How to Grow and Care for a Monstera

Bring houseplant royalty into your home and keep your monstera happy with this guide.

indoor monstera houseplant
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Nicknamed the swiss cheese plant, monsteras are hard to miss with their large, distinctive leaves. They've become an iconic tropical houseplant with foliage ranging from emerald to forest green. These vining plants are originally native to rainforests in Central America. For the majority of growers, monsteras are houseplants. But, if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 or 10, these beauties can be grown in your front yard. Outdoors, monsteras can reach up to 60 feet high with leaves spanning two feet long. When grown indoors, their size is much smaller due to container size, variety, and available light.

Monstera Overview

Genus Name Monstera
Common Name Monstera
Plant Type Houseplant, Vine
Light Part Sun
Height 4 to 15 Feet
Width 3 to 8 Feet
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Propagation Division, Layering, Stem Cuttings

Toxic to Pets

Pet owners take caution! Monsteras are toxic, but not fatal to cats and dogs. If your furry friend nibbles on one of the leaves, symptoms such as vomiting, trouble swallowing, drooling, and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips may occur.

Monstera Must-Know Care Tips

Monsteras might look intimidating to the new houseplant aficionado, but they’re actually pretty low maintenance plants. Regardless of skill level, any plant lover can grow this enticing plant in their home.

Light

These native tropical plants need lots of light. Aim to give your monstera around 5-8 hours of indirect but bright light. If you own a variegated variety of monstera, the plant will need more light to develop the colors in their leaves. Aim to give variegated monsteras 5-12 hours of light a day. Place your monstera in front a north- or south-facing window to get the most natural indirect sunlight. Depending on location or during winter months it might be challenging to meet the light needs of your monstera. Purchase a grow lamp to avoid this issue and keep your monstera growing.  

Soil and Water

Plan on watering every 1-2 weeks. Fully saturate the soil with water and make sure it drains from the pot. Empty excess water from the saucer or add water where the pot can drain freely (like a patio, shower, or sink). Let the soil dry between waterings to avoid root rot. Use a soil mix that drains well.

Temperature and Humidity

Like most houseplants, monsteras prefer a range between 65-85°F. Don’t let your home’s temperature dip below 60°F. The cold shock will cause your monstera to stop growing. 

Typically, your home’s normal humidity will work. If your home tends to err on the dry side, think about investing in a humidifier. To best cater to the plants needs, try to mist your monstera once a week. This will help mimic the tropical environment it prefers.

Fertilizer

For this quick-growing plant, fertilizer is a must. Aim to fertilize your monstera once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). For easy application, use a 20-20-20 liquid all purpose fertilizer.

How to Prune a Monstera

Monsteras are fast growers, gaining 1-2 feet a year. With all that growth, it’s important to remember to prune the plant. Make sure to cut back any yellowing leaves or dying stems to promote the overall health of the plant.

How to Pot and Repot a Monstera 

Monsteras typically need to be repotted every 2-3 years to support healthy growth. Some telltale signs that your monstera is ready for a larger pot include: roots coming out of drainage holes, slow/no growth, soil dries out quicker, or has many dying leaves. The best pot size for your plant can vary based on the size and speed of growth. Make sure to gradually increase the pot size. If there’s too much additional soil, your monstera will be more susceptible to root rot. Try to select an unglazed clay or terracotta pot to keep the soil dry, but the roots well hydrated. 

It’s easy to damage or break off parts of your monstera during the repotting process, so make sure to support the long stems and broad leaves while working with the plant. Implement a moss pole to stabilize the plant. This gives your plant something to stabilize itself on. This also benefits the aerial roots when they begin climbing. 

How to Propagate a Monstera

it's super easy to propagate monsteras! The easiest method is to take a stem cutting. Start by choosing a healthy stem with a few leaves. To take the cutting, snip below the leaf node (the point where leaves join the main stem). Then place the cutting into a glass of water and wait for a root system to grow. This should take 2-3 weeks. Remember to change the water every 3-5 days. Otherwise, the cutting could start to rot. 

You can also propagate your monstera by dividing the plant, or separating a part from the parent plant. The best time to implement this method is when you're repotting your plant. This gives you a full view of the root system. Select which part of the plant you want to remove and carefully separate that section, roots and all, from the rest of the plant. Then repot both plants.

Additionally, you can try air layering your plant. You'll need plastic wrap, twine or twist tie, and sphagnum moss. Cut a square of plastic wrap large enough to hold a clump of moss around a section of stem. Then, soak the moss and squeeze out excess water. Select the stem and node you want to propagate and place the moss around the area. Wrap the plastic square around the moss and tie shut. When roots form in the sphagnum moss, cut the stem below the roots and repot.

Pests and Problems

Typically, a monstera is an easy-to-maintain plant that’s usually pest free. The most common issues are yellowing leaves or curling leaves, which are related to watering. The leaves will curl from a lack of proper water and will yellow when overwatered. 

Part of having a monstera is getting those gorgeous splits in the broad leaves. If your monstera lacks these splits, it’s most likely because your plant hasn’t matured enough. The leaves will split when the plant is 2-3 years old. If your monstera is old enough, consider providing your plant with more light, either from a window or a grow lamp.

Types of Monstera

Monstera Deliciosa

This is the most common of the variety of monstera with leaf fenestrations on the heart-shaped foliage.

Variegated Monstera Deliciosa

The leaves on this monstera variety have a unique coloring of white and lighter green splotches. Additionally, it grows faster than the non-variegated Monstera Deliciosa.

Monstera Obliqua

Instead of splits that reach the edge of the leave, this variety has enclosed holes on the foliage. Mature leaves are smaller than other types of monsteras.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the differences between a monstera and a split-leaf philodendron?

    Both plants come from the arum family. This means the look and grow similarly. While they are in the same family, the leaves of each plant differ. Monsteras have fenestrated foliage (leave with holes) and philodendrons do not.

  • How long do monsteras live?

    If you take good care of your monstera, it can live up to 40 years. This is why it's considered a heirloom plant.

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