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Monsteras deliciosa: A Plant Care Guide

Monsteras deliciosa: A Plant Care Guide

The Monstera deliciosa is the quintessential 'indoor plant'. Those large fenestrated leaves scream 'jungle' and their easy-going, low(ish) maintenance vibe (so, not like fiddles), makes them a must have for any Crazy Indoor Plant Person. 

Native to Central America, the Monstera can be found 'in the wild' anywhere from Southern Mexico all the way to Panama. And out here they are BIG. They use their aerial roots to climb the trucks of trees, working their way up to get as close to and as much sunlight as they can, away from the shadows where they're usually found. 

Whilst known for its foliage, it also produces a modified leaf (known as a 'bract') that is often referred to as a flower. Inside this bract, you can find the 'delicious' part of the Monsera deliciosa. It lo like a white corn cob almost and apparently tastes like a fruit salad (hence the other common name, Fruit Salad Plant). Unfortunately we don't get to see these bracts and fruits so much indoors, or even outside in cooler climates (sorry Melbourne). 

With warmer weather around already here, your monstera (and we know you have one ...) will be one of the first of your plant fam to be pushing forward new growth hoping to catch some of those extra rays of morning light that Spring brings. Our plant guide will (hopefully) give you the info you need to get the most out of your M.delicosa aka Fruit Salad Plant / Swiss Cheese Plant. 

Potting Up

Monsteras are pretty not fussy when it comes to potting media. They'll be happiest in a well-draining, quality indoor potting mix but for best performance get yourself an aroid-specific mix. The most important thing to remember is that monsteras prefer to be a little cramped in their pot. They'll grow happily in pretty much any size pot but try to avoid pots that are much larger than their root ball (each repot should be 1-2 sizes up). Potting up into much larger pots can make them more vulnerable to root rot as they will have a lot more damp soil but not the capacity to take up all that water. 

As with most plants, potting up in the warmer weather (growing season!) is ideal, although these guys are pretty hardy and seem to settle into their new homes at any time of the year, especially if they will be staying indoors.

If you're keen to keep your Monstera in the same sized pot, it's still important to repot with fresh media every couple of years (ideally, yearly!).

Watering

Overwatering is the danger here - too much water can lead to root rot or blackened leaves so err on the side of caution. Monsteras are tough and if you underwater at first it won't be the end of them. Start by giving them a good drink then holding off until the top few centimetres are completely dry - you'll start to get a good idea of how long it takes for this to happen and before you know it watering will become second nature. If you're using a good, free draining potting media, it'll help avoid any overwatering issues. 

Remember too - don't let water sit in drip trays. Always empty excess water out to avoid root rot and fungal/bacteria build up. 

Light

Monsteras will thrive in bright, indirect light. In the wild, these guys will start out on the forest floor and will climb trees to get as close to and as much light as possible. As such, they can tolerate lower light situations but really, in the home, you want to find a bright room, away from direct sunlight - especially that hot afternoon sun as it can burn the leaves. 

If you don't have a bright space, its not the end of the world but keep in mind Monsteras grown in lower light won't produce the big foliage they're known for. Their leaves will have less fenestrations (the holes in the leaves) and be smaller. 

You'll notice too that your Monstera will turn its leaves to face the direction of the light, so we recommend rotating your plant every 4-5 days to ensure a nice balanced habit. That being said, it won't affect the health of the plant if you don't do this - its all aesthetics!

Feeding

From here on (Spring) right through to Winter your Monstera will love a fortnightly application of liquid plant food. Reduce the feeding over Winter (to around 1/4 strength) unless your plant is still actively growing. This isn't uncommon indoors either - given enough light and a warm enough temperature, you'll probably see your Monstera continue to push out new growth all year round. 

Pests

As I've said, Monsteras are tough. They're not often plagued by pests but when it happens they're usually pretty easy to manage. Mealy bug and Scale are the most common culprits, but if you're armed with a soft cloth, a bottle of neem oiland a good pair of eyes, you should be able to deal with (wipe away) any intruders.  

Bonus Tips

  • Monsteras are great to propagate - take a cutting from the stem that includes a node. You can stick the cutting in water and wait for roots to develop or think about planting it directly into potting mix. If there is an aerial root already on the cutting it will take off faster, 
  • Monsteras can be grown outside as long as they're protected from direct sunlight, winter frost and harsh winds. 
  • Monsteras are toxic to pets - so if you have a curious furry friend that loves to nibble on your plant fam, plan accordingly. We've covered Plants and Pets here
  • Big leaves mean they can gather a lot of dust. Wipe your plants leaves down on a regular basis (we like fortnightly, but it depends on where you live and how dusty your place is). Use a soft cloth and some neem oil to keep your plant looking healthy and dust free, allowing it to photosynthesise to the max. 


Oh, and those holes?

There are a number of different theories as to why Monsteras have holes (fenestrations) in their leaves. The most popular is that it allows the wind to go through them during hurricanes, and therefore stops any real damage to the foliage or plant. But if this were the case, wouldn't there be a whole heap more plants in the same environment with fenestrations?

The #1 theory at the moment is that the holes are related to the light situation in the rainforest. Because the light in rainforests comes through as dappled and sporadic, plants on the understory need to capture any small flecks of light they can. Monsteras, it is believed, have found a way to modify their leaf structure and increase their size (therefore increasing their chances of capturing some of this light) without having to put in any excess energy into creating extra leaf area to fill the space. More area covered means more chances of catching some sunlight.