Meet the Monsteras
Meet Monstera, a climbing, evergreen genus familiar to interior designers, serial Pinterest Board builders, and Instagrammers alike. The exotic Monsteras, native to the rainforests of Central America, have graced interiors since the ‘70s. But it wasn’t until several years ago that their striking, perforated leaves made their way into mainstream consciousness in the form of many a tropical-themed design. Today, Monsteras are considered must-have, statement plants that add a touch of the tropics to any space indoors.
Monsteras are Aroids from the family of Araceae, and some varieties like the Monstera deliciosa actually grow edible fruits if cultivated outdoors. Lively with large, luscious tropical foliage, Monsteras are also called Swiss Cheese Plants. They are most famous for varieties with slits in their holes or also known as fenestrations on their bright green, heart-shaped leaves. As houseplants, they are actually an easy-going bunch that are friendly options for both seasoned plant parents and newbies.
Read on to learn about common Monstera varieties, how to maintain them, and how to troubleshoot common Monstera issues. These are perfect for beginners and would add a tropical vibe to any place!
Known for their tall, dark green, and perforated leaves with fully enclosed fenestrations or speckled with Swiss cheese-like leaf holes that grow outward as they mature, the Monstera Deliciosa gets its name from the latin words meaning “monstrous” and “delicious.” The latter, in reference to the fruits they bear and the former in reference to the size their leaves can grow. However, both only occur outdoors or in the wilderness.
Indoors and on social media, the Monstera Deliciosa has become a notable symbol of the tropics, having decorated everything from throw pillows to aesthetic corners of home, and could very well be the most familiar of the Monstera family.
Though quite similar to the Monstera deliciosa in terms of perforation and shape, the Monstera borsigiana can be distinguished by smaller-sized leaves and faster growth. The borsigiana also climbs and twines as a vine earlier on, while the deliciosa initially has longer stems that eventually grow out as a vine over time.
In the market, the borsigiana goes for much cheaper than the deliciosa. But ultimately, a deciding factor should be the space available for the plant, as the borsigiana can be maintained with a smaller vertical space while the deliciosa needs a wider space to allow for more growth.
Monstera adansonii also has the familiar fenestrations common to the Monstera genus. These decorate the plant’s elongated leaves with Swiss cheese-like holes, but mostly do not extend outward to create the splicing common to the deliciosa variety.
The adansonii loves to climb, and grows best with the support of a stackable plant pole. Alternatively, this variety can also hang freely as a hanging plant, leaving the vine to cascade gracefully from the sides of the pot, adding a touch of the tropics to smaller spaces.
Monstera Peru, also known as karstenianum, is one of the rarer Monstera varieties. Unlike the first three discussed above, the Monster Peru doesn’t have any fenestrations and is instead distinguished by shiny, corrugated or puckered leaves. Monstera Peru are climbers in nature and grow fastest with a plant pole.
Monstera borsigiana Albo Variegata, the rarest and most sought after of its variegated kind, has the familiar perforated leaves, colored in a vibrant green and mixed with striking white that are reminiscent of its native jungle environment.
For variegated varieties, remember to choose a plant with a good balance of both green and white, as the green or chlorophyll is what helps grow and feed the plant (and keep it alive!).
Native to rainforests, Monstera plants grow fastest when they get adequate amounts of light. However, they aren’t too keen on intense, direct light unless they are of the Monstera Peru variety which can be acclimated to withstand it. Because of Monstera Peru’s thicker leaves, they can take up to 3 hours of direct light.
For other varieties, it’s best to keep your Monstera where medium, indirect sun is available. Indoors, adequate light may not be available. This is when a grow light could come in handy. Learn how to choose a grow light that best suits you and your plants’ needs here.
Evenly and thoroughly water Monstera plants every 1-2 weeks or when the first 2-3 inches of soil have dried out. Never allow the plant to sit in water for too long to avoid root rot. Discard any water that seeps through the drainage hole and into the catch plate.
On summer days or hot days, water more often. Learn more about our summer plant care tips here [add link].
Pro tip: Monsteras benefit from filtered water or water left out overnight before using.
Like most tropical plants, Monsteras prefer medium to high-humid conditions if possible. If you notice crispy leaves, it's a sign that your Monstera is in need of more humidity. Use a fine mister to mist around the plant once a week or place a humidifier nearby to increase humidity indoors.
Another alternative is to create a pebble tray to gradually and consistently raise the humidity around the plant without soaking its roots in water. To do this, fill a shallow tray with water and pebbles and place the pot of your Monstera on top of the pebbles.
A well-draining potting mix, like this Super Soilless Aroid mix, is best for Monstera varieties. Better drainage allows for the water to seep out thoroughly, so as not to soak the plant’s roots for too long. You can also mix perlite or lava rocks to increase soil aeration.
For pet owners and parents, keep your Monsteras out of reach of your pets and small children. Monstera varieties, particularly Monstera deliciosa, are toxic to cats, dogs, and even humans when consumed in large doses. Oral irritation like difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and intense burning of the mouth, tongue, and throat are some reactions that can occur.
Yellow leaf tips
Symptom: Yellow leaf tips occur when the plant is kept under the sun or light for too long.
Cause: It is also a common problem of overwatering.
Solution: Move your plant to an area with bright but indirect light, and enough shade throughout the day.
Growing Towards the Dark
Symptom: While it’s common for indoor plants to lean towards the light, Monstera plants do the opposite.
Cause: This phenomena is called “negative phototropisim” and occurs when the plant isn’t getting enough sun. New leaves grow towards the darkness, mimicking growth in the rainforest where the Monstera would naturally grow towards the shade of a tree to eventually climb its trunk.
Solution: Move your plant towards a South-facing window, where there is enough right sun in the morning, but receives less sun throughout the day.
Symptom: Your Monstera has outgrown the space or pot it’s in, whether due to the height or width of the leaves.
Cause: It’s natural for Monstera varieties, particularly the Monstera deliciosa, to grow to an enormous size in the wild with enough sunlight.
Solution: Excessive growth can be curbed by simply pruning or snipping off new growth. Toss one to two newly pruned leaves into a long glass jar or vase with water the way you would a bouquet of flowers, to add a touch of green to a less permanent space around the house (like the bathroom or your bedside table)
Drooping plant, wilting, or dry leaves
Symptom: Wilting plant, dry potting mix
Cause: Underwatered or pot-bound
Solution: Water the plant once a week or when the first 2-3 inches of the soil are dry. Monstera varieties can’t take dry soil for prolonged periods, so it’s best to catch it before it dries out. An aquameter is a nifty device that notifies you when it’s time to water your plant, without the trouble of constantly digging your fingers into the soil to check.
Few Fenestration on leaves
Signs: Fenestration begins when the plant is about 3 feet tall.
Solution: To encourage fenestration and growth, prune off older leaves that grow closer to the base of the plant
Now that you’ve had your crash course on the Monstera genus, it’s time to add one (or more!) of these prized plants to your collection. Did we miss any of your questions? Don’t fret! Feel free to get in touch with us on Instagram or Facebook for a personalized consultation.