The Monstera deliciosa (AKA ‘The Swiss Cheese Plant’) is a much-loved ornamental houseplant.
They’re known for their large and interesting leaf structure, filled with ridges and holes throughout which closely resemble a piece of swiss cheese!
The name directly translates to ‘Monstrous Delicious’ in reference to its large growth potential in the wild and the edible fruit the plant produces.
What’s great about these exquisite tropical plants is that they are generally easy-going and will thrive successfully in a range of living environments with a few well-followed tips.
Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about planting & potting Monstera, light, water and feeding preferences as well as how to prune, propagate and deal with any pests and diseases that might pop-up.
Planting & Potting Monstera deliciosa
First and foremost you’re going to need an appropriate soil base. Monstera plants love well-draining soil mixes that retain some moisture.
Peat moss based soil mixes are perfect and readily available from most garden centres and nurseries (and online!).
I also recommend mixing in a handful of perlite which really helps to aerate the soil.
Pots and Planters:
As with all plants, you should be looking for a suitable pot that’s appropriate for your Monstera’s current size.
Small plants in huge pots can be tricky to water effectively and pots that are too small won’t leave sufficient space for your plant’s roots to develop.
In terms of the pot itself, ensure there’s drainage so the water can run through the soil into a tray or saucer underneath (stagnant water is a common cause of root-rot).
It’s also worth noting that Monstera Plants can grow up to 60 to 70cm a year indoors so you’ll need to upsize to a bigger pot every couple of years potentially.
Monstera deliciosa Light Preferences
The trick with Swiss Cheese Plants is to find a spot in your home that’s relatively bright and has partial, indirect light throughout the day.
If the leaves are exposed to the sun’s rays for extended periods they have a habit of curling up and turning a slightly yellow colour.
When to Water your Monstera deliciosa
There are a few factors in play here including the relative ambient temperature and humidity of your home.
If you’re living for extended periods with an air conditioning unit going this also has a habit of drying the air.
Remember you’re dealing with a tropical plant that’s native to Central America so trying to replicate those conditions to some degree will serve you well.
As a general rule, you’ll need to water your plant every 7 to 10 days (less so during winter months).
Always let the water drain through completely during watering cycles and a good indicator is when the first 2 inches of topsoil is completely dry to rewater your plant.
In addition, I like to spray Swiss Cheese Plants with a water mist every couple of weeks to provide the plant with a little extra moisture and humidity.
When to Feed Monstera deliciosa Plants
When your plant is at it’s most virile during the spring and summer months it’s a good idea to top up its nutrient base with an appropriate fertilizer every month or so.
I’d recommend using a general all-purpose (organic if possible) indoor plant fertilizer (which is readily available online and in many gardening shops).
These are typically water-based so mix the appropriate amount as indicated and pour into your soil.
How and When to Prune Swiss Cheese Plants
As noted, the Monstera plant can grow a decent rate throughout the year.
What’s more, they have a habit of growing up as well as out which can be a challenge for those with slightly limited space.
The best time to consider cutting back excess growth is during the spring and summer months when the plant will be at it’s strongest.
Always use a pair of sharp cutting scissors or pruning shears and make sure to cut as close to the stem as feasible.
Start with leaves that are starting to fade or shrivel and let the new growth come through.
You can also control the direction of growth by using bamboo stakes or some form of trellis and gardening string.
This will help stop your Monstera drifting off into a corner or out into a hallway.
How to Propagate Monstera deliciosa
Propagating a Swiss Cheese Plant is a great way to multiply your plant collection and also create a nice starter plant for friends and family.
There a few key steps to follow for propagating Monstera deliciosa:
To successfully grow a cutting taken from the plant you need to ensure you include part of the stem.
Aim to cut as close to the soil as possible, here you’ll have a better chance of taking a cutting that includes a root node which is needed for new growth.
Then, take your cutting and place in a tall glass of water (leaves out, roots submerged). Leave it here for 2 weeks and it’ll happily start to develop.
Now you can start the repotting process (see above). The transition from water to pot can be a little dramatic for Monstera but it give it a few days and they’ll adjust to their new habitat.
Check out this video tutorial from the Crazy Plant Guy for some more visual queues!
Pest & Disease Considerations
Monstera deliciosa plants are well regarded for their resilience to diseases and you’re unlikely to encounter too many issues.
During winter, in particular, you might notice a few mites or insects taking up camp on some of the leaves or stems that can leave behind a sticky substance.
A quick spray every 4 to 6 weeks with a good horticultural oil (these are readily available online and in many plant shops and gardening centres) will absorb through the plant and give it extra immunity against any little terrors.
Other Common Problems, Tips, and Considerations
Please note, the Monstera is toxic to both humans and pets. I’d recommend wearing gloves if you’re handing the plant for extended periods.
The symptoms can affect the digestive system in-particular so definitely avoid nibbling on the leaves!
Leaves Turning Yellow / Brown & Fungal Infections
This is a tell-tale sign of over-watering or lack of light.
Remove the worst affected leaves by cutting back at the stem and adjust your water cycles and placement of the plant to see if there’s a positive overall impact on the plant’s health.
Wilting Leaves and/or Stem
Wilting leaves are a sure sign your plant is lacking sufficient moisture. Check the soil and if it’s very dry give the plant a good watering and spray the leaves liberally with a water mist.
If the stem is drooping it could also be a physics issue. In the wild, Monstera deliciosa is accustomed to clambering up neighbouring trees and bushes for support.
At home, you’ll need to replicate with trellis or simple bamboo stakes to give the plant some structural support.
Rotate the Plant
So often I see houseplants left in one position for eternity and you end up with part of the plant often having no access to light and the resultant energy source it needs.
A quick rotation every couple of months will ensure the whole plant has a chance to thrive.
Invest in some Basic Tools
Every successful plant parent needs an appropriate tool-kit. Make sure you have the basics and the general maintenance of your Monstera will be an absolute breeze.
These include a good pair of cutting scissors, pruners or shears, a watering can and spray, a soil probe, fertilizer and an organic pesticide on-hand.
With a little love, the famed Monstera deliciosa will thrive in your home or office. It’s a great pick for those new to the world of plants as well as more experienced plant connoisseurs looking to round out their collection.
As with a lot of plant nurturing, once you and your Monstera get to know each other you’ll quickly fall into a rhythm that ensures your plant thrives in your exact living environment.
by Andrew Gaumond
I’ve long been fascinated with the world of horticulture and botany. Today, I’m a lead writer for Petal Republic - a site dedicated to uncovering exceptional floristry and plant life around the world and showcasing the best flowers and plants for every occasion and living environment. You can also follow me on Instagram.