Arguably the most popular houseplant on the market today, Monstera Deliciosa is an easy care, fast growing plant that can quickly fill an empty corner. Watching these large, glossy leaves unfurl is one of the most enjoyable events and you’ll be rewarded with many over the years as this plant grows.
There are several varieties of large form Monstera readily available on the market. In this post I’m mostly referring to Monstera Deliciosa care however, Monstera Borsigiana and Monstera Thai Constellation are all similar in appearance and very similar to grow and care for. Monstera Deliciosa is named as such because in the wild, mature plants will produce a fruit that, I’m told, is quite delicious. It is a large, vining plant that over time will develop split and holey leaves – or fenestrations. Monstera Borsigiana is mostly similar however, the leaves tend to be a little smaller and further apart on the vine. Borsigiana is also the variety that comes in the albo varigated form that is so popular at the moment. The Thai Constellation sports splashy white or creamy white variegation and seems to grow a bit more dense in my experience, than the others.
Baby Monsteras have leaves that look a bit different from the mature form shown above. Immature plants do not have splits and could be mistaken for a pothos or philodendron. It’s easy to mistake Monstera for philodendron, and it was previously classed as such which is why it is often referred to as ‘split leaf philodendron.’ Below is an image of a baby plant. There are two in the pot and you can see there are no splits but fear not, by this time next year I expect to see those mature, fenestrated leaves. I propagated this baby from my larger plant which is fun and easy to do.
Monstera Deliciosa General Care
Light: Monstera Deliciosa enjoys bright, indirect light and even a bit of direct sun as long as it isn’t too hot. In the wild, it will climb trees, the leaves getting larger and larger as they gain access to more light, but your houseplant won’t be acclimated to full sun so watch for burns in the summer if your Monstera is close to a window. Mine sits just off of a west facing window and I’ve had fast growth and no burns. My Thai is directly in an east window and seems to like the gentle morning sun.
Water: The biggest reason this is such an easy care plant is that it is really great at water storage. The large juicy roots and thick stems store water so it isn’t a plant that you need to worry about drying out. If it does get thirsty, it will show you by wilting and a deep watering will perk it right up. I don’t let it get to the point of wilting often, however, and I typically water it when the soil has dried to 90%. If you water too often before it has had a chance to dry it could induce root rot which is never good. Yellow leaves may be a sign there is trouble. You may also notice water dripping off the leaves the day after a drink – it’s nothing to worry about and normal for the plant.
Soil: Because Monstera have large, strong roots you need not worry too much about the soil you choose. Standard potting mix with a few handfuls of perlite added for better draining and aeration will be perfect. Save your super chunky soil for other aroids but do ensure it is well draining enough for the plant to dry out between waterings. Compacted soil should be changed out.
Humidity: Monstera in the wild are pampered with higher humidity levels but they don’t seem to mind lower levels like those found in our homes. I do not mist mine as I find stagnant water on the leaves could introduce problems like fungus or bacteria. Low humidity requirements are another reason Monstera Deliciosa care is so easy.
Fertilizer: I do find my Monstera in general are heavy eaters and I do believe that’s because they just don’t stop growing. Because it’s often an understory plant until they get very large, it is great at using the light it gets efficiently. We are into December as I write this and all of mine are producing new leaves. A gentle well balanced fertilizer like a fish emulsion is safe to use once per watering in the summer and once per month in the winter. I also mix worm castings into the soil at each repot if I have them on hand.
Pruning and propagation: You may find your plant gets long and unruly as it grows because it is a vine. Prune as required to keep the shape you like best or, as I have done, strap it onto a bamboo or moss pole for support. Monstera are easy and fun to propagate and while you can do so directly in soil if your cutting has good aerial roots, I prefer to prop them in water because it’s fun to watch those roots develop. Monstera cuttings also do fantastic in damp moss. While they don’t require high humidity for every day care, it does pay off to pamper rooting cuttings with a bit of extra humidity.
Pests: While rather resilient, your plant could be susceptible to thrips, spidermites, mealy bugs, aphids and scale. If you see marks on the leaves or yellowing, checking for pests is a good place to start.
Toxicity: As with most aroids, Monstera Deliciosa is toxic. Do not let curious chewers much on it and seek medical attention if a plant gets eaten.
Why do Monstera develop leaf fenestrations anyway? What makes it happen? Can you make your plant get fenestrations? The word ‘fenestration’ translates roughly from French to mean ‘window.’ Small baby Monstera plants grow in the understory at ground level. They need as much leaf surface area as possible to collect sun for photosynthesis so they can grow up and be big plants. Because of their life goals at this stage, they do not have fenestrations on the leaves at a young age.
Being that Monstera are a vine, they will attach to a nearby tree, or other larger plant as they mature so they can grow up it and get closer to the bright sunlight in the upper levels of the forest. As the plant matures and gets larger and higher up it will be exposed to more air circulation and wind. If a big plant with big sail shaped leaves were to grow up high on the side of a tree a strong wind could easily rip it down. The windows develop so wind can pass through the leaves without pulling the vine off of it’s tree home.
So, as fenestrations are a feature of maturity, there’s not much you can do to encourage your plant to get them aside from giving it the time it needs to mature. Following the care advice above will provide your Monstera Deliciosa plant with the correct conditions to grow into it’s mature form. Give it light and support and it will move onto the next stage in it’s development which is producing fenestrations!
Because of their easy care, because they grow fast and because the new leaves are such an event with their unfurling – Monstera Deliciosa is a joy to grow. While it’s difficult to say which houseplants are my favourite, Monstera is definitely in the running for that gold star. After having several, I can say that I can’t imagine a home without one.