The monstera, or Monstera deliciosa, belongs to the Araceae family and is native to the tropical regions of America. These plants may also be referred to as the Swiss Cheese plant, a name derived from the monstera’s most coveted feature, large green leaves with fenestrations, or holes. It is generally believed the functional purpose of these holes is to allow light to pass through to the plant’s lower leaves, or to other plants in the jungle!
Caring for the monstera is shockingly quite simple, which is a large reason why plant parents all over the world rave about this monster(a) plant. This monstera growing guide will layout everything you need to know!
Please note: This plant is mildly toxic to humans and toxic to both cats and dogs. Calcium oxalate is present in these plants in large enough quantities for them to be considered irritants. If leaves are ingested, symptoms such as oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing could occur. While not deadly, it is still recommended to avoid these plants if you have over curious pets.
Monstera plants come in a variety of sizes and colors. This is a beautiful Variegated Monstera Albo leaf from our office!
Before you’re ready to plant your monstera, you must first choose the correct pot to ensure your soil can do its job as needed. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of plant parenting. While it’s important for your pot to look good, and match your interior, it’s even more important to give your plant the home it needs.
Also keep in mind the pot size needed for your plant. Typically, your monstera will come planted in a plastic pot, also called a nursery pot. These pots will be perfectly fine as beginning homes for your plant. However, you may want to repot your plant into something more fashionable. We encourage you to wait at least 2-3 weeks before your first repot, as the move into your home is already very stressful to the plant.
Repotting your Monstera
When repotting is necessary, it is suggested to use a pot/planter that is no more than 2” larger the previous one. Repotting is typically a stressful stage for a plant, so minimizing the size increase can make adjusting a lot easier for your plant friend (in this case, your monstera). But when is repotting necessary? Repotting is necessary when your plants roots beginning to poke out of the drainage holes, or if you notice a stoppage of new growth.
TIP: Repotting should only occur about every two years!
When it comes to potting your monstera, you can choose anything from terracotta pots, ceramic pots, and plastic planters (more on this below). However, it is important for your pot, regardless which one you choose, to contain drainage holes on the bottom (you guessed it, to prevent root rot).
- Outstanding durability.
- Absorbs excess moisture from soil (Good for plants with a low moisture preference, like the Monstera).
- Fairly inexpensive.
- Heavy when moving & replanting.
- Can crack in cold weather conditions.
- Absorbs excess moisture from soil (Bad for plants with a high moisture preference).
Here is a monstera from @Brina Blum in a terracotta pot.
Glazed ceramic Pots
- Protects plants from sudden temperature changes.
- Fashionable appearance.
- Larger pots can be expensive
- Insufficient drainage.
- Repotting is challenging.
- Made of porous material which traps moisture. (Not good for low moisture plants such as monstera. If you tend to overwater your plants, you may want to avoid this option).
Here is a monstera from Kara Eads in a ceramic pot.
Plastic Pots & Planters
- Cheapest option
- Large variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.
- Easy to drill additional drainage holes.
- Makes repotting easier.
- Typically, not a durable option
- Negative health issues associated with some plastics (opt for recycled material or planters made from polypropylene).
- Not the most fashionable option.
Here’s a variegated monstera albo in a plastic planter. Photo from Severin Candrian
Soil and Fertilizer Needs
Like many other houseplants, the Monstera is prone to root rot if exposed to improper moisture conditions. For best results use a well-draining soil, which will hold ample moisture while allowing any excess water to discard into the saucer. You can also assemble a homemade blend consisting of pine bark fines, perlite, and sphagnum peat moss.
In the spring and summer when your monstera is actively growing, it’s suggested to feed it once a month. We recommend a liquid fertilizer like Espoma’s Organic Indoor.
In nature, the monstera thrives from bright, indirect sunlight. Make sure to avoid direct sunlight as it can cause burn marks on the beautiful green leaves. As a plant found on the floor of tropical forests, they can also tolerate low light, but note this will slow the growing process. If you keep your plant near a southern or western exposed window, we suggest using a sheer (or any other transparent material) window curtains to keep your Monstera out of direct sunlight. If using a grow light, such as our Large Aspect™ Grow Light, we suggest hanging your light 48” – 60” away from your monstera.
As mentioned earlier, root rot is one of the most common causes of Monstera death. Because of this, you should always make sure that a monstera’s soil is almost dry before watering. A great way to test moisture levels is to submerge your pinky 1-2 inches deep in the soil. If you feel zero to little moisture, it is time to water your plant! Water until liquid begins flowing through the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. It’s very important to discard all accumulated water in the saucer, as this can also cause root rot.
Temperature and humidity
As a native plant of the tropics, monstera’s need ample humidity. Purchasing a humidifier is a great way to provide similar levels of humidity as they would receive in nature. We prefer the Miroco Cool Mist Humidifier. In the winter months, dry air from heaters can cause Monstera leaves to dry out. For a happy and thriving monstera, try to keep humidity levels above 60%.
In addition to humidity and plentiful indirect sunlight, monstera’s also love warmer temperatures. A normal indoor temperature of 60-80° F (15-27° C) is perfect for your monstera houseplant. Avoid any cold drafts or direct airflow from heaters during the winter months.
- Large leaves can collect dust. If you notice dust or dirt, wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to keep them clean and healthy.
- Monstera plants love to climb. Don’t hesitate to add a trellis or other accessories for climbing plants!
- If your monstera leaves are turning brown, it’s likely from inconsistent watering patterns.
- If your monstera leaves are turning yellow, it’s likely from its soil being too dry.
- Monstera plants can fruit but this is typically only occurring in nature.
For propagation tips be sure to read our in-depth guide on monstera propagation!