The monstera adansonii, otherwise known as the swiss cheese plant, has gorgeous heart-shaped leaves. The foliage is leathery with delicate holes, making a stunning houseplant.
The plant is super easy to care for, grows fast, and is attractive, making it a popular plant. Although it’s native to tropical countries, it loves being bathed in bright sunlight, so we recommend placing it by a window.
Figuring out how to care for this gem can be tricky, as the wrong nurturing routine can cause the leaves to wither. Even worse, failure to provide the right amount of sunlight and water can result in your swiss cheese plant dying. And no one wants to find their beloved plant wilted and brown!
To save you from accidentally killing this lacy plant, we’ve created a handy guide for you to follow. This article contains easy-to-follow instructions on how to successfully look after the monstera adansonii so that it thrives indoors. Read on to discover more!
Swiss Cheese Plant/Monstera Leaves
You may have heard the swiss cheese plant being referred to with many different names. The word ‘Monstera’ is Latin, meaning “abnormal” or “monstrous,” which we believe slightly does this beautiful plant a disservice!
The most common name for this houseplant is the ‘Swiss Cheese Plant,’ believed to be called this because the holes are reminiscent of hole dappled cheese. In addition, this plant is nicknamed ‘Five Holes Plant,’ ‘Adasons Monstera,’ and ‘Monkey Mask.’
These names come from the holey design in the leaves formed when the plant reaches maturity. These patterns are the unique factor separating it from most other tropical house plants. Technically, this holey structure in the leaves is called leaf fenestration.
Usually, when the monstera plant is young, it won’t have holes in the leaves and will appear an apple green color. However, as the swiss cheese plant grows older, the holes begin forming, providing the leaves with their distinctive design.
As the foliage increases in size, the color will deepen into a darker green, which creates the tone most associated with this plant. However, Variegated Monstera differs and showcases white and yellow variegated patterns once matured.
Whatever name you choose to call it, the swiss cheese plant vines, so you can guide it to climb or let it hang down. The monstera plant cascades gorgeously in a hanging basket, casting dappled shade in the sunlight. Placing it in a hanging basket is an excellent option if you have limited space and want to free up as much floor space as possible.
The monstera adansonii originates from South and Central America, wrapping itself around tall trees and reaching branches to climb closer to the sun. This plant loves living under the jungle canopy, where it gets enough sunlight to stay healthy.
It’s believed that the plant evolved to have holes in its dark green leaves to reduce the sunlight levels it needs. This leaf structure makes the plant less dependent on UV-rays than if the leaves were one un-holey surface. In addition, these holes allow the plant to thrive by soaking up the dappled rays that filter through the taller tropical trees.
The plant has aerial roots on the stem above the soil. This means they can tether themselves to trees, stronger stems, and branches. In addition, these roots anchor the plant to create the strong foundation needed for climbing up neighboring structures.
Monstera Adansonii Care
Ideally, the swiss cheese plant loves being in a bright spot that’s not in direct sunlight because the UV rays will burn the lacey leaves. No one wants a brown and shriveled monstera!
As they’re native to South and Central America, they love humidity, which is naturally provided by the rainforest system. The canopy above these plants protects the delicate foliage from burning in the sun, too. So, recreating these conditions will help your monstera adansonii stay healthy.
To mimic the jungle’s environment, it’s best if you give your monstera moisture aplenty and keep the humidity levels to 60% and above. If you’re stuck where to put this plant, a greenhouse, conservatory, or warm porch would be ideal places. But, if you don’t have these available spaces, put the swiss cheese plant in a sun-facing room such as a bathroom or kitchen and ensure it’s nice and warm.
If you don’t know how to increase humidity levels indoors to properly look after your monstera adansonii, we’ve got you covered. One way is to mist the leaves regularly, which recreates the plant’s native rainforest damp conditions.
If you have a little extra money at your disposal to spend on plant care, investing in a humidifier will help. Or if you’re on a budget, put the plant is in a well-draining pot. Then, place that on a tray that’s lined with pebbles or stones. This will allow excess water to collect below the roots, so your monstera adansonii can absorb moisture when needed.
Spread and Height
When the swiss cheese plant has suitable nutritious soil, appropriate humidity levels, and an indoor environment, it can grow up to 8 feet tall. The plant can spread its foliage and branches to as much as 3 feet. If humidity is lower than recommended, the plant will produce much less impressive growth.
The monstera adansonii plant is super popular partly because it grows quickly and has a relatively long growing season. Between the start of Spring until Autumn’s end, the plant coil extends a whopping two feet. Wow! This means it’s brilliant at filling an empty spot in your home with natural charm, and you won’t have to wait for ages for it to establish itself.
Misting this plant will replicate the jungle conditions it thrives in. Ideally, the monstera adansonii requires you to mist it every 2-3 days so that the leaves absorb enough moisture.
In addition to misting, your plant loves being thoroughly watered and then being left for its soil to become a little moist. When the earth is slightly damp, it’s best to water the plant again.
To over or under-water, observe the soil’s moisture levels instead of keeping to a strict watering routine. This plant will not do well if you only water it on specific days rather than taking note of its surrounding environment.
It’s important to note that many factors contribute to your plant’s moisture levels. For example, when to water your plant depends on climatic changes, whether your swiss cheese plant is in a dormant or growing season, and its light position.
More moisture is likely to evaporate if exposed to powerful light than otherwise. This means that your plant will require more watering. If all this sounds a bit complicated, there are a few simple tricks you can do to ensure you keep the moisture levels appropriate.
Checking Soil Moisture
The easiest way to check the soil is by using a soil moisture meter, which will guide you into watering the plant more or leaving it for a while. Alternatively, if you stick your finger 2 inches into the soil, you’ll be able to tell the dampness.
Watering is needed if the soil is slightly damp around your immersed finger and the surface earth is dry. On the other hand, if the soil is soggy or a bit sticky when you put your finger in it, don’t water the plant. Instead, come back in a few days to assess the wetness again.
When the plant’s dormant in winter, the soil may stay wetter for longer. So, you’ll have to water the monstera adansonii less often and keep a close eye on earth to check that no mold is forming. Overwatering can cause the dreaded root rot to happen, causing your beloved plant to die.
If the plant’s leaves turn yellow, this usually means that it’s been oversaturated with water. To help the plant heal, cut off the yellow leaves and add more water until the soil is a little moist.
The container or pot that the swiss cheese plant lives in needs decent-sized drainage holes to ensure excess moisture escapes. Well-draining soil will help this process. If you don’t have a pot with a drainage hole available, lining a container with a bottom layer of small pebbles or stones helps. This keeps some distance between excess water and the soil.
Best Soil For Swiss Cheese Plant
The monstera adansonii loves well-draining soil and is particular about the earth that it’s surrounded by. Ideally, this plant would thrive when grown in a potting mix that is highly nutritious. But, what nutrients does this plant need?
Well, coconut coir and peat-based mix laced with bark and perlite are the perfect soil for a swiss cheese plant. This perlite is excellent at retaining moisture, and the other ingredients ensure that excess water doesn’t damage the plant. So, this magical mixture helps prevent the plant’s roots from rotting, encouraging healthy development.
Monstera adansonii thrive in slightly acidic soil, within a range of 5.5 to 6.5 is perfect for them to grow well during the non-dormant season. If you’re not sure how to check your soil’s pH, an easy way to do this is by using a soil pH tester. You can purchase these from most garden centers, plant shops, or online.
To find the ideal potting mix that has the right balance of peat, perlite, and bark, we recommend heading to a decent plant supplier or turning to a search engine. There are so many great soil combinations to choose from. We love adding extra perlite to the monstera’s soil, promoting drainage.
If you are looking for a cheaper option, it’s pretty easy to create your own at home:
- You need to mix one-third of a mineral substance such as grit or perlite for this mixture.
- Add one-third organic matter, coconut coir, and peat-based soil.
- Mix in one-third of orchid or pine bark, which will ensure that the earth is loose enough for the plant’s roots.
We advise you to replace the soil annually. Your monstera will not love this process short-term. However, it will benefit long-term from the nutrient boost. And by removing the plant, you can check the roots’ condition to see if root rot is forming.
A mature swiss cheese plant will love it if you give it nutrients aplenty throughout the growing season. Without the proper nutrients, the plant’s leaves will probably turn yellow and won’t develop to their full potential.
Fertilizer will give your plant the boost it needs to stay healthy. The best fertilizer is half-strength and comes in liquid form with a ratio of 20:20:20. Add this to your plant in the growing season once a month. For example, starting at the beginning of Spring and ending with Fall.
In winter, your plant is dormant, so it won’t require feeding to grow. It’s crucial to wait at least 4 months after the plant’s been re-potted before starting this fertilizing routine. Why? There are two substantial reasons to wait for 4 months before fertilizing.
Firstly, while being repotted, the plant’s root system gets weakened, requiring a recovery period. This allows it to become acclimatized to the new conditions it is placed into. Secondly, when you put it in fresh potting soil bought from a shop, it is highly likely to contain a slow-release fertilizer. If you add more food to this mixture, you may accidentally burn the roots or weaken the roots more.
As your monstera adansonii is made to climb, drape, and creep, you may want to prune it back. Pruning helps keep the foliage neat, stopping it from becoming unruly and feeling dominant in your home.
You mustn’t do it in the winter because this is the dormant phase where your plant is conserving energy. Instead, Spring to Fall is the ideal time to prune away damaged or dying leaves and the top growth patch.
To prune cleanly, use sterile scissors or a sharp knife, trimming the leaves as close to the most prominent stem as you can. Be careful when handling sharp objects, and always cut away from you to prevent mishaps.
The swiss cheese plant is a pretty quickly growing plant, which requires reppotting on average every other year. Even if you believe you can avoid hurting the roots when repotting, the process is naturally stressful. This means that the plant may have damaged roots afterward.
As the roots are likely to get damaged, make sure you only re-pot this plant anytime from Spring to Autumn. As this is during the growing period, it will recover well from missing or harmed roots. The best time to re-pot is summer when the plant is developing most.
Leave your swiss cheese plant for two days after watering it, then re-pot it. This will ensure you’re not tugging fragile and dry roots, which could tear in the process. Watering it a few days beforehand protects the roots by softening them a little, bringing in extra moisture. The moisture will make it easier for you to gently lift the roots from the pot’s edges.
To safely lift the monstera out of the pot, take care not to tug on the stems because these are easily harmed. To avoid pulling the roots, tip the pot onto its side, and use a dinger to loosen the soil by the pot’s edge. This will free up the plant, allowing you to smoothly slight it away from the container.
Once you’ve slid the plant out, gently brush away all the soil you can from the roots. At this point, you can inspect the roots for any rotting parts. If the roots are white or cream-colored and firm when you carefully touch them, they’re healthy.
However, if the plant has soft, mushy, black, or brown roots, this means they’re rotting. Trim off the rotting pieces using a sterile pair of scissors or carefully chop them with a sharp knife. Throw away the diseased roots to prevent the rot from spreading in your compost pile.
Even though it’s necessary to get rid of root rot when you notice it, the plant’s development rate will be temporarily stunted. This means that your plant will need time to recover. However, the healing process should be completed within 4-6 weeks, and your plant will be thriving.
When repotting your swiss cheese plant, pick a container or pot that’s a bit bigger than the previous container. It’s essential to find a pot that has decent-sized drainage holes. If you can’t, layering the bottom with small stones will help.
Terracotta or ceramic containers are brilliant at soaking up and drawing out moisture. This is great for the plant as it helps stop root rot and drains out the extra water. When planting the swiss cheese plant, make sure you immerse the roots and a bit of the stem so that it’s upright.
To ensure the plant is firmly vertical, press the soil around the stem with a bit of pressure. Don’t cover the stem too much with dirt, though! And, please be aware that after repotting the plant, it will need a few weeks to adapt to its new environment.
The plant has undergone a stressful situation by being removed from its old home. So naturally, it will grow slowly for a while. However, it will be back to its old self in no time!
How to Propagate Monstera Adansonii?
To propagate your monstera adansonii, you can do it in two practical ways. Both require you to have a healthy cutting from the original plant.
The first way you can propagate your plant is by putting the cutting in a jar or propagation station filled with water or soil. If you choose to propagate the plant in soil, you’ll need a decent quality rooting hormone to kick-start the root growth.
We have tested both methods and found each works well. However, we prefer placing our cuttings in water to see the roots growing and observe their progress. This means we can enjoy the magical development process without guessing whether the roots are forming in the soil.
Before you can do any of this, though, you need to pick a quality cutting. To do this, find a healthy stem with 2 or 3 nodes that are well developed. Hold the stem between your forefinger and thumb, then lift it away from the core stem.
Now take your sterile scissors or sharp knife and get super close to the stem to don’t miss any nodes. This will give your cutting the best chance of sprouting.
How to Propagate Monstera Adansonii In Water?
Once you’ve cut the stem you want, fill a jar, propagation, or container with water. Place the stem in it to submerge all the nodes in water. Make sure your stem and cutting are in bright indirect sunlight so that the leaves don’t get burnt and turn yellow.
To keep the cutting water fresh, change the water every 3-5 days. You’ve got to stay patient, as it may take a long time for the roots to grow. It’s not uncommon for a cutting to take 4-6 weeks to show roots.
Once new roots develop, you can now pot the cutting in soil by carefully packing the earth around it. Again, it’s best to ensure your cutting is as upright as possible, so you have to immerse the stem enough in the soil to cover the roots.
You may be surprised by how long it takes for roots to form while propagating. It may take even longer than 6 weeks for you to start seeing the plant make progress. Keeping the cutting in a warm, wet environment and not taking it out too early is likely to give you a healthy little plant.
How to Propagate Monstera Adansonii In Soil?
After you’ve acquired the cutting:
- Dip the nodes and end you trimmed into a high-quality rooting hormone.
- Fill a small pot with a decent drainage hole with potting soil and place the cutting into it.
- Put the cutting into indirect bright sunlight and monitor it regularly to check that the earth is always slightly damp.
- Add more moisture if necessary.
To keep the cutting warm, put a plastic bag around the cutting and pot, trap in moisture that tries to evaporate. It’s essential to let the cutting air out by removing the bag for a couple of hours every few days.
Then, you have to wait for a little new growth to show above the soil line. It is likely to take between 4 and 6 weeks for these new parts to appear. Once this happens, you can take away the plastic bag and start following the watering rules for bigger swiss cheese plants.
Common Problems With Monstera Adansonii
The swiss cheese plant is similar to many other houseplants in that it can attract infestations of many common pests. Some typical pests include mealybugs, scale, and whitefly. These are inconvenient and ugly; however, they won’t kill your plant if you properly treat the problem.
To check whether you have an infestation:
- Move the plant away from any others in your home.
- Get up close to the plant and inspect it for any disease or infestation.
- If you see anything that doesn’t look right, take a wet cotton pad or tip and carefully sponge away as much of the infestation as you can.
If you want to make sure you more thoroughly deter the beasts, use a detergent, soapy water, insect spray, or neem oil to wash away the infection. If the problem still isn’t going away, repeat this process until it’s all gone.
It’s vital to protect any other plants in your home by keeping the infested plant separate. We’ve written a handy guide below if you don’t know how to identify whitefly, scale, and mealybugs.
These are triangular flying insects with soft bodies, which huddle together on the underside of leaves. Whiteflies are similar to mealybugs and are easy to see because they are very active. However, these insects are usually quick to disburse if you agitate them.
The whitefly is damaging to plants because they use their mouths to crush the leaves and draw out moisture. Then, using the water they’ve sucked from the plants, they create honeydew. Honeydew is a sticky substance, which infects the leaves with fungal diseases to form.
You must treat honeydew because leaving it on the plant will cause them to stop growing. Even worse, these fungal diseases make plants wilt, turn pale, and cause the leaves to wither and fall off their stems.
This means that whitefly can cause your plant to die if you don’t treat it quickly when you first realize they’re there. To treat this pest, spray the infected places with powerful squirts. The impactful water will propel the problem from the plant rather than allow it to settle on other leaves.
After this, use neem oil, soapy water, household insect spray, or detergent to leave no stone unturned. Keep doing this process until the problem has gone.
These are static parasites that feed on plant sap by sitting on the underside of the leaves. These shell-like pests cause your plant to wilt and appear ill. To treat scale, use a cotton ball to take away as much as you can. Then, gently wash the plants with soapy water or detergent.
Look for tiny white dots that gather like cotton on the plant to spot this pest. Mealybugs eat the plant’s sap, using their mouth to suck it out through the foliage. These are often caused by an overly damp and humid environment.
These tiny bugs hide in the crevices on your plant where water can settle. Then, get a damp cotton pad and gently take away the pest. Next, take some neem oil, soapy water, detergent, and household insect spray to remove the infestation. Repeat this process until the problem is completely gone.
And there you have it! Finally, there’s a comprehensive guide to help you look after a swiss cheese plant. Whether you’re the proud owner of a new monstera plant or want to nurture an existing plant, this article can help you keep your beloved plant healthy.