Monstera deliciosa Care – How to Grow Swiss Cheese Plants


If you’ve spent any time looking through style magazines, you’re sure to have seen this split leaf beauty. Commonly called the Swiss cheese plant, Monstera deliciosa gets its name from the perforations in its glossy heart-shaped leaves, which are called fenestrations.

Native to the tropical forests of central America, it became popular as a houseplant in the 1970’s. This plant is actually classed as a vine and in the wild it climbs and grows up trees.

In its native habitat, Monstera deliciosa can grow quite tall, reaching heights of over 30′ (9m). It rarely reaches this height indoors but houseplants of 6-8′ are common, so you may need to carry out pruning in the spring/summer.

I’ve found that this plant is relatively easy to care for and can grow at a surprisingly fast rate. It loves to climb, so providing it with a stake, moss stick, or trellis that it can cling to can result in a beautiful tall display.

It’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a foliage plant that provides a focal point to the room. Read on for Monstera deliciosa care tips, that will help you raise healthy plants and avoid common problems.

Light requirements

For Swiss cheese plants to thrive, they require filtered light or partial shade. They are used to growing under the cover of large trees in Central American forests and will easily burn if exposed too much direct sunlight during a day. If you have a south facing window, it would be best to keep your plant at least a few feet away from it, or use a voile.

Temperature requirements

The ideal temperature for a Swiss cheese plant is 65-80oF (18-27oC). This is the perfect temperature range for most homes.

The plant is most susceptible to colder temperatures (below 60oF). This is worth bearing in mind if you are growing your plant in an unheated conservatory, where the temperature can fall rapidly, particularly at night.

Watering requirements

These plants are not overly picky about their watering needs. You should water them when the top inch or so of soil becomes dry to the touch. You can simply use your finger to test this. For my medium sized Monstera plant this works out to be watering every 5-7 days in the summer, and once every 10-14 days in winter.

Being a native to tropical areas, it comes as no surprise that Swiss cheese plants like humid environments. You can simulate this by misting your plant with water on a regular basis, using a plant sprayer. Alternatively, put some pebbles into the drip tray and fill with water. However, ensure that the pot is not sitting in water.

Soil requirements

Monstera deliciosa will happily grow in a general purpose soil mix (multi-purpose compost) but will really thrive in a slightly more peaty mix. You can prepare this yourself by using mixing a general compost with peat moss, in a 50:50 ratio.

Be prepared to repot Monstera deliciosa every 2-3 years.

Special care

As these are climbing plants, you should consider providing them with a moss pole or stake to grow up as they get bigger. These are readily available from garden centers or online.

As well as normal underground roots, this plant develops white colored aerial roots. In the wild it uses these to help cling onto other trees. After a time, they can take on a bit of a straggly appearance, so may want to tidy them up. There is no harm in cutting them off using clean secateurs as the plant will be getting its nutrients from its soil roots. It’s also possible to plant these aerial roots or train them around the moss pole or stake.

The large leaves do attract dust, which can be easily removed using a damp cloth. Some people like to use a leave shine product to show off these beautiful leaves to their full effect. However, I prefer the natural appearance.

close up of large monstera deliciosa leaves

Propagating Monstera deliciosa

Need a new plant? Swiss cheese plant cuttings are a simple way to propagate a new baby! In the spring, look for a stem with an aerial root that’s beginning to grow lower down. Cut just below it and place in a water-filled container (make sure the aerial roots stay submerged). Place where you have plenty of light but no direct sun and change the water every few days.

Once new roots have started to appear, you can transplant the cutting into a pot containing a mix of general-purpose compost and peat moss.

Pests & problems

Two of the main pests associated with this plant are mealy bugs and scale insects.

Mealy bugs look like white fluffy blobs that are found on the underside of leaves. They can be eradicated using an insecticide or insecticidal soap. A cotton bud soaked in insecticide is a convenient and effective means of removing them.

If you prefer to use natural methods, you can try removing mealy bugs regularly with a damp cloth. You’ll need to check your plant diligently and on a regular basis as they are quite hard to get rid of using this method.

Scale insects are long, brown insects about 1/4″ (6mm) in size. They feed on the sap of the plant and can cause it to lose vitality. They are best removed using insecticide on a cotton bud.

Toxicity

Although it looks beautiful, be aware that Monstera deliciosa is classed as being toxic to pets. It contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause mouth irritation and drooling in both cats and dogs, if ingested.

There is some debate as to whether this plant should be classed as being an irritant rather than toxic. Either way, if you have a pet that is prone to chewing or nibbling plant material, it’s a houseplant that is best avoided. 

monstera with range of other houseplants

Common questions about Monstera deliciosa care

Why doesn’t my Monstera deliciosa have leaf perforations

There can be various reasons for this. If you have just bought a new plant, it may be that the plant is not yet old enough. Leaf perforations, or fenestrations, only appear on more mature leaves.

Another reason is the plant is not receiving sufficient light. Try moving it to an area where it receives more filtered sunlight.

Why is my Monstera deliciosa wilting

Wilting leaves are often a sign that there is an issue with watering. Oddly, it can be a result of both overwatering and underwatering. Feel the soil and if it’s very dry it could be that the plant is not receiving enough water. You should water when the top inch of soil appears dry.

If the soil feels sodden, it could be that the plant has been overwatered. Allow the compost to dry out before watering again.

Wilting can also be a sign that your plant needs repotting. This should be done every 2-3 years or if the roots are starting to bulge out of the pot. If your plant is too big to repot, scoop out the top layer of soil and replace with new.

About the author 

Paul - Better Houseplants

Loves orchids and foliage houseplants. Always trying to be a better plant parent. Let's get growing!

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