How to Grow and Care for Monstera Deliciosa

How to grow and care for monstera deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa (aka the Swiss cheese plant) is one of my favorite low-maintenance houseplants for beginners, revered for its stunning split leaves.

Whilst monstera plants are easy to care for, it is important to note that they are tropical in origin, preferring high humidity and loose soil. Therefore, it is important to know some specific details of their natural environment to grow them successfully in our homes.

In this article, we take a look at how we can replicate some of the conditions of their natural habitat in our homes to make sure your monstera is happy!

Here is a table summarizing the care requirements of monstera deliciosa:

How to Care for Your Monstera Deliciosa:Monstera Deliciosa Care Requirements:
Light:Monstera prefers bright indirect light.
Location:Keep Monstera out of the current of air conditioning and on the other side of the room from indoor heating.
Best Potting Soil:Monstera needs loose aerated soil, so mix 2/3’s potting soil with 1/3 orchid potting mix or perlite.
Best Pots:Terracotta or unglazed clay is the best as it dries out evenly, preventing root rot. However, monstera can grow in plastic and ceramic pots if they have a drainage hole and are watered carefully.
How Often to Repot Monstera:Re-pot Monstera every 2-3 years.
Use a moss pole for support:Mature monstera plants ideally need a moss or coir pole for the aerial roots to attach to support the plant as it is naturally a climbing vine.
How Often to Water Monstera in Summer:Typically, watering every 7 days meets the watering requirements without risking root rot. However, always ensure the top inch of potting soil feels dry before watering.
How Often to Water Monstera in Winter:Typically, watering every 10 days meets the watering requirements in Winter, but always check to see if the top inch of soil has dried before watering.
Humidity:Monstera prefers higher humidity (around 30%) but can adapt to lower levels. If the leaves start curling or turning brown at the edges, mist the leaves to increase humidity.
Wipe the Leaves every Month:Use a damp cloth to clean the leaves every month or so to stop them from accumulating too much dust, which can interfere with photosynthesis.
How Often to Use Fertilizer:Use a general all-purpose houseplant fertilizer every month in the Spring and Summer. Do not use any fertilizer in the Fall and Winter.
Temperature:Monstera can withstand temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C), but 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C) is the optimal temperature range for growth.

Best Light and Location for Monstera (Bright, Indirect Light)

Monstera deliciosa needs bright, indirect light to grow well indoors. Bright light ensures the monstera has the energy it needs to produce more of its large leaves with their characteristic fenestrations.

Monstera deliciosa grows naturally by climbing trees in bright light, but they are protected from intense sunlight by the canopy overhead.

Typically, I find that my monstera grows best in rooms with a south-facing window, but located a few feet away from the window to avoid any direct light.

If the monstera does not have bright enough light, they tend to not grow as well, and droop over, and anecdotally, I have noticed that the leaves are smaller with fewer holes.

Whilst monstera can tolerate some morning sun, the leaves tend to scorch brown in direct sunlight, particularly afternoon sun, from which they do not recover, so it is important to find the right balance of bright, indirect light.

Monstera are native to humid tropical environments, so keep your monstera out of the direct path of air currents from air conditioning, open doors, or convection currents from sources of heat.

Monstera does appreciate air circulation from a gentle breeze from an open window every so often.

Perosnally, my monstera grow very well in the more humid rooms of the house such as bathrooms, but you can grow in any room as long as you are able to increase the humidity with misting or by using a humidifier.

Best Soil for Monstera (Best Potting Mix)

The best potting soil for growing monstera deliciosa is a mix of 2/3 normal houseplant potting soil mixed with 1/3 pine bark-based potting mix.

I have personally found that a mix of potting soil and pine bark is best as the soil retains enough moisture to meet the monstera plant’s needs whilst the pine bark creates an aerated soil structure that allows excess water to drain away easily.

Monstera also grow as a hemi epiphytic vine in their natural environment with their roots growing up other trees, so the pine bark also mimics their natural growing conditions to some extent.

I have also grown monstera in a potting mix with perlite (which is great if you do not have any pine bark to hand), as perlite also creates the aerated soil structure around the roots of the monstera, providing the optimal balance between retaining some moisture and good drainage.

If you do not amend your monstera’s potting soil with either perlite or pine bark, then the potting mix may be too dense, which restricts the amount of oxygen around the roots and retains moisture for too long for the monstera to tolerate, which results in root rot.

Best Type of Pot For Monstera Deliciosa

My favourite for monstera plants are unglazed clay and terracotta pots as they are porous, which allows the potting soil to dry out more evenly, and mitigates the risk of root rot, whereas plastic and ceramic pots are impermeable and can retain too much moisture for the monstera to tolerate.

Ensure your pot has a drainage hole in the base, as Monstera does not tolerate saturated soil.

Top Tip: Clay and terracotta pots are also heavier than plastic pots which can act as a counterbalance, preventing top heavy monstera from toppling over! Mine once fell over when it was in a much lighter plastic pot when my cat had a misadventure!

Monstera can grow in plastic or ceramic pots as long as they have drainage holes in the base and you check the soil moisture diligently to make sure it does not stay damp for too long.

How Often to Repot Monstera Deliciosa (Every 2-3 Years)

It is best practice to re-pot Monstera every 2 to 3 years in a pot that is only 2 inches larger in diameter than the previous pot. If you repot your monstera to a much larger pot, then the soil dries out at a much slower rate, which can increase the risk of root rot.

Take your monstera out of its original pot and discard any soil around the rootball, as this soil may be compacted (which reduces the rate of drainage) or decomposed to the point it retains too much moisture.

I personally recommend placing some crocs or mesh over the drainage hole to prevent any excess soil from falling out the bottom of the pot (depending on the size of the drainage hole).

Place your monstera in its new pot and backfill the potting mix around the roots. As stated, I personally recommend a mix of 2/3’s potting soil mixed with 1/3 orchid pine bark-based potting mix.

I must emphasize that it is important not to compress the soil too firmly around the roots as this pushes oxygen out of the soil, decreasing the drainage rate and reducing root respiration. This is a common mistake I see people make when repotting!

After repotting give the potting mix a good soak, making sure that the potting mix is evenly moist. Be aware that the soil is likely to dry out at a slower rate in the larger pot, so I caution you to check the soil’s moisture before watering.

If the potting soil iss still damp to a 1-inch depth, then you need to delay watering until it feels dry.

Use a Moss Pole When Repotting Monstera Deliciosa To Prevent Drooping

Monstera are hemi epiphytes which means they use aerial roots to climb up trees in their native environment.

Therefore, you need to provide mature monstera plants with a moss or coconut coir pole as a structure to climb, which prevents them from drooping over and creates a tall, dramatic look for your plant, rather than sprawling all over the floor.

Monstera plant with a coir pole.
I tied the monstera’s vine to the coir pole with string to encourage the aerial roots to attach. Use string as opposed to wire as it is softer and does not damage the monstera’s vines.

It is unnecessary to have a moss pole for a monstera when they are not mature, as they can grow without support. I have had monsters up to three feet tall that can support themselves, but typically, I find I have to use a moss pole for any of my plants more than 3 feet tall.

However, I personally recommend buying one when you see aerial roots forming to prevent any drooping growth.

The moss pole has a tactile texture for the roots to attach to, and the moss (or coir) can absorb water when it is misted, which helps to create a humid microclimate for your monstera to thrive. It also feels like a tree to a monstera! Do you see what I mean about recreating the conditions of its natural environment?

Aerial roots forming which help the monstera climb and  can even uptake moisture and nutrients.
Here are my monstera’s aerial roots which help the monstera climb and can even uptake moisture and nutrients.

How Often To Water Your Monstera Plant

Monstera needs the top inch of the soil to dry out between bouts of watering to meet the monstera’s watering requirements and avoid root rot. Typically in most climates, this means you should water monstera with a generous soak once per week, ensuring that the potting soil is evenly moist.

However, how often you should monstera can vary according to:

  • The size of the pot (larger pot dries more slowly).
  • How much moisture does the potting soil retain?
  • Temperature and humidity.
  • Time of year.

Therefore I always recommend feeling the soil to an inch depth with your finger to accurately detect when the top inch of soil feels dry.

In my experience, this is always best done by touch as I find it is more precise than using moisture meters which I find are too variable to be useful.

Once you have established how long it typically takes for the top inch of the monstera’s potting soil to dry, you can establish a watering schedule for your monstera according to your home environment.

How Often to Water Monstera In Summer

It is important to emphasize that the monstera’s demand for moisture increases in the Spring and Summer during active growth, particularly in the Spring if you are using fertilizer which can accelerate growth.

Additionally, if you are in a hot and dry climate, it may be necessary to water Monstera every 5-7 days as low humidity can sap water from the leaves, and high temperatures increase evaporation from the soil.

As long as you check that the top inch of soil dries before watering, then the monstera will grow and thrive.

How Often to Water Monstera In Winter

Water Monstera plants every 7-10 days in Winter, ensuring that the top inch of the soil dries between each watering.

In Winter, I always see my monstera’s growth rate decrease significantly in response to fewer daylight hours, which reduces the rate at which the roots take up moisture. This can cause the monstera’s potting soil to remain damp for too long.

However, suppose you are using indoor heating in Winter like I do. In that case, this can dry out the potting soil and sap moisture from the leaves, so I always locate my monstera on the other side of the room and mist the leaves regularly to maintain a humid microclimate to prevent the leaves from turning brown at the edges.

Monstera Humidity Requirements (Mist Monstera Regularly)

Monstera are native to the humid tropical jungles of Guatemala, so they often appreciate some additional humidity when grown indoors, particularly if you live in a hot and dry climate that is significantly at odds with their preferred growing conditions.

However, monstera is hardy and adaptable, and I have seen them growing in less than ideal conditions with lower levels of humidity.

If you want to ensure the best chances of success with growing monstera, then I recommend misting the leaves twice a week. This creates a humid microclimate around the leaves, which replicates the humid conditions the monstera prefers.

Misting also helps reduce excess water loss from monstera plants can help ensure the monstera has right balance of moisture.

The need for misting the leaves increases if the temperature rises above the optimal 85°F (29°C) temperature range or the monstera is a draughty area.

It is also important to mist more often in the Winter if you are using indoor heating, as cooler air inherently carries less moisture, reducing the humidity.

Still, the humidity often further decreases as indoor heating can sap the leaves and soil of moisture, particularly as heating increases the temperature in the evening, which is at odds with Monstera’s habitual temperature cycle in its natural habitat.

(To learn more, read my article, how to water monstera plants).

Wipe the Leaves of Your Monstera Every Month

Useful tip: It is important to wipe the big glossy monstera leaves with a damp cloth occasionally, as dust can settle on them. The dust does not necessarily harm the plant as such, but a layer of dust can interfere with photosynthesis and, therefore, slow the rate of growth.

I always do this every month to my leaf houseplants to keep the leaves looking good, and anecdotally, I think it increases the rate of growth.

How Often to Fertilize Monstera Plants for Optimal Growth

Monstera plants grow quite quickly in the growing season, with new leaves unfurling every 2 weeks or so.

A new leaf unfurling in the Summer during monstera's active growth.
A new leaf unfurled in the Summer on my monstera during active growth.

However, it should be noted that monstera is not an especially heavy feeder despite its rate of growth. Too much fertilizer applied too often can burn the roots can be the cause of a dying monstera.

I recommend applying an all-purpose houseplant liquid fertilizer every month from Spring to the middle of Summer to provide the monstera with all the nutrients it needs at the right concentration to ensure big healthy leaves with lots of fenestrations.

It is unnecessary to fertilize your monstera in the Fall or Winter as this can promote growth at a time of year with fewer hours of daylight which can cause your monstera to be droopy.

The Best Temperature Range for Monstera Deliciosa is 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C)

Monstera can survive in temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C). However, they do not tend to grow or develop new leaves at these temperatures, so you can’t see the big leaves with fenestrations that look so spectacular.

Typically, the temperature has to be above 65°F for optimal growth with 65°F to 85°F being the optimal range for healthy growth.

Monstera deliciosa is a hardy indoor plant that can tolerate various temperatures, but typical room temperature is ideal.

It should be noted that Monstera does not relish sudden fluctuations in temperature, such as a blast of cold air from an open door or being located too close to indoor heating, so I recommend finding a fairly consistent area for your Monstera.

Studies have shown monstera cuttings grow faster in temperatures of 30°C (86°F). Read my article about how to propagate monstera:

Why is my Monstera Sweating and Dripping Water?

Monstera leaf dripping water.
Monstera leaf dripping water.

Have you seen your monstera ‘crying’? I know it can look concerning at first, but don’t be alarmed!

Monstera leaves can drip water due to guttation, where excess water, sugars, and various inorganic compounds are exuded through the leaves due to a slight pressure in the roots, forcing excess water to excrete through pores in the leaves.

Due to the presence of sugars and compounds such as potassium in the fluid (known as xylem sap), when the fluid evaporates, it often leaves a slight white mark on the leaf.

Typically, this happens due to the damp soil and relatively high humidity, so if you are in a humid climate, this is more likely to be a problem.

In this case, it may be necessary to leave it a day or two longer between each bout of watering.

However, a sweating leaf can also be because the soil is too dense and retains moisture for too long.

Monstera needs loose soil, so if your monstera is constantly sweating even after reducing the frequency of watering, then I recommend repotting the monstera in the Spring or Summer and using a potting medium of 2/3’s normal potting soil and 1/3 pine bark-based potting mix, which creates the porous soil structure to allow excess water to drain away more efficiently.

If it only happens occasionally, then it is not a serious cause or concern; sometimes, my monstera drips water after watering in the Summer if the weather is humid and my plant is thriving.

Why are My Monstera Leaves not Splitting?

If your monstera leaves do not split and form their characteristic fenestrations, then this indicates there is an environmental problem, which is usually because the monstera does not have enough light.

Without enough light, the monstera does not have enough energy to grow the larger leaves to develop the Swiss cheese appearance.

Therefore the solution is to relocate your monstera to a brighter room. I personally grow my monstera plants in a room with a south-facing window, ensuring that the monster is not in any direct sunlight as this is likely to scorch the leaves.

You can also use a grow light (available online and at garden centers) if your room does not get enough natural light which can help the fenestrations to form and increase the rate of growth.

I have seen people grow enormous monsters in relatively dark apartments thanks to the use of grow lights!

All of the larger leaves of my plant have a great formation with the characteristic Swiss cheese look.

However, it should be noted that often, the lower, smaller leaves of monstera deliciosa do not form the Swiss cheese appearance, which is completely normal.

The lower leaves of monstera often do not have fenestrations.
The lower leaves of monstera often do not have fenestrations.

If you encounter any more problems with your monstera, read my article on how to revive a dying monstera.

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