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  • Writer's pictureKassi Kuppinger

Monstera Deliciosa Care 101: How To Care for a Monstera

Cultivating a lush and vibrant indoor jungle has become a popular trend among plant enthusiasts, and at the heart of this green movement is the Monstera deliciosa. With its iconic perforated leaves, this tropical plant has captured the attention of homeowners and interior designers alike. Known for its adaptability and unique growth patterns, the Monstera deliciosa, often referred to as the "Swiss cheese plant," has become a staple in both homes and offices. In this guide, we will explore the captivating features and essential care guidelines necessary to nurture and maintain this remarkable plant, allowing enthusiasts to embrace the beauty of nature within their living spaces.


Monstera houseplant

What Is a Monstera Deliciosa?

Monsteras are a type of tropical houseplant that is native to South America. These plants are sometimes referred to as Split-Leaf Philodendrons, though they are actually not a philodendron! Monstera deliciosa is easily identified by its large, glossy leaves that develop fenestrations (splits and holes in the leaves) as the plant matures. Young plants may have no fenestrations at all, but as the plant grows and matures, these splits will begin to form naturally to allow light to get to the leaves lower on the plant. While the leaves of a monstera plant may start small, they are able to grow up to 18 inches wide in ideal environments. These highly popular houseplants are very adaptable, easy to grow, and require little maintenance, making them perfect for beginners and professionals alike.


Different Types of Monsteras

There are close to 50 species in the monstera genus, however, only a handful of these are actually available in local plant stores and garden centers. Most monstera varieties have similar care needs, though some of them may vary slightly. Here are a few of the most common different types of monsteras, along with some rare and unique varieties you may not know about!


Monstera adansonii

Monstera adansonii houseplant

The Monstera adansonii is a beautiful vining variety of Monstera. These plants can be allowed to trail or can be trained up a moss pole or other support. Often the Monstera adansonii will grow larger, more lush leaves when allowed to grow on a moss pole. There are narrow-form and wide-form Monstera adansonii, as well as variegated options that are rare and unique.


Monstera deliciosa

Mostera deliciosa is the most common type of Monstera and is what is usually thought of when people mention Monstera houseplants. There are several different variegated options for this plant such as the Monstera 'Thai constellation' and Monstera albo, among others. Monstera deliciosa prefer to grow on moss poles and will grow bigger leaves with more fenestrations when grown with support.


Monstera dubia

Monstera dubia houseplant

Monstera dubia looks much different than most other varieties of Monstera. When they are young, they start as shingling plants, preferring to grow up a plank or other relatively flat surface. The leaves and stems of the plant attach themselves to the woody surface as it grows, giving this variety a very interesting and unique appearance. They do not have the fenestrations that are so typical of most varieties when they are young either. As the plant matures, however, its appearance transforms as its leaves begin to fenestrate and it starts to resemble the appearance of the Monstera 'Esqueleto'.


Monstera epipremnoides 'Esqueleto'

Monstera esqueleto houseplant

This variety of Monstera houseplant is not commonly seen in plant stores or garden centers, so it can be rather hard to come by! Its leaves are large and oblong with deep fenestrations that give the plant a delicate appearance. The Monstera 'Esqueleto' also prefers to grow up a moss pole and will develop larger and more fenestrated leaves when grown this way.


Monstera obliqua houseplant

Monstera obliqua

The Monstera obliqua is very similar to the Monstera adasonii. It can be grown as a trailing plant or can be trained up a moss pole. Its leaves are recognizable due to the larger fenestrations and the almost lacy appearance of the leaves. They have a much more delicate appearance due to the large fenestrations. The Monstera obliqua is a rare variety that also has different, even more rare variegated forms.



Monstera pinnatipartita

Monstera pinnatipartita houseplant

Also very uncommon to see for sale in retail stores or plant nurseries, the Monstera pinnatipartita looks quite different from other Monstera varieties, with its big and floppy oblong leaves featuring deep fenestrations reaching all the way to the stem of the leaves.


Monstera siltepecana

Monstera siltepecana houseplant

Another unassuming but rather hard-to-find Monstera variety is the Monstera siltepecana. This is another shape-shifting specimen that features smaller leaves of a deep green color with silver accents when the plant is young. As the plant matures it develops large, green, fenestrated leaves.


Monstera Deliciosa Care Tips

Caring for a Monstera deliciosa involves providing the right conditions to ensure its health and growth. All plants have specific needs, and if these needs are not met, the plant will not thrive and will experience a decline in health over time. Pay attention to your Monstera's response to its environment and adjust your care routine accordingly. Here are some care tips to consider:


Light Requirements for Monstera deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa thrives in bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, especially during the hottest parts of the day, as it can scorch the leaves. Place your plant near a window with filtered sunlight or in a well-lit room.


Monstera Watering Requirements

Allow the top inch or two of the soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it's better to slightly underwater than overwater. Water more frequently during the growing season (spring and summer) and reduce watering in the dormant season (fall and winter). Keeping the soil consistently moist (but not soggy or waterlogged) while the plant is producing new leaves is recommended as this will help to prevent deformities while the new leaves form.


Temperature & Humidity for Monsteras

Monstera deliciosa prefers higher humidity levels and average room temperatures. If the air is dry, mist the leaves regularly or use a humidity tray or humidifier. You can also group plants together to create a more humid microclimate. It is ideal to keep room temps between 65-85°F (18-29°C). Avoid exposing it to cold drafts or sudden temperature changes as this can send the plant into shock.


Soil & Potting Requirements

Use a well-draining potting mix that retains some moisture but doesn't become waterlogged. Adding perlite or orchid bark can help improve drainage. Repot your Monstera deliciosa every 1-2 years or when it becomes root-bound. Spring is usually the best time for repotting. Choose a pot that's an inch or two wider in diameter than the rootball of the plant. Be careful not to plant in too large of a container, as this increases the risk of overwatering and root rot.


Support

As your Monstera grows, it will develop vining stems that will need support. You will also notice aerial roots beginning to grow from the stems of the plant. These aerial roots pull nutrients from the environment around them and can grow onto a moss pole or trellis, providing your Monstera with additional support. For this reason, it is highly recommended to provide a trellis, moss pole, or other supports to help your plant support the weight of its heavy leaves.


Fertilization

During the growing season (spring and summer), feed your plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 4-6 weeks. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excess salt buildup in the soil. Do not fertilize during the dormant season (fall and winter) as this can cause burn damage to the roots of the plant, potentially killing the plant.


Pruning

Regularly prune away any yellowing or dead leaves to encourage new growth. You can also trim the plant to shape it and encourage bushier growth.


Pest Control

Keep an eye out for common pests like spider mites and mealybugs. Regularly inspect your plant's leaves and stems, and treat any infestations promptly. Preventative treatments are even recommended periodically as this can help curb an infestation before it has a chance to take over your plant. Check out pest control articles to learn more today!


Monstera deliciosa mature houseplant

Monstera Propagation Tips

Propagating Monstera deliciosa can be an exciting way to create new plants and share the beauty of this tropical species. One of the most common methods of propagation is through stem cuttings. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to propagate a Monstera deliciosa.


Materials You'll Need:

  1. Healthy Monstera deliciosa plant

  2. Sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors

  3. Small container with water or potting mix

  4. Optional: rooting hormone (encourages faster root growth)


Step 1: Choose a Healthy Stem

Select a stem with at least one leaf and a few nodes (small bumps on the stem where leaves, roots, or branches grow). Nodes are essential for root and leaf growth.


Step 2: Take a Cutting

Using clean and sharp pruning shears or scissors, make a clean cut just below a node. The cutting should be around 6-12 inches long, including at least one node.


Step 3: Apply Rooting Hormone (Optional)

If you have rooting hormone available, you can dip the cut end of the stem into the hormone. This can encourage faster root development, but it's not strictly necessary.


Step 4: Place Cutting in Water or Soil

There are two common methods for propagating: water propagation and soil propagation.

  • Water Propagation: Place the cutting in a container with water, making sure the node is submerged. Change the water every few days to prevent stagnation and the growth of mold. Roots should start to develop within a few weeks.

  • Soil Propagation: Plant the cutting directly into a pot with a well-draining potting mix. Bury the node and a bit of the stem in the soil. Water the soil lightly and place the pot in a warm, bright location with indirect light.


Step 5: Provide Proper Conditions & Care

Keep the cutting in a warm, humid environment with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the cutting. Whether in water or soil, keep an eye on the cutting's progress. Mist the leaves occasionally to maintain humidity. If propagating in soil, water lightly when the top inch of soil becomes dry.


Step 6: Root Development

After a few weeks to a couple of months, you should notice roots forming. Once the roots are a few inches long and the cutting is stable, you can consider transplanting your cutting to a pot with soil. When propagating in water, be sure not to transplant your cutting too early, as its roots may not be developed enough to handle the transition. When propagating in soil, you will likely not need to transplant to a larger pot for at least a year or whenever the roots begin to become rootbound.


Step 7: Patience is Key!

Remember that not all cuttings will successfully root, so it's a good idea to take multiple cuttings if you're hoping to propagate multiple plants. Additionally, patience is key, as the propagation process can take some time. With proper care and attention, you can successfully propagate Monstera deliciosa and enjoy the growth of new plants.


Repotting a monstera houseplant

How To Pot a Monstera Deliciosa

Repotting a Monstera deliciosa is an important step to ensure its continued growth and health. Repotting provides your Monstera with fresh soil and space for its growing roots, allowing it to continue thriving. Remember that the process might stress the plant temporarily, but with proper care, it will recover and flourish in its new pot.


Choose the Right Time

Spring is generally the best time to repot your Monstera, as it's entering its active growing season. Repotting during this time allows the plant to recover quickly and adjust to its new environment. Repotting plants in the fall or winter when the plant is dormant and trying to conserve energy can shock your plant and it may not have the energy to recover. If you just purchased the plant, give it a few weeks to adjust to its new home before repotting it.


Prepare the New Pot & Soil

Select a new pot that is only slightly larger than the current one. Monstera deliciosa prefers to be a bit root-bound, so don't choose a pot that is too large. Make sure the new pot has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging. Use a well-draining potting mix that contains a mix of peat moss, perlite, and/or orchid bark. This will provide good drainage and aeration for the plant's roots. Never reuse old potting mix, as it is likely depleted of nutrients and could pass on pests or diseases lingering in the soil.


Gently Remove the Plant from its Container

Carefully turn the plant's pot on its side and tap around the sides to loosen the root ball. You can use a skinny stick, butter knife, or other tool to loosen the soil around the edges of the pot until you are able to gently slide the plant out of the pot. If the plant is root-bound, use your fingers to gently loosen the roots and remove as much of the existing soil as possible.


Inspect and Trim

Examine the roots for any signs of damage, rot, or pests. If you notice any unhealthy roots (these will appear brown and mushy and may have an undesirable smell), trim them with clean pruning shears or scissors. Keep in mind, white roots are healthy roots! Also, if your Monstera has grown leggy or has long stems without leaves, you can trim those back to encourage bushier growth.


Place in New Pot

Add a layer of fresh potting mix to the bottom of the new pot. Gently place the Monstera in the center, making sure it's at the same depth it was in the previous pot. Fill in the sides of the pot with more potting mix, gently pressing it down to secure the plant. Leave about an inch of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot to allow for watering.

Water and Settle

After repotting, give the plant a thorough watering to help settle the new soil around the roots. Allow excess water to drain out from the bottom. If any soil sinks in or settles, fill in the gaps with extra soil. For the first few weeks after repotting, monitor your Monstera's condition closely. Avoid fertilizing immediately after repotting to give the plant time to adjust. Resume your regular care routine after the plant shows signs of new growth.


Common Issues with Monstera Deliciosa

Even though Monstera deliciosa are robust and adaptable plants, they still can encounter various issues that might affect their growth and appearance. Addressing these issues promptly can help your Monstera deliciosa regain its health and vitality. Regularly observing your plant, adjusting its care routine, and providing suitable conditions will contribute to a thriving and beautiful plant. To help you know what to look for, here are some common problems you might come across and things you can do to help.


Monstera houseplant with yellowing leaves

Yellowing Leaves

Yellow leaves can be a sign of overwatering, underwatering, or nutrient deficiencies. Check the moisture level of the soil and adjust your watering routine. If the soil is very damp, do not water until the soil has had a chance to dry out almost completely. You may consider repotting the plant if the soil does not dry out quickly as wet soil can easily develop root rot. You may also consider feeding the plant with a balanced fertilizer to combat any nutrient deficiencies. Be aware of not fertilizing more often than once per month, as too much fertilizer can cause burn damage to the roots.


Brown Leaf Tips or Edges

Brown tips or edges can result from low humidity, underwatering, or too much exposure to direct sunlight. Increase humidity, ensure consistent watering, and provide indirect light to prevent this issue.


Drooping Leaves

Drooping leaves often indicate either overwatering, underwatering, or poor drainage. Evaluate the moisture level of the soil, adjust your watering frequency, and ensure your pot has proper drainage.


Curling Leaves

Curling leaves can be a response to low humidity, underwatering, or exposure to cold drafts. Maintain humidity, water consistently, and protect the plant from temperature fluctuations.


Leggy Growth, Sparse Foliage, or No Perforations in Leaves

Insufficient light can lead to leggy growth with long gaps between leaves. Move the plant to a spot with brighter, indirect light to encourage compact and fuller growth. If your Monstera is not developing the characteristic splits and holes in its leaves, this might also be due to insufficient light. Providing brighter, indirect light can encourage the formation of these perforations.


No New Growth

Slow growth or lack of new growth can be due to various factors, including low light, inadequate nutrients, or root congestion. Address these issues by providing more light, fertilizing during the growing season, and repotting if the plant is root-bound. It is generally best to repot your monstera every 1-2 years to ensure it has nutrient-rich soil to grow in and avoid the roots getting overcrowded.


Brown or Black Spots on Leaves

Brown or black spots on leaves might be a result of bacterial or fungal infections. Trim affected leaves and ensure proper air circulation around the plant. Avoid overhead watering or misting the leaves, as excess moisture can contribute to fungal issues.


Pests

Common pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects can infest Monstera plants. Inspect the plant regularly, particularly the undersides of leaves, and treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil if needed. We also highly recommend Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew and systemic houseplant pest control. Applying such products as a preventative measure can also help to curb pest infestations before they have a chance to take over your plants. For more information on how to get rid of pests on houseplants, visit our blog!


Root Rot

Overwatering and poor drainage can lead to root rot, characterized by rotting and mushy roots. The most common signs of root rot can include stunted growth, curling or drooping leaves, yellowing leaves, soft or mushy stems, smelly soil or roots, soggy soil, fungus gnats, and the like. If you suspect root rot, take the plant out of the pot, trim away affected roots, let it dry out, and repot in a clean container with fresh soil and improved drainage. If you habitually overwater, add perlite or sand to your soil mixture to help improve drainage and always check the soil before watering more.


Monstera adansonii houseplant

Common Monstera Deliciosa Care FAQs

  • How easy is it to care for a Monstera? Monstera houseplants are one of the easiest houseplants to grow and care for. They still require some care and attention and will not grow well if their basic needs are not met, though they are resilient and adaptable plants.

  • Should I mist my Monstera deliciosa? Monsteras do love high humidity, and misting the leaves can help increase the humidity levels around the plant. Misting your plant will benefit it, especially in dry climates.

  • Should I cut yellow tips off my Monstera? You definitely can trim off any yellow portions of your plant's foliage. Unfortunately, foliage that has turned yellow will never regain its green color. Yellowing foliage could be a sign that your plant may not be healthy, so if you are experiencing yellowing leaves, observe the plant and your care routine and adjust as needed. You can also seek out help from our houseplant professionals here at Bath Garden Center!

  • How do you know if a Monstera needs water? Generally, you will be able to tell if your Monstera is underwatered because the tips of its leaves may begin to turn brown and crispy. You can also tell if your Monstera needs to be watered by sticking your finger in the soil. If the soil feels dry a couple of inches beneath the surface, it is time to water!

  • Why do Monstera deliciosa leaves split? The mature leaves of Monstera deliciosa and other varieties develop splits and holes in the leaves, called fenestrations. Monstera leaves are so large and broad that this is the plants' way of allowing sun to get to the lower leaves as well, instead of all of the sunlight getting blocked by the uppermost leaves of the plant.

  • Where should I put a Monstera Deliciosa in my home? Monsteras prefer bright indirect light. Low light conditions will lead to slowed or stunted growth, while direct light will cause burn damage to the leaves of the plant. North-facing windows generally get the least amount of sun, while South-facing windows get the most direct sun. We recommend an East or West-facing window for your Monstera deliciosa. If your only option is a North-facing window, provide supplemental light in the form of a grow light. If you only have South-facing windows, do not place the plant right in the window. Rather, place it at a distance from the window where the sun exposure will be less intense.

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