MONSTERA DELICIOSA CARE GUIDE
M. deliciosa is undeniably one of the most famous indoor plants to ever exist. You can often spot the distinctive leaves in movies, videogames, and printed across at least three cushions at your local homewares store. Apart from being an absolute fashion icon, it is also an extremely hardy and versatile plant.
Often the care instructions I read online are a mishmash of cut and pasted wikipedia articles that are not relevant to Australia and can be strangely specific. On the flip side, the tags found on many plants are annoyingly vague when it comes to defining the amount of light and water a plant needs, often asking for a ‘medium amount’ of certain things, like we all know how much that is. That is why Greener House will be using real anecdotes and relatable measurements to help you take care of your Monstera deliciosa.
When grown indoors it is best to find the brightest spot possible for your monstera. Enough natural light that you could read a book comfortably is a good place to start. Take care in summer that your plant isn’t getting too much hot afternoon sun as it can be scorched from the heat. A certain position might be perfect all year round but on a +40°c day the heat and light can quickly exceed what the plant can handle.
Monstera can survive in lower light situations, but the less light they have the smaller the leaves will be, and less fenestration that will develop. Fenestration is the characteristic holes that make the monstera leaf so easy to identify. Higher light levels will result in faster growth, larger leaves, and greater fenestration.
Most plants that are kept indoors are susceptible to over-watering. We recommend that you only water this plant once roughly the top two inches of soil are completely dry. This will take about two to three weeks depending on the season, position of the plant, and air flow. After the first few weeks you will easily be able to gauge how quickly it dries out and work off that routine. Over-watering this plant will result in root rot, blackened leaves, and possible death of the plant in extreme cases, but if you forget to water the plant for an extra week or two the plant may not even notice or may wilt until watered again. If you use a self watering pot or have a tray under this plant do not allow them to remain full of water. Always tip out any excess water, otherwise you will create a habitat for fungus and bacteria. I water many of my plants in a sheltered position outside, or in my shower. Spray over the entire plant to wash dust off the leaves and soak the soil until it starts to drain out the bottom. Leaving the plant for an hour or two in that position so all the excess water can drain away before placing back in their position.
Only fertiliser during the warmer times of the year, spring and summer. To give the plant some easy to access nutrients important to growth try diluting a small amount of liquid fertilizer in a bucket of water and watering with that instead of plain water during your usual watering routine. Alternatively you can apply organic and granular fertilisers during the warmer seasons too. Seaweed derived products like Seasol are not high in the key nutrients for growth (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.) Try Charlie Carp’s range of organic fertilisers, or the not-so-organic Thrive by Yates.
Monstera are more than happy to be a little cramped in their pots although they will definitely benefit from a little extra room. I have often seen some extremely large plants that do very well in the same small pot their whole lives. If you do decide to repot, it’s best to do it during the warmer parts of the year. M. deliciosa aren’t too phased when there roots are disturbed. Make sure to pot it into something that has good drainage (at least one big drainage hole in the pot), otherwise you are almost guaranteed to kill your plant. If you decide to use a porous terracotta pot, the soil may dry out a little faster which can be very helpful in avoiding over-watering. Monstera are not fussy and almost any standard potting mix will do the job, although something very well draining is recommended.
The fact that M. deliciosa is a huge vine can become all too apparent after a year or two. In the wild, this plant will grow across the ground and up trees. To help support this sprawling epiphyte, you may find you have to stake the plant to keep it upright as it grows larger. If you feel the plant is getting too long you can take a cutting from the lead part of the stem. This will halt the growth of the stem and encourage new shoots from the base. The cutting can be placed in water or planted into soil straight away. Make sure your stem cutting has about an inch of stem that contains a node. The cutting will take off much faster if it has an aerial root already formed. The stems are able to photosynthesise so don’t worry if your cutting loses its leaves, they are not necessary at all.
Over watering: This is the number one issue you will come across. This will cause blackening leaf tips, wilting, root rot, and often white mould on the soil. Make sure your pot is draining, and you are not watering too frequently. Do not water again until it is dry! In extreme cases you can swap out the wet soil for dry soil, or place the plant in a sheltered spot outdoors to speed up the drying process. Just wait. This is an indestructible plant but it will need some time. Lots of good air flow will really help too.
Long, leggy, and floppy: If your plant isn’t getting enough light it is going to be become elongated to help it reach a potential light source. The leaves will be more sparse and internodes longer. Stake the plant and/ or move it to a brighter spot. Moving the plant into a bright spot every now and then won’t work.
Insects: I have never found M. deliciosa to be particularly susceptible to insect invasion. The most common insects you may come across will probably be mealybugs, scale, and aphids. The best thing to do is crush them to stop the immediate spread, then get your hands on a product like neem oil, which will wipe out a plethora of nasty critters, whilst being very safe and non-toxic.
The swiss cheese plant prefers very bright light, and even a little direct sun as long as it’s not too hot. I often see them growing in the front yards of many houses around Melbourne, but during summer when the sun is too hot and bright, the leaves yellow and die off. In winter the same plant will again be hit with harsh winds which rip the leaves, and frosts that turns them black. However, the plant never dies in these situations. On large plants, the main stem can become very woody and as thick as your wrist. As long as it remains intact the plant will rapidly send out fresh leaves, and the damaged ones can be pruned off.
I keep my monstera outside under the eaves of my house. They benefit from the some cool direct light during sunrise but for the rest of the day they are protected by a shade sale. This means that all year round they are safe from the hot sun, frost, and wind. It should be noted that Monstera deliciosa do not require high humidity, or warm temperatures. They will grow faster in the warmth but are fine to be outside throughout Melbourne’s winter providing they are sheltered from frost.
If you are looking for a plant for your balcony or courtyard then this is a perfect place to start. With the added bright light, and excellent airflow, this plant will grow faster, and be much healthier with little work. The extra air flow around the plant will greatly reduce the possibility of overwatering, while also reducing the chance of pathogens infecting the plants. I have found that the leaves will become larger, and have more fenestration in this position too. Feel free to plant one straight into a garden bed!
We will almost always have this plant available in our Melbourne store! Come on by and one of our friendly staff will help you find the perfect plant for your home.