Guide to Indoor Cheese Plant Care
Before we get started, there is a caveat, you can’t actually grow cheese and this isn’t a literal cheese plant. Although someone should definitely be looking into engineering one! Now that we have that crushing disappointment out of the way, let’s look at the cheese plant and find out what it is, and how to look after it.
Trust me, the cheese plant is a must-have for any household.
The Cheese Plant, AKA Monstera
The cheese plant takes its name from its foliage which has large holes or tears that look like – you guessed it – Swiss cheese. In fact, the plant is most commonly known as Monstera Deliciosa Swiss cheese. There is also a variegated variety that has perforations on the foliage.
Unlike its name, it isn’t a plant that would do well in Switzerland, and is at home in tropical conditions, typically Latin America. Because it favours tropical conditions, it grows remarkably well inside our warm and cosy homes, making it one of the firm favourite British houseplants. Monstera isn’t the only plant that has split, holey or ripped leaves and it is often confused with other houseplants that have similar foliage.
Another rather unknown feature of Monstera is that it does flower and is a flowering plant in its natural habitat. It is almost impossible to get an indoor Monstera to flower though, which is why they are primarily known as leafy plants in the UK. If we had some proven tips to get one to flower, we would include them in our guide, but it seems the plant relies on plenty of space, sunlight, and rainfall – all things that we lack in our homes.
Another downside to the lack of flowering is that your Swiss cheese plant won’t fruit either – which is a shame because it would make for a wonderful contradiction of a fruiting cheese plant.
Caring for a Swiss Cheese Plant Indoors
With that said, there are many ways you can look after and grow Monstera to tremendous effect in the UK and who knows, maybe you will have a one in a million plant that manages to flower. As mentioned, there are two popular varieties to grow in the UK, the cultivar ‘Variegata’ (variegated cheese plant), and the normal Swiss cheese plant.
Both types are pretty much identical when it comes to cultivation and care, so it is just a personal preference as to which one you pick. Although, the Royal Horticultural Society awarded the variegated plant an ‘Award of Garden Merit,’ making this type perhaps the more popular among gardeners.
Planting a Cheese Plant
You will find that your cheese plant is almost always supplied pre-planted in a pot. This is because it takes special planting (often in greenhouse conditions) for a plant to establish itself. If you’re looking to repot it, then special care should be taken to ensure that the root ball is intact and covered in soil as you transplant it from one pot to another.
If you do happen to get your plant in seed form, then plant it in the springtime, when the air has plenty of humidity as this will aid the initial growth.
Is Soil Important Then?
The answer here is yes, cheese plants are quite difficult to grow, especially in their early years and it is recommended that you use fertiliser every month for the first twelve months. In the second and third year, fertiliser will still be needed, but less often, and normally quarterly is plenty. In the fourth year, if your plant hasn’t grown out properly, it likely won’t get better, and fertiliser beyond this point has minimal impact.
Another tip that is great for your pots is to cover the surface with either wood chips or bark.
What About Watering?
Cheese plants don’t like dry soils, or really dry conditions for that matter. If conditions in your house are particularly dry, then it is important to top up the plant with a little more water than usual. Watering the plant will largely depend on its size and how big the pot is. Larger plants or smaller pots will require a bit more watering than smaller plants or larger pots.
If the leaves begin to show signs of distress or wilting, it is a good sign that the plant hasn’t been watered regularly enough. Over time, you will become accustomed to your plant and when it needs watering.
Should I Prune It?
This is dependent on the size of the plant because as mentioned, indoor cheese plants don’t flower, so they don’t need deadheading etc. They may, however, outgrow their space and you may want to cut back the plant a bit. This is okay to do after the third year has passed, anything beforehand might hinder the plant’s ultimate growth and health.
Despite their shrub-like appearance, cheese plants are actually vines and with this in mind, mature plants may need pruning to keep the vine under control.
How to Repot?
After a few years, your cheese plant will likely need repotting. This should be handled in the same way as the initial potting – with care. Being a vine type plant, it will need to be planted at a fairly shallow depth, so plant it with enough depth that the plant holds its weight but no deeper. Adding a bit of compost to the new pot will help the plant take to it without too much fuss.
How Much Sunlight?
In their natural environment, cheese plants have a combination of shade and sunlight, which means you should try and keep your plant by a window or door when planted inside. This is because even in a window which is considered ‘direct sunlight’ the cheese plant won’t benefit from the same amount of sunlight it would have in its tropical natural habitat.
This isn’t an absolute rule and cheese plants can grow well in artificial light, they just won’t be as sizeable as if they had been placed by a sun facing window. Other than that, the cheese plant is pretty simple to look after and very robust, so now all you need to do is decide if you’re going to pick the holey one or the shreddy one.