Monstera plants are known by several nicknames. The most famous one is called the Hole plant. This nickname is due to the characteristic holes and notches in the leaves. In English, therefore, a common nickname is Swiss Cheese Plant. The genus name Monstera is derived from the Greek word for “abnormal” because of these leaves. The Monstera is a special group of plants where a lot can be said about. On this page you can read all about its natural habitat, growth and flowering habits, tips for care and common problems.
The history of the Monstera
He drew and described this first Monstera in a book published in 1693. This book is publicly available and can be viewed online. Below is a screenshot of the relevant pages. First, the original drawing and then the description.In 1763, people found out that this plant is quite strong and easy to cutt. It then became a popular houseplant and also got its final name from the French botanist Adanson: Monstera Adansonii.
Hole plant growth and inflorescence
The Hole plant is a hemi-epiphyte. If you’ve never seen that word, some explanation is needed. The word Epi means “on” and phyt means “plant.” An Epiphyt grows on plants, especially trees and so have no roots in the ground. Instead, they extract nutrients from the air, rain and dirt that land on the tree. Note that they do not take nutrients from the tree, then we would speak of a parasite.
A hemi-epiphyte is a plant that spends only part of its life as a pure epiphyte. A Monstera starts with its roots in the ground. As the plant grows, it works its way up along a tree, on to the light. For this reason, hanging a Monstera is often necessary as a houseplant.
The Monstera’s natural habitat is the tropical rainforest. The weather there can be quite extreme. The holes in the leaves make a Monstera more resistant to heavy rain or windstorms.A new leaf always starts against the “stem” of the previous one. Once the leaf is ready it emerges rolled up. It then rolls out. As a houseplant, this process probably stops for a few months. As soon as the days get longer again, you’ll notice that your Monstera continues its growth again. This is a good time to start fertilizing the plant again. During the growing season your Hole plant may produce a new leaf every week.
Did you know that an existing leaf can never get more or less holes? The only way for your Monstera to get more holes is to create new leaves and shed old leaves, with fewer holes.Between the leaf and the stem is a section called “giniculum”. This part is the connection between the leaf and the petiole. In some species you can recognize it by the wrinkled part of the stem. This can be compared to a kind of muscle. The Monstera uses this part to be able to turn the leaves towards the light.
Flower and fruit
A Monstera as a houseplant will not flower quickly. Your plant can grow fine, and you take good care of it, but the conditions here are just not as good as in its natural habitat. If you want to see a Monstera in bloom you really have to go to South America (or visit a tropical botanical garden in our country).
In the wild these plants bloom abundantly. Below is a photo. By the structure of the flower you can clearly see that these plants belong to the Arum family. They are built in the same way as other plant genera in this family such as Philodendron and Alocasia.
The fruits are elongated and may look a little strange, but they taste delicious. The flavor is a combination of strawberry, mango and pineapple. They are so delicious that the famous Monstera Deliciosa got its name from this: Deliciosa is a derivative of delicious. Delicious, in English. However, if you are sensitive to oxalate crystals it is not a good idea to eat these fruits.
The hole plant is a graceful plant that also looks tough because of its robust leaves. A must for every plant lover. Did you know that these plants are also quite easy to care for? “Easy” doesn’t mean you can neglect them, but they can certainly take a beating. Below are the points you need to consider. If you do it right, you will enjoy your Monstera for a long time!
Location and light
Place your plant in a spot where the sun comes in the morning, but goes out in the afternoon. The reason for this can be deduced from the natural habitat of these plants. There they grow under tall trees that block the full sun in the afternoon. In the morning hours, the sun shines through under the trees and falls on the plant. The morning sun is not yet so hot and this is fine. The afternoon sun is too hot and can cause leaf burn.
So no direct sunlight, but too little light is definitely not good either. Your plant needs a lot of indirect light in order to grow. If your Hole plant gets too little light it will not grow well and the new leaves will be small and pale.
You will notice that your Hole plant grows towards the light. If you want to keep it nice and symmetrical you can turn it a quarter turn every week. If the plant is clearly growing in one direction, it may be too far from the window. You will see the leaves standing almost horizontally because they really reach for the light.=> Prefer a smaller houseplant? Then take a look at the Peperomia or this lovely little houseplant.
When choosing a location, you should also consider the possibility of temperature fluctuations. Think of a heater that is on (warm air currents) or an air conditioner (cold air currents). A Monstera with brown spots on its leaves is often the result.In general, your Hole plant does well at normal room temperatures. Temperatures below 10 degrees are harmful.
As described above, the Monstera grows naturally in the tropical rainforest. The humidity there is very high, usually above 80%. Although it is a strong plant that also does well here, you have to give it a helping hand. Increasing the humidity is an important part of this. If you don’t do this, you will get brown spots and edges on the leaves.
Raising the humidity is fairly simple. Mist the leaves daily with a plant sprayer until they are completely wet. Some choose to use a humidifier. Then you can raise the humidity locally and put all your tropical plants together
Potting and repotting
During the growing season, this plant can grow rapidly. If you see that your plant is making a lot of new leaves you can assume that new roots are coming in as well. After a while the current pot is too small and it is time to repot. You notice this, among other things, by:
- You see the roots growing out of the drainage hole. If the pot is too small for a longer period of time, the plant will stop growing altogether. The drainage is a lot less good because the roots are much denser.
- You can see the roots growing out of the drainage hole
- If the pot is too small for a longer period of time, the plant will stop growing altogether
- The drainage is less good because the roots are much denser.
Transplanting is best done in spring and always choose a pot that is about 20% larger than the previous one. The type of pot does not matter much, but always make sure there is a drainage hole in the bottom. This will allow excess water to leave the pot and the plant will not remain in wet soil. You can also put some hydro grains at the bottom of the pot to improve this process. Or read more about watering the Monstera.
The Hole plant prefers to stand in soil that retains moisture, but does not get soggy. A normal potting soil for houseplants could do, but is not the best option. After a while, if you have watered more often, it will become more and more dense. The roots will get less and less oxygen.
If you want to do it right choose a potting soil with peat moss or coir. These materials retain moisture, but are still airy in structure. In principle, even a potting soil for cacti and succulents should suffice.
Feeding Monstera plant
Your houseplant needs three things to stay healthy and be able to grow: energy, water and nutrients. The energy comes from light and water you give when the plant needs it (read above). The third element is nutrition. In nature your Monstera gets that from the soil, but as an indoor plant the available nutrients in the pot are quickly used up. That’s why it’s important to add nutrients.
An indoor plant food usually consists of three elements: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The ratio of these elements varies from one plant food to another. The Monstera does well on a normal houseplant food. It is usually highly concentrated. You have to read carefully to what extent you have to dilute it. If you give too much nutrient it can cause damage to the roots.
It is important that you feed when the plant needs it. This need exists when the plant is growing. If you see that the growth stops, usually in the course of autumn, then you stop adding fertilizer. As soon as growth starts up again, in the spring, you start again. By the way, some plants don’t care about this pause and grow all winter. If that is the case, you can also continue to fertilize throughout the winter, otherwise the Monstera will get yellow leaves.
In general we keep the Monstera in two ways: growing against a moss stick or as a hanging plant. In both cases it is possible to prune the plant if it becomes too big. Then the plant is full of energy and can easily recover from pruning. Always use clean and sharp secateurs. You can shorten the plant as desired. They are very strong and always come back. Sometimes it can take a while because a completely new bud has to be created. From the moment you see the first new leaf from the pruned stem, the growth can continue in the normal way.The cut off pieces you do not have to throw away by the way, but with that you can take a Monstera cuttings.
When people say “Monstera” they often mean the Deliciosa. However, it is often forgotten that Monstera is the plant genus within which the Monstera Deliciosa is a species. The Deliciosa is a beautiful species with broad leaves and the characteristic notches. This variety can grow into a sizeable houseplant and should be supported with a moss stick.
The Monstera Adansonii has much smaller leaves. It is a climbing plant that is excellent for use as a hanging plant. The leaves have holes and the plant is therefore nicknamed the Swiss Cheese Plant.
The Obliqua looks like the Adansonii, but they are really two different species. The difference is in the size of the holes in the leaves. With the Obliqua, it’s more hole than leaf, while the Adansonii has more leaf than hole. Get it? In addition, the Obliqua is very rare and basically unobtainable.
Very honest: officially, the Monstera Minima is not a Monstera, but a Rhaphidophora. Why do we mention it here anyway? Many people think it is a Monstera. Looking at the picture below we understand. It looks very similar, and it is also part of the same umbrella plant family (Arum family), but botanically it is a different species.
Monstera Thai Constellation
Currently one of the most requested species: the Monstera Thai Constellation. This variety has large leaves with white parts. This is called variegated leaf. This plant is rare and those that are available are offered for a high price.
The Pertusum is very similar to the Deliciosa. The leaves and manner of growth are the same, but the Pertusum grows a lot larger. Do you really want a large houseplant that can fill the room? Then this is the right choice!
This variety also looks very much like the Deliciosa and is therefore often sold under the same name. However, there are subtle differences that make the Monstera Borsigiana really a different plant. In mature plants you can see the difference in how the stems grow and how the leaves are arranged on these stems. Also, the Monstera Borsigiana can grow a bit “tangled” while the Deliciosa looks more structured.
The Monstera Karstenianum is actually a Philodendron. This was discovered not too long ago. This plant carried the name Monstera Karstenianum for a very long time, and people will probably continue to call it that for a long time. It is a nice hanging plant with dark green leaves. Also called Monstera Peru.
This Monstera species is similar to the previous one. The leaves are also oval and end in a point. The Monstera Standleyana is often offered as variegated.
Monstera Siltepecana is a very rare Monstera species. You will only find it at plant stores that specialize in rare plants.
Want to buy a Monstera?
There are many different species and the supply from web stores also varies quite often. So where is the best place to buy a Monstera? Many suppliers offer their plants on Bol.com. This way you have an overview of the current offer and you can easily compare prices. The button below will take you to the current offer:
Is the Hole plant toxic to cats and dogs?
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a list of plants that are toxic to cats and the Monstera is on it. This is because of the calcium oxatates found in the leaves and stems. If ingested, your cat may vomit. This also applies to dogs, by the way.
As far as is known, the calcium oxatates have no or a lesser effect on humans. Research has been done on toxicity in humans and they have to ingest a very large amount before symptoms appear.
A leaf without holes
Sometimes you’ll see a leaf on your Hole plant with no holes. How can that be? There could be several reasons for this. If your plant is still young, it is true that the leaves are on the plant without holes. It often takes a while before holes appear. It is also possible that your plant still needs to acclimatize after purchase. So give it some time. If your plant is already a bit older, and still has no holes, you should look further.
The plant must be doing well to create leaves with holes. If there are certain elements in the care that are not right, you will see leaves without holes forming. Often it has to do with: a shortage of nutrition, the wrong position (light) or it is necessary to repot. On this page you can read about the right approach for maintenance.
Drops on the leaf
Do you see a drop on the leaf of your Hole plant? This is called “guttation” and is quite normal. In fact, there are several plants that do this, for example the Alocasia. As soon as there is too much water in the soil and in the stems it has to come out. During the day the plant can evaporate this excess water, but in the evening it cannot. Then the plant gets rid of this excess water through the pores that are in the leaves. The effect is that you see the plant crying.
Leaves hang limp
Weak leaves are often the result of a plant that is thirsty. Do not immediately start giving lots of water, but build it up with small amounts. Give a sip every hour until you see that the plant is upright again. It is also good to check the location. With too much direct sunlight or a spot with too little light the plant may start to droop
Does the Hole plant purify the air?
Yes, this plant purifies the air. There are more plants that do this, but the Monstera does this very strongly. An added benefit is that this plant has large leaves. The larger the leaf, the more leaf area, the greater its capacity to purify air. For this reason, many people put this plant in the bedroom.
A new leaf black, that’s a sign that something is not right. Black leaves are usually a sign that the plant is too cold. Is it perhaps next to an open window, in a draft or near an air conditioner? If so, move it.
The plant is not growing
If your Monstera plant is not growing, this is not immediately a reason for concern. There is a long period, from autumn to early spring, when your plant is dormant. Then you see no or little growth. Has spring started for a while and you still see no growth? Then you need to look further.
One cause that the plant is not growing is often that there is a shortage of nutrients. Do you regularly supplement with plant food? Another cause is a too tight pot. If the roots have no more room, the plant will not continue to grow at the top either. Finally, sufficient light is needed to grow. If the plant is too dark you often see that there is little or no growth.
Can this plant go outside?
Yes, but under certain conditions. The hole plant can only go outside in the summer months, when it is warm outside. Choose a spot in the shade and out of the wind. Full sun and drafts can cause damage to the plant.
The leaves curl up
Curling leaves are often a signal that the air is too dry. Mist the leaves daily with a plant sprayer and you’ll see the problem diminish.
The plant has mourning flies
Do you have mourning flies in the soil? This can be very annoying. There are several ways to deal with this problem. Read all about it on our page about fighting mourning flies.
|Also known as||hole plant|
|Stand||Lots of indirect light|
|Toxic to pets||Yes|
How much light does a Monstera need?
5 to 8 hours
How do you take care of a Monstera?
How do you know if your Monstera is happy?
4. Your Monstera’s Leaves are Brown, Yellow, or Dead. Leaf discoloration on your Monstera can be cause for alarm. A healthy, happy Monstera has deep green, waxy leaves (though younger plants or new leaves may be lighter green).
Can Monstera tolerate low light?
What type of light does a Monstera plant need? Monsteras need bright light but do not tolerate direct sunlight. They can survive in low light, but their growth will be inhibited. To grow a striking Monstera plant with the lacy leaves and the coloration you adore, you need to provide it with good light.Dec 6, 2021