Lush, tropical, and gorgeous, a massive, thriving monstera in your home is a definite statement that you are a houseplant person. Learn all about growing the mighty monstera.
The most common variety is Monstera deliciosa, also commonly called split-leaf philodendron (though it is not actually a philodendron). In the United States, monstera plants are typical grown as foliage houseplants. There are other Monstera species that aren’t usually as large and have smaller leaves.
Monstera are tropical plants in the Araceae family, like Philodendron, Anthurium, Epipremnum, and Caladium. In their native portions of southern Mexico and Central America, they are an evergreen vine that grow up tree trunks—up to 70 feet long—up to the rainforest canopy to find light. In the home, Monstera deliciosa stays between 6 to 8 feet in most home environments. The plant has huge leathery leaves as wide as 18 inches with deep clefts.
Monsteras grown indoors rarely flower or fruit. However, in their native climate, their fruit is sought after. Monstera deliciosa derives part of its name from those tasty fruits used to flavor drinks and desserts. The green fruits look like a cob of corn and are said to taste like a banana-mango-pineapple combo.
Since they are most often grown as houseplants, monsteras can be potted up at any time of the year. They need a home with an average temperature of 60° to 85°F and high humidity. These plants grow in the dappled, partial sun of the tropical forest canopy, so bright but indirect light is what they like. Place them near a sunny window but not in direct sunlight, which can cause leaf scorch.
How to Plant Monsteras
Monsteras are purchased as young plants, established older specimens, or from online vendors as cuttings. Young and established plants can be repotted if needed, like other houseplants. Cuttings should be rooted first.
Choose a deep pot with ample room for roots to grow and drainage holes. Although they are tropical plants, wet, soggy soil can still lead to root rot.
Use a rich, fertile potting mix. If in doubt, add some perlite to aid with drainage.
When transplanting or repotting, wetting the soil in the existing pot and letting it soak in for a few minutes can make removing the plant easier.
Snip any girdling roots and gently loosen the root ball if it is pot bound.
Take care to replant your monstera at the same height, with respect to the soil, as before. Don’t bury it or leave it perched too high.
Tamp the fresh soil around the plant firmly to minimize air pockets.
Sturdy support is necessary to prevent the stems from breaking. Support can be a tree trunk or a moss-covered pole for climbing.
Monsteras are relatively easy houseplants to grow. Follow these care tips for lush foliage.
Water this plant thoroughly, then allow the top quarter to one-third part to dry between waterings.
As with many houseplants, misting leaves helps increase the humidity in dry interior settings. (If your monstera has a moss support pole, mist the moss, too.)
If humidity is too low, the leaf edges will turn brown. To boost humidity, try setting the pot in a tray lined with pebbles, and keep water in the tray. Small, local humidifiers are also available to increase the humidity if your home is especially dry.
If you are overwatering or the growing medium is too moist, the leaves will “sweat.” If this happens, reduce watering to prevent root rot. Water less in winter.
For potted monsteras, fertilize several times per year (from spring until fall) with a diluted liquid fertilizer according to the instructions on the label.
Monstera need regular repotting as they grow to accommodate the root system.
During the summer, you can move your monstera outdoors, be be carefulto slowly acclimate the plants to higher light levels gradually or the plant will sunburn (just like we do!).
Propagating your Monstera
Monsteras are simple to propagate and root well in water. Follow these steps.
Select a piece of stem with at least one node and leaf. If the node has a brown aerial root growing, even better. Check this page from the University of Minnesota Extension to see a picture of what a monstera node looks like.
Cut one inch below the node with sanitized, sharp shears. Rubbing alcohol does an excellent job of sterilizing pruners.
Fill a clear-walled jar or vase with water and set the cutting inside. Keep the node submerged. Use bottled water if your tap water is heavily treated.
Place the jar in a brightly lit and warm spot out of direct sunlight.
Change the water weekly to keep it fresh.
In 2 to 4 weeks, your cuttings should start to root. Transplant to moist potting mix once the baby roots are about an inch or two long.
Monstera deliciosa is the classic houseplant of this group. With proper care, it can eventually reach your ceiling and display beautifully fenestrated glossy leaves 1 to 2 feet long.
M. adansonii is a slightly smaller plant with heart-shaped leaves. An agile climber if given support, water, and a little fertilizer.
M. dubia has smaller, variegated leaves and loves to climb, reaching about 3 feet.
Any variegated Monstera deliciosa variety! Unique and rare–and often expensive–variegated plants are suitable to be the centerpiece of your houseplant home. Cream and white colored bands and patches contrast starkly with the rest of the deep green leaves.
Wit and Wisdom
Learn to recognize monsteras and keep your eye out when shopping for groceries. Vendors often bring a truckload of houseplants to sell quickly at big grocery stores. They’ll be labeled with something non-descript like “green houseplant” or “tropical foliage plant.” Monstera deliciosa, especially, is often easy to find hiding in the mix and priced very affordably.
Large monsteras are often on the discount rack because a couple of leaves were broken off or because no one wanted to carry them around. I scored a three-foot tall, established M. deliciosa for 20 bucks, and brought it home. It took off and now looks like a $200 plant.
Overwatering is the most common cause of problems with monsteras, as with most houseplants. Monsteras don’t have many disease issues but can be bothered by common pests.