The monstera deliciosa is also known as the Swiss cheese plant, split leaf philodendron and Mexican breadfruit, among many other names. It is a huge floor plant with one of the most recognizable leaves in the design world. Its “Swiss cheese” nickname comes from the iconic splits and holes in its leaves and its “breadfruit” nickname refers to its corn-shaped fruit.
Monsteras have a longstanding history in art and interior design. You can commonly find pictures of the monstera leaf printed on pillows, framed on walls and even hanging solo in a glass vase.
The monstera grows natively in Central American rainforests from Mexico to Panama. Monsteras hail from the arum family like other popular houseplants including peace lilies and ZZ plants. You can grow a monstera deliciosa outside if you live in zones 10 or 11. Check out the USDA’s plant hardiness zone map to learn more about the different zones.
Monstera Deliciosa Overview
These climbing, evergreen perennials can reach up to 60 feet or more in height in their natural habitat. In your home, they can reach about eight feet in height. Their leaves alone can measure up to 2 feet long. Due to the impressive height of the monstera deliciosa, use a trellis or moist moss-covered sticks for support.
A monstera’s uniquely shaped leaves allow it to withstand downpours in tropical rain forests. Its structure also helps it take in the few streaks of sunlight that make it to the rain forest floor. These characteristics are how it gained another nickname: the hurricane plant.
These vibrant houseplants look best in living and dining rooms where your guests can admire them for all their beauty. Keep in mind, these plants take up a lot of space. So just be sure there’s extra room wherever you’re planning on showing your new greenery off. As an added bonus, they also purify the air!
Types of Monstera Deliciosa
Different monstera deliciosa varieties feature different leaves and sizes. You’ll notice subtle color variation and slightly different leaf structures in each plant. Take a look at a couple of the types you can have in your home:
M. deliciosa borsigiana
This variety is perfect for you if you lack floor space, but still want to have a beautiful monstera in your home. They typically grow quickly and are smaller in size compared to other varieties.
M. deliciosa variegata
This type of monstera deliciosa has yellowish-cream pattern dappled on its leaves. This variation takes a long time to grow and is not as common to find in homes.
M. deliciosa albovariegata
The distinct white variegation on its leaves differentiates it from other monstera deliciosa varieties. No two leaves are ever alike! Some leaves become completely white while others may feature speckled patterns. This is another rare monstera variety, similar to the M. deliciosa variegata.
Monstera Deliciosa Care Tips
Monsteras are simple to take care of and require the right balance between sunlight, water and temperature needs. Take a look at their care guidelines below to see how you can keep your plant strong.
Light: The right amount of sunlight is essential for a monstera’s leaf development. Place it in a spot where it can receive filtered, indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight can give a monstera yellow or scorched leaves. You may need to rotate your plant if you notice its leaves reaching for sunlight, so just be sure to keep an eye on it.
Water: You should water your plant when the first couple inches of soil are dry. Poke your finger in the soil to check its dryness. Monsteras prefer peaty, well-draining soil since overly-moist soil can lead to root rot. These plants also sometimes grow aerial roots over time. You can cover these roots with moist sphagnum moss or direct them to the soil so they can also get plenty of water.
Temperature: The monstera plant prefer normal room temperatures between 68–86 °F. Since it originally comes from tropical rain forests, a similar tropical and humid atmosphere will make this plant feel right at home. Misting your monstera deliciosa once a week can increase humidity around the plant if you live in a dry area.
Toxicity: All parts of this plant, excluding its ripe fruit, are poisonous to humans and pets making the larger variety not an ideal choice for pet owners. Opt for a mini variety like the M. deliciosa borsigiana that you can keep high on shelves to prevent your curious furry friends from taking a bite. The plant can cause stomach pains if ingested and skin irritation if touched because of the calcium oxalates found in its sap. It’s still safe to have in your home, as long you do not ingest any part of the plant and take extra care when handling it. Take a look at our guide to poisonous plants to learn more about what to do if part of a monstera is ingested.
Pests: Monsteras are prone to mealybugs under their leaves along with scales, aphids and spider mites. Wipe their leaves down about once a week to keep them clean and remove dust. This routine maintenance keeps their dark green leaves healthy and shiny. If you do find small critters in your plant, wipe them off with a mild soap solution or gentle insecticide to get rid of the pests.
Problems: As we mentioned earlier, the leaves may not develop properly if your plant doesn’t receive enough sunlight. If you notice that your monstera’s leaves aren’t splitting properly, move it to a better-lit area.
Monstera deliciosa leaves can turn yellow if they are overwatered or undernourished. If this happens, refrain from watering your plant until you feel its soil dry. If the problem persists, repot your monstera in fresh soil. Finally, if all of those solutions aren’t working, feed your plant a little homemade plant food or fertilizer to get its leaves back to peak health. One way to tell the difference is to see if the leaves are “sweating” — this is an additional sign of overwatering.
Brown leaf tips or edges can result from dry air and low humidity. Correct this by misting your plant once a week or by keeping a humidifier near your plant.
Repotting: Monsteras, in particular, are large pants that need repotting every couple years to support their growing root systems. Pick a pot a few inches larger in height and width than your previous one to give your monstera more room to grow. You can also keep it in the same pot, repot less frequently or routinely prune back its leaves to keep it a manageable size. Take a look at our guide to repotting a plant for more in-depth repotting tips.
Propagation: Air layering is a common propagation method for monsteras. Read on to see the steps needed to do this.
- Locate a leaf with a small aerial root below it.
- Cut a notch below that root that’s about one third of the stem’s diameter.
- Wrap this area (notch, root and node where leaf meets the stem) with a layer of damp floral or sphagnum moss.
- Wrap the moss in plastic tight enough so it stays secure, but loose enough so you can open it and check the roots. You can secure the moss and plastic with string or other ties.
- Once you start to see roots, cut the stem and plant it in new soil.
Monstera deliciosa plants are a gem to have in your home, with easy care guidelines too. Taking care of your monstera is sure to bring you lots of compliments and a happy plant!