The Monstera, also known as the swiss cheese plant, is native to the tropical forests of southern Mexico and Panama. They are famous for their exotic natural holes (also known as fenestrations) that appear on the plant’s leaves. While the reasoning behind these large holes are a mystery, scientists speculate that their purpose is to maximize sun fleck capture by increasing the spread of the leaf while decreasing the amount of leaf structure the plant would need to support. Being native to the rainforest, the Monstera would have had to adapt to its environment to receive as much sunlight as it possibly could while being some low to the rainforest floor.
Why are Monstera’s so popular?
There’s a good chance you’ve seen the beautiful Monstera plant all over the place from throw pillow designs to varying aesthetic social media posts. The Monstera has become a fan favourite to many plant lovers for not only it’s unique and intricate leaves but also because it is a great house plant to have around your home! This classy tropical plant can so easily transform a space into something spectacular that you would be proud to showcase to all of your guests. They are also vining plants as they love to trail over the pot or climb up a long stake. Together let’s learn more about this crush worthy plant and best practices for keeping your Monstera happy and healthy!
There are two different types of Monstera’s within the family: Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Adansonii. There are a few ways to differentiate between the two variations:
Size of the Leaf
The leaf size of the Deliciosa in general is bigger than the Adansonii variation and will stand out with glossy vibrantly green leafs. However, keep in mind that the size of each leaf on the different variations will be determined also by the environmental conditions it is in. Some leaves of an Adansonii may grow larger than a Deliciosa depending on watering, sunlight exposure, fertilizing and pruning.
Holes in the Leaves
Another distinguishing factor between the two is how the holes in the leaves actually form and characteristics like size, shape, and numbers. The holes on the Deliciosa are quite a bit bigger and can appear in clusters of 1-5 holes compared to the Adansonii holes which appear in much smaller numbers. The Adansonii can acquire anywhere from 8-16 holes on a singular leaf.
It’s important to note that a younger Monstera will have fewer holes and as it matures you’ll be able to see them appear on the leaves.
Edge of the Leaves
The edges of the leaves are also a telltale sign of whether your Monstera is a Deliciosa or an Adansonii. On the Deliciosa, the leaf holes eventually grow out towards the edge and open up as they mature. Therefore, there will be gaps on the edge of the leaves. With the Adansonii, their long tapered leaves have fully enclosed holes and they don’t reach the edges creating a straight uninterrupted path along the sides.
Soil + Watering
Your Monstera will thrive the best in a well draining potting mix as you should wait until the soil is 50-75% dried out. When watering, try to give it enough so that the water starts to drain out the bottom. Take the discarded water and move onto the next plant as your Monstera has had enough!
Make sure that your pot is the right size for your particular Monstera. Need help picking a pot out? Check out our blog on choosing the right size pot for your plant here!
It’s impressive as your Monstera can grow just about anywhere in your house with varying lighting conditions. While it can survive in low lighting conditions, it will thrive best in a spot that has lots of indirect sunlight. Try not to keep this plant in direct sunlight longer than 6 hours at a time as it might acquire some sunburn (and yes, plants can in fact get sunburn just like we can!). By keeping your Monstera in spot with bright indirect light, it will grow faster and become a much more dramatic plant in your space.
Pruning + Cleaning
As the leaves of a Monstera can get quite large, they can attract a lot of dust and dirt. It’s important that when you notice this to give your plant a good wipe down with a damp cloth and gently dry them to keep them clean and healthy! Another way to promote the health of your Monstera is to prune it’s leaves regularly. With a pair of shears or scissors, remove any dead, damaged or infested leaves on your plant.
Your Monstera will thrive best in an environment with a temperature between 16ºC and 27ºC (60ºF - 80ºF). Try your best to keep the environment within this range as if it gets much hotter or cooler, your Monstera may become very unhealthy or even die. Avoid cold air drafts and direct airflow from heaters in the colder months.
While not fatal, Monstera leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Typically if ingested then some discomfort may occur through your mouth and stomach. Do not ingest the plant.
While they are relatively easy to care for, there are a few tricks that will make you Monstera thrive.
- The biggest problem people have with their Monstera plant is that it’s leaves won’t develop holes. This is often a sign that the lighting conditions are not adequate for your Monstera. If the leaves start to yellow, look to reduce the amount of light it gets. On the other hand, if the mature leaves don’t develop holes at all, there probably is not enough light and will need to be moved to an environment with more sunlight.
- You can also trim the older, smaller leaves around the bottom of the plant. This will help to encourage the plant to support the larger leaves and more holes will start to appear on the leaves still intact to the plant. Your Monstera will actually need quite a bit of space as it can grow quite large. Give it some more space then just sitting on a windowsill to see the plant's true potential!
Following these tips and tricks on caring for your Monstera will be the perfect way for your plant to grow into a healthy and beautiful show stopper! Have any questions about the Monstera or any of it’s care? Feel free to leave us a comment below or reach out to us over social media. We would love to hear from you!