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How to Care for Monstera Houseplants


Large Monstera plant in an urban bedroom

Introduction:

With almost 50 species, the Monstera genus is one of the most popular houseplants. Fast and easy-to-grow, they typically get between one and two feet taller each of their first three years until they reach full size. Some, like the Monstera deliciosa, can get as tall as 15’ and 8’ wide. With big, glossy, and interestingly shaped leaves, house plant enthusiasts and interior designers alike enjoy using them for their dramatic impressiveness.

As one of the most common indoor plants, our aim with this guide is to set you up for the best chance of success with your new Monstera plant. We want to shed some light (but not too much ;)) on the basics of Monstera care, things like how much light and water they need, and what sorts of soils and fertilizers are best. We also want to discuss how your Monstera might look when things aren’t going so well, so that you feel empowered to nurse your plant back to health. Afterwards we’ll take a look at some amazing Monstera specimens and share our final thoughts on this wonderful plant!

Table of contents:

 

 

Dense foliage with beautiful monstera leaves.

Background:

In its natural environment, Monstera grows natively in rainforest deep-shade as well as the semi-shade of more thinly populated forests. It’s natural to assume Monstera plants need lots of water, but in a pot, they can very easily become overwatered. They can grow outside in the US in USDA zones 10 to 12. Monsteras prefers temperatures between 65° and 85° F with 60% humidity. A climbing evergreen, Monsteras need support to keep from flopping over in disarray. Use support stakes or a trellis, and prune excess foliage to create the best shape for the space they have. The leaves will grow larger and the plants will stay healthier.

Beautifully split monstera leaf getting indirect sunlight.

Getting Started:

How much light does my Monstera need?

Monsteras need bright but indirect light. Too much light will burn the leaves, so it’s best to not let it have direct sun. However, a good trick to encourage more impressive growth is briefly putting your plant outside in direct sun for short periods of time once or twice a year. It’s best to put your plant near a window, but out of direct light. Usually east or west-facing windows are best, but north or south-facing ones are okay if not in direct sun. If the leaves look smaller than expected, the plant most-likely isn’t getting enough light. The more light they get, the more split, more interesting-looking, showy leaves grow. Too much shade makes them look too leggy.

What temperature is best for my Monstera?

In short, Monsteras prefers temperatures between 65°F and 85°F. Problems come not only from higher or lower temperatures; but also, from drafts and sudden temperature changes. It can handle temperatures as low as 50° and as high as 90°F, but the plant stops growing at these extremes. Be mindful of localized areas of extreme temperatures, such as radiant heat sources or air conditioning vents. This temperature range also applies to the water you give to your plant!

What kind of soil does my Monstera need?

Monstera species generally require a neutral or acidic, well draining potting mix. Make sure to not use a mix with much clay or heavy soil. Outside, you can plant in sandy, loamy soils; but inside, and in containers, it is much better to use a peat-based mix with sand and perlite to assure the best drainage. Because Monsteras can grow so fast, they also can more quickly become root bound. To maximize growth, you can re-pot every year or two. To prevent root rot, use pots with big drain holes. If hand-watering, best to use unglazed planting pots. If using an automated watering system that prevents over-watering, you won’t have to worry about using colorful, glazed pots.

How much water does my Monstera need?

Most recommendations suggest only watering Monstera every week or two, because overwatering is one of the main reasons they die or don’t do well. That said, infrequent watering tends to decrease humidity and soil moisture, and Monsteras love humidity (60% is best). To increase humidity and maintain soil moisture without overwatering, you can water just a small amount frequently - a small sip 2-3 times a day by hand; or, you can make your life easier by using an automatic system like Blumat Classics, which we sell in our store. Misting also helps with humidity, and you can increase ambient humidity with a humidifier or a tray with water and pebbles.

Remember to use water that is between 65°F and 85°F!

What should I fertilize my Monstera with?

Monsteras like fertilizers with a balanced ratio between nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. They don’t like salty soils, so it’s preferable to use organic sources of these nutrients, rather than salt-based commercial fertilizers. You can use diluted nutrient mixes during the growing season every few weeks, but it’s best to not fertilize at all during the period when the growth slows. If your plant starts turning yellow, you are using too much.

Monstera leaf cutting with healthy roots

How to propagate Monstera?

Monsteras tend to be fairly easy to propagate from stem cuttings. Just let the cut end dry and thicken for a few hours before planting. Sprinkling some ground cinnamon on the cut both prevents disease from getting in as well as helps the wound heal more quickly. Keep the cutting warm, moist, and humid until it roots. Air layering also works well but the plant will look a little funny for a while. This method, however, creates less risk because you don’t have to cut the mother plant until the new baby has roots.

Opened ripe monstera deliciosa fruit.

Is Monstera toxic?

Not considered lethal but mildly toxic to humans, and more so for dogs and cats, all parts of the plant (except the rare, completely ripened fruit of the aptly named Monstera deliciosa) can be harmful if ingested. Be careful to avoid the sap which can irritate skin.

Common Issues:

If you follow the guidelines outlined above, your Monstera should be happy and healthy year-round. That said, if plants always behaved the way they were "supposed" to, there would be no need for guides like this one. When the unexpected happens, we want you to be prepared with the knowledge you need to diagnose your Monstera and nurse it back to health. We’ve outlined a few of these common issues below.

Why are there bugs on my Monstera?

Sometimes, common pests like spider mites and mealybugs might infest the plant, but you can use simple products like insecticidal soap and neem oil to keep them under control. If your soil is frequently too wet, you may also encounter fungus gnats. Reduce the amount of water you are giving the plant, and apply a pest control solution as directed.

Yellowed dead monstera leaf getting pruned.

Why are my Monstera leaves turning brown?

It is normal in a plant’s life cycle for some leaves to wither and die, but if you see many leaf tips turning brown or dry spots on the leaves, and the top few inches of potting mix feel dry, underwatering probably caused the problem. Water more frequently, or use an automated system like Blumat Classics. If the leaves curl, look to low humidity as the issue.

If you see a yellow halo around the spots, the plant probably has a fungus. Normally caused by overwatering, let the plant dry out. Try taking the plant out of the pot to evaluate the roots. If it's overwatered, the plant could be suffering from root rot. Clean the roots, prune off mushy parts, and re-pot in new soil. Make sure your soil and container allow for adequate drainage. If they both seem okay, look to methods that prevent overwatering. Cut and remove any dead or yellow leaves.

Why is my Monstera droopy?

Drooping leaves can be caused by overwatering your plant, too much sun, or exposure to temperatures outside of the healthy range. If you aren’t sure which may be the cause, try to make sure they are all controlled at the same time. Depriving an overheated plant of water will kill it, and if your plant is both overwatered and cold, fixing just one of those things won’t save it in the long run.

Why is my Monstera turning yellow?

This can be a sign of a more complex issue. If soil is over fertilized, toxic levels of nutrients can build up and start harming the plant. Some municipal water supplies may have higher natural mineral content, meaning your soil could be building up too much of a mineral for your plant over time. In either case, you can flush your soil with distilled water to wash away some of the excess minerals. That said, it will also wash away the important minerals, so treat this as an emergency fix more than a long-term solution.

Another factor is the soil pH, or the acidity of the soil. If your water supply is too acidic (pH is too low), or too basic (pH is too high), it will change the pH of your soil over time and negatively affect your Monstera. If you identify this to be the case, almost any store with a garden supply will sell additives that address this problem. It is very important not to overcorrect, so start very slowly. A dramatic swing in pH will certainly kill your plant.

It is hard to give a precise answer to this question since the cause is so nuanced. There are soil testers available that will measure soil pH and dissolved solids (mineral content). It is also a pretty safe bet that your local plant nursery would know of any specific things to look out for in your area.

I think my Monstera is dead.

If you’ve gone through the above steps, and your Monstera doesn’t seem to be getting better, take a deep breath. Plants die. Sometimes it’s because your plant caught a disease at the nursery, and nothing you could’ve done would’ve saved it. Sometimes it’s because we cared too much, sometimes it’s because other obligations took priority. The important thing is that you tried, and you learned. You’ll be even more prepared for your next plant!

Celebrating Success:

Now that we’ve covered some of the things that can go wrong, let’s take a look at how these plants can look when they go right!

resplendent monstera plant with multiple fruits growing.

Blooming

Monstera rarely bloom indoors, but produce beautiful flowers after 2-3 years if you create the right conditions – the right amount of water and light, stable warm temperatures with proper humidity, and enough (not too much!) nutrients. The flowers last for at least 2-3 weeks and have heads 8-10” long. If growing outdoors in the right conditions, some varieties develop an edible fruit with a flavor sometimes described as a banana and pineapple combined.

Final Thoughts:

All things considered, Monstera plants make a great addition to any space. They are pretty low maintenance, and can grow into beautiful, dramatic shapes that work as both an accessory and a centerpiece. As with most rainforest plants, they thrive when the proper moisture levels are maintained, and the easiest way we’ve found to keep the plant at those levels is with the Blumat Classic stake. Remember to keep your Monstera out of direct sunlight, and don’t forget to bookmark this page for your future reference. Happy growing!

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