The Houseplant Lover's Guide to Monstera Deliciosa: Tips, Tricks & Care

The Houseplant Lover's Guide to Monstera Deliciosa: Tips, Tricks & Care

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Rachel Jacks
Aug 30, 2016

Monstera deliciosa's iconic, split leaves are so pretty that they've been featured extensively in art and design, but even more stunning is the plant itself. This easy-to-grow houseplant can get huge and live for many years, and it looks great with many different interior styles.

(Image credit: Rachel Jacks)

About This Plant

Also known as the Swiss cheese plant, Mexican breadfruit, or hurricane plant, Monstera deliciosa is recognizable by its large, glossy green leaves with deep splits and holes. Like most houseplants, it's native to the tropics, hailing from the rainforests of southern Mexico and Central America. While it rarely flowers indoors, outdoors it produces flowers that develop into edible fruit that is said to taste like a fruit salad. The solid green variety is by far the most common, while the beautiful speckled white and green M. deliciosa variegata is slower-growing, and more rare. All parts of the plant are toxic to people except for the ripe fruit, and according to the ASPCA, Monstera deliciosa is toxic to dogs and cats.

Where to Grow

Monstera deliciosa plants like standard indoor temperatures (68–86 °F), and prefer high humidity and filtered, indirect light. They can be grown outdoors in a shaded location as a climbing, evergreen perennial in US Department of Agriculture zones 10-11. Too much harsh sunlight can result in scorching, but if it doesn't get enough the plant may not develop as many perforations in its leaves.

Care and Planting

Plant in a peaty, well-draining soil in a pot with drainage holes. Monstera deliciosa is a climber in its natural habitat, using its aerial roots to cling to large trees, so you should provide it with moss-covered support sticks or a trellis. If its aerial roots get unruly you can trim them, but it's best to just tuck them back into the pot. They're not the type of roots that damage walls or surfaces. Water when the top quarter-to-third of the soil feels dry to the touch. Standard liquid plant fertilizer can be applied about once a month during the spring and summer growing season. Keep leaves clean and dust-free by washing with a cloth dipped in a solution of a drop of dishwashing detergent in a few cups of water. Though it's not required, the plant also appreciates regular misting of its leaves. When Monstera deliciosa outgrows its current pot (about every two years), transplant to a new pot a few inches larger in diameter and depth than the old one.

How to Propagate

The most reliable method of propagating Monstera deliciosa is air-layering. While it's a more involved process than propagation for some plants, it might be well worth it if you want more of these beautiful houseplants. To do it, you'll need floral or sphagnum moss, sharp, clean pruning shears, a plastic bag, and twist ties. First, find a leaf growing out of a stem, with a short aerial root below it. Just below that root, cut a small notch about one third of the stem's diameter. Wrap the notch, aerial root, and the node where the leaf joins the stem with a 1-2 inch layer of sphagnum moss. Moisten the moss and wrap it in plastic. You'll need to be able to open the plastic to check on the root development, so secure it with twist ties. Keep the moss moist until roots develop, then cut the stem, and pot your new plant in soil.

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