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Marvellous monstera plant

Marvellous Monstera: A beginner’s guide to growth and care

Time to read:  10 minutes, 2140 words

Hi there! You’re here because you either have a Monstera or you plan on getting a Monstera.  You’ve seen them just about everywhere and now you want to wander into the heavenly world of plants for your home.

Well, you have come to the right place.  I am going to take you on a Monstera journey like no other.  You’re going to learn all there is to know about this wonderful plant.

First thing – it doesn’t take a lot of care to keep these plants happy.  They are the perfect plant if you are just starting out.

In this post I am going to cover basically what you need to know to take care and grow your Monstera, keeping in mind that they are very easy to look after and don’t need much attention.

Below is a list of the topics I am going to run through with you.  If you want, you can jump to the bit information that interests you the most.  Just click on the topic and it will take you directly there.

Temperature

First thing you need to look at is where you are going to place your Monstera.  Ideally, you want to put it where it’s not too hot and not too cold.  For your Monstera grow, it needs to be in a space where the temperature does not go below 10C, otherwise it won’t grow. And you don’t want Monstera in a space which exceeds 30C.  Having said that, I have a large Monstera on my front porch which is west facing and it gets full sun in the height of summer, which can reach 40C at times, and it’s ok!

Generally speaking, if you keep the temperature above 10C and below 30C you are giving you Monstera the ideal condition to keep it happy, and if it’s happy it will grow!

Light Requirements

Monstera’s love light.  More bright light the healthier they will be.  They will grow faster and their leaves will start developing fenestrations sooner.

If the light is too low it will grow more slowly and more likely to produce simple leaves.  Try to give your Monstera around 4-5 hours of sunlight a day.

So, you want to aim for medium to bright light!

Watering Monstera

What’s so good about Monstera plants, is that you just need to water it when their soil is dry to touch.  When you see the soil is dry water it thoroughly.  Allow the water to pass through twice, making sure all sides of the pot are watered.  Wait for the water to drain away, making sure the bottom of the pot is not dripping, and put it back in the pot.

This might also be a good time to wipe down the leaves, using a soft cloth and water.  Wipe the leaves softly, so no dust is blocking the leaves.  This will allow them to capture that nutritious sunlight they love so much!

Now is a good time for me to talk about water types. Just like we love great tasting water, plants do too.  It’s useful to know the type of water you are using. Tap water can contain harmful chemicals, like chlorine and fluorine, which can affect certain plants.  If you are concerned you can use distilled water.

Pots

Any type of pot is ok, just make sure it has a really good size drainage hole.  You really don’t want water filling up the pot at the bottom.  This is where you can get into trouble because if the roots stay in water they can rot.  Then the plant is unhappy.  The plant will let you know when its new leaves have black spots.

Actually, terracotta pots are really ideal for Monstera plants because they are made from baked clay.  Their porous nature allows air and water to pass through the walls of the pot, which promotes healthy growth and prevents root rot.

Another good idea to keep roots healthy is to put a layer of gravel at the base of the pot to elevate the roots and protect them from sitting in water.

Soil Types

There are two ways you can go with soil – you can buy potting soil or you can make your own using the following combination, keeping in mind that you want to create a soil that is rich in nutrients and loose in texture.

  • 60% peat moss or coco coir
  • 20% pumice, coarse sand or perlite
  • 20% organic matter

Just make sure your soil types do not have water retentive gels because that will clog up the soil with moisture when you really want the soil to dry out naturally.

Fertilizing

If you have just repotted your Monstera it won’t need fertilizer because the soil is rich in nutrients already.  Wait 3-6 months and then you could use a liquid fish fertilizer.  If you find liquid iron, that’s really good for greening up the leaves.

Now, if you already have Monstera plant that fits nicely in the pot and you don’t want it to grow, but just want to give it a feed, you can top dress with nutrient rich soil around the base of the plant.  So, as you water it the nutrients will slowly filter down to the roots.

Shaping

I like to rotate my smaller Monstera plants as they will lean out and grow toward the sunlight, which can affect its shape. So, if you want to keep a nice round shape, or just want to make it look bushier cut back the long stems to make it look fuller and compact.  Any stem can be cut off at any point, but closer to the base of the stem is best.  New growth will eventually emerge from that point.

Staking

You may want to let your Monstera grow, and given the chance, it can grow up towards the ceiling.  In fact, Monstera are a hard vine that love to climb, so you could train them to grow up poles.  Try to find a hard wood pole to stake your Monstera.  Something like cedar which won’t rot in the soil and be able to support your plant as it gets bigger and heavier.

Aerial Roots

As your Monstera grows in size it will produce aerial roots.  They want to grab onto something so the plant can climb! If you don’t like the look of them, you can cut them off.  Don’t worry, it won’t hurt the plant.

Air Purifying

Just quick note that NASA Clean Air Study found that if you have plants in your living space they can absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis.  And how amazingly good is it know we are breathing in nice, clean air!  It’s fair to say that plants not only look good, but they make for a healthier living space.

Transplanting

If you want your plant to grow bigger you might need to consider putting it into a larger pot.  The best time to transplant your Monstera is late Winter or early Spring.  Doing it this time of the year gives the plant to establish roots.  It has the whole growing season ahead to grow new foliage and fill out the pot.

Propagating

You can produce your own Monstera plant very easily.  There are two ways to do it – by water and by soil.

Water propagation

All you need to do is have tall thin glass cylinder vessel.  Actually, you can use any tall vessel, but I like glass because you can see the growing taking place and that’s very cool to witness.

Fill it with water. Then you take your plant and cut off a leaf.  Just make sure that you cut just below the node and/or aerial root.  Place it in the water.  That’s it!  Oh, and remember to change the water every one to two weeks so that the cutting is getting fresh oxygenated water, and also the water can start to smell if it isn’t freshened.  That way your new cutting will be happy and grow nicely.

Soil Propagation

Cut the leaf off the same way but this time you are going to plant it directly into the soil.  Use the same soil mixture we talked about above.  Make sure you keep the soil moist for about a month but not too wet.  I try to use a smaller pot because you use less soil and less chance for the soil to become soggy.  So, moist soil is good.  Soggy not so good for successful propagating in soil.

You will see roots start to shoot from the cutting about 3 weeks after propagating.  That’s it!  So easy.

Pests

It’s not very common, but sometimes your Monstera can have some unwelcome visitors.  These can be:

            -Thrip

            – Mealy Bugs

            – Spider Bites

Horticultural oil, also known as dormant oil, can be sprayed onto the bugs.  The oil suffocates them and they die.

A less harsh way to get rid of bugs is to simply wash them off the plant.

Origins

Knowing where Monstera plants grow in their natural habitat gives us a better understanding to take care of them and how they grow.

They actually originate from warm tropical forests where the humidity can be high.  It’s a flowering plant native to Southern Mexico, Panama, Belize, Honduras, Cost Rica and Guatemala.  The flowers drop the seeds on the forest floor. It grows in the shade with the tree canopy above it.  The seeds crawl until they meet a tree.  This “crawling” is called negative phototropism.  The purpose of this is to find a tree to attach itself to.  Then it plans to grow up the tree.  The aerial roots allow the plant to anchor against its new support.  The plant’s goal is to reach the canopy light.

Fruit

The fruit looks like corn except the seeds are a hexagonal shape.  As the fruit ripens from the bottom up, the seeds are released and fall to the ground.  The fruit takes about 12 months to mature.  It starts off green and gradually turns to a yellow.  As is matures it also has this really delicious fragrance similar to a combination of pineapple banana.  The fruit is edible and safe to eat when it has turned yellow.

Seeds

It would be pretty impressive if you got your hands on Monstera seeds!  They are pretty hard to find.  But if you do, and you want to grow a Monstera from seed you going to have to start with a warm and humid environment.  It needs heat to generate enough energy to push a leave and root out of the seed shell.  Place them in filtered light so they stretch out and grow toward it, as they would in a tropical forest. 

It takes about two weeks for the seed to grow into a little seedling.  At about 12 weeks it will have about 6 solid little leaves.  The solid leaves collect the light it needs to grow.  As the plant grows bigger and matures it will produce larger leaves with fenestrations.

What does Monstera deliciosa mean?

Deliciosa means delicious.  This is referring to the fruit.  While Monstera means monstrous, as in the tropical forests it can grow up to 9 metres!

What does Monstera deliciosa symbolise?

In Chinese culture, it is a symbol of long life and the honouring of elders and respected people.

Also, in feng shui, Monstera is thought to bring good luck as it is considered to be full of energy and its round leaves can make people relax.

Glossary

Fenestrations – Leaves with holes

monstera plant leaf
Figure 2: Monstera leaf with no fenestrations
monstera plant leaf
Figure 3: Monstera leaf with no fenestrations

Photosynthesis – The process where plants create carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water using light as an energy source.

Negative phototropism – This is where the seed is seeking to find something tall and solid to attached itself to so it can climb.  It knows that if it goes somewhere that is tall (causing shade) there’s good chance it will be tree trunk to attach itself to.

Phototropism – Where the plant grows towards the light.

Bringing it all together

Because Monstera originated in tropical forest where it grows on the forest floor and then forges upwards to the top of the tree canopy to reach the sunlight, it’s a great beginner’s houseplant.

Well, that wraps up all I know about Monstera deliciosa.  Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I hope you found it post useful and interesting.  Have fun taking care of your Monstera.  Let me know how you go.  I would love to hear from you.  Please leave your comments and questions below and I will try to answer them the best I can.

Hermina Bevilacqua

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