Monstera plants, also known as the Swiss cheese plant, are popular indoor plants that have become a staple in many homes and offices. Their unique foliage and easy-to-care-for nature make them an excellent addition to any plant lover’s collection. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of caring for a monstera plant to help you keep yours healthy and thriving.
Monstera plants require bright, indirect light to grow and thrive, but can tolerate a reasonable amount of shade or periods of low sun. Place your monstera in a spot where it can receive plenty of bright, indirect light, such as near a north or east-facing window. If your monstera does not get enough light, it will mostly slow it’s growth or your plant will get smaller leaves when it does grow. If you are unsure of where to place your Monstera for optimal light, it is far better to place them somewhere with not enough light and move them gradually into more every few weeks, than to place them into direct light immediately. I have many scorched leaves from carelessly placing monstera plants directly besides a window, where they end up scorched.
Watering a Monstera Plant
Monstera plants like to have their soil kept moist, but not waterlogged. Overwatering can cause the roots to rot, which can be fatal to the plant. Be sure to water thoroughly, allowing the excess water to drain out of the bottom of the pot. Avoid letting the plant sit in standing water. Before watering, check the soil moisture level by sticking your finger about an inch deep into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. When watering, do so thoroughly so that the soil is evenly moistened. You should see water draining out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. However, don’t let the plant sit in standing water.
After watering, make sure to empty the drainage tray so that the plant doesn’t sit in standing water, resulting in root rot. Adjust watering frequency based on environmental factors. For example, during the growing season (spring and summer), you may need to water more frequently than during the winter months (this is also the time when you should incorporate monstera specific fertilizer into water) .
Regardless, use room temperature water, as monsteras can go into shock with sudden exposure to cold water. And, as usual, be cautious of overwatering: Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes made in caring for a monstera plant. If you’re unsure about how much to water, it’s better to err on the side of underwatering and adjust as needed.
Temperature and Humidity
Monstera plants prefer temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C), but are incredibly tolerant above and below the range, there will just be compromises on the growth rate. However, the plant is prone to die if exposed to temperatures below freezing, as monsteras are naturally tropical plants found in hot areas, like Miami, Florida.
Monstera plants prefer a humid environment, so it’s a good idea to place a humidifier near the plant. There are many sources that will recommend that monsteras get misted, but I actually find this to be bad advice. Misting will lead to increased humidity for a very, very limited amount of time. This amount of time is practically insignificant to the plant. If you don’t want to invest in a humidifier, you can place a tray of water underneath the plant that will evaporate throughout the day, resulting in increased humidity around the plant.
Monstera Plant Soil
Monstera plants prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. You can use a pre-mixed potting soil or create your own by combining equal parts of peat moss, perlite, and potting soil. Repot your monstera every year or two, or when the roots start to outgrow the pot. Whenever possible, it’s best to get soil specifically designed for Monsteras, or to make your own as they are prone to root rot if constantly in soggy potting soil. Below is the ideal soil combination for Monsteras:
- Peat moss: Peat moss is a lightweight, sterile material that helps retain moisture in the soil. It also helps improve soil structure, making it easier for the roots to grow.
- Perlite: Perlite is a lightweight, porous material that helps improve soil drainage. It also helps prevent the soil from becoming compacted, which can hinder root growth.
- Potting soil: A high-quality potting soil will provide essential nutrients and organic matter to your monstera. Look for a potting soil that is formulated for houseplants or tropical plants.
Combine 2 parts peat moss, 1 part perlite and 1 part potting soil. Anecdotally, there are people that are very passionate about leca. I have not had great success with leca with my monstera plants. I find that root rot ends up very common, and even in the best conditions, they tend to smell over time.
Pruning and Propagation
Monstera plants can grow quite large, so pruning is often necessary to keep them in check. You can prune the plant by cutting back any leggy or damaged stems, or by trimming the leaves to encourage bushier growth. Use clean, sharp pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant and, if you manage to cut a leaf before a node, place the leaf into a glass of water to propagate. Monsters are incredibly easy to propagate, so long as there is a node on the stem that you have cut off. Once the stem has grown a few roots (7-14 days), you can move the stem into soil. While a monstera cutting can certainly survive in a glass of water indefinitely (with proper water changes), you are going to see significantly smaller leaves if left in water due to the lack of nutrients that they would normally absorb in soil.
Interested in acquiring a monstera? Take a look at my favorite and least favorite monsteras in my collection here.