Monstera Adansonii or Swiss Cheese Vine is a popular tropical houseplant that gets it’s common name from the appearance of the holes on it’s leaves. These holes, or windows (fenestrations) are common among vining plants and serve the purpose of allowing wind to pass through the plant in the wild without tearing it off of the tree it has chosen to climb.
As with most Monstera, the Adansonii is hearty and quick growing which means new plant growers are able to easily keep it alive, but it can be difficult to master this one and grow a plant that looks amazing over time. This variety of Monstera is a bit more finicky than it’s cousin the Monstera Deliciosa. Read on for care tips to speed the learning curve.
Wide or Narrow Form?
Monstera Adansonii is typically found in two forms – wide leaf form or narrow leaf form. It can be difficult to see the difference in juvenile plants but as the plant grows to maturity it will be quite apparent. Narrow form leaves may have less fenestrations than wide form and the immature ones may show no fenestrations at all. On the narrow form leaf, the shape is much more pointed and lance-like. On the wide form, the shape is much more round. Both forms require the same care and will grow in the same manner.
Climbing or Trailing?
Monstera Adansonii is a vining plant which, in the wild would use it’s aerial roots to find a tree to climb. As the vine climbs it will begin to receive more light and will grow larger and larger leaves in response. You can choose to encourage your plant to climb by giving it support like a trellis or pole but be warned, keeping an eye on this plant is important whether you allow it to climb or leave it to trail. It’s going to do what it naturally does no matter what you might wish it to do. Mine quickly outgrew it’s trellis and, after finding the wall behind it, attached to the surface and began to climb up it.
I will say, it looked amazing and natural that way however, the vines will cause damage to the paint and drywall if left to do their own thing. Be aware that if you allow your plant to climb your walls, you will likely have a home repair job in your future.
If you leave your plant to trail it will be doing the opposite of what it likes to do in nature. This may result in smaller leaves with less fenestrations which is fine. It won’t hurt the plant. Just know that if you want a big leaved, jungly looking plant, allowing it to climb will get you there.
General Monstera Adansonii Care Tips
Light: Monstera Adansonii do require a good amount of light. After the ease of growing Deliciosa I was surprised to learn that Adansonii is a bit more picky about it’s lighting situation. I find the key with this plant is consistency. As I am in Canada, we lose a lot of light as fall sets in. My plant responded to this change by yellowing and dropping leaves at the lower parts of the vines. If you can provide it with a bright space and supplement with a grow light in fall and winter, you should have no problems. This plant can be acclimated to full sun conditions but do take care to make any changes to it’s light slowly over time. As you can see below, it was quick to drop the leaves in the area of the plant that was getting less light in favour of growing towards the window.
Water: Consistency is again the key with Adansonii when it comes to water. It has fairly thick and substantial roots so it can withstand drought however it may respond by, you guessed it, yellowing and dropping leaves. On the other side, overwatering will not be well received either and could also cause…yellowing leaves! There are few plants that should be on a watering schedule but I might consider this one as a good candidate as long as you are allowing the soil to dry between waterings. If you find you are needing to water far too often, the plant may need a larger pot. I’ve been using tap water and allowing the plant to saturate and drain well before returning it to it’s cover pot at each watering on an approximate 10 day schedule.
Soil: As described above, Swiss Cheese Vine plants grow in and on trees but are often rooted into the soil below. This soil is likely rich, yet loose being made up of mostly fallen leaves and other plant debris. Make sure your soil is well draining and all will be well. Avoid peat heavy mixes that compact as they dry. Any soil mix for Aroids should suit and mine are planted in a mix of chunks of orchid bark and stone, potting soil, perlite and worm castings.
Humidity: While Monstera Adansonii are tropical plants, that would normally find themselves in humid locations, I find they do just fine in standard household humidity. Our house is typically 40-50% relative humidity and there are no issues with these plants concerning humidity.
Fertilizer: Monstera as a genus typically like a good feed and Adansonii is no exception. If the plant is in a state of producing vigorous new growth, be sure to feed it with a balanced organic fertilizer. I’m typically using a fish emulsion tropical plant fertilizer with a 2-1-3 NPK value and the plant has responded well. If your plant is in a state of adaptation to new light conditions and is yellowing and dropping leaves, avoid fertilizing. I also use worm castings in my plant soil as a slow release natural source of nutrients.
Pruning and propagation: You are likely going to need to prune this plant as it grows quickly and will easily reach the ceiling if provided a climbing structure. Pruning the plant will encourage it to push new growth from further down the vine and it is a great way to encourage a plant with bald, lower vines to fill them in with fresh growth. I have had no problem propagating this plant in water. It roots quickly and transfers over to soil without issue. You may lose leaves that are forming at the growth tips after the snip but they’ll re-grow in time. To make cuttings, prune above and below the node (to each side of where the leaf petiole meets the stem) and place the cutting in water, making sure the aerial root nub is submerged in the water. You may see some yellowing on the leaf, it will not hurt the viability of the cutting.
Pests: I have not had any pest problems on this plant, however, they could be susceptible to mealy bug, spider mites, scale or thrip.
Toxicity: All Monstera are toxic and will cause a reaction and harm due to calcium oxalate crystals within the plant. This reaction can occur on the surface of the skin, inside the mouth and throat and throughout the digestive tract. Contact a doctor or veterinarian immediately upon ingestion. Review Plants safe for Cats if you’re looking for non-toxic houseplants.
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