What Is A Monstera Plant? (Plus 4 Benefits)


With most houseplants, holes in the leaves are a cause for concern.  However, a Monstera plant will have natural holes in its leaves, as long as it gets enough sunlight.

So, what is a Monstera plant?  A Monstera plant (Monstera deliciosa) is a tropical woody perennial.  It is an epiphyte, meaning it climbs up other plants in its natural habitat.  Monstera leaves are green, glossy, and large, sometimes reaching 3 feet long and wide.  A Monstera plant can grow aerial roots that help it climb up to 70 feet tall in nature!

Of course, Monstera plants kept as houseplants may only grow a few feet tall, depending on the support and climbing space they have.

In this article, we’ll talk about Monstera plants and how to care for them.  We’ll also answer some common questions about this interesting plant.

Let’s get going.

What Is A Monstera Plant?

Monstera plant (Monstera deliciosa) is a woody perennial, which produces flowers and fruit, and is native to tropical parts of Mexico and Panama.  The holes (fenestrations) in its leaves give it the nickname “Swiss cheese plant”.

Monstera leaves
Monstera plants often have holes in the leaves (called “fenestrations”).

Monstera has aerial roots, which grow above ground instead of in the soil.  It uses these roots to climb on other plants.

The aerial roots grow downward from the plant.  If they encounter soil, they will root into the ground.

Monstera is an epiphyte, which means that it grows as a vine on the surface of a plant (at least in nature).  An epiphyte gets nutrients and moisture from air and water.

A Monstera plant can also produce fruit up to 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.  The fruit looks like an ear of corn covered with green hexagon scales.

However, it takes over a year for the fruit to reach maturity.

Monstera is often grown indoors as a houseplant.  The plant is unlikely to flower outside of a tropical location.

How Do You Identify A Monstera Plant?

A Monstera plant has huge, glossy, green leaves with separated lobes.  According to the University of Florida Extension, these leaves can be up to 3 feet long and 3 feet wide.

wet Monstera leaves
You can identify Monstera by its large, glossy, green leaves.

With enough light, the leaves may develop holes, which is perfectly natural for Monstera.

The leaves sit at the end of long stalks (petioles) that come from the central stem of the plant.

In its natural (tropical) habitat, Monstera may also have green and white flowers, along with the fruit described earlier.

Types Of Monstera Plant

There are many types of Monstera plants.  However, one of the most common types is Monstera deliciosa, which is sometimes known as:

  • Ceriman
  • Mexican Breadfruit
  • Swiss Cheese Plant

According to the Monstera Plant Resource Center, other types of Monstera include:

  • Monstera borsigniana
  • Monstera variegata
  • Monstera adansonii
  • Monstera obliqua

You can learn more about these Monstera varieties from the Monstera Plant Resource Center.

Monstera Plant Benefits

Monstera plants are a great choice for an indoor houseplant.  Some benefits of Monstera plants include:

  • Drought Tolerant – Monstera does not need much water.  You can let the soil dry out between waterings.  The plant will “sweat” when the soil is too wet, giving you an obvious sign of over watering.
  • Aerial Roots – Monstera has aerial roots that it can use to climb or to root itself more securely to the ground.  Give it something to climb, such as a moss-covered piece of wood.
  • Propagation – Monstera is fairly easy to propagate by stem cuttings.  You can also use air layering (more on this later).
  • Varieties – there are plenty of different Monstera varieties.  Many have interesting colors or patterns of holes in the leaves.
Monstera plants
Monstera is fairly easy to propagate, and it happily climbs any support you provide.

Monstera Plant Care

According to the North Carolina State University Extension, the ideal temperature for Monstera plant growth is 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 29 degrees Celsius).  The plant does not grow below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).

Monstera is hardy in USDA Zones 10a to 12b.  If you keep them outside in colder Zones, be careful when frost threatens.

According to the University of Florida Extension, Monstera leaves are damaged or die at 30 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to 0 degrees Celsius).  The stems are damaged or die at 26 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 to -2 degrees Celsius).

frosted leaf
Frost will likely damage or kill Monstera leaves and stems.

Use rich soil with lots of organic material and leave room for the roots to grow and climb.  According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension, Monstera needs support to prevent broken stems as the plant climbs.

Water Monstera thoroughly but infrequently.  Allow the top 1/3 to ¼ of the soil to dry out before watering again.

If the soil is too moist for a Monstera plant, its leaves will “sweat” to release water.  This is one indication that you are over watering!

As a tropical plant, Monstera will not tolerate cold air.  Keep the plant away from cold and drafty windows.

Finally, you might also want to wipe dust off of the leaves of a Monstera plant.  Otherwise, the dust will block sunlight, inhibit photosynthesis, and slow down growth of the plant.

How Big Will A Monstera Plant Get?

According to the University of Wisconsini-Madison Extension, a Monstera plant can grow to a height of 70 feet or taller in nature.  The stems are 2 to 4 inches in diameter.

Monstera plant
Monstera plants in nature can
grow way up into the canopy,
climbing to heights of 70 feet.
Image courtesy of
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
Monstera_deliciosa_neer_Luochi.JPG

However, as an indoor houseplant, the size of a Monstera plant will be limited by the support that is available.  Without a tall support, the stem of a Monstera plant may bend or break under its weight as it grows taller.

How Deep Do Monstera Plant Roots Grow?

In nature, the clinging aerial roots of a Monstera plant can grow several feet long.  These are the same roots that help a Monstera plant to “climb” up other plants (such as trees) as they grow.

Indoors, you will need to repot a Monstera plant often in order to accommodate the growth of its root system.  Otherwise, its growth will be limited.

What Do You Do With Monstera Plant Aerial Roots?

You can use a Monstera plant’s aerial roots for two purposes:

  • Making extra roots (more water and nutrients from the soil)
  • Climbing

If a Monstera plant’s aerial roots touch the soil, they will root to the ground.  Since they naturally move downward, this will eventually happen for any aerial roots.

However, you can also give a Monstera plant something to climb, such as a piece of wood covered with moss.  The aerial roots will wrap around the wood and help the plant to climb.

Does A Monstera Plant Need Sunlight?

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Monstera plant does best with the following light:

  • Summer – bright light
  • Winter – direct sun

In colder climates, you can move Monstera outdoors in winter to take advantage of the brighter light.  Just make sure to help the plant to adjust slowly, or it could suffer sunburnt leaves.

Monstera plants will grow under fluorescent light.  However, the leaves will not develop the characteristic holes without enough light.

daylight
Provide filtered light or partial shade for Monstera, or it might get scorched leaves.

According to the North Carolina State University Extension, Monstera can survive partial shade (direct sunlight only 2 to 6 hours per day).  Filtered sunlight (for example, leaves of other plants above Monstera for shade) will help to avoid scorched leaves.

Can I Put Monstera In The Bathroom?

Monstera is a tropical plant, so it does well in humid conditions.  The bathroom is no exception.

Just be sure not to over water your Monstera plant if you put it in the bathroom.  It will sweat when over watered, but humid air will make it difficult for the plant to get rid of excess water.

Monstera Plant Pruning

Monstera can grow very tall without pruning (up to 70 feet high in nature!)  If you can give a Monstera plant support, it may be able to grow without too much pruning.

However, if there is not enough support, the plant stem could bend or break under its own weight as it grows.  To prevent this, prune the stem to shorten the plant.

monstera leaf
You can prune away leaves or part of the stem to control a Monstera plant’s size.

You can also pull some of Monstera’s shallow roots out of the ground to slow its growth.

Monstera Plant Propagation

You can propagate a Monstera plant by two methods:

  • Cuttings of a mature plant
  • Air layering

To take a Monstera cutting:

  • First, find a clean knife or scissors.  Use a clean cloth and alcohol to clean the blade if necessary.
  • Next, cut off the tip of the stem of the plant.  Make the cut just below an aerial root.
  • Then, put the cutting into a pot with a soil mix that is rich in organic material.
  • Finally, make sure the aerial root is touching the soil.  It will eventually root to the ground, which will make it easier for the new cutting to get water and nutrients from the soil.

Monstera cuttings will need light to grow. You can learn more about which plants cuttings need light to grow in my article here.

Conclusion

Now you know a little more about Monstera plants and how to care for them.  You also know about the different varieties and how to choose one.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

~Jonathon

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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