Monstera Peru, also known as Monstera Karstenianum, is an easy to grow plant with uniquely textured leaves. The leaves are somewhat stiff and can develop interesting colour variations though, those often mean the plant is in need of a change in care. Monstera Peru are suitable for beginner collectors who wish to grow something outside the ordinary things they find in a big box store, yet aren’t yet ready to take on something difficult. They are usually found for a reasonable price, grow quickly and give few problems if their watering and light needs are met – which isn’t difficult. They don’t need much of either.
The thing with Monsteras is that one almost always leads to another. You might pick up a Monstera Deliciosa for example and discover that it’s pretty easy to care for and it grows quickly enough to be a rewarding and entertaining plant. Before you know it, you’ve also picked up a Monstera Adonsonii and well, you love that one too! It leaves you wondering ‘what other Monstera are out there?’
That’s precisely the series of events that led me to acquire a Monstera Peru. While you might have to do a bit of searching for this species, it’s not as easy to come by as a Deliciosa, they are out there and you should be able to get your hands on one if you search.
Monstera Peru General Care
Light: Monstera Karstenianum or Sp Peru enjoys bright, indirect or medium light. Unlike it’s cousins mentioned above, the Peru is more of an understory plant and prefers not to be in direct light. Mine is situated directly beside a west facing set of patio doors so it gets loads of light, but has no sun rays hitting it directly. This is a vining plant and you may see it shoot out leafless runners if it isn’t getting the light it needs. Hit the sweet-spot with light, and you’ll get a bushy plant with leaves that grow in closer together.
Water: This is an easy plant when it comes to water as long as you don’t over do it. It has a much finer root system than the larger Monsteras and so it doesn’t forgive as easily to sitting in too wet soil. The best practice for a Peru is to get used to the feel of the leaves after it has been watered well. The leaves should be like corrugated cardboard. Flat and stiff. A thirsty plant will feel less so and the leaves may begin to curl and wilt. A deep watering will perk it right up. I try to water mine at the point when one or two leaves is starting to feel less stiff but before the whole plant has wilted. If you water too often before it has had a chance to dry it could induce root rot which is never good. While yellow leaves is usually a sign of trouble, it can be more difficult to assess with a peru which often has bright colour on it’s leaves. If lower leaves completely yellow and fall off – you may have overwatered.
Soil: Because Monstera Sp Peru has smaller roots, you should be careful about the soil you choose. If it is too peat heavy and retains too much moisture you’re sure to have trouble with this plant. Amend a potting mix with a few handfuls of perlite, bark chunks or pumice added for better draining and aeration. You want water to flow through your mixture freely and drain out the bottom of the pot.
Humidity: Monstera Peru 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. Save your humidifier for other plants. I do rinse dust off the plant with no issue and it’s a good idea to do so as it seems to collect it easily.
Fertilizer: Monstera Peru love a good feed. You’ll notice the colour change and deepen after you’ve given it some fertilizer. We are into January as I write this and my plant is still 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. If using a commercial synthetic fertilizer I would dilute to half strength.
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 so it has something to climb up. While Monstera Deliciosa are easy and fun to propagate, Monstera Peru is a bit more difficult. Water doesn’t seem to be the best method and while I have yet to propagate mine, I have heard people have more success with perlite in a propagation box.
Pests: While rather resilient, your plant could be susceptible to thrips, spidermites, mealy bugs, aphids and scale. If you see marks on the leaves, webbing or yellowing – checking for pests is a good place to start.
Toxicity: As with most aroids, the Monstera genus is toxic. Do not let curious chewers much on it and seek medical attention if a plant gets eaten.