Monstera deliciosa is undeniably one of the most famous indoor plants to ever exist. You can often spot the distinctive leaves in movies, video games, and printed across at least three cushions at your local homewares store. Apart from being an absolute fashion icon, it is also an extremely hardy and versatile plant. In this article we dive into what it takes to care for this plant.
Monstera deliciosa are also known as ‘Fruit Salad Plant’, ‘Elephant Ear Plant’, and ‘Swiss Cheese Plant.’
When should I water my Monstera deliciosa?
Wait till at least the top 50% of the soil to be dry during the warmer months of the year. During Winter allow for all the soil to completely dry out before watering.
How much light does a Monstera need?
Monstera like bright light but can tolerate medium to low light. A space with enough light to read a book by is a good measure. The more light they receive the faster and bigger they will grow.
When should I fertilize my Monstera?
Apply a liquid fertilizer every second time you water from mid-Spring to mid-Autumn. If your plants are growing rapidly in Summer you can fertilize every time you water. Don’t fertilize in Winter.
Should I re-pot my Monstera?
Most indoor plants are very happy to be in small pots and will actually benefit from being a bit root bound. You can upgrade your pot size by an inch or two once all the soil has roots grown through it there is never any rush to do so.
When grown indoors, it is best to find the brightest spot possible for your Monstera. Enough natural light that you could read a book comfortably is a good place to start. Take care in summer that your plant isn’t getting too much hot afternoon sun as it can be scorched from the heat. A certain position might be perfect all year round but on a +40°c day the heat and light can quickly exceed what the plant can handle.
Monstera can survive in lower light situations, but the less light they have the smaller the leaves will be, and less fenestration that will develop.
Fenestration is the characteristic holes that make the monstera leaf so easy to identify. Higher light levels will result in faster growth, larger leaves, and greater fenestration.
Most plants that are kept indoors are susceptible to over-watering. We recommend that you only water this plant once the top 50% of the soil is dry during warm weather. In winter try to allow almost all the soil to totally dry out.
This will take about two to four weeks depending on the season, position of the plant, and air flow. Please note this is the minimum amount of time you can wait - you can let it go a lot longer, especially in Winter!
Over-watering this plant will result in root rot, blackened leaf tips, and possible death of the plant in extreme cases, but if you forget to water the plant for an extra week or two the plant may not even notice or may just wilt, giving you a very visual sign that it’s time to water.
Monstera can be a very fast growing plant so will definitely benefit from regular applications of liquid fertiliser. During the warmer times of the year, spring and summer you can add some fertilizer to every second cycle of watering. If you find your plant is still growing in Winter you can potentially dilute your fertiliser to half strength and keep using it at less regular intervals.
Seaweed derived products like Seasol are not high in the key nutrients for growth (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), but are great soil conditioners and useful for preventing hydrophobia and pot-shock.
Monstera love to be cramped in their pots. They will grow huge regardless of their pot size. If you pot your monstera into a huge pot it not grow any faster or larger, most likely it will get root rot from all the excess wet soil, or it will direct more energy to root growth instead of growing any leaves. When repotting it is best to focus more on a pot that suits your aesthetic, and stick with that for a few years.
If you do decide to repot, it’s best to do it during the warmer parts of the year. Make sure to pot it into something that has good drainage (at least one big drainage hole). If you decide to use a porous terracotta pot, the soil may dry out a little faster which can be very helpful in avoiding over-watering. Monstera thrive in a well-draining potting mix; a premium potting mix is a good place to start, but a cacti/succulent mix or even chunky orchid mix works great to help with drainage.
The fact that Monstera deliciosa is a huge vine can become all too apparent after a year or two. In the wild, this plant will grow across the ground and up trees. To help support this sprawling epiphyte, you may find you have to stake the plant to keep it upright as it grows larger. If you feel the plant is getting too long you can take a cutting from the lead part of the stem. This will halt the growth of the stem and encourage new shoots from lower down the plant.
The cutting can be placed in water or planted into moist soil. Make sure your stem cutting has about an inch of stem that contains a node. The cutting will take off much faster if it has an aerial root already formed. The stems are able to photosynthesise so don’t worry if your cutting loses its leaves, they are not necessary at all.
Over watering: This is the number one issue you will come across. This will cause blackening leaf tips, wilting, root rot, and often white mould on the soil. Make sure your pot is draining, and you are not watering too frequently. Do not water again until it is dry! In extreme cases you can swap out the wet soil for dry soil, or place the plant in a sheltered spot outdoors to speed up the drying process. Just wait. This is an indestructible plant but it will need some time. Lots of good air flow will really help.
Long, leggy, and floppy: If your plant isn’t getting enough light it is going to become elongated to help it reach a potential light source. The leaves will be more sparse and internodes longer. Stake the plant and/ or move it to a brighter spot. Moving the plant into a bright spot every now and then won’t work, it needs to be a permanent shift.
Insects: I have never found M. deliciosa to be particularly susceptible to insect invasion; however, the most common pests are mealybugs, scale, and gnat flies. The best thing to do is to manually remove them to stop the immediate spread, then get your hands on a product like neem oil, which will wipe out a plethora of nasty critters, whilst being very safe and non-toxic.
It is best to keep Monstera in a semi-sheltered position when outside. Try to find a spot where they are safe from the hot afternoon sun, frost, and wind. It should be noted that Monstera deliciosa do not require high humidity, or warm temperatures. They will grow faster in the warmth but are fine to be outside throughout Melbourne’s winter. Morning direct sun is perfectly fine and will give them a huge boost.
If you are looking for a plant for your balcony or courtyard then this is a perfect place to start. With the added bright light, and excellent airflow, this plant will grow fast. The extra air flow around the plant will greatly reduce the possibility of over-watering, while also reducing the chance of pathogens infecting the plants. I have found that the leaves will become larger, and have more fenestration in this position too. Feel free to plant one straight into a garden bed!
Greener House Nursery is an Indoor Plant Nursery located at 95 Sydney Road, Brunswick, in Melbourne, Australia. We have the specialised knowledge to make sure you get the right house plants, pots, and accessories for your home. Weather you're looking for low-light, low-maintenance, pet friendly, hanging, or air purifying plants, we've got you covered.