Indoor plant care tips by By Ester Casanovas
Monsteras are super trendy right now: we see them daily in Instagram posts, Pinterest, clothing, prints, paintings, and of course, in everyday life au naturel.
Its beautiful leaves are reminiscent of its origins in the jungle. Here are a few tips on how to care for two of the most common varieties of this elegant and in vogue plant: the Monstera deliciosa and the Monstera adansonii
In the Eighties it was not unusual to see a Monstera everywhere, indoors, and in terraces and patios. My mother had hers in the patio where it received a lot of direct sunlight and watering was controlled, as the plant was placed under a roof that prevented it from getting wet when it rained. There! I just gave you two excellent clues as to the light and watering needs of this plant. But first things first:
Monstera plants love light, but not direct sunlight. Their ideal location is a bright room or a corner in the terrace with only a few hours of sunshine every day.
These plants prefer warm temperatures and a humid environment. In the Mediterranean region they can be left outside all year round, as they withstand minimum temperatures of 5ºC. In colder areas, they are usually grown indoors.
It is essential that the substrate have good drainage. We can mix a universal substrate with some perlite, which will prevent waterlogging and rotting of the roots. Every two years it can be transplanted to a larger pot, renewing part of the substrate and removing dead roots.
The Monstera deliciosa is a plant that can grow very tall, and its leaves can reach 30-40 cm wide. If you grow it indoors and don’t have a lot of space, do not transplant it immediately to a larger pot. The more space it has to develop, the bigger it will grow.
This is an undemanding plant in terms of watering, even though how often you water it will depend (as it always does) on the average temperature and the size of the pot. If the plant is in a small pot, it will require watering 1 or 2 times per week in the summer, and once every 10-15 days in the winter. Make sure that the substrate is dry before you water it. For this you can use a moisture meter or just dig your finger into the soil to assess its moisture.
If it is growing in very dry conditions, the plant will appreciate it if during the summer you regularly mist it with water. Another option is to give it a good shower in your bathtub once in a while, which will provide the perfect opportunity to clean its beautiful leaves.
It is recommended that you fertilise it every 15 days with a fertiliser specific for green plants. You can use a liquid fertiliser or fertiliser nails, which are inserted into the substrate. They dissolve slowly and gradually, providing the plant with all the nutrients it needs.
Usually, fertilising is suspended during the winter, to then start again in the spring.
The leaves of the Monstera and their development
We love this plant precisely because of the beauty of its leaves. And there are a few things to keep in mind regarding its exquisite leaves:
- Some of the new leaves of your Monstera plant might not show its characteristic swiss cheese holes. These only appear when the leaf is fully developed. Be patient and wait for the leaves to fully grow.
- Clean the leaves with a cloth dampened in water. Or, as we mentioned above, give it a good shower in your bathtub with your shower hose or head.
- If you manage to store rainwater, mist the plant with it to prevent small white dots from appearing on the leaves. These specks are lime, which leaves a residue when the water drops dry. If you can’t store rainwater, then you might want to use weak mineralisation bottled water.
- If the tips of the leaves turn brown, it could be due to overwatering. Make sure the substrate is completely dry before watering again.
- But if they also have a yellowish tone, it could be due to overwatering or lack of fertiliser. Think carefully about which of the two options it could be.
- Bear in mind that the leaves and the stems of the Monstera are toxic to humans and pets, but only if ingested.
Monstera plants are climbers. Air roots will grow along its stems, allowing you to easily guide it as well as propagate it.
In order to guide it, take a coconut fibre climbing pole and carefully tie the stems of the plant to it with garden wire or twine. Do not press the plant stems against the pole: put them next to it so that the air roots can start to grow and support themselves.
You can use the air roots of the Monstera to propagate it and grow new plants. All you have to do is cut one of them and put it in water.
Monstera adansonii or Swiss Cheese Plant
This variety is usually grown indoors as it is less tolerant of the cold. It prefers locations with higher humidity and without drafts.
Since I have limited space in my flat, I decided to grow a Monstera adansonii. Although it has grown quite a bit, it is still much smaller than its “delicious” sibling. I have put it on top of the cabinet and let it hang down.
This specific variety grows leaves with small openings that gradually become huge eyes as the leaf grows. This characteristic, as well as its reduced size, makes it totally different from the Monstera deliciosa, with fully opened leaves in the form of ribs (which is why it is sometimes also known as “Adam’s Rib”).
By Ester Casanovas
Ester is the author of the Spanish website PicaronaBlog. A self-taught vegetable gardener, she teaches urban gardening workshops, collaborates in specialised media and in 2014 published her first introductory manual: “Hortelanos de ciudad”.