The Monstera deliciosa is an incredibly intriguing, rare and exotic tropical plant from central and south America such as Costa Rica, famous for its fenestrations (the holes and splits in its leaves) which give it the nickname ‘swiss cheese plant’.
This striking plant is extremely easy to grow, quickly adding new leaves throughout the year when given a dappled light spot in the home. It rarely flowers, but given the right conditions it can produce a delicious fruit which is deadly if eaten unripe, hence the name translates to ‘delicious monster’.
It vigorously climbs up a moss pole or frame and can become a very large indoor plant with time, with the leaves growing larger and more fenestrated as the plant matures. It’s thought that the leaves develop splits and holes as a way to allow more light down to lower leaves.
This plant is increasingly more popular in recent years for genetic mutations which produce variegated monsteras with white, cream or light green patterns, often with the plants valued at several hundred times the usual amount because of the rarity of these defects.
If this is the plant for you it is incredibly easy to find in shops and online, but the variegated variety is much more difficult to find anywhere except for specialist shops, so check out our buyers guide towards the end of this article.
Monstera deliciosa in the House & Office
Bring the tropics to your home or office with a Monstera deliciosa plant by placing it near a north, east or west facing window, where it will get bright indirect light and be in a location with more than 50% humidity. Simply give your plant a bright spot with some shade through the day and it should be happy.
This plant is surprisingly easy to grow provided some minimal work is put into its environment, but can grow a little out of control if not pruned for a few years, growing incredibly large and somewhat bushy.
Popular in homes and offices as a retro/tropical statement plant, the deliciosa was popularised in the 1970s but has seen a recent revival since the pandemic and can now be found as an aestetic background piece throughout the UK and USA.
Considering this plant does best in high humidity, if you’re having trouble keeping your office at a comfortable humidity level then there are a few things you can do to fix the problem;
- First, add more peat moss to the soil mix. This will increase the amount of moisture available to plants, making it easier for them to stay moist.
- You can also mist your office daily or weekly to keep things humidified.
- If that’s not enough, consider investing in a humidifier—these devices are very effective at maintaining humidity levels in spaces where it’s difficult or impossible to maintain them with other methods.
Monstera deliciosa Size
The Monstera deliciosa is easy to maintain at a manageable size if pruned regularly, but can grow incredibly large if not. Our sizes below are the maximum we would expect your plant to reach but you have a large amount of control over this.
Height: Up to 100cm / 29in / 10ft
Spread: Up to 2-3ft / 20-30cm
Leaf Size: Up to 3ft
Monstera deliciosa Care Guide
Light: When given bright indirect light near a north, east or west-facing window, your plant should thrive, but it does need to be kept away from the direct light of a south-facing window which may cause the leaves to burn. The leaves are said to fenestrate more (gain more holes and splits) as light intensity increases, so you may be able to force the leaves to mature by increasing light.
Soil: Your plant will be happiest with well-draining soil that stays lightly moist throughout the week, with plenty of organic matter to hold moisture and nutrients. Wet soil may cause the roots to rot so we do recommend increasing drainage with orchid bark, perlite, leca (clay pebbles), or other materials and including a drainage hole.
Watering: The deliciosa can thrive on different watering schedules, but we often find that it prefers a thorough soak every week or two as the soil dries. You should allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry out between watering, and then saturate all of the soil and allow it to freely drain. If your plant seems unhealthy and the soil is dry, try increasing the water a little, but if the leaves begin to yellow or turn translucent you should cut back on water.
Humidity: While the plant will thrive best with humidity levels over 50%, the humidity in most homes is usually suitable. If your plant’s leaves look like they are drying out with browning around the edges, you should try increasing the humidity by misting the plant regularly, using a humidifier, grouping the plant together with several others, or by placing the pot over a tray of water and pebbles. You can also move the plant to a higher-humidity room such as the bathroom or kitchen.
Feeding: Your plant won’t need to be fed much or often. A small amount of a slow-release fertiliser can be given at a maximum of once per month during the spring and summer growing season, but you should start with once every other month for those times of the year.
Temperature: This plant thrives in typical indoor room temperatures, particularly 18-27°C / 64-80°F’. It can certainly survive at lower temperatures but you should ensure that it doesn’t get too cold, and is moved further from cold windows during the winter. The temperature (alongside light) is typically associated with the rate of leaf growth, so higher temperatures may help the plant to grow faster.
Ailments: Yellow leaves could indicate either over-watering or over-feeding, so you should cut back on whichever you are doing most often. Leaf edge burn suggests a lack of humidity so you should do what you can to increase it. Overall leaf browning could suggest that the plant receives too much direct light, so should be moved a little further away from the window.
Growing Surface: A moss pole can be provided for the plant to climb up, which helps the leaves to grow larger and more mature. We do recommend building your own moss pole with sphagnum moss, as most ‘moss’ poles on the market are not made with moss at all, but are instead made with coco coir which doesn’t retain as much moisture.
Where To Buy Monstera deliciosa Online
- Ebay (UK) / (USA)
- Bloombox Club (UK) / (USA)
- Local Facebook Groups
Despite the tropical look, the plant is incredibly popular and is commonly found at most houseplant stores both online and in-store. The variegated versions are much more expensive and more difficult to find, so we do recommend to buy these online.
Considering how common this plant is becoming, most houseplant websites should have it available, but we recommend to check Ebay and Etsy, as well as local facebook groups, for the rarer variegated plants where you may want to choose the exact plant you receive.
You should ensure that wherever you buy from, they have plenty of positive reviews and a reliable return policy.
If your plant arrives damaged, infested with pests, or otherwise unhealthy, you should make sure not to introduce it to your other plants and instead to contact the retailer and request a refund.
Does Monstera deliciosa need a trellis?
While it doesn’t need a trellis or other growing support, it is highly recommended that you provide one, as this trailing/climbing plant will naturally reach out using aerial roots to find a growing surface and not providing one may cause the plant to grow small and immature leaves.
Do Monstera deliciosa like to be root bound?
Yes, there are often reports online of Monsteras growing incredibly slowly and yet are grown in incredibly large pots. The consensus is that the plant will spend its energy growing its root system until it is somewhat rootbound and then will focus on producing new leaves. So if you want your plant to grow a little faster, try giving it a slightly smaller pot.
What is the difference between Monstera deliciosa and borsigiana?
The borsigiana is not officially recognised as a separate species from the deliciosa and so is debated to be a variety named Monstera deliciosa var. borsigiana. The borsigiana is said to have smaller leaves and various other feature differences, but due to maturity of the leaves and natural variance it is difficult to say if there are any notable differences at all.
Is Monstera deliciosa toxic to pets?
Yes, all Monstera plants produce a toxin which is poisonous to animals and humans. Although there are reports of animals chewing the leaves and being unaffected, you should ensure that you keep animals and children away from these plants at all times.
Can you eat Monstera deliciosa fruit?
Yes, it does produce edible fruit but you should only consume it once ripe. The fruit contains a toxic compound that can taste incredibly bitter, but when ripe it is said to taste like a smoothie of strawberry, pear, kiwi and mango.
How much does a Monstera deliciosa cost?
The standard plant can be bought for as little as £5/$5 and depending on the size of the plant could cost up to £50/$55. Variegated monsteras typically cost more than 10x the cost of the equivalent standard plant.
What is the difference between Monstera adansonii and deliciosa?
While the deliciosa can grow large, wide leaves that develop splits and can be 3ft wide, the adansonii is incredibly small by comparison and may only grow leaves that are a few inches across when grown indoors. The adansonii also doesn’t typically develop fully fenestrated leaves, and so will only develop holes, and has much thinner and more oval leaves.
Is there a Monstera deliciosa Albo?
The Albo is the white variegated Monstera deliciosa. This is a highly sought after plant that develops beautiful patterns and splashes of white in its leaves.
Where can I buy variegated Monstera deliciosa?
You typically cannot find these in shops, but there is a large culture of houseplant enthusiasts online where you can choose the exact plant you would like to buy, often from Ebay, Etsy or local Facebook groups.