Monstera Deliciosa - Care & Growing Tips
Updated: Jul 26, 2020
The monstera deliciosa is a one-pot jungle. I love this plant because it makes such a statement. With a single monstera, you can create a big tropical feel. Beware though - owning one is definitely a commitment. The wild, sideways-growing leaves eat up a lot of space, but it's worth it.
Sometimes called Swiss cheese plant, split leaf philodendron, or even hurricane plant, the monstera is native to rain forests in Central America. Smaller, more common, monsteras look really different than mature ones, because of their solid leaves. As the plant ages the leaves develop side slits, then beautiful, lacy holes called fenestrations. You can see each phase in the photo below.
Give your monstera gentle sunlight - an hour or two of early morning, direct sunlight, or dappled, late afternoon sunlight. You can also place it near a bright, south-facing window and filter the light with a thin curtain, so the leaves won't burn.
Don't let "low" or "indirect light" care instructions confuse you. I made this mistake early on and put my plant in a dimly lit spot. The leaves stayed small, and every month one would turn yellow and fall off. Each time a leaf dropped, I panicked. When I moved my plant to a brighter spot, everything changed. It grew much faster and produced giant, classic looking monstera leaves.
Note: *The spot I chose had direct, south-facing sunlight (slightly obstructed). Winter sunlight is much more gentle and limited than summer sunlight and turned out be the perfect solution.
Your watering schedule will always depend on how much light your plant gets, but basically, you'll need to water about once a week. Monsteras love humidity and an average temperature of 60-85 degrees. If you're not sure when to water, feel the top inch of soil, and make sure it's dry. Don't let the soil dry out too much, or the leaves will wilt. Repeated wilting causes permanent damage to your plant - floppy leaves won't spring back, so aim to keep the soil slightly damp, but never soggy.
A healthy, mature monstera sends long, fast-growing aerial roots right out of the stems. In the wild, they drape all the way down to the rain forest floor in search of water. In your home, they're strange looking, but a good sign that your plant is happy. You can leave them as is, feed them back into the pot, or even set them in a jar of water. The video below shows one of the first aerial roots on a new monstera.
Splurge on high quality soil if you can. This way, you can let your monstera go a little longer before repotting it. I like Black Gold All Purpose Potting Mix because it drains well, but feels heavy. The density helps support the plant better than a fluffy, lightweight mix. You can also use a more budget friendly brand, and add a handful off perlite or orchid bark. The potting mix should provide good drainage, but still retain moisture.
I fertilize my monstera during the growing season, but let it rest during the winter months. Dr. Earth Pot of Gold works well because it's gentle, with an even ratio of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium, so I never have to worry about burning my plants. Warning: It smells pretty awful, but works great.
In their natural environment, monsteras grow on trees and other structures. Once the leaves grow to a certain size, they weigh the stems down. At this point a mature monstera becomes top-heavy, unruly, or even tangled.
This is easy to fix with a moss pole, trellis, or wooden stick. Moss poles are the most common type of support. They're made of real moss wrapped with wire, and you can just tack or bind the stems to them. Wooden sticks or rods work well too, just be sure these options don't rot in your soil. I like to use orchid support systems, because they're rust free and camouflage well.
I hope these tips help to give your monstera a solid start or a nice improvement. Like all plant care advice, take what works for you, and adjust according to your home or space. Above all, keep observing your plant for changes.
Questions or comments? Drop them in the section below, and thanks for reading!