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. It’s pretty hearty and easy to grow but mastering care involves a bit of a learning curve compared to its much easier big cousin the Monstera Deliciosa. The characteristic leaves on Monstera Adansonii produce holes, or windows (fenestrations) which 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. Because each leaf has multiple fenestrations, you never know what you’re going to get. Each leaf is unique and watching them unfurl is makes this plant a joy to grow. Adansonii features vibrant green leaves and can be grown to trail and hang or you can encourage it to climb a plank or pole. Allowing your plant to climb will result in larger leaves as it vines upward.
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 care for 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.
Is your Adansonii a Wide or Narrow Form?
Monstera Adansonii is typically found in two forms – wide leaf form or narrow leaf form. Both forms of this plant require the same care. 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.
Should your Monstera Adansonii Climb or Hang?
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 in almost any conditions, I was surprised to learn that Adansonii is a bit more picky about it’s lighting situation. Not only does Adansonii require more light than Deliciosa, I feel it also requires more hours of it. This plant can be acclimated to bright light and even some full sun but do so slowly over time. Keep in mind, if your plant is getting high light, it will likely require more water.
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. Avoid fertilizing in the winter or if your plant is not in an active state of growth.
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.
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.
Propagating Swiss Cheese Vine
Monstera adansonii propagations are as simple as it gets and 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. If you’d like to try propagating your plant I encourage you to do so and here’s a step by step guide!
Choose your vine. Take a look at your mother plant and see if there’s an obvious vine to take for the cuttings. I have one with beautiful large leaves that was too long for the trellis and growing wildly off to the side so it was the perfect choice for pruning the plant back. Try to choose a vine that will give you enough cuttings for a plant, if that is your goal. You can take single leaf cuttings as well if you’d like to plant them back into the mother plant to grow a fuller pot.
Cut your vine between the nodes as shown above. The nodes are where the leaf petiole meets the main vine stem. You will often see small brown bumps there and those are aerial roots. When placed in water, your plant will grow new roots from that node / bump area. Below you can see my cuttings, ready to go into water for propagation.
I like to take enough single leaf cuttings to grow a whole new plant. When you take single leaf cuttings, each one will grow into it’s own vine so I prefer to have 7-10 cuttings per transplant. It works out well for me and it’s nice to have a full, bushy baby adansonii to grow or give to a friend.
Place your cuttings in fresh water. Make sure the aerial root area / node is submerged and top up or freshen the water weekly. It won’t take long for roots to start growing and within a week to 10 days you should see some sort of root growth but don’t be too excited to plant them into soil just yet. You will want approximately 3 inches of roots before you take that step – see below.
Plant your cuttings into a loose, well draining soil that is suitable for aroid type plants. After transplanting your propagated cuttings into soil you will want to keep the medium from drying out. The roots are used to living in water so keep them moist to help the transition – for about 7-14 days. After that point your roots will have adapted to their new home and you can assume watering more like your mother plant and let it dry out between drinks. Do remember however, that it will be in a smaller pot (most likely) so it may require more attention than your main plant.
Trouble Shooting Monstera Adansonii
Why are leaves yellowing on your Adansonii?
Yellowing leaves on Monstera can happen for quite a number of reasons and figuring out the problem can take a bit of time. Here are things to consider:
Change: Have you moved your plant or is your plant new to you? If yes, it might just be acclimating to your space. Monstera Adansonii likes stable room conditions. Because the leaves are thin and a bit delicate, the plant needs the right conditions to keep them alive. If it doesn’t have enough light (less than where it was before) it might drop leaves so it can use the energy it would have used on those leaves into vining more towards a light source.
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 to extend the hours in fall and winter, you should have no problems.
Water: It can be tricky to figure out the frequency of waterings for Adansonii. Water to often and it will kill off the bottom leaves to get rid of excess moisture. Too little and it will kill off leaves that it can’t sustain. Usually, if the plant is underwatered you’ll see drooping and wilting. If the soil is dry and your plant is droopy then it’s likely thirsty.
Roots: If the plant has a problem with the root system it will not be able to bring water and nutrients to the leaves so they will drop. Root rot is a common problem with monstera that have had too much water. If the plant has not been able to dry between waterings and if the soil is dense and compact, the roots may suffocate and rot. If you have allowed your plant to acclimate and believe you’ve been watering it adequately but it is still yellowing leaves, unpot it and check the roots.
Nutrient Deficiency: If your Monstera has great light, the perfect amount of water and healthy roots, yellowing or discoloration on the leaves could mean the plant needs food. If the plant hasn’t been repotted in a while and has old soil, it may have used up all the nutrients available to it and is now yellowing. Repot the plant in fresh soil. If you cannot repot your plant, feed it with a liquid fertilizer as described above.
Why is my Monstera Adansonii putting out vines but no leaves?
When your plant does this it is growing what is called runners. Plants produce runners because they are looking for something. Not enough light? The plant will send out runners and when it finds better light, it will start to grow leaves there. It may also be searching for more adequate moisture or for a place to root and propagate itself. If your plant keeps growing runners with no leaves, you might wish to move it closer to the window.
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