Monstera are one of my all time favourite genus of plants. The varieties available, the fenestrated leaves and just the "jungle vibe" they give off ticks all my planty boxes! If you have followed me on social media for a while you know the humble Monstera adansonii is possibly my favourite plant of all time, so much so, I am considering getting a tattoo of one (don't judge me I'm a certified crazy plant lady) any way.. I digress...
A little disclaimer before we start, this Monstera care guide is purely written from my own personal experience and knowledge. Plant care guides should be taken as that, a general guide. There are SO many factors to take into account when caring for plants and not everyones household environments are the same, but they do provide some great information that can be implemented or tried if you are experiencing some difficulty with a certain plant variety.
There are around 59 species of Monstera, with the most common being the Monstera deliciosa. This table below is for the real plant nerds but to summarise the basics, Monstera belong to the plant kingdom, they're in the aroid family and the genus is Monstera.
The most common Monsteras we see in in NZ are below.
This includes variants of that species eg: the variegated version.
Monstera deliciosa (incl variegated varieties)
Monstera borsigiana (incl variegated varieties)
Monstera adansonii (and it's sub species variants) (incl variegated varieties)
Monstera esqueleto (formally epipremnoides)
Monstera karstenianum / peru (incl variegated varieties)
Monstera obliqua (not common but available)
This Monstera care guide is based on these varieties and my experience growing these varieties.
Monstera are climbing plants, therefore prefer to be grown on a stable support. Although a lot of species are sold in shops as hanging baskets, like the adansonii and standleyana, they will grow to their fullest potential when climbing (think big lush leaves and fenestrations).
Monstera aren't really fussy when it comes to a support either, they will attach their aerial roots to almost anything they can reach. But you want your support to be able to suit the plant you are growing, for example a Monstera deliciosa can grow extremely large and heavy, therefore will need a substantial support as it grows. Where as a Monstera dubia is a shingling plant (when juvenile) and prefers to grow on a flat surface, such as a plank of wood.
My two go-to supports for Monstera are Fern fibre totem poles and the plastic grow poles filled with fern fibre. If aesthetics are your thing, then the grow poles are great because they contain the aerial roots into the pole, keeping things neat and tidy. Grow poles also act as an extension to your pot, therefore you are able to keep your Monstera in a smaller pot for longer. They also allow the aerial roots to turn into feeder roots, which intern allows for more nutrient uptake in the plant, boosting growth and supporting larger leaves. Most Monstera have 2 kinds of aerial roots, they have a large root which usually comes out at the node, these roots tend to travel down to the ground to become feeder roots. Then on the inter-node area, they can push out climbing aerial roots from the stem, which usually stay short and anchor the plant onto its support.
The fact Monstera are climbing plants, also offers some incite as to what light conditions they might prefer. The classic term "bright indirect light" or "bright filtered light" is used to describe light preferences for almost every house plant and it basically means as bright as you can give them without it being direct sun. This is because most of our tropical "house plants" come from dense forest situations, where the competition for the light is fierce and the light levels are usually filtered by the top canopy of trees.
In saying that, Monstera can adapt to different light levels in your home and can tolerate lower light situations and in some cases, even some direct sun.
For example, my variegated Monstera (pictured right) receives some direct sun for about 4-5 hours a day in winter, but no direct sun in Summer. Usually the Winter sun is less harsh as it is lower in the sky. But be careful because too much light can cause the leaves to sometimes yellow or turn pale in colour. It is best to slowly acclimatise plants to higher light if you are wanting to do so.
In low light situations Monstera will still grow, although growth may be slow, smaller and a little leggy (leggy meaning longer internode spaces as they reach for the light) but that is not always the case and they are a species of plant which will do fine in lower light.
FEEDING: Monstera are heavy feeders and should be fed on a regular basis to sustain their growth. You may have noticed at some stage some yellowing or discolouration on your plants leaves and this can often be a sign of lack of nutrients.
I like to use the "weakly weekly" method of feeding my Monstera. This just means feeding a diluted solution of plant food, every time you water (yes, even in winter). This does 2 things, it provides a constant supply of nutrients to your plants to sustain their vigorous growth and it also makes sure your plant doesn't develop any nutrient deficiencies which can lead to stunted growth.
I highly recommend a complete & balanced feed for Monstera (all our leafy house plants really) and one with a good NPK ratio.
A complete feed means it contains ALL of the essential nutrients for robust plant growth.
I use Growth Technology "Foliage Focus" which is specifically designed for plants where foliage is the main focus.
I have noticed a significant difference since using this feed in the overall health of my plants and the size of the leaves they are able to sustain.
Variegated plants can also benefit from adding Silica into your watering routine, this can help strengthen the variegation and stop it browning as easily. It also helps your plant to grow more resilient overall and is a nutrient found naturally outdoors in soil but lacks greatly in indoor plants.
SOIL: Monstera (and most aroids in general) are semi-epiphytic and love and thrive in a well draining mix, that has plenty of aeration but can still retain some moisture and hold onto some nutrients. Their roots actually are a good indication of what substrate they prefer, their roots are chunky and almost succulent like in that they hold onto some moisture, so a well draining, airy mix is key!
You can really go with two options for Monstera, a soil-less mix or a soil-based mix with plenty of soil amendments to help aid in drainage and aeration. I personally grow my Monstera in my Hoya & Aroid mix, which is a soil-less substrate that comprises of New Zealand Tree Fern fibre, New Zealand Orchid bark in grade 2, a medium/chunky perlite and coconut chips. I designed and created this mix specifically for aroids so it's no surprise Monstera love it!
There are SO many different amendments available that you can add or create a mix you like, listed below is an example of some great substrates that can aid in aeration, drainage & water/nutrient retention.
Perlite (chunky grades are fantastic)
Things like sand, Lechuza pon and coco peat can also be added to a mix but are a bit finer in texture.
WATERING: Monstera come from tropical climates, so are used to warm, humid and moist conditions but while they come from humid environments they can still thrive in a lower humidity environment like our homes.
In terms of watering, as mentioned in the soil section above, you want a well draining substrate. This helps excess water to drain through easily and not sit around the root zone, as this can lead to rot, especially in sensitive plants like Thai constellations and Albos. Most Monstera are actually pretty tolerant of drying out completely between waterings, so will not harm them if you let them do so.
I like to use clear pots for my plants so I can visually monitor the soil moisture levels and I can water accordingly but I typically water my Monstera once a week in summer and once every 2ish weeks in winter but this can vary depending on the inside temperature and weather conditions.
When watering Monsteras you want to give them a thorough soaking. If they are on poles, I water them from the pole down, making sure to saturate all the substrate and let it completely drain through. This method of watering provides water and nutrients (if you regularly feed) to all the roots in the pole and in the pot and promotes roots to grow deeper into the substrate. This creates strong, healthier more resilient plants....Think tropical rain storm :)
POTTING: When it comes to re-potting a Monstera it is best to choose a pot that is one or two sizes up from its current pot. Their roots do grow quite quickly and you may find yourself repotting your Monsteras at least once a year, depending on the variety & how quickly it grows. Plants on growing poles can usually stay in their pots longer as the pole acts as an extension to the pot and the pole roots help to sustain the plants nutrient and water needs as well.
I hope you found this Monstera Care Guide informative and if you try anything I have suggested, I would love for you to come back and leave me a comment on this post with how it went :)
Stay tuned for more "Plant Care Guides" and "How To" blogs.