Monstera: In-Depth Guide to the Tropical Houseplant Favorite
We’re shedding a little light on the already uber-trendy plant, Monstera. You may also know it as the Swiss cheese plant, Mexican breadfruit, fruit salad plant, or even incorrectly as the split leaf philodendron (while Philodendron and Monstera come from the same family, they are indeed different genus and species).
This tropical plant features beautiful foliage of shiny wide leaves, appearing either whole, split, or cut. The most popular variation is Monstera deliciosa— which is believed to roughly translate to “monstrous delicious” due to the fact that in the wild, the plant produces large edible fruit. In this spotlight series, we’ll hone in a little extra on this favorite variety.
Origin: Tropical forests of America (specifically Mexico & Central American areas of Costa Rica and Panama)
About: With about 30-50 different species of Monstera, these lush plants are part of the vast Araceae family. Monstera plants are evergreen climbers with aerial roots, meaning in their natural habitat they’ll grow up trees by latching their roots onto trunks and branches. However, indoors they can get bushy or be trained to vine upwards.
Although Monstera deliciosa creates flowering fruit in the wild, it rarely (if ever) flowers indoors. Outdoors, they’re able to be grown in USDA’s Hardiness Zone’s 10-12 where they can fruit. The fruit is reminiscent of banana and pineapple. While the fruit is safely edible, the rest of the Monstera plant is considered to be toxic to humans, cats, and dogs upon ingestion.
Indoor Care: Monstera deliciosa is an easy to care for plant that isn’t too picky about your home conditions. Since it’s native to the topics, it does prefer warmth, high humidity, and indirect light. But as long as the temperature is above 65°F (and below 90°F), it can mostly tolerate low to high light and low to high air moisture.
For watering, allow the soil to partially dry out before watering again. Just check the soil by wiggling a finger a couple of inches deep into the soil— it should be dry to slightly damp.
During the spring and summer, your Monstera will thrive with a monthly dose of fertilizer. Also, about every couple of years, your Monstera will likely need to be repotted to support new growth.
Extra Care: Pests are generally not a big nuisance with the Monstera line of plants. But the large leaves of the Monstera tend to accumulate dust, dander, and dirt particles. So to prevent potential pests as well as keep your space clean, just wipe the leaves every once in a while using a cloth with warm water.
Interesting Tidbit: The rope-like roots of Monstera plants are used in Central American culture for everyday items. Woven roots create gorgeously crafted baskets and decor. Fascinatingly, the plant was used as snake-bite anti-venom by locals on the Caribbean island of Martinique as documented in the late 1600’s.
Monstera deliciosa is a stunning plant on its own, and you can even buy one online. But many prefer to cut or buy the leaves to use as floral decor. Placed in a decorative vase, minimalistic Monstera fronds make a grand statement to any room or event.