot, and in winter when the heating is on, it is advisable to mist the leaves every day to prevent the leaves from darkening or drying out.

How does Monstera multiply?

Monstera multiplication occurs by cutting, to be carried out in spring or summer, taking a lateral bud or the apical part located just below a node, provided it is equipped with at least one leaf and an aerial root.

How to take a Monstera cutting?

In spring, take portions of branch about 10 cm long, with at least two leaves and, if possible, with an aerial root.
Then take a terracotta pot and fill it with a soil mixture made up of peat and sand in equal parts. Insert the cutting and compress the soil. Keep it constantly humid and at a temperature of around 24-27°C.

monstera deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa aerial roots care

The Monstera’s underground roots, like those of any plant, keep the plant rooted to the ground, absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. Monstera deliciosa, however, also has aerial roots, whose main task is to support the plant and help it attach to other plants and objects. In practice, they respect its nature. The Monstera, in fact, in its natural habitat, needs to compete with much taller tropical trees for sunlight.

Aerial roots are rare on young specimens. They begin to appear as the plant grows, appearing especially on the long stems. They do not cause any type of damage to the plant. Indeed, they indicate that it is growing well. They can be of various colors: green, white and brown.

The aerial roots are also able to absorb humidity from the air and then provide water to the plant.

If too long or unruly, they can be cut. However, it would be better to fold them in the vase. However, they should not all be eliminated because this would be harmful to the plant itself.

Repotting Monstera Deliciosa

When the plant becomes disproportionate to the pot in which it is housed (usually every 2 years), it is time to repot.

A soil for green plants should be used. Here’s how to proceed:

  • spread about 5 cm of soil on the clay
  • place the plant in the center and delicately fill the spaces with the substrate
  • press the soil lightly
  • water so as to favor the contact of the roots with the soil

It is also advisable to create good drainage at the bottom of the pot, with gravel.

Parasites and diseases

Monstera deliciosa is a species that is rarely attacked by parasites. At most, its main enemies can be green aphids and cochineal. To combat the former, you can try keeping a very humid environment around the plant. If this is not enough, it is necessary to intervene with acaricide products that can easily be purchased from a good specialized gardening centre. Cochineal insects, however, can be eliminated with localized treatment using a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. However, if the infestation is extensive, special anti-cochineal products should also be used in this case.

Then there are particular situations that can make Monstera deliciosa suffer. Let’s examine them in a little more detail:

  • if the plant receives little light, it will only produce small leaves and without the characteristic “holes”
    when the leaves turn yellow, it means that we are exaggerating with watering
  • the presence of dark spots on the leaves indicates that the temperature is too low

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Monstera deliciosa yellow leaves

It’s a pretty common problem. Generally, leaves that tend to turn yellow mean that we are overwatering. If, however, the irrigation was correct, then the problem could arise from the lack of fertilizer.

Depending on the cause, act accordingly: reducing watering or administering fertilizer for houseplants.

Monstera deliciosa brown leaves

If the leaves turn brown, there can be three causes:

  • the ambient temperature is too low
  • the air or soil is dry
  • the pot is too small

In the first case, you need to move the plant to a warmer room. In the second case, it is advisable to place a saucer full of water and pebbles as well as periodically spray the leaves. If the pot is too small, proceed with the transplant.

Monstera deliciosa black leaves

Very dark spots, almost black, generally appear on the tips of the leaves. They are indicators of an environment that is too dry. Place a saucer with water and spray the leaves often with a spray bottle.

Other issues

You may notice water droplets on the leaves. This is the so-called “guttation”, a phenomenon that indicates that the plant is in the ideal conditions to absorb water and minerals, and sweats at night.

How much does a Monstera cost?

Easily available in any garden center, Monstera deliciosa can also be easily purchased online, starting from about 20 Dollars

Monstera deliciosa, flower

The typical inflorescence of the Araceae consists of a yellow-cream colored spathe (a transformed leaf which is mistakenly called a flower), with a white spadix in the center (which is the inflorescence that contains the flowers).

However, it very rarely blooms in apartments. For the use we can make of this plant, its aesthetic performance is given by the gigantic shiny leaves characterized by the typical cracks.

Is it poisonous?

All parts of the plant are toxic to people, except for the ripe fruits. According to the ASPCA, Monstera deliciosa is toxic to dogs and cats.

Trivia

In its countries of origin, Monstera leaves are often used as trays or fans during some holidays and rituals because they are thought to ward off evil spirits.

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