If you’re into houseplants, you’ve most likely seen a Monstera plant (and possibly even have one of your own...or, ahem, three).
Monstera is a genus of more than 45 species of flowering plants in the arum family, Araceae. The most common variety is the Monstera deliciosa, affectionately dubbed the Swiss Cheese Plant. These plants are notorious for their broad and bodacious, hole-punched leaves. Fun fact: the name Araceae stems from the Latin word for ‘abnormal,’ in reference to its unusual holey foliage!
The holes in the leaves of the Monstera deliciosa are called fenestrations, and they allow for excess water to pass through to the plant’s roots during heavy rainfall and hurricane events common in lush, tropical rainforests.
As the Monstera grows, you’ll notice tiny brown strands on the plant: these are its aerial roots! They attach to trees and rocks in the wild, allowing the Monstera to receive more nutrients from its environment. Simply let the roots grow and tuck them around the plant as they get longer.
Several varieties of split-leaf philodendrons are commonly mistaken for monsteras. Both monsteras and philodendrons are part of the arum family, which also includes the ever-popular Pothos plant. Monsteras and Philodendrons have a lot in common; both are native to the Americas, have species that climb, and others that sport leaves with perforations. But you can’t cross-pollinate a Monstera and a Philodendron to make a hybrid.
Back to Monsteras. Monsteras look more high maintenance than they actually are, and they can withstand a pretty wide range of conditions. Here are the fundamentals when it comes to caring for your Monstera frond!
As tropical plants Monsteras prefer regularly damp soil, so water them thoroughly about once a week with room temperature water, ensuring that the top 2-3” of soil is dry before the next shower. The more sun your Monstera receives, the more water it’ll need.
Monsteras are pretty forgiving when it comes to underwatering, but like most plants will perish if overwatered. Droopy leaves, brown spots, and leaf curl are NOT always caused by underwatering. Always check soil moisture before you water your Monstera - it’s the most dependable indicator of when your plant needs another drink!
Monsteras like sunlight, but they’re generally not a fan of intense, direct sun. Keep your Monstera plants in a location with bright, indirect sunlight and temperatures between 68-75 degrees F.
Monsteras are tropical queens who THRIVE in humidity! If you live in a drier climate, consider investing in a humidifier to keep your Monstera in its ideal conditions (your other plants will likely benefit from the extra humidity, too!)
To keep your Monstera’s leaves clean and dust-free, occasionally give them a gentle wipe with a damp cloth or sponge on both sides.
Rotate your Monstera every week to ensure that the sun is hitting all of its leaves relatively evenly.
Potting your Monstera in terracotta will help prevent overwatering, but might require you to water slightly more frequently as water evaporates through the pot walls.
Photo by @unplantparenthood