Ready for that tropical vacation you’ve been craving?
Then look no further than the huge Monstera deliciosa or Mexican breadfruit plant. The hottest plant to have in 2021!
Sip a strawberry smoothie and stare at this dramatic beauty all day long. It’s the cheapest vacay you’ll ever take~ and trust me, you’ll feel revived!
Few plants can stun quite like a Monstera. Once you have one, you’ll want one for life. As long as you have the space. Because these Monstera “monsters” tend to get huge!
And while there are smaller varieties like the Swiss Cheese Vine (Monstera) friedrichsthalii, you’ll need Monsteras to glam up your indoor space with power plants.
Those glossy, waxy and heart-shaped leaves will get your heart pounding! Despite the holes giving the plant a somewhat delicate appearance, it’s a surprisingly hardy indoor plant.
Here’s how to care for a Monstera deliciosa as they make for a spectacular showstopping houseplant!
A plant by any other name…
The huge Monstera deliciosa plant boasts some unique and witty alternative names.
A Monstera deliciosa plant is equally known as the Mexican breadfruit plant, hurricane plant, ceriman, or the Swiss cheese plant.
But Monsteras are also called the fruit salad tree plant, fruit salad plant, delicious monster, window leaf and monster fruit plant. So you really have your pick of what to call this plant!
My personal favorite is the Swiss cheese vine because of the curious and unique holes in each leaf resembling Gruyere or Swiss cheese. As the leaves age, the holes or lobes eventually split.
But its most common name is Monstera deliciosa translated into “montrous” and “delicious” to describe its scrumptious edible fruit. Fruit that tastes like a cross between a banana and pineapple.
Large, corn cob-like fruit called breadfruit that mature to 8-10″ long ripening to a sweet pineapple flesh. And because the plant grows well in Southern Mexico derives the name Mexican breadfruit.
My plant has never yielded any fruit or flowers, nor is it ever likely to as a houseplant in an interior setting. Fruit and flowers typically form only in nature out of doors. Sad!
Let’s talk about this huge Monstera deliciosa plant…
Just the glossy, leathery, heart-shaped leaves of a Monstera deliciosa plant can stretch 10-35 inches long. Leaves that thrill giving you the chills.
But size is relative. It all depends on the plant size you start out with.
I have two Monstera plants. One huge Monstera deliciosa plant that my friend Cheri L. sent me. It’s roughly 4 feet high! I also have a smaller Monstera adansonii plant I bought online. It’s only about 1.5 feet tall and the same size wide.
Both plants are stunning. But the larger plant does create more tropical ambiance with more punch. Over time, I anticipate the plant will grow 8-10 feet in height! In the wild, these plants can grow up to 16 feet tall.
Of course, due to space issues, 10 feet is much too big in one’s home, so I intend to trim it back when needed.
In regards to width, the larger Monstera is about 2.5 feet across, but again, as the years unfold, I can expect it to get to 6 feet if I don’t trim it back. In the wild it can grow 10 feet or more in width if never kept in check!
Monstera deliciosa versus Monstera adansonii
The difference between the huge Monstera deliciosa and a Monstera adansonii is quite simple. Although they are both cultivated as houseplants, the adansonii has longer leaves that taper at the end.
In my experience, holes take longer to form on the adanonii plant and even when they do, holes do not ever split open (they stay enclosed). Whereas the Monstera deliciosa leaves always burst open as they mature.
The fenestrations (holes in the leaves) are a way of allowing high winds to pass through those humongous leaves without tearing them. At least in theory!
And this is why Monsteras are sometimes referred to as a “hurricane” plant.
In stark contrast are the leaves of the Monstera adansonii plant which appear lace-like and delicate to the eye. Still stunning, the leaves are much smaller than the Monstera deliciosa leaves.
My Monstera adansonii thrives in a trailing pot and looks fabulous cascading downward. My Monstera deliciosa requires support poles to support the sheer weight of it or the stems would just break off.
In the wild, it’s the aerial roots that serve as “props” or support poles that attach to trees and branches.
Monstera is actually a genus that includes 45 different species. Only a few of these exotic beauties can be purchased from retailers~ even online. But it’s always a good idea to expand your collection when you can!
Let there be light!
In the two years I’ve been the very proud owner of a Monstera deliciosa plant, I’ve noted that it really likes, bright, but indirect light for at least 6 hours each day.
And even though it’s a plant of mammoth proportions, it demands (and gets) the best spot in the house. It thrives on a plant stand in a unique corner getting bright, mostly filtered light all day long with temps always hovering between 65-80 degrees.
However, I have discovered the Monstera plant doesn’t mind a bit of direct sunlight for a few hours each day but during the winter months, only. In fact, plant growth depends upon it.
Sheer curtains can be drawn to provide dappled light if the sunlight becomes too intense. The gigantic leaves tend to burn easily if exposed to prolonged periods of bright sun.
Scotched leaves are unhappy leaves. No one wants curled, burned leaves.
But on the flip side, leaves that don’t receive enough sunlight actually won’t split! And lack of enough bright light could stunt the plants growth, meaning topmost leaves could revert to the juvenile form. (Tiny leaves)
Just be mindful that the Monstera is a tropical plant and in its natural setting, would be in shaded and humid conditions below the canopy of the tropical rainforest. You must strike a balance!
Soil, pH & water requirements
Monstera deliciosa grow best in high pH, alkaline soil that drains very well. Potting soil mixed with the addition of 1/3 portion of coarse leaf mold is ideal.
Water sparingly because like most houseplants, the Monstera doesn’t like wet feet. Allow the potting mixture to dry out between waterings, in fact, the top third should completely dry out before watering again.
So moderate watering is best. I only give mine about 2-3 inches of water a week, if that. In winter I only water every other week.
Drainage holes in any pot are essential so that plant doesn’t become waterlogged. Dump any water that collects in the bottom saucer.
Excess water spurs on fungal growth and can cause roots to rot. The leaves never like to get wet so don’t water the top of this plant, only at the roots.
I skip watering altogether if I stick my finger in the soil to a depth of 3 inches and it’s still damp from the previous watering.
Adding perlite to your potting mix to lighten the soil mixture and increase drainage is always a good idea!
Let’s talk about aerial roots
The Monstera deliciosa is a member of the arum family Araceae, an epiphyte with tentacle-like aerial roots.
Those trailing aerial roots get 2-4 feet in length making you feel like you’re in the tropics~ right in the privacy of your own home.
But aerial roots don’t like to get wet. They tend to poke out of the pot growing erratically all over the stems. Never be tempted to overwater plants with aerial roots~ they simply don’t like it.
That’s why the Monstera deliciosa and their aerial roots grow up tree trunks and along branches in the wild. Aerial roots serve to support the plants efforts to climb upwards.
If you find the aerial roots unsightly, it’s fine to chop them off. Personally, I think they give the plant an even more tropical vibe and appearance so I let them be.
Since aerial roots serve to take up water and nutrients, I also try my best to train them into the potting soil by poking them in a bit. But aerial roots tend to have a mind of their own!
Pruning & propagation the huge Monstera deliciosa plant
Typically, a Monstera should be pruned in spring when most of the vigorous growth takes place. Failure to prune results in one massive and unruly plant!
But I find myself snipping leaves year-round that look ragged or are brown-tinged.
Snip branches and leaves by cutting them where they meet the stem without cutting the stem.
Monsteras can all be propagated from a cutting. When propagating a Monstera, cuttings are usually taken from underneath a node, which is a point on the plant that can grow roots.
From there, the cutting can either be put in soil or water and allowed to root.
I’ve always had far more success from rooting in water with multiple nodes, preferably three if possible.
Multiple nodes increase the chances of the plant rooting. So if one node rots in the water, you can snip it off and cross your fingers that the other node or two develop roots.
If no roots develop after a week, it’s probably not going to happen. I like to root in clear vases on a bright windowsill so I can daily check (stalk) the progress.
If all is well after about two weeks you should see roots of substance. Long, stringy, white roots. When roots reach a length of 3-4 inches I attempt to transplant them in soil.
Sometimes the shock is too much and the plant dies. But sometimes it works! It’s always hit or miss.
Ready for something crazy?
The huge Monstera deliciosa plant is not a split-leaf philodendron. Nope.
Both are Instagram worthy. Both are glamorously featured by designers in fabrics, prints, and even earrings.
Monsteras and split-leaf philodendrons are of a different genus and species despite being of the same scientific class, order, and family.
And yes, a monstera looks and acts like a philodendron with similar water and light needs, but it isn’t.
Monsteras are famous for their fruit grown in tropical Mexico and Central America. No fruit on philly’s.
And philodendrons are a tad easier to grow and are considered trailing vines making them ideal hanging plants. They are more common, less expensive, and are more easily grown in variegated varieties.
Monsteras make for terrible hanging plants! Staking their beefy stems is key.
Philodendrons are more similar to pothos as their leaves never get as big as a monstera. Monsteras are more closely related to a peace lily.
The problem is all the silly nicknames. Both plants boast those luscious split leaves so we want to label them the same when they are entirely different. Even garden centers mislabel them! Shame.
Easiest way to distinguish a Monstera deliciosa…
If you’re sitting on the sofa still stressed about differentiating between a Monstera deliciosa and a split-leaf philly, there’s a foolproof way to tell the difference.
Monstera has an easily identifiable plant structure called “geniculum” at the junction of the leaf stem and the leaf blade.
The geniculum is described as bent like a knee. Kind of like a muscle!
Such a structure is never….I repeat never present in a philodendron. A philodendron has smooth and straight leaf stems.
And in my modest opinion, the leaves of a Monstera and a Philodendron look entirely different. During the young stage, the Monstera develops leaves that are solid or have just slight indentations.
As the plant matures, the indentations deepens and holes appear in the leaves~ hence that famous name….Swiss cheese plant.
How to acquire the huge Monstera Deliciosa plant
There’s all sorts on places online where you can buy a huge Monstera deliciosa plant. But the trouble is….will it be big enough?
A small clipping simply won’t satisfy your cravings for a luscious, humongous tropical plant. Small cuttings or a tiny plant could take years to grow into a plant you can be proud of.
No doubt, my Mexican breadfruit plant is my most requested plant for those of you who have been to my house and put in “plant requests.”
And while I’m happy to oblige and provide a cutting~ I must warn you that a cutting is going to take many years to grow into its own.
As in 5-10 years to get to a plant of any substance. Life is too short to wait for a big plant.
But in the meantime, if you’re trying to beef up your Monstera with fertilizer, feed it a water-soluble type once a month or slow-release type every four months.
So is it time for a plant splurge? I think so.