How to care for Monstera Deliciosa
The Swiss Cheese Plant, also known as Monstera Deliciosa or the Split Leaf Philodendron, is the king of houseplants and one of our favourite tropical plants to recommend for new gardeners. Care for a Monstera plant is relatively straightforward, with no need to take a deep dive into organic gardening or become an expert in foliage types. Growing the young plant is as simple as replicating the conditions of its natural habitat, checking for pests, and ensuring the pot has good drainage holes.
Written with the advice of our expert horticulturalists at Gardeners Dream, this guide will take you through the basics of Monstera Deliciosa plant care with some troubleshooting tips for dealing with pests and yellow leaves too.
Monstera Deliciosa summary
Monstera Deliciosa is a leafy plant from the native environment of Southern Mexico. You can identify this tropical plant by the iconic Monstera leaves, which are large and rounded with holes like slices of Swiss cheese. Monstera thrives best when you can replicate that hot and humid environment it naturally grows in.
There is a whole family of tropical plants that come under Monstera, including the Monstera Adansonii from South and Central America, and the ever-popular Monstera Deliciosa. There are also beautiful plant varieties with variegated foliage.
All plants in the family come from similar warm climates and unless the leaves are naturally an odd colour, you can usually assume that green mature leaves are healthy, and there’s something wrong when they turn yellow!
We recommend that you consult our horticulturalists if you have an unusual Monstera variety that’s displaying signs of distress. For most plants in this family, care is straightforward. This is why they are frequently recommended as Easy to Care for Plants for beginners.
- Origins: Central and South America
- Names: Monstera, Swiss Cheese, Split Leaf Philodendron, Fruit Salad
- Light and Temperature: the Monstera plant prefers bright indirect light or dappled shade, near a window, with warm temperatures between 18°C and 27°C. Maintain this ideal temperature all year round.
- Water and Humidity: opt for consistent watering, whenever the top inches of the potting soil feel dry but avoid perpetually moist soil. Maintain medium-high humidity to replicate a humid environment.
- Soil: fertile and rich yet well-draining. A good potting soil will do. Some Monstera plants also like slightly acidic soil.
- Pruning: remove yellowing and browning leaves when needed. You may see aerial roots emerge when the plant has optimum humidity – these can be trimmed off or left on.
- Propagation: stem cuttings are best, taken by a node and placed in water until roots emerge.
- Common pests: fungus gnats and spider mites.
Keeping your plant healthy means meeting these requirements. Typically, when you start to experience problems with your Monstera, it is because one or more of these requirements aren’t being met. However, some problems can be hard to identify, such as root health, without a close examination of the plant. So, we recommend giving your plant a quick check-up every time you water it, looking for the signs of pests and more.
You can find specific Monstera care tips and troubleshooting next.
Monstera Deliciosa grows naturally in the bright indirect light of a rainforest environment. So, not low light and not direct sunlight. The trick is to place them near a window for bright indirect sunlight but not in the path of an actual sunbeam. If the leaves are small and spindly, it needs more light. If the leaves are pale or burnt, it has too much light. Aim for 8 to 10 hours of bright light per day.
These plants love bright indirect light, so the leaves will often reach for patches of indirect sunlight. Besides keeping them away from direct sunlight, you can also rotate the plant for even growth on all sides. Additionally, you should remove dust from the leaves with a damp cloth so the plant can receive enough light and humidity.
Monstera Deliciosa prefers warm temperatures between 18°C and 27°C. If the temperature drops below roughly 13°C for prolonged periods, this can seriously damage and even kill the plant. So, Monstera is best for a room that has consistent warmth all year round.
Like most plants grown indoors in the UK, the warm environments of our homes can become a haven for all sorts of pests. Common pests that flock to Monstera plants include fungus gnats and spider mites. With dappled light, high humidity and moist soil, they can quickly become an infestation, especially in the growing season or right after repotting with fresh soil. See the posts below to learn more.
The Monstera plant only needs watering when the top layer of soil feels dry. Don’t create moist soil that never dries, as excess water can quickly lead to root rot. Instead, allow water to drain away through drainage holes. When you mist the plant, it may grow a short aerial root here and there – but you still need to water the plant through the soil. Depending on the warmth and dryness of your home, your Monstera will need watering roughly once a week or less in the winter.
Be warned, however, that frequent over-watering can lead to some serious problems like root rot. This condition, where the roots literally begin to rot, is a common problem with tropical plants. All plants that love moisture are at risk. The key is to avoid soggy soil, allowing excess water to drain away through a drainage hole.
Monstera Deliciosa and all other varieties in this family are accustomed to the high humidity of forests in Central and South America. So, give the plant a mist with clean water and water the soil regularly, allowing excess water to drain away.
Monstera prefers fertile well-draining soil that is slightly on the acidic side. If you order your Monstera from Gardeners Dream, you can rest assured that our horticulturalists will deliver it in a nursery pot full of the right soil type. However, the soil and roots will still need yearly maintenance via repotting.
Monstera are large plants that need support and occasional pruning. When well-cared for, a Monstera can live for up to 40 years and reach heights of 8 metres when given enough space in your home!
Monstera are also climbing houseplants, so they like to have something to cling to, especially as they get large over the years. A moss pole is the most popular choice. It should be firmly planted into the soil, either in the centre or slightly off to the side if your Monstera has a leaning habit. You can gently clip stems to the moss pole until the plant naturally uses it as a crutch to grow.
As for pruning, your priority is removing yellow leaves, damaged leaves, or over-crowded areas from the Monstera plant. To do this, make sure you use sterilised scissors to prevent transferring any disease from one plant to another. Snip as close to the main stem as possible. You can also trim off an aerial root or two. These aerial roots form when the plant has an adequate amount of humidity, but as the plant absorbs the majority of its water through the roots in the pot, they aren’t essential for the plant’s growth.
When you have mastered care for Monstera plants, you can use propagation methods to create a whole new plant from the mother plant. New growth clippings make for excellent gifts, or you can keep them at home to grow your plant collection.
The easiest way to propagate the Monstera (including the Monstera Adansonii) is to take stem cuttings when the plant has a lot of leggy growth, which is usually in the summer. Experienced gardeners can try an air layering method too. Don’t try to propagate aerial roots alone – you want to focus on leaf-growing stems that have a leaf, a node, and a couple of aerial roots attached.
Cut the stem below the lowest node or aerial root. If you have rooting hormone, you can dust some on the end of the stem, but this isn’t essential. Rooting hormone will simply allow the plant to establish further. Next, fill a new pot with fresh well-draining soil and plant your cutting so the node is approximately 1 inch below the surface of the soil. You can also start the cutting in water until roots form, then transfer it to soil.
You may need to use plant ties and a stake to keep the floppy stem upright while the roots grow. You should also make sure that the soil stays lightly moist and that you maintain the bright light and humidity it requires. Monstera cannot tolerate temperatures below 18°C for prolonged periods, nor will it enjoy a dry climate or too much direct light. Creating the right conditions for the baby Monstera plant is so important at this early stage, to ensure it can grow and establish.
Monstera plants pests
There are two main pests to look out for with Monstera.
Fungus gnats appear as small flying gnats that will buzz around the plant when it is disturbed. If you tap the side of the pot and spot these insects flying up from the soil, this is the easiest way to identify them. The key is to let the soil dry out – no wet feet for your Monstera. Allowing the soil to dry fully before the next water will help kill the larvae, while yellow sticky tape (like a fly trap) hung near the plant will help trap and kill adults.
Fungus gnats can be a pain to get rid of, so make sure you purchase new soil from a reputable source to ensure it is pest-free. You can also try growing sphagnum moss on the surface of your pot plants, to provide protection and aid drainage – just bear in mind that this moss will also retain moisture. Another home remedy for these gnats is to sprinkle ground cinnamon on the top of the soil, however, this tends to work best as a preventative measure.
Spider mites can be identified by the silvery webs they leave in the corners formed between the main stem and leaf shoots. These mites will cause the leaves to yellow and eventually brown. If you don’t treat this infestation, it can actually kill the plant entirely! To remove them, first, you need to isolate any infected plants – spider mites spread quickly from one plant to another. This is also why sterilising any plant equipment is also advisable. For the Monstera, the quickest way to remove these insects is to wash the leaves with a dish soap and water solution, then wipe them down to remove the residue. You can also use neem oil.
If you don’t see any visual signs of pests but your plant is still in distress, e.g. droopy leaves, yellowish leaves, stunted growth, etc., then first go through the light, water, temperature and humidity requirements. If light fertilising doesn’t appear to solve the issue, take a closer look for insects or contact our horticulturalists for more troubleshooting.
Where do you put Monstera in your house?
Monstera Deliciosa prefers bright rather than low light, so an Eastern-facing window will suffice. They should be kept somewhere warm with plenty of humidity, like the bathroom or kitchen, which means you should also keep an eye out for pests!
What should you not do with Monstera?
With Monstera Deliciosa, the worst thing you can do is place the plant in direct sun for multiple hours a day, as this will burn the leaves. You should also avoid waterlogged soil, as this can cause root rot. On the whole, Monstera is an easy plant to take care of with a little know-how.
How to care for a Monstera?
Our top Monstera plant care tips are to check the top inch of soil is dry before watering, monitor closely for pests, and ensure it receives enough bright light. These tips apply to all Monstera varieties, including Monstera Adansonii and Deliciosa.
How often to repot Monstera?
On average, Monstera plants need repotting every two years or so once mature. To see if your Monstera needs repotting into a larger pot, carefully lift the plant and look for roots emerging from the drainage holes. The Monstera does not like being root-bound, so emerging roots and stunted growth are signs that it needs repotting. When repotting, simply remove the old pot and place the plant in a larger pot, packing in soil around it gently. Try not to disturb the roots too much! Once repotted, give it a good drink and allow the new wet soil to drain as usual.
How often to fertilise Monstera?
If your Monstera has stunted growth but doesn’t appear to be root-bound, this could be a sign that it needs fertilising. As a general rule, the Swiss Cheese Plant will need liquid fertiliser once a month during the growing season (AKA summer) and no fertiliser at all during the winter. Dilute a balanced or slightly nitrogen-rich fertiliser with water according to instructions.