This guide shares all of the monstera deliciosa care tips I’ve gathered over the years caring for my plants!
Monstera deliciosa care guide & how to grow a huge monstera!
The stunning monstera deliciosa plant, sometimes also referred to as the Swiss cheese plant or just a simply cheese plant, is a houseplant staple. It’s one of those plants that just looks so lush and tropical—it makes an amazing addition many rooms in your home.
I have grown many monstera deliciosa plants, and my large monstera deliciosa started as a clearance plant many years ago. In this article, I’ll share all of my lessons learned for growing healthy monsteras indoors. I also have a YouTube video about how I grew my huge monstera deliciosa!
Monstera deliciosa care overview
- Thrives in bright, indirect light; place it near a sunny window, but protect it from prolonged exposure to strong sunlight.
- Water when the top several inches of soil are dry; adjust watering frequency in the fall and winter.
- Use well-draining potting soil labeled for indoor plants or aroid plants.
- Maintain temperatures between 60 and 90°F (15°C to 32°C); avoid exposing the plant to cold drafts or extreme heat.
- Enjoys high humidity but can tolerate average household humidity.
- You can prune off older, less mature leaves; repot when the roots start growing out of the drainage holes (usually every 1-2 years).
- Use a balanced fertilizer (e.g., 20-20-20 or 30-10-10) at half strength every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.
- Can be propagated easily through cuttings or through division.
Monstera deliciosa background
The monstera deliciosa plant is native to tropical regions of Central and South America. The word “monstera” is derived from the Latin word “monstrum,” which means “strange” or “unusual,” likely referring to the plant’s unique leaf shape. The species name “deliciosa” means “delicious,” which is probably a reference to the edible fruit that the plant produces in its native environment.
It’s called Monstera deliciosa because it has an unique leaf shape as well as it produces edible fruit which is called Monster fruit, it’s not actually that common to have both of those characteristics together, thus “Monstera” for it’s shape and “deliciosa” for the delicious fruit it produces
How much light does a monstera need?
Monstera deliciosa thrives in bright, indirect light. I cannot emphasize this enough—this is not a low-light plant. In nature, it grows in rainforests under dense tree canopies. Those canopies filter the light, but the plants still get bright indirect light since the sun is so intense.
But although the tropical monstera deliciosa comes from the rainforest, it’s a perfectly adaptable plant that grows quite well indoors as a houseplant. I recommend placing your monstera right by your sunniest window.
They can tolerate some direct sunlight, but it’s important to protect them from prolonged exposure to strong sun rays as it can burn their leaves. I generally don’t have issues with my houseplants scorching through the windows, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind if you take your plant outdoors for the spring and summer.
And I’ve done that, too! These tropical plants love the warm, wet Maryland summers. So I drag my plant outside and put it under a covered patio. It gets some lightly dappled direct sunlight, but it’s mostly bright shade. And it totally thrives.
Where do you put a monstera deliciosa indoors?
A spot near a window that gets plenty of natural light is ideal, such as a windowsill for a small plant or an east or west-facing window. If you have a south-facing window, monitor the plant to make sure it doesn’t get too much direct sun. A sheer curtain or blind can help filter and diffuse the light if necessary.
Another option is to place the plant in a location that gets indirect light from an artificial light source, such as a fluorescent or LED plant light. It’s important to ensure the light is not too intense or too close to the plant, as it can cause leaf burn. I recommend having a look at my guide Using Grow Lights for House Plants if you’re new to this topic.
Why don’t my monstera deliciosa leaves have holes?
This monstera plant is famous for the holes in its leaves—holes that eventually grow so large as the leaf size increases that they split the leaf. It’s likely that the leaves have this pattern as a way of adapting to harsh conditions in the rainforest—think heavy rain and whatnot.
Young monstera deliciosa plants do not yet have holes or fenestrations (the deep splits in the leaves). These develop as the plant ages. The first leaf that unfurls with fenestrations is so exciting!
So don’t be alarmed if your plant doesn’t have holes or fenestrations and it is young. They will come with proper care and time. If your plant is relatively mature and it still not producing fenestrations—or if a plant that has previously unfurled leaves with fenestrations seems to revert to solid leaves—check out your light.
These plants can also tolerate low light levels, but growth will be slower and the leaves may not develop as many fenestrations. Plants can being unfurling leaves that, while lovely, don’t have what the plant is known for. Try increasing your light levels to see if that helps.
How often should monstera be watered?
Monsteras are fairly low maintenance when it comes to watering. While they are actively growing during the spring and summer, you should shoot to water them roughly once a week, though this can depend on your care conditions. They need less water in the fall and winter.
Because of this, the best approach to keep your monstera deliciosa happy is to check the soil moisture. I don’t use a moisture meter. Instead, I just stick my finger in the soil and dig around. If the top several inches are dry, it’s time to water.
I often see people recommending that you let the top inch of soil dry out. But I don’t think this is waiting long enough. These plants are super prone to root rot, so I’d err on the side of slightly underwatering vs. overwatering if you’re stumped.
In addition to checking the soil, there are a few other ways to tell if a monstera deliciosa needs water. First, check the leaves. If the leaves and stems start to droop or wilt, it’s usually a sign that the plant needs water. Once you water the plant, it should recover quickly.
Next, you can take a peek at the aerial roots. Monstera deliciosa has chunky brown aerial roots that help them absorb moisture from the air. If the aerial roots appear brown and dry, it’s a sign that the plant needs water.
What does an overwatered monstera look like?
An overwatered monstera generally presents itself in a couple of ways. While some symptoms can be a number of things (for example, yellow leaves can be a sign of both overwatering and underwatering), context cues can help.
- Yellowing leaves: One of the first signs of overwatering is yellowing leaves. This is because the roots are not able to absorb oxygen when they are submerged in wet soil for too long.
- Brown patches on leaves: If they aren’t crispy brown spots on the tips, brown patches can be caused by fungal or bacterial infections that thrive in wet soil.
- Wilting leaves: Overwatered Monstera leaves will appear wilted and droopy, rather than standing up straight—and this will be alongside wet soil.
- Soft or mushy stem: If the stem of the plant feels soft and mushy when you touch it, it may be a sign of root rot.
- Smell of mold: Overwatered plants can develop a moldy smell, caused by the mold growing in the soil.
- Roots appear black and mushy: If you take the plant out of the pot and notice the roots looking black and mushy rather than white and firm, it’s a sign of root rot caused by overwatering.
Should you bottom water your monstera?
Bottom watering is a method of watering where the plant is placed in a tray of water, and the water is absorbed from the bottom through the pot’s drainage holes. This method is not super common for monstera deliciosa, nor is it required.
However, it can be a good option in some situations. Bottom watering can be useful for plants that are recovering from root rot, as it allows the roots to take up water without the risk of drowning.
It can also help to banish fungus gnats. They lay eggs in the top few inches of soil, and the soil must be moist. Watering plants from the bottom may help kill of the infestation by keeping the top layers of soil dry and allowing the plant to drink from the bottom.
What is the best soil?
Monstera deliciosa plants prefer well-draining soil that holds moisture but doesn’t become waterlogged. A good potting mix labeled as something for “indoor plants” or “houseplants” will work just fine. You can also order a mix for “aroid” plants.
Another option is to use a mixture of equal parts of perlite, coconut coir, and orchid bark. This mix allows for good drainage, but it also retains the appropriate amount of moisture and prevents the soil from drying out too quickly.
What are the plant’s temperature needs?
Because it originates from the rainforest, the monstera deliciosa likes warmer temperatures. I recommend shooting for between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. They will grow well in normal room temperature as long as you don’t expose them to cold drafts or extreme heat.
It will not be happy in the cold, though. When temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant will start to slow down its growth and it may lose some leaves. If the temperature goes below 40, the leaves will start to turn yellow and may fall off. It is definitely not frost hardy.
I can personally attest to my large monstera deliciosa being fine with a few cold snaps down into the 50s. That happened when my plant was outside, just before I took it in after fall set in.
It’s also good to note that temperature fluctuations, particularly sudden changes, can cause the leaves to yellow or fall off. If you are moving a monstera from a warm to a cooler area, or vice versa, I recommend doing so gradually over a period of several days to allow the plant to adjust.
Should I mist my monstera deliciosa?
Monstera deliciosa also likes high humidity but will do well with average household humidity. While adding a humidifier would be your best option, I understand they are a pain. If you don’t want to increase the humidity of your entire room, you can mist the leaves to help the plant temporarily retain moisture.
I recommend misting using a continuous mister (affiliate link) in the morning to give the leaves a chance to dry off before nightfall. This can help prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Be careful not to mist the plant too much, as leaving the leaves wet for prolonged periods can create an environment where mold and mildew can grow.
It’s also important to remember that misting is not a substitute for watering, as the plant still needs to take up water through the roots. Misting is just a supplement to provide humidity.
Should I wipe down monstera leaves?
I often see people recommend misting as a way to clean monstera leaves. However, I feel like the water just cakes any dust that has accumulated on your leaves in place. It isn’t the best way to clean the leaves.
The absolute best way to clean the leaves is by rinsing them off when watering the plant. I do this in the sink or in the shower for my big plant. If the weather outside is nice, I will water the plant with the hose on the patio. Or, even better, drag my plant outside during a rainstorm!
If none of these are an option, wiping for your monstera leaves is a perfectly suitable option. I have an article all about how to clean houseplant leaves. And the monstera deliciosa leaves are big, beautiful dust magnets.
Simply use a damp microfiber cleaning cloth. Wipe down the tops and bottoms of the leaves. You can add a spritz of heavily diluted neem oil to the cloth to help naturally shine the leaves if you’d like. This also helps with routine pest prevention.
Should I prune my monstera deliciosa?
I love pruning my plants! Pruning off old growth helps to encourage new growth. It might be tough to cut off old leaves, but I do it like it’s cool. It’s one way I’ve encouraged such a big, bushy plant.
As my plant grew, I would slowly cut off old, less mature leaves. Leaves that didn’t have fenestrations or had yellowing due to age or due to my learning how to care for my plant. I’d say I pruning off older leaves at a rate of 2:1—that is, every two new leaves, I’d cut off one old leaf.
You can easily tell which leaves are the oldest because they are on the bottom of the stems. Now my plant is at a point where all of the leaves are large and mature, so I am no longer pruning off old growth unless it is for cosmetic reasons.
How often should I repot a monstera deliciosa?
Man, repotting my large monstera has been a ride! I recommend repotting your plant once the roots begin growing out of the pot’s drainage holes. This will likely be every 1-2 years depending on how well the plant is growing.
I have repotted my plant three times. The first pot I had it in had no drainage holes at all. And the plant still grew like crazy. I repotted it after about a year and was shocked to see how jam-packed the roots were when I took it out of the pot!
I sized the pot up about 2 inches and added fresh soil. And let me tell you what—my baby exploded with new growth! It was so potbound and was dying for a new home. Then, the next spring, I took it out to examine the root ball.
It was, yet again, completely pot bound. I decided I didn’t want to size the pot up simply due to space, so I hacked the root ball up to make room for fresh soil and repotted the plant. I also added a DIY jute pole to help the plant climb.
And this is where my large monstera lives today. I will likely take it out of its pot in the spring (it’s the winter now) to check the root ball. If it is rootbound, I’ll size the pot up this time. Grow, baby, grow!
Is monstera deliciosa a fast grower?
Monstera deliciosa is considered to be a fast-growing plant, and it can grow up to 20 feet or more in its natural environment. Under ideal conditions, indoor plants can grow several feet per year—or faster!
Its fast growth rate is due in part to its aerial roots that can absorb moisture and nutrients from the air, as well as the soil. They can allow the plant to grow taller and faster than other plants.
However, growth rate can vary depending on the specific growing conditions. Factors such as light, temperature, humidity, and the quality of the soil can all affect the growth rate of the plant. In less-than-ideal conditions, it might grow more slowly or even stop growing altogether. Pruning can encourage more growth.
What fertilizer should I use for a monstera?
I have not really used a lot of fertilizer on my houseplants. In the past, I used to mix in worm castings, and now I do a combination of that and plant food. I like the Liqui-Dirt concentrated plant food (affiliate link) that I can add to my watering can once a month.
Fertilizer is fine to use, though! A balanced fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20 or a 30-10-10, will provide the elements your plant needs. These type of fertilizer can be applied at half strength or less, every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer).
You can also use a slow-release fertilizer that can be added to the soil during repotting or can be applied to the surface of the soil and then watered in. And remember that over fertilizing can cause leaf burn and damage to the roots, so be mindful of the amount and frequency of fertilization.
Does a monstera deliciosa need a moss pole?
Once a monstera deliciosa reaches a certain level of maturity, it will benefit from having a moss pole or something similar to climb. That’s because these are climbing plants in nature, often climbing up the trunks of trees or creeping along logs and other plants.
You can use moss poles to support the plant as it grows and to help encourage the aerial roots to cling onto something. I also like using moss poles for my large monsteras because they help me tie up the plant. Otherwise, they can take up a lot of space.
If you are growing your Monstera in a container with no support, it will still grow and develop, but the aerial roots will grow downwards looking for something to cling onto, and the plant will start to creep along the surface of the soil. This can make the plant look less attractive and hard to manage.
You can easily avoid this by popping a moss pole into your pot. Encourage it to begin climbing by tying its stems up using stretchy vinyl plant take. I also like the stackable poles that you can add to as the plant grows. I have that kind on my Thai constellation monstera!
What are the brown things growing out of my monstera?
And speaking of aerial roots…that’s what the brown things growing out of your monstera are! Aerial roots are roots that grow above the soil surface and help the plant absorb moisture and nutrients from the air. They are a characteristic feature of Monstera and other epiphytic plants that are native to tropical regions.
Aerial roots are different from the roots that grow in the soil. They absorb moisture from the air and nearby surfaces. These roots can also penetrate the soil in search of water, especially if the soil is not moist enough. They can grow out of the stem or leaf nodes of the plant.
Aerial roots are not a sign of a problem, and they are normal feature of the plant. It’s actually a good thing that the plant is producing them—it means that the plant is healthy and happy!
You should not remove the aerial roots unless they are damaged, as they are an important part of the plant’s survival mechanism. If the aerial roots are exposed to air, they can dry out quickly and the plant will not be able to absorb moisture. You should keep the aerial roots moist by misting them or keeping a tray of water near the plant.
Or you can just stick them down into the soil as I do. Then will eventually take root and do their thing. I try not to overthink it and find that sticking them down into the soil keeps things tidy.
How to propagate monstera deliciosa
I have propagated many monstera plants, and deliciosa is one of the easiest to propagate! If you’re interested in this topic, I recommend checking out my guide all about How to Propagate Monstera Deliciosa From a Cutting. I also have a YouTube video on the topic. Here’s an overview of that info.
1. Propagating a monstera deliciosa cutting in water
The first and easiest way is to root a cutting in water. The first step is to take a good cutting that has at least 2-3 leaves on it and 1-2 growth points (where the leaves grow from the stems) or aerial node points. Below are two examples of good cutting.
Next pop that cutting in a clear container and add water. Refresh the water every few weeks, and make sure the growth points remain submerged. After several weeks, you’ll notice chunky white roots sprouting. You can plant the cutting in well-draining soil using a small container.
I recommend keeping the soil evenly moist for a few weeks as the water roots adjust to soil. After that, you can back off watering and treat the plant as normal.
2. Propagating a monstera deliciosa cutting in moss
The second propagation method I’ll outline is propagation in sphagnum moss and perlite. If you’re new to using this medium check out my tutorial Sphagnum Moss Propagation 101 for more. Essentially, you’ll dampen a mix of moss and perlite and add the cutting.
This is a great alternative to soil propagation because you can monitor the root development a bit easier. I use a plastic bag to keep humidity high and take it off every few days to air things out, check the roots, and check to see if I need to add moisture to the moss.
When the roots are several inches long, you can transfer the cutting to well-draining soil. No need to keep things super damp—the roots grown in this medium are a bit stronger than the water roots. Begin treating the plant as normal, giving it water when the top few inches of soil dries out.
3. Propagating a monstera deliciosa cutting in LECA
Rooting a monstera deliciosa cutting in LECA is another great choice. Rooting in LECA promotes super healthy root growth, much like moss does. If you’re new to LECA, check out my guide How to propagate cuttings in LECA for more. Here’s an overview.
Add LECA and a cutting to a glass jar, making sure to leave a reservoir of LECA at the bottom of the jar. That is, the cutting shouldn’t go all the way down to the bottom of the jar. Fill that reservoir with water and refresh as necessary. When the roots are several inches long, transfer to soil just as you would with a cutting you’d rooted in moss.
4. Propagating a monstera deliciosa through division
Oftentimes when you buy a monstera, there are several plants in the same pot. You can simply divide these plants at the root level and pot them up separately. The first picture below shows that, when you look closely, you can see that these are likely different plants in the same pot.
The sequence of photos after it shows a clearance monstera deliciosa plant that I couldn’t resists taking home, cleaning up, and splitting to pass on! You’ll see how many plants I was able to get from this one clearance pot—and I just potted them up separately in little cups.
Other monstera deliciosa FAQs
Here are a few other things I’ve seen people ask about the monstera deliciosa. Hopefully they help to answer your burning questions!
What causes monstera leaves to turn yellow?
I have a whole article about why monstera leaves turn yellow. It can be due to a number of things. If the soil is consistently wet, yellowing leaves on a monstera deliciosa generally are a sign of overwatering. You can let them die off and then prune them off.
If the leaves are wilted and accompanied by dry soil, it is likely a sign of overwatering. See my article linked above for some additional pics and tips on troubleshooting yellow leaves.
Is a monstera deliciosa the same as a split-leaf philodendron?
No! This stumped me for a while. The first monstera deliciosa plant I bought was actually labeled as a “split leaf philodendron.” But although the monstera deliciosa is part of the same family (Araceae) as philodendron, they are totally different plants.
The monstera deliciosa belongs to the monstera genus, while philodendron plants belong to the philodendron genus. (Note though, that monstera deliciosa care and philodendron care are very similar—both pretty easy!)
But the two plants are often confused for one another when it comes to naming conventions, probably because the monstera deliciosa does have some similarities in appearance with the philodendron selloum, which also has a split-leaf look. Nevertheless, they are totally different plants. Don’t be fooled—they are mislabeled often.
Caring for a monstera deliciosa involves understanding its needs for light and water and adjusting your care to suit your plant’s unique environment. As you tend to your monstera, remember that each plant has its own set of signals—from leaf color changes to new growth patterns.
And I’d love to hear about your monstera experience! Share your stories or any questions you might have in the comments below. Happy planting!