I think everyone has heard of, or seen a Monstera at some point. Generally known as a Split-Leaf Philodendron or Swiss-Cheese Plant they were really popular houseplants in the 70’s and 80’s, but lost favor for awhile. They just recently have surged in popularity again, and for good reason. They are super easy plants when given the proper care and will wow you with every new leaf that unfurls! This has to be one of my absolute favorite plants because of how dramatic they look. With their big showy leaves and wandering habit they definitely make bold statement piece in any house.
In nature, Monsteras can get huge, growing up to 20 m high using trees for support, with leaves up to 1 meter long. When kept indoors they will be significantly smaller, but can still get quite large given good light and a large pot. Around 2-3 meters(6-9 ft) tall! If you are looking at getting one of these beauties, be sure to keep their mature size in mind.
Potting: Potting your Monstera in the correct pot and medium is very important, right up there with proper lighting. Monsteras are Epiphytes and produce Aerial Roots that they use for climbing up large trees. I strongly recommend giving them a moss pole to climb, in part to tame their wandering habit a bit, but also to give them what they would have in the wild. For soil/medium, well draining is key. I wouldn’t suggest using any potting soil right out of the bag, I always mix it with bark and perlite to aid drainage. I personally like a 2-2-1 mix of Potting Soil-Bark-Perlite. I find that to be well draining, but doesn’t dry out too fast. As for pots, keep this in mind, “Big Pot = Big Monstera”. A minimum pot size for a single piece of Monstera(with roots) is around 8 inches, and it will out grow that very fast. They root very rapidly and I recommend re-potting at least every spring. The plant above went from a 7″, to a 10″, to a 12″ extra deep pot in just a year! Next spring it will be going into a half whisky barrel. Pot type doesn’t matter as long as you are using a well draining mix. But it must have a drainage hole!
Light: I find a lot of misinformation about Monsteras in regards to how much light to give them. I hear all the time, bright indirect light(no direct sun). When kept outside, this is definitely true. But when kept indoors, if you want your plant to get big and full of Fenestrations, you need to give it a lot of light. I have my biggest one right in my ESE window with direct sun from sunrise until about noon. So I would say right in front of an East or West window would be the best place for a Monstera. Also be sure to wipe the leaves off periodically with a damp rag to remove any dust, this allows the plant to take in more light and “breathe” easier.
Watering: When watering your Monstera, wait for it to dry out about a finger length down into the soil. Then water it deeply until water comes out of the holes in your pot. After a deep watering you may notice your Monstera sweating(transpiring) and that’s completely normal. It’s just releasing excess moisture. Be sure not to over water or you can rot the roots and kill your plant. Yellowing leaves are a sign of over-watering.
Fertilizing: Monsteras like to be fertilized. When kept indoors it’s a good idea to fertilize every two weeks through the growing season, from spring to fall. A general house plant fertilizer at 50% strength is perfect. Only add half the recommended amount per gallon of water. I personally like Foliage Pro by DynaGro and use it on all my indoor plants. I wouldn’t fertilize through the winter though, there just isn’t enough light for the plant to use up the extra nutrition.
Propagation and Pruning: Monstera are really easy to propagate! All you need is a sharp knife or pruners. Take a cutting that has at least one node, otherwise it will not root. Place your cutting in a large vase of water until you get roots that are a few inches long, then pot it up in a fast draining mix. If the piece you are trying to root already has a long aerial root, you can just start it directly in soil and it will be fine. Another way to propagate Monstera is through pups. Every so often a Monstera will start a whole new plant down along the soil, just clip it from the mother and either put it in water or into soil if it has roots already. Pruning is very similar to propagating with Monstera, just cut it back to the height you want it. They respond well to being pruned.
Toxicity: All parts of Monsteras contain Calcium Oxalate crytals which are toxic to humans and pets. If eaten or chewed, there will be an immediate burning pain in the mouth and possible swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat. Gastric trouble rarely occurs. But seek medical attention if there is difficulty breathing. The Fruit is edible when ripe, but may cause irritation and possible hives in sensitive people.
If you would like to check out a video I made featuring my Monstera, you can do so below!