This blog is a part two of our earlier article that spoke about Monstera styling. In this one, we delve more into the care and also highlight some uncommon Monstera varieties.
Most common Monstera plant found indoors
Monstera are known for their split leaves and striking foliage so it’s no wonder why this tropical plant has been a houseplant for decades. And with over 50 species in this genus, you’re bound to find the right Monstera for you. So whether you’re an avid houseplant keeper or a complete novice, let’s deep dive into the world of Monstera.
What is a Monstera?
Monstera is a type of flowering, epiphtyic plant in the Araceae family, native to the Americas. These evergreen vines can reach heights up to 60ft by climbing trees in the tropical forests. They're most commonly called the "Swiss Cheese plant" due to the splits or holes in the leaves known as fenestrations. These fenestrations allow the leaves to spread over a greater area to increase sunlight exposure while also allowing enough light to reach the lower leaves.
In household conditions, a small Monstera is more common. Smaller Monsteras might not have big leaves or those beautiful fenestrations. The secret to grow bigger leaves with lots of splits, is to get it to climb by growing it on a moss pole or a wooden plank, like the Zella trellis from Treleaf.
Monstera Deliciosa climbing Zella trellis
Let's dive into the world of Monstera and see all the beauty this genus has to offer.
Monstera deliciosa - Split leaf philodendron
Monstera Deliciosa is the most common amongst Monstera, sometimes called Split Leaf Philodendron. It grows large leaves with splits on the outside and inside of the leaves. Eventually, Monstera Deliciosa will need extra room or its own corner because they get massive. Great beginner plant compared to other houseplants.
Monstera Deliciosa attached to Monstrella trellis from Treleaf
Monstera Deliciosa Variegata
A variegate plant is any plant that displays multiple colors. These colors are usually pink, white, lime and silver. And you can find three different variegated Monstera Deliciosa on the market; Monstera Deliciosa Albo Variegata (white variegation), Monstera Deliciosa Thai Constellation (cream/yellow variegation) and Monstera Deliciosa Aurea (green variegation).
Monstera Deliciosa Albo Vareigata was the first type of variegated Monstera to hit the market and would, easily run into the triple digits. But, in recent years the price of Monstera Deliciosa Albo Variegata and Thai Constellation have significantly dropped because they're now being mass produced. While, Monstera Deliciosa Aurea can only be found in private collections.
Monstera Adansonii - Swiss cheese plant:
Monstera Adansonii gets its nick name from the small, heart shaped leaves that develop holes as the plant matures. This pattern resembles actual Swiss cheese. Monstera Adansonii has a fast growth rate but stays at a manageable size when grown in a container. To achieve bigger leaves, attach the aerial roots to a moss pole or plank. Once the aerial roots attach, new leaves will start doubling in size.
Monstera Adansonii trellised on Monstrella trellis from Treleaf
Similar to the variegated Monstera Deliciosa, Monstera Adansonii also has variegated cultivars. The two cultivars being Monstera Adansonii Albo Variegata and Monstera Adansonii Aurea.
Monstea Dubia is a less common form of Monstera but is quickly growing in popularity. Monstera Dubia is typically grown on a plank where it can attach and grow bigger leaves. In its juvenile form, it has tiny heart shaped leaves with light green and silver foliage. As it matures the plant growth will change as it will start to get those split leaves and even change in color.
Monstera Siltepecana is another rare Monstera that is quickly growing in popularity. Similar to the Monstera Dubia, it has green and silver foliage but in an arrow shape rather than heart shape. Monstera Siltepecana can make a great trailing plant or can grow large leaves with a moss pole or wooden plank.
Monstera Esqueleto, also known as Monstera Epipremnoides, is one of the more easy care Monsteras. Once given the correct support, Monstera Esqueleto will quickly size up and gain those beautiful inner fenestrations. And the biggest difference in this species of Monstera is that the fruit is not edible, like with the Monstera Deliciosa.
Monstera Burle Marx Flames
Monstera Burle Marx Flames is one of the newest Monstera to hit the market. Purchasing one of these will easily hit triple digits. This Monstera has the most unique shape compared to other Monstera. Its leaves resemble a flame, hence the name. With the notorious splits every Monstera forms. And as the plant matures, the leaves will look like a ribcage. These unique features make this one of the hottest plants in the plant world.
Monstera plant care
When caring for a Monstera plant, it's important to keep in mind that they're epiphytes. Understanding the natural habitat will help you understand the correct ways of growing your Monstera.
Soil: What kind of soil is best for Monstera plants
Monstera don't like a dense potting soil and they don't like to sit in wet soil. When a Monstera is sitting in waterlogged soil for too long, it will get root rot. To prevent root rot, you'll need to amend your potting medium. Using orchid bark, perlite, horticultural charcoal and coco coir will help prevent waterlogged soil and root rot. You can also plant your Monstera plant in a terracotta pot, if you have a tendency to over water plants. And also make sure your pots have a drainage hole.
How much light to give Monstera
When it comes to light, Monstera's don't like direct sun. They grow underneath other plants, so indirect light is ideal. If you want more leaves, you can slowly acclimate your Monstera plant to bright light.
Humidity and Monstera
These tropical plants will tolerate low humidity but will thrive in higher humidity. Anything from 40% to higher, especially for the more rare Monsteras. High humidity also helps encourage growth, prevent stuck leaves and will help new growth reach its fullest potential.
How often to water Monstera
Overwatering is one of the top reasons houseplants die. The biggest way to prevent root rot is to understand when your Monstera needs water. For instance, Monstera Deliciosa will starts to droop or curl its leaves when it's time for a watering. To prevent overwatering, water your Monstera when the pot is completely dry. You can lift the pot up and test the weight, if it feels light, it's time to water. You can also, use a moisture meter and water anytime it reads below a 2. Or you can use your finger and test to see if the first few inches of soil or moist or dry. Finding a good watering schedule and a nice potting soil mix will help your Monstera thrive and will help prevent yellow leaves.
How to prevent your Monstera from getting root rot
Monstera have a thick root system that can be susceptible to root rot when not given the correct potting medium. Some signs root rot; new growth comes in funky, the leaves start to look curled even after watering, or you notice a lot of yellowing leaves but no signs of pests.
The best treatment for root rot would be to unpot your Monstera, cut off any mushy, rotting roots and place in fresh soil. Make sure the new soil is chunky, to provide more air to the roots, and the pot has a drainage hole to let excess water drain.
Plant support - Moss poles vs wooden plank
One common problems amongst novice plant parents, is plant growth. With Monstera plants, they often will give out small juvenile leaves. They need some sort of plant support to help carry new growth. Once the Monstera feels supported, you'll get more leaves with lots of splits and fenestrations. Monstera Deliciosa is one Monstera that will thrive when given the correct support. Most people will choose a moss pole or wooden plank for support.
Moss poles are made by using chicken wire, zip-ties and lots of spaghnum moss. They're the most popular form of support used by plant people. And while moss poles give a nice classic look, they need a lot of upkeep. They require frequent waterings and high humidity in order to get aerial roots to attach. And they shed everywhere, often shedding on leaves and making it looks like they have pest.
Wooden planks have quickly grown in popularity as an alternative to messy moss poles. Not only does it best mimic a plants natural habitat but aerial roots attach to planks a lot faster than the alternative. No excess water necessary. And if you want to avoid the 'hardware aesthetic' planks can give you, try a Zella trellis from Treleaf. Made from cedar wood but has a beautiful design to it, supporting your plants in style. Read more about poles vs plank in our older blog post.