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How to Grow the Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)

Monstera deliciosa, also commonly referred to as the ‘swiss cheese plant’ or “split-leaf philodendron” (although monsteras are not a part of the philodendron genus at all!) has taken the plant world by storm and is undeniably one of the most common and popular houseplants out there.

It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ve seen these lush beauties featured on your favourite #plantstagram or interior decor account – their large, split leaves are Instagram-worthy and instantly add a tropical feel to any space. Not only are monsteras gorgeous but they are also low-maintenance making them popular among houseplant enthusiasts and beginners alike!

Monstera deliciosa is a species of tropical flowering plants native to southern Mexico and Panama. These plants can reach up to 30 feet tall in their native habitat – which led in part to their name (‘monstera’ meaning “monstrous”). Their sweet, edible fruit led to the second half of their name – ‘deliciosa,’ meaning ‘delicious,’ although they rarely fruit when grown indoors as houseplants.

Interestingly, the close relative of the Monstera deliciosaMonstera adansonii – is also commonly referred to as the “swiss cheese plant” due to its split leaves. However, Monstera adansonii tends to be much smaller and their growth habit is more trailing than the Monstera deliciosa.

Learn how to keep these tropical plants happy in your home!

monstera deliciosa in a basket against a white wall.
Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

Light, Water, & Soil

Light

Monsteras grow best in bright, indirect light but can also survive in medium to low-light conditions. However, monsteras that are grown in low-light conditions may become leggy and will not put out as many split leaves as monsteras grown in brighter conditions. Avoid direct sun as it will burn the delicate leaves.

Water

Monsteras require regular watering but are also considered to be moderately drought-tolerant. Water deeply once the top several inches of soil have dried out. Monsteras also appreciate humidity and thrive when placed in rooms with consistent humidity (i.e. bathrooms!).

Soil

Monsteras thrive in nutrient-rich, arid potting mixes that provide adequate drainage. A mixture of peat moss, regular potting soil, orchid bark, and perlite is ideal (check out my DIY Chunky Soil Mix for Aroids which works great for Monsteras!).

close up shot of split monstera deliciosa leaves.
Photo by Kara Eads on Unsplash

Propagating Monstera Deliciosa

Monsteras are some of my favourite plants to propagate because it is so easy to do. They grow well in water, and the nodes are easy to distinguish on the plant. I have never had a monstera propagation fail on me – which always makes it more fun and rewarding (throwing out failed propagations is painful…).

You can propagate your monstera once the stalk has several nodes. Simply put, nodes are the points on a plant’s stem where the buds, leaves, branches, and (sometimes) aerial roots originate. When propagating a monstera, or any plant for that matter, the cuttings must have at least one node on them in order to grow roots and become established as a new plant. Nodes are usually easily distinguishable on monsteras and can be found at the base of each new leaf. Often, monsteras grow aerial roots out of the nodes as well.

Taking cuttings

Using a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears, make clean cuts beneath the nodes. Each cutting should have at least 1-2 leaves, and at least one node. Take as many cuttings as your plant allows but be sure to leave at least 1-2 leaves on the ‘mother’ plant so it can continue to establish new growth.

propagating monstera deliciosa.
Taking a monstera cutting directly below a node on the main stem.

Place the cuttings in a vase or glass container filled with water and place them in a location that receives medium to bright indirect light. You should start to notice roots developing within 1-2 weeks. Once several roots are present on each cutting, you can transition the cutting to soil.

Growing Tips!

Monsteras love to climb and vine as they grow, which becomes more apparent as the plant matures. Don’t be afraid to provide your monstera with a moss pole or some other type of support so they can climb!

monstera deliciosa climbing a moss pole surrounded by other houseplants.
Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

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