Monstera deliciosa. Photo by: Mirage_studio / Shutterstock

Houseplant enthusiasts have fallen head-over-heels for Monstera, which is grown for the leaves that develop holes or deep slits, creating an exotic look. Rare varieties or prime specimens can fetch hundreds or thousands of dollars. For the casual houseplant grower, there are many types of Monstera that are easy to grow and budget-friendly.

Monstera comes in a variety of leaf sizes, shapes, and patterns to complement any home or office decor. This versatile indoor plant can be kept compact, grown up a support, or allowed to trail in a hanging container. Uplift your spirits during the dreary days of winter by adding a living tropical touch to your indoor environment.

Here’s how to grow these fascinating plants:

On this page: Basics | Growing Tips | Care and Maintenance | How to Propagate | Pictures | Troubleshooting & FAQ's | Display Ideas

On this page:

BASICS

Botanical name:

Monstera spp.

Common names:

Swiss cheese plant, split-leaf philodendron, hurricane plant, Mexican breadfruit

Origin:

Native to tropical rainforests of Central America

Zones:

Usually grown indoors as a houseplant, but can be grown outside in Zones 10-12

Plant care level:

Easy to moderate

Growth rate:

Slow to fast depending on the variety

Foliage:

Varies, depending on variety. Many develop deep slits or holes, while some species remain solid. Coloring is green or with variegated patterns of green, silver, white, or cream.

Flowers:

Rarely blooms indoors.

Roots:

Brown rope-like aerial roots develop along the stems. Lower roots can be tucked into the soil to nourish and strengthen the plant, while upper roots can be attached to climbing structures or allowed to grow freely.

Habit and size:

Bushy or vining habit. When grown as a houseplant, plants can grow 3 to 20 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide.

Is Monstera toxic?

Monstera contains calcium oxalate crystals, which are toxic to pets and humans. Plant sap can cause skin irritation or rashes in adults and children. (See more Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs and Cats.)

Monstera lookalikes:

Plants that look similar to Monstera include mini monstera (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma) and pothos (Epipremnum spp.). Split-leaf philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum) is sometimes confused with Monstera because of its close resemblance and mutual common name.

MONSTERA GROWING TIPS

Photo by: Sozina Kseniia / Shutterstock

How much light does a monstera need?

Place near a window that gets bright indirect light/sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. Plants can be set outdoors in an open shady spot during warmer months in summer.

Temperature:

Ideal temperature is between 65 to 85 degrees F. Temperatures below 55 to 60 degrees can cause plant stress or death. Keep plants away from heating vents and cold drafts.

Humidity:

Houseplants will do best with room humidity of at least 60%. Boost humidity by using a room humidifier, misting plants frequently, or setting pots on a shallow tray filled with pebbles and water. Make sure the bottom of the pot doesn’t sit in standing water to avoid root rot.

Soil type:

Monstera thrives in aerated soil that drains well, with a slightly acidic to neutral pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Use a soil especially formulated for growing Monstera, or use a high-quality potting mix, adding coco fiber and perlite or orchid bark to improve drainage.

Pot requirements:

Grow in a pot that is 2 to 4 inches wider and deeper than the root ball, with adequate drainage holes. Avoid planting in a container that’s too big to help prevent root rot. Make sure the pot is wide and deep enough to accommodate a moss pole or other support.

Support:

To encourage plants to climb, Monstera is often trained on a support known as a moss pole and provide the ideal surface for aerial roots to attach. Other supports such as a decorative trellis can also be used.

MONSTERA CARE

How often do you water a monstera?

Water every 1 to 2 weeks, or whenever the soil feels dry 2 inches down. Allow plants to dry out in between waterings. Avoid overwatering, which can cause root rot. Reduce watering during fall and winter.

Fertilizing:

Apply a balanced 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing season, from mid-March to November. Cease fertilizing in winter when plant growth slows down.

Pruning:

Plants can be kept bushy or allowed to climb. Trim back to desired size in spring when there is active growth. Save leaf cuttings to propagate into new plants. Remove any damaged or old leaves as needed to divert energy back into the plant.

Cleaning:

Wipe leaves with a damp cloth every few months to keep foliage looking fresh.

Repotting:

Plants can be repotted every 1 to 3 years, or whenever they become rootbound. Repot in spring before new growth resumes. Choose a pot 2 to 4 inches larger than the previous container. Remove old potting soil from roots and refresh with new soil, covering the base roots and lower aerial roots.

Pests:

The most common pests are aphids, scale, mealybugs, thrips, or fungus gnats. Remove pests from affected areas with a cotton swab dipped in 70% rubbing alcohol. For larger infestations, use insecticidal soap or Neem oil. Reapply treatment as needed. Isolate plants away from other plants until you’re sure the pests are eliminated.

HOW TO PROPAGATE MONSTERA

Monstera is most commonly propagated through cuttings or division. The best time of year to propagate is during spring and summer when plants are actively growing.

Stem cuttings:

This is the most common and easiest form of propagation. Trim off a stem that has at least one healthy leaf and a node. Place cuttings in water until new roots develop, which can take up to several months. Change out water weekly to prevent bacteria from forming. Pot up rooted cuttings in fresh soil. Fresh cuttings can also be planted directly into soil.

Root division:

Remove plant from pot and rinse soil from the roots. Separate sections by pulling them apart or clipping away from the main root system. Repot into fresh soil.

MONSTERA VARIETIES

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Mirage_studio / Shutterstock

Swiss Cheese Plant
Monstera deliciosa

Size: 8 to 15 feet tall, 2 to 3 feet wide when grown as a houseplant

The most common variety, its oversized perforated leaves grow up to 12 to 20 inches across. The large leaves are characterized by deep slits along the edges. Plants become more vining as they mature.

Photo by: Megan Czarnocki / Shutterstock

Swiss Cheese Vine
Monstera adansonii

Size: 3 to 8 feet tall, 1 to 4 feet wide when grown as a houseplant

Also known as little Swiss monstera, heart-shaped glossy leaves area smaller than the common Swiss Cheese plant. Leaves are characterized by holes in the center. Plants can be grown up a moss pole or allowed to trail from a hanging basket.

Photo by: Oat_Pittiwat / Shutterstock

Shingle Plant
Monstera dubia

Size: 3 feet tall, 6 to 12 inches wide

This species looks different than the more typical Monstera. Small, textured, heart-shaped leaves are solid green or heavily veined with silver. Holes or slits in the leaves are rare when grown indoors. Grows flat against a vertical surface, creating a shingle-like appearance.

Photo by: Shadow Inspiration / Shutterstock

'Peru'
Monstera karstenianum

Size: 2 to 6 feet long, 6 to 12 inches wide when grown as a houseplant

Leathery, glossy green leaves are long and pointed. The creased veining gives the foliage a corrugated appearance. Plants remain small when grown indoors.

Photo by: noypb / Shutterstock

Hurricane Plant
Monstera pinnatipartita

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide when grown as a houseplant

Juvenile leaves start out lime green. The glossy foliage matures to dark green and develops deep slits up to the midrib, creating a dramatic effect. Plants develop a vining habit as they mature.

Photo by: denise1203 / Shutterstock

Variegated Monstera
Monstera deliciosa

Size: Size varies according to variety

Variegated forms of Monstera are slow growing and challenging to grow and propagate, often commanding hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single plant. Varieties include ‘Albo Variegata’, ‘Albo Borsigiana’, ‘Thai Constellation’, and ‘Variegata’

Photo by: Firn / Shutterstock

Silver Monstera
Monstera siltepecana

Size: 8 to 12 feet tall, 1 to 3 feet wide when grown as a houseplant

Small, lance-shaped leaves have a silver blush with dark green veining. Mature leaves will lose their markings and develop holes rather than slits. Smaller specimens can be grown in a terrarium.

TROUBLESHOOTING

When given optimal growing conditions, monstera has few problems. Look for these possible symptoms:

  • Stunted growth may be an indication that room temperature is too cold or humidity is too low. It also may be a result of an inferior growing medium or lack of fertilizer. Adjust growing conditions accordingly.
  • Yellow leaves can be due to a variety of factors, including improper watering, poor drainage, lack of light or nutrients, low temperatures, or environmental changes. It also may be a sign of pests such as mealybugs, thrips, or spider mites. It’s normal for some of the lower leaves to turn yellow and drop as the plant develops new foliage. Evaluate plants and remedy as needed.
  • Brown leaf tips can be a sign of underwatering or low humidity. Increase one or both as needed.
  • Droopy leaves can be caused by a lack of water or nutrients, extreme hot or cold temperatures, root rot, transplant shock, crowded roots, or pests such as spider mites or scale. Adjust conditions as needed.
  • Leggy growth may result from too little light or fertilizer. Move plants to brighter light or increase fertilizing as needed.
  • Blackened leaves can indicate root rot, which is caused by overwatering or poor drainage. Plants can die quickly if the problem isn’t addressed. Remove the plant from its pot and inspect the roots. Cut out blackened or rotted roots. Transplant into a new pot with fresh potting soil, making sure there is good drainage. Don’t overwater, and provide adequate light and humidity.
  • Brown spots surrounded by a yellow halo may be a sign of fungal disease. This is usually caused by overwatering or poor air circulation. Remove affected leaves, reduce watering, and move to a spot with better air circulation, though it’s important to keep plants away from drafts.
  • Lack of leaf fenestration (holes or slits) can simply be due to a plant’s age. Swiss cheese plant needs to be 2 or 3 years old before the leaves develop holes or splits. Other species such as Swiss cheese vine will fenestrate when they are younger. Lack of sunlight, water, or fertilizer can also be factors. Plants may grow larger leaves with more fenestration when given vertical support.

DISPLAY IDEAS

  • Keep a larger specimen pruned as a bush form and display on the floor of a spacious entryway or office lobby.
  • Allow a vining form to grow horizontally along a mantle, bookshelf, or wall for a unique living accent.
  • Use a moss pole, decorative trellis, or other support to train into a vertical accent to liven up a bright corner of a room.
  • Keep a smaller specimen pruned in a compact bush form and display on an end table or dining room table.
  • Display leaf cuttings in a grouping of small clear vases so you can watch the roots grow.
  • Allow a smaller specimen to trail in a hanging basket in a bathroom or kitchen that receives more air humidity.
  • Grow a small specimen in a terrarium along with other tropicals with similar needs.

RELATED:
21 Best Indoor Plants
A Guide to Growing Pothos
The Best Philodendrons to Grow Indoors

JOIN 100,000 GARDEN LOVERSSign up for weekly gardening inspiration and design tips

Get plant information, gardening solutions, design inspiration and more in our weekly newsletter.

* Required Fields
We will never sell or distribute your email to any other parties or organizations.

More about the newsletter

Follow Us Garden Design Magazine Facebook Garden Design Magazine Twitter Garden Design Magazine Pinterest Garden Design Magazine Instagram Garden Design Magazine Youtube

Shop Garden Products

From tools to furniture, these garden products are sure to delight

Discover unique garden products curated by the Garden Design editors, plus items you can use to solve problems in your garden right now, and best sellers from around the web.

Shop Garden Design!